Why is my Knee Wet, Again?

As an angler, spending time on the water is not only essential to maintaining our skillset, but also our sanity. This peaceful time is always dreadfully short. Proper upkeep of our equipment ensures that time is meaningful and uninterrupted by damaged equipment.


Breathable waders provide a lightweight option to many anglers. They allow us access to hidden gems and deep holes - just beyond the reach of the riverbanks.


If you’re an angler like I am, waders are an essential piece of your self-care routine.

So, what happens when our waders start to leak? When one leg is wet after being in the water? Do we wrap our leg in plastic wrap and keep fishing? Do we throw the waders out and go spend a small fortune on a new pair? Do we send them back to the manufacturer* only to anxiously await their return?

The answer is simple … We repair our breathable waders ourselves. Oh ya, and we remember to take better care of them in the future


*Always defer to the manufacturer recommendations with any wader repair.


A word before we continue … You will need a few days to ensure proper repair of your leaky waders. This is not a quick fix. I’m not a magician. When done correctly, you’ll likely never have to worry about that leak again.


If you’re ready, let’s get started …

THE REPAIR JOURNEY


There are two phases to repairing a seam leak in your breathable waders.

  • Phase 1: Finding the leak

  • Phase 2: Fixing the leak

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Phase 1: Finding the leak

  • Fill ‘er Up Ladder Hose Assistant

  • Spray ‘em Down Rubbing Alcohol in Spray Bottle

Since there are two methods of finding a seam leak in your breathable waders. I have affectionately named them: Fill ‘er Up and Spray ‘em Down. Choose the method which works best for you and your environment. Even if you think you know where your leak is, I strongly suggest you VERIFY THE LEAK, before rendering any repair.

Phase 2: Fixing the leak

  • Dry Waders

  • Paper Towels

  • Permanent Marker

  • Cup of Hot Water from Sink

  • AQUASEAL + FD™ Flexible Durable Repair Adhesive - by GearAid

  • Nail/Paper Clip/Sharp Disposable Item

  • Cotton Tip Applicator (Q-Tip)

  • Rigid Card (Old Hotel Key, Business Card etc.)

  • Flat Working Surface and Flat Drying Surface (Preferable)

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Phase 1: Finding the leak


Fill ‘er Up

1. SECURE This method is used by securing your waders, INSIDE-OUT, in the upright fashion by using a ladder* (and preferably with the assistance of a strong and hilarious fishing pal). When using this method, be careful to not secure your waders by the shoulder straps alone. They could easily stretch/break and then we’ll be searching for an entirely different article to read, together.

2. PREPARE Grab your MARKER, PAPER TOWEL (or two) and HOSE.

3. FILL Slowly start to fill the leg, you believe, has the leak. As a general rule, you should only fill ONE leg at time and not fill the leg higher than the knee. Water is HEAVY, (1 Gallon of Water = 8.3 Pounds) Make sure your hilarious, yet strong friend is helping hold the waders securely. In my case, I knew my leak was just above the knee, I slowly added water just until I saw what looked like my own tears flowing from the seam as I was overwhelmed with excitement!

4. VERIFY

  • QUICKLY WIPE AWAY THE LEAKING WATER WITH A PAPER TOWEL. To verify water is coming through that exact seam

  • MARK the area to show where the leak is

  • DRAIN WATER FROM WADERS (and make sure the water is turned off)

5. DRY

Simple enough, right? Wrong. If we are honest with ourselves, this is likely how we got to meet each other in the first place. Drying our waders after each use is essential to their longevity and our own sanity. Tossing them into the back of the Jeep, until the next outing - doesn’t count as drying.


Breathable waders need internal air circulation in order to dry and prevent mold from forming. Mold?! Yes, mold.


Easiest way to prevent mold from forming?

-Stuff crumpled newspaper into your stocking booties and legs, allowing air circulation to assist in the drying process


Those of us who have leaks, sweat a lot, fall, or do not allow the necessary circulation for drying, likely already have mold starting inside our waders.


True Story. Alas, we can discuss that later...


Hang your waders, stuff your booties and allow for proper air circulation to ensure all areas are dry for a hassle-free repair. (At least 24-72 hours, depending upon the environmental conditions)


Spray ‘Em Down

1. PREPARE

  • Gather your spray bottle of ALCOHOL, PAPER TOWELS and MARKER.

  • Turn your waders INSIDE-OUT

  • Make sure your work area is well-lit

2. SPRAY

  • Just as the step describes, spray a generous amount of ALCOHOL onto the suspected area of concern. (The inside fabric that is now facing you)

  • Once you feel you have covered enough of the area, turn the waders right side in.

  • You can now inspect the outside area where you have just sprayed.

You should be able to easily identify where the ALCOHOL has penetrated through the seam onto the outside fabric. Turn your waders INSIDE-OUT and allow enough time to dry and mark the area.


ALCOHOL dries fairly quickly and should be ready to mark within 30 minutes or less.


NOTE: If that process does not work, allow the area to completely dry and proceed again.

  • Once dry, reverse the process by spraying a generous amount of ALCOHOL onto the OUTSIDE (material closest to the fish) material of the suspected area of concern and turn the waders INSIDE-OUT.

  • Inspect the inside material (material closest to your body when fishing) for any visible penetration of the ALCOHOL.

  • Allow the fabric enough drying time to MARK the area.

3. DRY

  • There are several reasons the Spray ‘em Down method is the preferred way to locate a leak in your waders. Dry time is just one.

  • When using ALCOHOL on a remote portion of breathable fabric, it significantly reduces drying time.

  • As stated in the previous method – Hang waders to allow for proper air circulation until all areas are dry for a hassle-free repair. (Depending upon the environmental conditions, this could be a few hours to overnight)

WHAT YOU’LL DO, Part II:

Phase 2: Fixing the leak


Hey - Congratulations on finding your leak! I’m proud of you.


Our work isn’t done yet. We’re so close to getting to back on the water – let’s not lose our marbles now.


Breathe. Focus. We got this.


1. VERIFY

I know – I’ve made you wait so long to talk about the actual fixing part.

But, trust me, this is really important.


ARE YOUR WADERS DRY?

If they aren’t, change out the newspaper & hang em’ back up. Go grab a beverage & tie some flies. If they are, GREAT! Now we can continue.


The reason I’m being a party pooper, is this – If your waders are not completely dry, the AQUASEAL + FD™ Flexible Durable Repair Adhesive - by GearAid, will not work as it is intended and there will be no river peace for us. We’ll be cranky anglers with wet bottoms. Nobody likes cranky anglers with wet bottoms. Not even fish.


2. PREPARE

  • Dry Waders √

  • Paper Towels

  • Cup of Hot Water from Sink

  • AQUASEAL + FD™ Flexible Durable Repair Adhesive - by GearAid

  • Nail/Paper clip/Sharp Disposable Item

  • Gloves (Optional)

  • Cotton Tip Applicator (Q-Tip)

  • Rigid Card (Old Hotel Key, Business Card etc.)

  • Flat Working Surface & Flat Drying Surface (Preferable)

There are many ways to repair seams that have sprung a leak - after a while, it’s all a blur -

I consulted with hard core Pacific North West Steelheaders from DRYFT. Nick Satushek, co-founder of DRYFT was kind enough to offer us some advice:


“Wader repair doesn’t have to be daunting, and if you take your time with it the end result should hold for a long time.”


He also stressed the importance of the type of sealant and knowing when to use it.

Here are two forms he recommends: AQUASEAL + FD™ and AQUASEAL + UV™

  • We will be repairing our waders with AQUASEAL + FD™. According to the Gear-Aid website, it is an “all-purpose flexible, durable, waterproof, and abrasion resistant adhesive that cures into a glue when dry”. PERFECT!

  • The AQUASEAL + UV™ is intended for quick fixes on the water or when a proper repair cannot be made. The UV technology allows for quick dry times to limit downtime on the water.

Nick and his team have an extensive article on wader repair which can be found here.


3. FIX

  1. Place your AQUASEAL + FD™ into a CUP OF HOT WATER. This will help the application process go much smoother.

  2. Lay out a PAPER TOWEL onto your FLAT WORKING SURFACE as your workstation.

  3. Include on it: SHARP ITEM, Q-TIP, RIGID CARD

  4. Arrange your waders on a flat working surface, preferably near your workstation with the inside material facing upward, where you previously marked your leak.

  5. Carefully remove the AQUASEAL + FD™ from the hot water.

  6. Remove the cap, flip it and use it to create an opening in the top of the tube.

  7. If your cap will not open the tube, then you must carefully use a sharp item such as a nail (I had this handy) or a paper clip to create a small hole in the top of the tube.

  8. Due to the pressure change, some adhesive may escape the tube. This is normal. Simply wipe away the excess and prepare to apply adhesive to the seam.

  9. Apply a thin line of the adhesive directly to the seam where you marked your spot. Start at one of the seam and continue all the way to the other end. Once complete, return the lid to the adhesive and return tube to the water.

  10. Take your Q-Tip and gently massage the adhesive into the fabric along the seam line, extending the adhesive just outside of the seam line. Continue with the Q-Tip, along the entire seam. This ensures all areas are covered by the sealant.

  11. Again, remove the sealant from the water and apply a thin line of adhesive along the seam line.

  12. Replace the cap and return to the water.

  13. Using your RIGID CARD, flatten out the adhesive by applying pressure just to the side of the seam and moving the card toward, over and away from the seam. This helps flatten the adhesive, creating a uniform seal.

  14. Once satisfied with the seal, clean workstation and store AQUASEAL + FD™ in freezer.