How to repair pinholes or tears in breathable waders

finished patch on breathable fishing waders

Finding a leak and repairing your breathable waders

Use these instructions and photo examples below to find and repair pinholes, tears, or holes in your breathable waders.

Step 1:

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. 

Step 2:

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 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.

Step 3:

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 a tear in waterproof breathable wader fabric.

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.

tear in breathable waders
tear in breathable waders inside
tear in breathable waders alcohol test

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.

Patching breathable fishing waders

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.

Aquaseal for patching waders

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.

cut a patch to size

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.

applying patch to breathable fishing waders

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.

masking off patch

11. The finished patch. This patch is very durable.

finished patch on breathable fishing waders