The Global FlyFisher
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In spite of what most people think, breathable waders are well suited for winter fishing
I bought my first breathable waders - a pair of Vision Extremes - some years ago and haven't used anything else since.
Back when I bought them they were commonly known as lightweight summer waders meant for hot weather. The breathable mebrane helps perspiration evaporate and keeps you dry - or almost so - even on a hot summer day.
I immediately fell in love them and preferred them over my neoprenes from Bare. The Bare neoprenes are very comfortable made from some very soft neoprene material and have a very good fit.
But even so the Visions are much more comfortable, fitting loosely like a pair of trousers and with lots of freedom to move, kneel and climb around.
And they are of course breathable, meaning that the feeling (and smell) of warm, moist waders when I take them off after a long day's fishing has gone. Staying dry (from the inside and outside) is really the essence of being comfortable in your waders.
Staying dry has one other implication: warmth. Moisture leads the cold from the water in towards your body - or rather the warmth from your body out into the ever so cold water.
Tight neoprene and moist pants and underwear is the sure way to cold feet.
Loose breathables and dry underwear and fleece trousers is the sure way to warmth and comfort - even in freezing water.
And don't let enybody tell you the opposite!
I haven't worn my neoprenes since I bought my Visions, and I fish all year round. I have fished in water where I had to break the shoreline ice before I got out to the open water. And I didn't freeze!
I adjust the insulation by adding and removing layers beneath the waders. I have two layers that I use and combine: medium thick, modern high tech, sweat transporting underpants and thick fleece pants. I wear either or both depending on the water temperature. For socks I use Simms' excellent wading socks or thinner sweat transporting socks.
I don't use wool and never, ever cotton! The first is a bit scratchy for my taste the latter will suck moisture like paper tissue - even in breathable waders.
I wore down a pair of Visions within a couple years because of some poor wading boots that cut holes in the heels of the neoprene feet. The rest is still OK. I bought a new similar, but slightly improved pair, and I will probably buy the same type again in some years when the current pair falls apart.