Soft shells are hard to work into an UL pallet of clothing. They are great for day hiking and some climbers like them. They are heavy and don't provide much insulation, but protect from wind and light precipitation. They are ridiculously expensive for the use you can get from them.
I think waterproof boots are great for snow, but the minute you are hiking in deep water, they become buckets, as you found. Light breathable shoes and good socks are the best compromise. I'm still looking for the best UL wading shoes to avoid full wetting of my shoes.
Poncho tarps are all small compared to true tarp tents. I avoided poncho tarps because they require some sort of bivy sack to make them workable for foul weather. I started with a fully enclosed tarp like the GoLite Hut1 and used a Marmot PreCip rain jacket. When the Six Moons Design Gatewood Cape Shelter came out, I bought one immediately and set my rain jacket aside for day hiking. The Gatewood provides 360 degree protection and a bivy sack isn't needed. I find it to be comfortable and effective rain gear. The only time I might use a rain jacket instead would be for coastal hiking where the rain and wind can be heavy and constant.
As another writer said, layers are the key. With UL hiking, the game is to be able to use every last gram of your clothing. If your wind shirt doesn't work for you, get rid of it-- you can't afford to have a key part of your layering system that doesn't work.
Find some 100% synthetic pants. Every cotton/poly blend I have used took a long time to dry--even in the dryer at home. Even a small amount of cotton content will increasethe drying time dramatically. The Mountain Hardwear Pack Pants are very good and there are all kinds of nylon zip-off hiking pants. Polyester running pants can be very good. Many are very wind resistant and have good water repellent properties. I'm experimenting with some bicycle wind pants I found recently. I also like the Ex Officio Amphi Pants for warm weather long pants.
My layering system works like this:
Silkweight polyester shirts. I like to have one short sleeve and one long sleeve. The long sleeve for camp, sleep and or sun protection. Two shirts because I will often soak one through while hiking hard.
Silkweight polyester long johns. Use them for sleep and cold weather. Can be worn alone under rain pants or layered up with hiking pants. Substitute expedition weight long johns for colder weather-- these are much like the light fleece top and are great under rain pants when it is cold and wet and great for sleeping in.
Long sleeve, half-zip light fleece shirt-- Powerstretch, 100 weight, or similar. I can't say enough about these tops-- light, soft, warm and wicking. You can wear them next to your skin or layered up and they are excellent to sleep in. The Mountain Hardware Powerstretch Zip long sleeve top is incredible (so is the price). You can find all sorts of 100 weight fleece tops that will do the trick. EMS has one that is very good.
Nylon hiking pants. Light zip-offs if any warm weather is expected. Heavier more wind-proof and water repellant ones for colder seasons.
Polyfill vest, or long sleeve pull-over for colder weather. The Patagonia Micro Puff garmets are a good example. The BMW Cocoon gear would be good for colder weather/higher elevations.
Breathable wind shirt
Lightweight breathable rain pants.
Synthetic skull cap. Use for sleep and under hoods.
Wide brimmed hat with lanyard.
Light shelled synthetic
Light Coolmax blends and heavy synthetic for camp/sleeping
Light, short, stretchable-- to keep the mud and rocks out of my shoes and the mud off the bottom of my pant legs.
Fleece scarf (winter only)
Note I don't use down. My local climate is wet and I sweat-- not the combination for using down! Wool makes me itch. I just tried a wicking shirt made by Outdoor Research that I assumed was all polyester. I found it really itchy and sure enough, it was 7% wool. Many of the posters here like wool blends and more power to you of you can use it. My base layers are 100% wicking polyester like Patagonia Capilene and GoLite C-Thru. Briefs and socks are Coolmax.
In use, I can take off on a morning with a short sleeve tee and wind shirt and unzip or take off the wind shirt as the temp goes up-- mine or the weather. I can wear the vest alone or with the windshirt. If I were using the long sleeve insulated top I would stow the wind shirt. I can wear the long johns with the long pants and/or rain pants. The zip-off pants change as the weather and temperature changes. Sleeping gear can be long sleeve shirt and/or fleece top and long johns with skull cap, heavy socks and insulated top as needed. Shelled, lightly insulated gloves are great with trekking poles in the rain. I wear fingerless bike gloves at other times. I use a Tilley T5 hat and I've been experimenting with plastic pith helmets.