You’ve probably read or heard recommendations to dry your waders out in between uses, possibly to avoid mildew damage. You might be wondering why this is important? The main reasons is to avoid mildew growing on the inside which can damage the fabric and seam tape. Some amount of condensation will always be present on the inside of waterproof breathable waders, simply because of how the fabric functions. The material used on breathable waders works in this way; there are thousands of tiny holes, that are too small for moisture (water) to fit through but are big enough for vapor or air to move through. This allows air to flow through, hence making them breathable, but keeps water from passing through. Because the human body naturally passes moisture out through the skin, a bit of condensation build up throughout the legs, feet, knees and on the ankles is normal. This is just a function of moisture escaping the body and being left on the inside of the breathable membrane as the warm air escapes out through the fabric and leaves moisture behind. If you’re interested we have more information about condensation here.
The bottom line is that it pay to dry your waders to avoid mildew damage. Mildew is not only gross, but it actually damages waterproof breathable fabrics and seam tape making them more likely to wear out and need to be replaced faster. So just hang your waders up to dry in a warm well ventilated area, allow them to dry out completely between uses, and you’ll be ready for your next trip with dry and warm waders. We’ll leave you with these example photos below of what to avoid! The black spots throughout is all black mildew, doing it’s best to damage and ruin these waders.
Take care of your zipper, and your zipper will take care of you.
From pocket zippers to waterproof zipper front wader models, all of our fishing waders have multiple zippers that provide different levels of function. The pocket zippers keep things organized and in place, while the main waterproof zipper on the Primo Zip front wader allows easy in and out access. ALl of the zippers need a little care from time to time to keep them running smoothly and operating for the long run. Here are four easy steps for how to care for your zippers.
Keep all debris such as dirt, sand, fishing line, clothing, bait goop, and salt crust out of the zipper teeth.
Always store and pack fully unzipped. The exception to this is when hanging your zip front waders it is recommended to hang them fully zipped up. Packing them fully unzipped helps prevent damage.
Never force a stuck zipper. Instead lubricate thoroughly and gently back off.
Notes on storage and transport of zip front wader models. We recommend storing and transport your waders fully unzipped, with the exception of hanging zip front waders fully zipped up. Never bend or fold your waders when zipped up as this can add stress and create a weak point in the zipper. When packing for travel, fully unzip your waders and roll them from the feet up and try not to pack them at the bottom of your baggage with heavy items on top.
A final point about waterproof zipper front models. Foreign matter caught in the zipper can result in damage which may not be covered under warranty. Keep it clean and never force the zipper. If the zipper sticks at all when zipping, stop immediately and gently unzip in the opposite direction if possible, and then clean the zipper thoroughly before using again. We recommend Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant and Zipper Lubricant Stick from Gearaid to get it sliding smoothly again. Use the snap at the top to take stress off and keep it from pulling apart while wearing.
How to find a leak and repair your breathable waders
Use these instructions and photo examples below to find and repair pinholes, tears, or holes in your breathable waders.
If there is a visible tear or hole then skip this step and proceed to step 2. To find a leak, first carefully visually inspect the area and see if you can see any tiny holes or tears. Often times you’ll be able to find the spot just by looking closely. If there is no visible hole or tear, then the alcohol method works well to find it.
To do this turn the waders inside out, and spray or rub a small amount of rubbing alcohol over the area you think is leaking. Then flip the waders back right side out and look for the wet spot. Any leaks will show as a damp spot on the outer side of the fabric. Mark this with masking tape or a marking pen, dry the waders and then move on to the repair.
Usually a small tear or leak can be completely repaired with just a little Aquaseal. Once you locate the leak, the easiest repair is to coat one or both sides with Aquaseal. A tip for using Aquaseal is to heat the bottle just a bit in warm water, which makes it much easier to use. To spread it, use a flat squeegee (a piece of cardstock or a business card works well) to form a thin layer over the affected area.
We recommend using some masking tape to mask off the area around the tear or pinhole to keep it contained to just the area around the tear.
For a durable wader repair using the material supplied in the repair kit, usually for a larger tear or rip, use a piece of the fabric supplied to cover the tear. Cut a piece of fabric to the relative size of the tear allowing it to overlap. Then Aquaseal over the tear, stick the fabric down and seal the edges of the fabric with Aquaseal.
This will create a permanent patch. Before doing any Aquaseal repair mask off the area with some masking tape, scotch tape, or any tape to help keep the Aquaseal in a neat area over the repair. Make sure to remove the tape after 10-15 minutes while the Aquaseal is still wet.
The seam tape that is included in the repair kit is heat activated. This is a bit more advanced, and there is potential for damage since you’ll be applying heat to an area of the fabric. For at home, an old iron set to medium high temp can work well to ‘iron on’ a bit of seam tape to the inside of the waders. This probably won’t be necessary and is not normally required. However this can seal the inside on a small tear, pinhole, or seam nicely when done correctly. This backing can also be done with gear repair tape like Tenacious tape.
Get back to fishing.
Note: Also recommend carrying Aquaseal UV on trips. It cures within 20-30 seconds in direct or indirect sunlight (UV) and can save the day in a pinch.
Photo examples of patching a tear.
In these photo examples we will show you steps to locate and repair breathable waders. This example shows an abrasion in the breathable wader fabric, that is repaired using Aquaseal and a fabric patch.
1 – 3. Photos showing the hole. This tear is visible on the exterior and interior. Photo 3 shows what the alcohol test looks like. For non visible pinholes it will just look like a wet spot.
4. Apply backing on the inside. In this photo we used heat sealed seam tape, essentially applied with a hand held iron. In place of seam tape you can use a gear repair tape like Tenacious tape, or skip this step altogether. If skipping, we recommend putting some regular tape on the inside over the hole to prevent Aquaseal from squeezing through in the next step.
5 & 6. Apply Aquaseal. We usually cut a small piece of cardboard stock from the packaging to apply. Apply Aquaseal and smooth over the hole, making sure it completely fills and covers the hole.
7. Measure and cut a piece of fabric from the supplied repair kit. Tenacious tape can be used in place of wader fabric in this step as well. Just be sure to cut the tape patch oversized enough so that there is at least 1/2 inch extra on all sides to stick to the fabric, and not over glue.
8. Apply a thin layer of Aquaseal to the backside of the fabric piece. Again use a small piece of cardboard or a business card as a tool.
9. Stick it down and let it dry. If the edges are lifting up you can use some masking tape to hold it down temporarily. So long as there isn’t a lot of extra glue coming out the edges the tape can be removed once it is dry.
10. To make a clean looking patch, surround the patch and any areas you don’t want to Aquaseal over with masking tape. Then apply Aquaseal around the edges of the patch. Be sure to remove the tape while the Aquseal is still wet. Otherwise it will be permanent. This step is completely optional.
11. The finished patch. This patch is very durable.
First off, you may be wondering why you would want to wash your waders. There are several reasons why you should wash your waders. Keeping them clean and free of dirt, oils, fish slime, etc will prolong the life of the materials and help your waders last longer. Washing them will also help get some of the funk out, so they won’t be quite so pungent stinking up the car on the drive to the river.
We get questions from time to time on the best way to wash waders, so here are some tips.
Wash your waders by hand
We recommend hand washing your waders with some mild soap in cold or lukewarm water using a soft rag. A mild scrub down should work to clean as much of the dirt that will come off by hand and keep the waterproof fabric repelling water like it should. Hang dry until completely dry and then if desired use some DWR spray reviver on them. Nikwax and GearAid (maker of Aquaseal) make spray on DWR reviving applications for use after cleaning. The GearAid ReviveX is a good product that does a great job of reinvigorating DWR coatings. You will want to clean up the waders as much as possible (hand wash) before using it and then just spray it on when the waders are dry.
We don’t recommend machine washing waders and when it comes to using the dryer we just say no. Our reasons are that we don’t like the possible abrasion and catching or bunching that could possibly occur during the wash cycle (this sort of depends on the machine type), and also don’t like to soak the inside seams with water. Never put waders in the dryer as the heat can damage the seam tape.
Once your waders are all washed up just hang them to dry and then store in a cool dry place.
So you just picked up some new breathable fishing waders, and now you want to make sure you get the most possible use out of them? You came to the right place to learn how to take care of your new fishing waders.
Luckily breathable waders are pretty low maintenance, and doing just a few things will help prolong the life of them.
Drying your waders between uses
One of the main things you can do to prolong the life of your waders is dry them thoroughly, inside and out, between uses. Wet and damp waders stuffed in the trunk of your car or dumped on the garage floor tend to grow mildew, which breaks down materials inside and out.
Always hang dry your waders after each use, and not only will you avoid breakdown of materials but the wader funk won’t turn your head on a swivel next time you go to put them on. If there is any moisture from condensation on the inside it’s important to dry the inside as well. This is usually accomplished just by hanging them right side out in a cool dry place. In the winter time hanging them in a furnace room, or near a de-humidifier to dry is a good idea. Otherwise a cool, dry place with airflow works just fine.
Keep all zippers, especially waterproof models, clean and free of any dirt, oils, fishing line or other debris. Foreign matter caught in the zipper can result in damage which may not be covered under warranty. Keep it clean and never force a stuck zipper. If it sticks gently back off in the opposite direction if possible, then clean and lube the entire zipper thoroughly before using it again. We highly recommend using zipper protectants and lubricants such as Zip Tech and Zip Care to keep your zippers performing as they should for years to come. Use the snap at the top (if applicable) to take stress off and keep it from pulling apart while wearing.
How to wash your waders
We recommend hand washing your waders with some mild dishsoap in cold or lukewarm water using a soft rag. This should work to clean as much of the dirt that will come off by hand and keep the waterproof fabric repelling water like it should. Hang dry until completely dry and then if desired use some DWR spray reviver on them. Nikwax and GearAid (maker of Aquaseal) make spray on DWR reviving applications for use after cleaning. The Mcnett/GearAid ReviveX is a good product that does a great job of reinvigorating DWR coatings. You will want to clean up the waders as much as possible (hand wash) before using it and then just spray it on once the waders are dry.
We don’t recommend machine washing waders. Our reasons are that we don’t like the possible abrasion and catching or bunching that could possibly occur during the cycle (this sort of depends on the machine type), and also don’t like to soak the inside seams with water.
Transporting waders safely
When transporting waders in luggage or just back and forth during fishing trips, the safest way to transport is to roll them loosely from the feet up and pack them at the top of your bag with heavier items under them. If you have a waterproof zip front model, it is very important to unzip all the way before rolling or packing them. If the zipper is zipped and then folded it can create a crease that can cause the zipper to fail.
We get questions about condensation from time to time; what’s normal, what should I expect, are my waders leaking?
Before we dive into what condensation looks like and what can be done to manage it, a little background on why.
How Breathable Fabric works
The material used on breathable waders works in this way; there are thousands of tiny holes, that are too small for moisture (water) to fit through but are big enough for vapor or air to move through. This allows air to flow through, hence making them breathable, but keeps water from passing through. Because the human body naturally passes moisture out through the skin, a bit of condensation build up throughout the legs, feet, knees and on the ankles is normal. This is just a function of moisture escaping the body and being left on the inside of the breathable membrane as the warm air escapes out through the fabric and leaves moisture behind.
Condensation dampness occurs when there is water moisture in the vapor, and as the air escapes through tiny holes in the membrane it leaves the moisture behind on the inside face of the fabric. This moisture then transfers or rubs onto the wearers inner layers. Condensation usually feels like dampness to the touch on the outside of the inner layer, that doesn’t soak all the way through to the skin. The dampness can be heavy at times, depending on the circumstances.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to be sweating or overly warm to experience condensation…the human body naturally expels moisture at all times.
Are my waders leaking or is this condensation?
You might be wondering how to tell the difference. First off, if you have multiple small damp spots on your pants that occur on both legs, but aren’t wet through to the skin then it is condensation. The spots can be small and limited to a single area, or they can be large and cover large parts of both legs, feet and torso. The first time you experience condensation it can be tricky to determine what the cause is. Just remember, if the layers you’re wearing under your waders are damp on the outside, but not wet through to the skin then it’s most likely condensation. If this has happened to you there are things that can be done to help manage it.
Epic condensation! The photo above is an example of poor layering choices (not wearing breathable layers), dressing too warmly for a cool morning which turned into a warm spring day combined with a long and brisk hike. This worked up quite a sweat and transferred moisture to the pants. In this extreme example of condensation the anglers long underwear under those sweatpants remained completely dry.
Managing condensation; switch it up
First thing is to switch your layers up. Try different combinations of pants, and socks. Sometimes just switching to a more breathable, fast drying, and moisture wicking layer can make all the difference in the world. If you’re wearing cotton pants, jeans, or cotton socks switch to wool or synthetics.
Two layers; no jeans!
We often recommend wearing two layers of pants under your waders; first a thin base layer, such as a synthetic or wool long underwear, and then another synthetic fleece pant over that. The weight of these layers can be adjusted for the weather conditions; heavier in cold weather and lighter in warm weather. The reason for two layers is this: when you’re working up a sweat and expelling a lot of moisture, it can build up on the inside of the waders and then brush back onto the base layer of pants, getting the outer part of the base layer damp. With a single layer this can be a little uncomfortable. But with two layers it only transfers to the top layer and your inner base layer keeps you nice and warm.
When it’s warm out it’s not comfortable to wear multiple layers though, and we wouldn’t recommend doing so in warmer temps as it would just be too hot. When it’s warm out we usually wear light shorts and tall socks. The combo keeps your feet warm and covers most of your legs so you don’t have direct skin on wader material contact. A lightweight synthetic or cotton short is best. Normally cotton is not advised as a base layer, but it is highly breathable and cooling so when staying warm is not a concern cotton can be a decent base layer. This only applies when it’s warm out and you want to stay cool. If cotton gets wet it loses all insulating properties and will make you colder, so it’s never advised as a layer in cold weather.
Jeans are the worst layer you can wear under waders, for several reasons. Jeans aren’t very breathable, are restrictive and are also abrasive so can damage the seam tape on your waders long-term.
We often do two layers of socks as well. A thin liner and a thicker outer sock. This helps form a buffer than mops up any condensation and helps keep your feet from that cold clammy damp feeling.
Layer down for the hike in
We often hike long distances into our fishing spots. Often this requires walking several miles at a brisk pace, and includes scrambling/climbing over hills, logs, and obstacles. This can work up quite a sweat. We usually take an upper layer off and unzip our waders or roll them down if possible for the hike. Then once we’re fishing and settle back into a normal pace we layer back up and get after it.
We hope you find this information helpful. If you have any questions at all send us a message.
Chances are if you’ve spent a good deal of time in waders you’ve struggled a bit dialing in the fit to get all day comfort from your waders. There are a few reasons why selecting the best fitting wader for your body size, and then dialing in the straps just right, is a best practice. We’ll dive into a few of those reasons here.
Dialing in the fit of your waders for durability and comfort starts before purchase. First step is to order the size that fits your body type best. We offer a sizing chart that helps do just that. To find the best fit you’ll need your shoe size, inseam length and biggest girth through the waist and chest. Use the size chart to find the waders where you fit into the correct range.
Once your new waders arrive it’s a matter of setting your shoulder straps to the appropriate height. This seems overly simple, but you’d be surprised at how often anglers don’t adjust the straps at all, or simply wear them too loose so the waders sag down and only come partway up the wearers chest. By adjusting the straps so that the waders ride as high as possible on the chest it takes strain off your back, and lets you fish hard all day long in comfort.
Not only will wearing a good fitting wader be more comfortable, it will also greatly increase the life of the waders themselves. Wearing your waders without the straps set high enough, or wearing waders that are too short or long in the inseam, or too baggy overall can cause undue wear from rubbing on the breathable material and can also cause stretching of the seams.
Excess fabric can cause folding or bunching in the legs, which when repeatedly bent and rubbed back and forth can actually cause the material to wear through over time. It’s an easy thing to avoid, but just needs to start at the beginning with adjusting your straps correctly to a high set position. Set your shoulder straps high so that the top of the waders ride as high as possible on your chest.
It goes without saying that safety on the river is all important, but is often overlooked. Wearing a good fitting wader with the belt, shoulder straps and upper drawstring strapped tight will greatly increase your buoyancy in case of a fall into the water, and will also help keep water out in case of submersion.
We hope these tips are useful. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about sizing, fit or river safety.