Pants / underwear query

Hi all, wondering what folks use for their pants or underwear when doing wet raft/walk days ? My use here in Oz is unlikely to ever require a drysuit, so I tend to have pants, boarshorts or similar, and then just walk in them afterwards… which can lead to some thigh chafing. Much of my summer weather is in the high 20’s to low 40’s, in degrees celcius.

I figure greater rafters and travellers than I have had this issue before; so what do they use to overcome this problem ? Lycra nicks ? thermals (polypro or merino) pants or shorts ?

Hi Jules,

I’ve been using a pretty unorthodox solution for the last few years: homemade polartec fleece boxers. I’m pretty stoked on them for a couple reasons:
:arrow_right: Warm-when-wet. I can jump in the river, but then the water quickly drains out of most areas of them, and I can be warming up again.
:arrow_right: Drying. If I have them on without anything over them, body heat seams to driver the water out at a good rate.
:arrow_right: Underwear/outerwear. I can wear them as a pair of comfy shorts, alone.

By getting rid of the legs, they seem to eliminate most of the areas that hold a lot water in very wet conditions, and that also eliminates weight & bulk. I can get away w/ relatively heavy-weight fleece that way, too, and the insulation is focused around your high heat-loss areas. I now ski, snowshoe etc. in these shorts & rainpaints - bearing in mind that I’m in Washington state, not Alaska. The downside on mine is that the crotch holds water longer than anyplace else. Not sure how to solve this problem yet.

Thanks Shaggy, nice idea !

I’ve found this to be actually a quite difficult problem. I’ve also found that the fleece shorts are better than many options though. One thing that helps them drain is to make the leg cut-offs at an angle providing a drip point for water to escape at. But yeah, it’s hard to get the inner crotch to dry out, which is especially sad when your only drying option is sleeping in your clothes.

I have a friend who said he had trouble with chafing when trekking in the rainforest in southeast until he just went and bought some really nice underwear. I haven’t tried this yet, but the simplicity does seem appealing.

I’d love to hear some of the other solutions folks have come up with, because I’ve found that this (along with hand-insulation) is something I’ve never found a satisfactory solution to.


Most of my packrafting has been in NZ as “egress” from rivers I’ ve been fly-fishing,although I’ve also spent some time on the upper Yarra (I’m in Melbourne) in Spring each year.

In NZ I’ve used a variety of “legware”, such as thermals, with shorts over them; goretex packlite overpants; and this year goretex waders. It really depends on the temp as to what works best, but in my mind it is more important what you wear on the top. Last week we were rafting a river in NZ after spending a week and a bit fly fishing there, and we used our goretex waders with a 1/2-1mm neoprene top over them, and a waist belt (ie poor man’s dry suit). This kept us dry when sitting in a full (ie full of water) boat, but neither of us ever had “swims” . Once it got hotter after lunch (ie >25 degrees C), I just rafted in pants and the neoprene top, although my mate continued with the waders/neoprene combo.

It really comes down to your situation - even if we got completely soaked we were able to dry out each evening around a fire, but if the weather had been wet or cold, we would have tried to stay dry. As a day trip, who cares- just use something that is comfortable. The goretex overpants were great for this, and in passing I make the comment that the best value overpants I have ever bought have been the Cabelas Rainy R Mens Packlite pants - check out These pants are fantastically designed. The only negative with Cabelas is that they screw you with international postage (~20% of the order cost)

By the by, our rafting has been without spraydecks,so we tend to gain a lot of water within our rafts, and get quite wet. I’ve spray decked my raft, but still feel uncomfortable about using it (I’m still getting over some issues getting out of a kayak when I rolled it!!).

Andrew A

I am a avid shorts warer while hiking, even wearing them in winter down to freezing by just adding long johns. By chance I tried heavy weight silk long johns a couple of years ago and found them warm, comfortable and non chaffing (much better than wool). Last year I tried heavy weight silk boxer shorts for summer and they really help with chaffing while sweating. I hate to say it but there available from Cabela’s.