Wear the Right Thickness of Wader
If there is one thing that I wish everyone knew about neoprene wader wear, it’s this: The thickness of your waders directly affects how warm you will be on the water. Waders are designed to keep out water and cold air, but they only do so when properly fitted. If there is too much material in your waders, or if they are too loose around the ankles and wrists, then some heat will be lost through the extra material.
If you want to maximize the comfort of your fishing experience while wearing neoprene waders, make sure they fit correctly by choosing the right thickness for your activity and location.
Include a Layering System
- The weather will affect what you wear. If it’s a warm day, you’ll want to choose a thin base layer (like Under Armour) and then a light midlayer. If it’s winter-y cold out, fit in a thick base layer (like Patagonia) before putting on your midlayer and outer shell.
- Keep different thicknesses of clothes in bags for every season. When you get dressed in the morning, grab the bag for that day’s weather conditions and put on whatever garments are inside!
Wear a Wading Belt
If you’re wading in water, it’s a good idea to wear a wading belt. A wading belt helps prevent water from leaking into your waders and it also allows you to easily keep track of your gear. Wearing a neoprene or nylon belt is safer than not wearing one because if something happens and you fall in the water, the belt will keep your gear on your person instead of floating away with the current. You can purchase either kind online at most sporting goods stores for around $20-$30.
Adjust Your Waders to the Exact Fit
Waders should be tight enough to prevent water from pooling inside, but loose enough to allow for comfortable movement. You should be able to feel the waders touching your skin, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they restrict your ability to bend and flex at the knees, ankles and elbows.
Waders are designed with adjustable straps along the sides of each leg. Adjust these straps until you can feel a slight pull on one side of your body when standing upright in them; this is meant to help hold up your waders as you walk around wearing them over long periods of time without getting tired or fatigued easily.
Don’t Forget Warm Underwear
Don’t forget warm underwear.
Wading in cold water is uncomfortable, and you’ll get wet even if your waders are keeping your legs dry. Your core will start to feel the chill first, so protect it by wearing a pair of long underwear under your regular clothes. Then put on your wading belt, which will help keep heat in as well as hold up your waders so they don’t fall down around your ankles when you bend over.
The best clothes to wear under neoprene waders are a long-sleeved midweight wicking shirt, lightweight layers of wool or polypropylene over that, and polypropylene underwear.
If you can, it’s best to wear a long-sleeved wicking shirt under the waders. This will keep you warm and dry, even if you get wet. You don’t want your skin feeling cold in the water or getting chafed by your clothes. It also helps protect against hypothermia—not something you want to be worrying about while fishing!
Wool or polypropylene layers are good options for layering over your long-sleeved shirt because they are lightweight, packable, easy to put on and take off (important when wearing gloves), and provide extra warmth without restricting movement or being bulky like fleece does.