What is the universe made of? What genetic changes made us uniquely human? Are we alone in the universe? What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? What should I wear under my waders?
These age-old questions, specifically the wader question, have haunted many a human. How many times have you stood over your suitcase, every dresser drawer open, and every item of outdoor clothing you own strewn across your bed? It embarrasses me to say that this happens almost every time I pack for a fishing trip. If your fishing trip includes waders, what to wear underneath said waders becomes another layer in the suitcase dilemma.
With so many options in the marketplace today, your only option may seem like running to Nordstrom’s to pick up the larger size Tumi. Let me just say, there are worse things than having a lot of options. Here is what I love to wear under my waders.
It’s no surprise that my favorite item under my waders is my FisheWear leggings. Especially if it’s a warm weather day, these colorful beauties fit well and make getting into and out of waders a breeze! Leave the shoehorn at home. You won’t need it with these on. As a side note, these make excellent flats pants for that spring trip to Belize. They’re breathable, quick-drying and have a UPF of 50+. Oh, and they take up absolutely no room in said Tumi.
The older I get, the less I like the cold — or maybe I should say the less the cold likes me. Growing up in the Midwest, I spent many a day living in Capilene. To me, there’s no more versatile cold weather baselayer. Comfy and cozy like my favorite sweater on a crisp morning, these are a must-have in my suitcase when I’m headed to the river on a cool spring day. I can easily layer them under my favorite fishing pants, and they now come in such great colors that they can make the transition from river to dinner without an issue. My only issue with these is that I tend to never want to take them off. There are worse things than climbing into bed in what you wore under your waders, right? As a side note, these make excellent “stuffers” in your suitcase to protect other items (like your fly reels if you pack them in your checked bag).
In cases of fishing in a deep freeze, keeping yourself warm under your waders is trickier than landing a steelhead on a dry fly. Back in the day of bulky layers, trying to fit everything under my waders was more of a workout than walking to the river. Today, there’s no need to be bulky and uncomfortable. My favorite layer is easily a soft micro suede fleece layer which fits just like the sweatpants you used to wear from bed to your early morning college class. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. As a side note, layering that capilene layer under these will give you the added warmth you may need.
Don’t forget your piggies!
I have Raynaud’s phenomenon. I swear it has something to do with frost biting my toes as a child ice skating on the lake in Wisconsin. Whatever the reason, when my feet get cold at all, I can’t feel my feet, which makes it difficult to wade a river. Fortunately, a good pair of socks helps. I’m a wool lunatic. Wool keeps my feet warm, even if I spring a leak in my waders or, more likely, fall in the river.