What are your favorite winter socks for wading?

Jeremy Floyd

fly fishing my way through life
I have a couple pairs of Filson's that I have had for several years specifically for winter wading but a couple of them are getting bare on the heels. Wondering if anything novel has come out or maybe there is another product I can take a look at.

Historically my feet are the only part of me that gets cold in the winter.
Smartwool makes a pair of wool socks that is a blend so they arent nearly as itchy. They make a pair called "Expedition weight" they are awesome. I was down on the Sandy river this weekend and was using them until my waders sprung a leak so today I used just a normal pair of smartwools not the expedition weight ones and they still kept my feet alive, but not as warm. You can get them at REI for between $15-$20
The subject of silk. In winter.

Long time ago I learned about the "layer theory" and I still still stick with it.

Feet: First, a pair of silk socks, then smartwool.

Lower half: A pair of silk longjohns, then a pair of wool/poly mountain pants which I originally bought for snowshoeing.

Upper half: Silk turtleneck, followed by LL Beaner riverdriver shirt, followed by wool shirt. Wool cap.

Over all. A pair of Dan Bailey's, and a half length goretex parka.

For what its worth, keeps me from getting totally froze up when wading.

Layering -- What otter said.
For socks I'm using merino liners w/ REI brand exped wt sock. Both pairs together ran in $20-25 range. Guessing the silk liner is better still. If I'm in the tube and it's below 40 I'll go with medium wt sock and those heated gel thingies...they work (don't expect that toasty-warm feeling from them...your feet will still feel cool, just not frozen or numb).

Whaddever ya do, leave a little room in your boot or you'll always freeze yer nubbs.

Zen, good point about this thread, but really, I hope you're wearin' more than just those double weight hikers right now! (uh huh-huh)
Zen Piscator said:
Right now im wearing patagonia double weight hikers. But seriously, isnt this the weakest thread evah??
Depends on your age. And how much fun you had when you were young and bulletproof.

Much as I hate to admit it, I'm not bulletproof anymore. Fishing the Crystal River in Colorado, Christmas 1968, in 501's and longjohns and Converse sneakers with wool socks just doesn't make it anymore (and yes I was wading). Too old and beat up, now But I picked up a 24" Brownie that day.

So I have to pay more attention to creature comfort.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Many years ago I got a pair of wool socks. Worn them all the time and washed them once a year(wore them over my regular socks). But now I wear just a cheap pair of cotton socks and my feet are plenty warm. But I don't get out as much as I used to being where I live now. I'd have to break the ice in order to get a fly into the water.



Active Member
Wool is superior to fleece as a stocking material because of the strength and resiliency of the wool fiber. This is one of the few areas where wool exhibits an advantage over fleece. This resiliency means that wool will maintain a certain amount of loft, and therefore, insulation under the foot, while fleece will compress, losing much if not all of its ability to insulate.

In a liner sock, the least desireable characteristic is absorbency. The lower the absorbency, the more insensible moisture will be passed through to outer layers and away from the skin. Hal Weiss (Secrets of Warmth, The Mountaineers, 1992) rates some fibers as follows: Polyester .5%, Polypropylene .3%, Chlorofiber .3%, Acrylic 1.3-2.5%, Silk 5.0%, Cotton 8.0%. As you can see, silk doesn't perform too well compared to some of the other choices.

By the way, most people seem to use "polypropylene" or "polypro" as a generic term for almost any kind of long underwear; in fact, polypropylene is rarely used today in such garments. Polyester (as in Capilene, Patagonia's brand of polyester fabric) is the usual choice. Polypropylene is slightly superior where non-absorbency is concerned, but its shortcomings (body oil retention and resultant odors, low melting point and scratchy feel after a few washings) have made it rather hard to find anymore and it has almost entirely been supplanted by polyester.
I like wool Carhartt boot socks because they are warm and hold up well. Wearing them in 5mmstockingfoot neoprenes, they keep my feet toasty" whether steelheading or in my pontoon boat or tube.


Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Your feet perspire more than any other part of your body so transporting moisture away from them is key to all-day comfort and warmth. Whether fishing or hiking, I wear thin polyester liner socks under thick wool outer socks. The poly socks wick away perspiration into the thick wool.

I've tried any number of expensive wool socks over the past three decades and many of them are teriffic. I've still got 2-1/2 pair of Smartwools I bought 7 years ago for a trip to Alaska.

But IMHO the best value going in outdoor socks today is the 4-pack of Merino wool socks from Costco for $10.99. Aside from the logo embroidered on the outside of the foot, they're otherwise identical to Smartwools, but at a quarter of the price. I'm still going on the 4-pack I bought almost two years ago. They loft up thick and heavy after every washing and show no signs of wear in the usual places.

Sadly, after our latest bout of cold weather, my wife has 'discovered' them in my drawer and has apporpriated them for her own use as well.


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