It was the first morning of the week last September up in Alaska. I cleared the frost off my jet boat the best I could and loaded up my excited clients. After a chilly thirty-minute boat ride up river, we were at our morning run. Silver salmon were breaking the surface all around as I led my guests through the water and into position. It didn’t take long for one of them to start complaining about a numb leg. We walked to shore, and sure enough the lower part of his left wader had about a gallon of icy water in it… Long story short, I stripped down and switched waders with him for the day instead of going back to the Lodge and missing the morning bite.
Do not find yourself in this situation your first trip out this year! Even if your waders did not leak at the end of last season, spending five minutes now can save you a huge headache later out on the water. There are several ways to do it, but this is how I do a quick check on my wader supply before the season really gets going.
- Make sure your waders are clean and dry. If need be, wash all the dry mud and gravel off and hang them to dry before moving on to the next step. I usually error on the side of caution and just use lukewarm water with no detergent.
- Next, turn your dry waders inside out all the way down to the neoprene booties. Using a spray bottle, coat the waders with a liberal layer of rubbing alcohol. You want to cover the entire wader, from waist all the way down both legs, especially the seams. Let this dry for a minute or two.
- To spot any leaks, turn your waders right-side-in again. The rubbing alcohol will bleed through the wader material and appear as a dark wet spot along any pinholes or tears. Common spots to check are along all seam lines and ankle areas.
If you do find a leak, it can usually be repaired by applying Aquaseal to the problem area. You want to apply the repair to the inside of the wader.
- First, locate the leak from the inside of the wader. At this point I will usually circle the spot with a marker to make finding it again easier.
- For a pinhole, you can simply apply a dab of Aquaseal directly on the hole. Using a popsicle stick or something similar, spread the Aquaseal around so it extends ½ inch radius around the hole and about 1/16 inch thick. Let this dry overnight and you should be good to go.
- For a larger hole, anything bigger than a pinprick, you will want to use the Aquaseal in the same manner, but also apply the adhesive backed patch material included in most wader repair kits. The patch material can be cut to size so it overlaps the hole by ½ inch. Place the patch directly over the Aquaseal, and let it dry overnight.
- For seam tears, things get a little more complicated. Often it is best to consider sending your waders in for a professional evaluation. Both Simms and Patagonia offer warranty programs, more information on that can be found on their websites. If you are looking for a quick fix, most seam issues can be addressed using the same Aquaseal instructions above.
Feel free to swing into the shop or give us a call for wader repair kits and further instruction. Stay dry out there!