How to pee with your waders on

December 9, 2018

This shouldn’t take too long. But knowing my propensity for long-winded descriptions of the sometimes obvious, we can probably run this into 800 words. The thing is, how to take a leak streamside isn’t real obvious to most anglers. It’s the waders. No, actually it’s the suspenders. That’s where the trouble starts . . .


Disclaimer: this is a guys-only-club kind of post. Lady fishers, you do your own thing, and trust none of my advice here. Because I just don’t know.


That extra morning coffee you drank on the way to the river, the auxiliary ounces you used to fight off the sleepyhead before dawn, it now settles into your bladder and brings on the urge about fifteen minutes after you finally wade into the water and start fishing.


So you wade over to the bank, remove most of your gear and take a leak. Then you put everything back on. This isn’t much of a problem in the summer. In fact, if you’re wet wading, all we’re talking about here is a pants zipper. And that’s just wonderful. But with waders, there’s a belt and suspenders at least, and if you have a jacket and vest or pack over top of those suspenders, now you have to remove all of it.

What if it’s raining? What if it’s cold? To get to your suspenders, you have to take off the raincoat and stand there hoodless — in the rain, in the cold — just to take a leak.

Fly fisher’s troubles — it’s a rough life.

So, you really don’t have to do all that. In fact, you don’t have to remove any layers to pee on a tree. Here’s what to do . . .


Most all waders these days come with removable buckles at the front. Unhook them on each side, and those buckles snap into each other (male end to female end). Somebody was thinking! And now, most companies have copied it. Thanks, free market.

Unsnap the buckles from the front of your waders, and snap them together, like this.

Snapped together, the suspenders form a loop. You can keep the suspenders in front of you by allowing the buckle to ride up to your neck. This way, the suspenders don’t fall down behind your shoulders when you push down the front of your waders to have a piss.

What about zippered waders?

A few years ago, wader manufacturers started offering zippers in the front of their waders. I think every guy who sees these for the first time thinks the same thing: “Nice! Now I can just unzip and take a leak.”

Not so fast.

All of the zippered waders I’ve worn have zippers that stop around the belt line. And I don’t know about you, but my man parts are lower than that. Wader makers understand that putting a zipper all the way down into the crotch seam is inviting disaster — there’s just too much material flexing with every step and the seams will fail. So they keep the bottom of the zipper up higher.

I’ve seen guys keep their suspenders loose to facilitate pulling the waders down far enough. But when I wore zippered waders, I just did the same buckle system described above. I found it much easier.


Let’s run through it, here.

  • Wade to the bank in 35 degrees and driving rain.
  • Find a tree with some good evergreen boughs to block about half of the rainfall.
  • Take your belt off.
  • Leave the hood up and coat on, but unzip your jacket.
  • Unsnap the wader buckles at the front, and then snap them into each other.
  • Put the suspender loop up by your neck to keep it in front of you.
  • Pull down the front of your waders.
  • Pee.
  • Unsnap, re-buckle, zip the coat, put your belt back on and go fish.

See what I mean? Now you’re still dry, still warm, and ready to catch the next Namer, lickety-split.

The two ends of your wader buckles, snapped together. This goes in front of your neck.


I should mention that most Patagonia waders do not detach in the front. Instead, they feature an internal suspender system where the waders can slide down the straps. The result is similar — you can pull down the top of your waders without taking off your outer layers or vest. But I find the procedure more difficult than the one I describe above. The trouble with the system resides in the back buckle. It requires some contortions and some luck to reach behind your back through puffy layers and undo the buckle. It’s even harder to rebuckle afterward. But . . . I’ve worn Patagonia waders for years and made it work.

The EZ-P Zipper

And if you really want to make things quick, you can’t do it any better than installing a waterproof zipper right where you really need it.Take a look at  the EZ-P.

Check that out. Photo from Bill Anderson.

If you want a waterproof zipper like this in your waders, email Bill Anderson ( He has a bunch of high quality waterproof zippers that he’ll install in your waders. Nice. And here’s a PDF with more info on the EZ-P.

Let’s call it

That’s about it for this public service announcement on peeing in the woods with your waders on. Tune in Wednesday for your regularly scheduled Troutbitten programming.

Fish hard, friends.

(That was 808 words.)


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky



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andrew m

One drawback (or benefit?) is if you have tall waders and short straps, you can get a little choked up when using this technique.

Alex Argyros

And I thought that you had some pretty terrific ideas in past posts! This is up there on the list of all-time great flashes of human insight. Now I can drink coffee on days when I go fishing with my waders on. I, and my bladder, thank you.

Larry Ragan

At first I figured this post would include a description of a hose and siphon system, relieved to see it did not! You may not think this is helpful but I never knew the strategy of connecting the buckles, thanks for sharing!

Depends work for me. Never leave your spot.

Kerry Gubits

I am quite pleased that at the age of 64 my prostate still functions mostly as it did when I was 24. So, I really don’t mind the very occasional need to pee, welcoming the opportunity as a pause in the action. Unlayering, disrobing, and unbuckling aren’t the worst things I have to do in a day on the water. But thanks for the tip, anyway.

One problem not being addressed: your bladder is bursting . . .but the trout are rising and you really want to keep fishing. NFL players solve this by simply peeing themselves. Maybe the market is ripe for a fisherman’s version of Depends? This would be a rather radical solution, but it is much better than a brakeman’s helper. Thanks for keeping it real Dom.


Have you seen TV ads where two NFL football players are wearing Depends Diapers for Men? They work! Just put them on before you leave the house. It would be difficult putting them on by the river. You would scare away all the trout! (8-).


I’ve always said there are only two types of trout fishermen: Those who at one time have peed in there waders and those who lie about it.

Brent B

I’ve enjoyed your blog for sometime now, but wow, this post is pure gold (no pun intended). This is quite possibly the most useful bit of wisdom I’ve ever read on a fly-fishing blog.

Thank you sir.

I almost never think of having to pee, until I’m quitting and am within 15 feet of the bank, Then I really got to go.


We need a female to give advice for the girls out here


I bought some trouser type waders from LLBean that totally solve the peeing problem. Loosen the belt, pull them down a few inches and… ahhhhhhh. By the way, these waders go up to my ribcage, providing protection in water as deep as I would go in my traditional waders.

Dom, Thanks for mentioning my EZ-P zipper. I use a guaranteed waterproof zipper. It is designed for dry suit SCUBA divers and each one is pressure tested by the manufacturer before shipping. All someone has to do is to ship their waders to me and I will permanently install the EZ-P exactly in the right place for male plumbing! Never have to take your vest, jacket, belt or wader straps off again! In fact I have been known to continue a dry fly drift while keeping my flies dry with the other hand. By the way, I have a solution… Read more »

David Pcholinski

Are you gonna have a part 2 for this for the #2, or can Bill put a zipper in the rear for that action also? Asking for a friend!!!

michael maynard

Waist high waders: drink all the coffee you want; I even carry a small thermos of the stuff on those chilly days. If the waders are a little big, even better. Just push em’ down and whiz away. Pull em’ back up, Urkel like, and fish on.

Keith Kijowski

So I usually find that taking that 9:00 a.m. defication situation is my biggest so, maybe someone will create a zipper in the back. I know- you can’t help me.


I spend lots of time wading to shallow water to find the water line below the pee line. I believe the simplest solution is wet wadding, with quick dry pants. Cold and polluted water requires waders. So I unhook the straps and let them pull up to my shoulders and they will stay there with you fishing vest holding them there. if they dont., I have a thermostat clipped onto each strap to give more length for the “pull down”. You keep everything on. Another almost perfect solution is to glue a PVC tube in the desirable area of your… Read more »

Domenick Swentosky

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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