What to wear under waders?

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
For the OP, when it's cold chilly I wear chest waders (not pants waders) so I don't need to layer up like Ralphie's brother Randy.
*edit - When it's repeated ice in the guides cold, I wear "guide weight" neoprene chest waders.

When I will be hiking in/wading a ways (as I usually do) I wear UA compression boxers that reach below the thigh, a thin liner sock, mid-weight knee high socks, and a pair of closeout stretch nylon Filson upland game brush trousers. They're definitely not up to the Filson "Tough as Nails" slogan, but they have a soft-hand fabric and no rivets that could damage my waders, and they've got four big zippered pockets. I got them years ago from STP for a ridiculously low price.

On top I wear a merino Buff, a merino med-weight baselayer top, a nylon fishing shirt, and a hooded jacket. On my head over the Buff I wear a wool baseball cap, and over that goes a fleece Inca-style cap. I also wear some fingerless gloves with Thinsulate insulation and carry a fleece vest in my pack. If it's windy I'll pull the jacket hood on over my hats.

I became susceptible to painful frostnip in my hands while skiing-climbing many years ago so I also carry thin glove liners and neoprene fishing gloves that allow me to pull back and secure the thumb and index finger tips.

If I'm sitting in a boat I'll wear merino medium weight bottom, fleece pants, and a long sleeve fleece top under the jacket.

*edit - see above edit. I remember sitting out on Lone in my Watermaster one f***ing miserable, breezy, sleety day in March dressed as described above with the neoprenes and my head and core were warm enough that I didn't need to wear gloves! Landed some BIG fish too :cool: .
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Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
"What to wear under waders?"

When I first read that, I thought, "holy sheeeet! This guy maybe lacks the minimum requisite mental capacity to go fishing. He should probably stay home under parental supervision." Then I relaxed; maybe I was being a tad harsh. Everybody has to begin somewhere. And there was a time, a fairly long time, when I wore cotton Levis under my waders. Because Levis were my uniform that I wore everywhere for everything. Trial and error and some reading material informed me that cotton is a bad choice for hiking, hunting, and fishing. Wool is good. And various synthetics are good. When I look in my outdoor wear dresser drawers I see a lot of stuff by Smartwool, Patagonia Capilene, and similar brands. Select the weight and material for the expected conditions and hike and fish as comfortably as is possible.


Active Member
My favorite layer under waders is a pair of Patagonia Shelled Insulator Pants. I can wear them alone when fishing off the beaches in the Sound or add a long underwear layer when winter Steelhead fishing. I know they are expensive but they are really comfortable and don’t bunch up when putting on layers. Also checkout Simms' Coldweather Pants.


Active Member
I love the synthetic polypro and Patagucci's better capilene, but a friend of mine wandered too close to a campfire wearing it and it melted onto his leg, causing serious burns. Made me reconsider wool.
Some of those synthetics don't get along with dryers very well either.:(:(:(


Active Member
Filson Merino wool long socks, fleece pants, and army cargo pants as the final layer. The cargo pants are handy for the pockets and trapping warmth and don’t look too stupid before and after wearing waders.


Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
WFF Supporter
I tried these for the first time this winter and was impressed. Today, water temp was 34-36, air 38ish, sunny, and I was wearing thin breathable waders and didn't have any troubles staying comfortable. I have also wore the 32deg top and bottom in 45+ deg weather this winter and was fine, I overheat easily....


View attachment 227216
Damn, the resemblance is just too close!!


Trout Thank Me
WFF Supporter
Hahahaha... i might have to get a pair of these Lululemon tights to wear under my waders instead of my Zella running pants.



Active Member
WFF Supporter


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Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
I'm kind of glad that I'm just a poor schmuck. I don't have to spend my kids inheritance to outfit myself for winter fishing. I used to wear some wool socks over my everyday socks and my feet stayed warm. I would wear what I had on. Never did buy anything to keep myself warm. I would wear a sweatshirt, just to keep the cold at bay.

The only time I ever wished I had worn more clothes was the time I took a dunking on the Sauk in the middle of winter. I tripped on a branch buried in the sand on the river bed. I was wearing waist highs and the belt cinched up tight. I got soaked on top but may legs were still dry. This was where the Suiattle runs into the Sauk. I beat it back to Matt Burke's jeep and started up that cold son of a bitch jeep. That heater wouldn't warm up after we drove from Marysville to that bridge over the Sauk.

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