A first timer’s look at making dreaded wader repairs
“These waders are yours if you can find the tear and patch it up,” my friend offered. “It would be best for you to wear them next weekend for duck hunting.”
Carrying a blob of reed patterned waders back to my car, I stored them in my back seat and set off on a quest to find the proper materials for sealing up leaky waders. Honestly, I hadn’t a clue where to begin. I showed up for my first duck hunt in grey fly fishing waders and had accidentally left my shotgun at home. Clearly I had a lot to learn. How in the world does one go about fixing a pair of waders? I was (pardon the pun) in over my head.
For two days the waders found a home in the back seat of my car. I would stare at them and shake my head, thinking to myself, I’ll get to this tomorrow. Tomorrow would come and the waders remained, longing to be moved into my garage, placed gently on a hook for my family to admire. Well that “tomorrow” finally arrived and though my family did not yet admire the beauty and potential of the waders, visions of falling mallards and beautiful retrieves filled my head. On a quiet Saturday night I pulled the suspect from his perch and began my search for the elusive leak. After thirty minutes of searching I found the culprit. Ignoring the growing accumulation of dirt on my floor, I found my new starting point. My adventure to repair the waders had begun.
My journey to find the “right stuff” led me to the big box sporting goods store near my home. Admittedly these stores can feel hollow and lack the insight and knowledge of seasoned hunters, but it was the best option for my lack of time. I evaded the mass of tempting goods and succeeded in finding a tiny little bottle of Gear Aid’s Aquaseal repair kit. For under ten dollars, the field repair kit includes a .75 ounce tube of sealant, two 3-inch round patches, a small brush and instructions. I highly suggest buying alcohol pads to supplement the kit.
Once you have found the leak, the use of an alcohol pad to clean the surrounding area will be of great help for getting a good seal. The adhesive requires a drying time of several hours. Read that fine print carefully! The website recommends allowing the adhesive to cure overnight. For those who have health concerns you may wish to take notice of the warning label concerning the exposure of Toulene. Patience is the hardest part in making these repairs, but taking your time and going slowly will ensure that the repair is successful.
Make sure to properly clean the application brush immediately after use. I did not after the first use, which allowed the brush bristles to stick together.
If this is your first time using this type of repair kit, I highly recommend watching a video before you begin.
Putting Aquaseal to the Test
The test of the sealant came almost immediately with my next duck hunting opportunity. Freezing temperatures, falling snow, and ice pushed the product to its limits. I was nervous about the integrity of the repair, but to my pleasant surprise, Aquaseal remained true to the product claims. Trekking through mud and freezing thigh-high water, Aquaseal stood up to the challenge. Gear Aid highlights five aspects of their product: Durable, Flexible, Waterproof, Abrasion Resistant, and All-purpose. To this point I have found each of these to be true. Continued use of the waders over a long period of time will provide conclusive results.
As duck hunters, the environment dictates where and how we might create blinds for a morning hunt. You might find yourself on the edges of ponds or lakes building blinds from natural cover, none of which is friendly to neoprene or other wader material. You may be pulling your duck sled through a marsh full of unseen branches and fallen tree limbs, while you lean up against a tree in hopes of wood ducks passing by. Wherever you hunt, you’re likely to encounter brush, sticks, and logs that all pose a threat to the integrity of your waders. Be cautious and allow ample time to reach your favorite honey hole. Have on the proper gear. Don’t forget your shotgun, and remember, no one wants to start their day with leaky waders.
Aquaseal Wader Repair Kit
Last modified: June 16, 2020