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A lot of people wonder what to wear under waders for fishing, a problem that we are here to tackle today, pun totally intended. Well, this does depend on the season, because obviously in the summer you need to stay cool, so you are not going to wear nearly as much under the waders as you would in the winter when you need to keep dry and warm.
A thin layer under your waders will do just fine for the summer, but for the winter you will need a little more than that. Here is a complete rundown of what is recommended for both summer and winter fishing.
If you need some good wader suggestions, check out our buyers guide here.
What To Wear Under Waders In Summer?
Ok, so let’s start off with the easy stuff. As we mentioned earlier or, common sense dictates that during the summer when it is hot out, you won’t want to wear very much under the waders.
You see, waders are designed to be waterproof and windproof, for the most part, and this means that they do not breathe very well, or really they do not breathe at all, which means that you will probably get hot and sweaty in them no matter what. So, a minimal clothing approach is probably best when it comes to what to wear under your waders in the summer.
Let’s take a quick look at what you might want to wear under your waders during the hotter months of the year;
When it comes to your top and torso, during the summer, most people do just fine with a good old T-shirt. Just something to keep the rubber from the waders from directly touching your skin, as that can be a bit uncomfortable and cause chaffing.
If you are worried about getting a sunburn or being eaten alive by bugs, a really thing and breathable long sleeve shirt will do. Remember that it is summer, so you really do not want to wear anything thick that cannot breathe.
Heck, some hardcore anglers don’t wear any shirt under their waders and go bare belly, which is fine if you don’t mind the rubber or neoprene up against your skin.
When it comes to the pants you should be wearing under the waders, there are some things to note here. Now, you might be tempted to wear short shorts, or even just a pair of underwear under your waders. Once again, if you are not worried about being uncomfortable or chaffing, sure, go for it.
However, most people find it quite uncomfortable to have that rubber against their skin, especially if it gets moist, because that can cause serious discomfort. Therefore, we would recommend wearing some really thin long legged pants, something like spandex pants, leggings, sweat pants, track pants, or something equally as thin and breathable.
Yes, the pants should be fairly thin to minimize weight and maximize breathability, but they should feature full legs so the waders are not directly on your skin.
When it comes to the socks you wear, here you definitely do not want to go bare foot. Have you ever worn rubber boots without socks? Yeah, it is blister central if you do that.
You absolutely need to wear socks in your wader boots. Some people prefer thin sport socks, some people like wool socks, and some like basic polyester too. This comes down to a matter of personal preference and comfort more than anything else.
Something we would recommend here is that you should wear a decently thick pair of socks, even in the summer. Rivers and streams are still often quite cold no matter what time of year, and if you are standing in that cool water for a prolonged period of time, your feet will probably get cold.
So, a good pair of wool socks might just be the best option to go with here, and it is recommended that you bring an extra pair just in case.
What To Wear Under Waders In Winter?
Now, the winter is a bit trickier because of course you do need to keep warm. Frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold related ailments are all real dangers when you are fishing in the winter, especially with your feet and legs submerged in freezing cold water. Therefore, you do need to dress appropriately during the winter, even under your waders.
Something that we do want to mention here before we cover what you need to wear under the waders, is that for the winter, you want to find waders that have some fleece or other kind of insulation on the inside.
Any kind of extra layer of insulation to keep your warm from the wind and cold air, as well as from cool water, is going to go a long way here. A fishing trip is not going to be fun if you are freezing cold within minutes of starting, so wearing proper layers under your waders is a big deal.
Let’s talk about what you should wear on your body, legs, and feet under your waders in winter;
So, as you are going to quickly find out here, the key to what to wear under your waders during the winters is layers. Layers, layers, and more layers. Now, of course is going to depend on just how cold it is, but as a rule of thumb, a minimum of 2 layers is recommended, or even 3 layers for extreme cold.
So, let’s quickly talk about each layer you want to wear on your body under the waders. The first layer should be something that wicks away moisture. Some kind of fabric that sits close to the skin and can draw moisture away from your body is needed because wetness quickly leads to heat loss and cold. Something like a Thinsulate long sleeve winter sport shirt should do fine here.
Second, you want a layer for warmth and insulation. Some kind of long sleeve fleece or wool sweater is going to be ideal for this layer. Anything that is good for insulation should be the second layer.
Finally, if it is very cold out, a good old winter coat is something else to look for. You should look for something that is wind and waterproof, and something that has a decent amount of insulation for this final and outer layer.
Don’t forget: a good pair of gloves can also come in very handy, we have covered our top 5 here.
Yes, if you are wearing waders and fishing during the winter, chances are that at least a portion of your legs are going to be in the water, so the theme of layers is more important here than ever before.
Let’s go over the layers of clothing you want to wear on your legs under your waders during the winter. Remember that you do want to stay fairly mobile and flexible where your legs are concerned, so generally speaking, 2 layers is what you should go for when it comes to your legs.
Keep in mind that winter fishing waders are wind and waterproof, and most of them come with some sort of insulation, so you do not have to worry quite as much about warmth.
Once again, the first and inner layer should be something that can both keep in warmth and wick moisture away from your legs. A good pair of winter long underwear come to mind here, something that fits tight around your legs and will draw moisture away from your skin.
The second layer you should wear under your waders, when it comes to your legs, should consist of some sort of thick pants. Good winter sweat pants, something insulated, maybe something made of wool or fleece should do fine.
Some people actually choose to go with jeans, which are not the worst in terms of warmth, but they probably won’t be too comfy to wear under waders.
Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind here is your feet. Your feet are going to constantly be in the water, and even in the waders, they might get pretty darn cold, so we would definitely recommend wearing dual layers of socks.
Just like above, the first layer should be a fairly thin pair of socks. Your feet may get moist in the waders, and that will quickly lead to massive heat loss. Therefore, a pair of socks that can wick moisture away from your feet is a must have.
Moreover, you will also want to wear a second pair of socks, some kind of super thick wool or winter sport socks are needed here, really anything thick that will provide your feet with a heck of a lot of insulation from that cold river water.
Do You Wear Shoes With Waders?
No, generally speaking you do not wear shoes with waders. Waders are designed with special rubber or neoprene boots that are attached right to the pant portion of the waders. They will be glued, stitched, or welded together, and often a combination of all of the above.
Think about it this way, if your waterproof boots were separate from your waterproof pants, the section where they are separated, the section which does not come together, would in fact not be waterproof. Water would get in there.
Therefore, one of the main features of waders is that the boots are directly attached to the pant legs to form a waterproof seal, and thus you do not wear shoes, because the boots already are your shoes, but remember that you do wear socks inside of the waders, such as we talked about above.
Alright folks, always remember to layer up your clothing under the waders during the winter. A base layer that can wick away moisture from your skin and a secondary layer for warmth is definitely recommended.
During the summer, you should wear clothing under the waders to keep them from directly contacting your skin, but at the same time, clothing should be minimal in the summer to avoid overheating and excessive sweating. When it comes down to it, this can be a bit of a trial and error process until you figure out what works best for you.