Waders look great when new in the shop, but in time many start too leak, and all too often this problem is avoidable. Common leakage points for all waders are the ankle, where the boot or sock joins the breathable material, at the knees and at the crotch. After testing many leaking waders over the years we see the same problems time and time again, yet this is not a manufacturing fault. It may be that fault of the owner or the tackle shop salesman!
When trying on waders in a tackle shop we tend to be wearing our shopping clothes and not our fishing clothes, so we get an unrealistic fit for the waders. Additionally, standing in the shop does not really give a proper idea of how the waders will be worn, or the stresses that may be placed on them.
So firstly, when going to purchase waders I recommend you either wear approximately what you would be wearing whilst fishing, or at least similar to it. Then try the waders in a number of positions, positions that you would realistically have to get into whilst fishing. So kneel down in them, as if unhooking a fish. Sit down in them, like you will in the hut or on the back of the car whilst pulling on your boots. Make sure you can get your foot onto a chair, like stepping out of the river and onto the bank. Then finally kneel down on the floor and sit on your heels. With your hands on the floor slowly push them forward on the floor. This is the longest position your waders will be in.
If doing any of these manoeuvres you feel the waders pulling tight say at the knees, or over your backside, then the waders do not fit you properly and you will need the larger size. These restrictions in movement put strain on the seams and all the stitches in them. You are far stronger than the wader and can put so much strain on the seam, when you for get to hoist them up, when unhooking or landing a fish for example, that you can strain them to the point of leakage. Sitting down, without relaxing the waders down will put strain on the ankle seam, where the sock joins the fabric, you will feel this as a tightness at the back or front of your leg, often at the knee or heel. Wearing the proper size of wader, with a belt to support it, is the best way to make sure you do not strain the seams, thus avoiding a very common wader leakage problem.
Another common problem is standing on the wader fabric whilst getting changed, and this manifests upon testing as a series of pin holes on the back of the thigh/knee, an area which you would not expect to suffer problems in normal use, though is surprisingly common. Simply sit sideways on your car seat or on the tail gate if possible to put the waders on. If this is not possible, lean against a tree or the hut for support, rather than having to stand on the fabric.
Finally, if you do puncture your waders, crossing a fence or by having them hit by a fly, get them repaired as soon as possible. Leaking waders encourage mould to grow on the inside, and the mould can easily breach the pores in breathable fabric, causing the seams or fabric to seep water in. These damaged areas in time cause the waders to leak badly, and although this is easily repairable, it is far more costly than having a simple pin hole or rip repaired. An annual service is a good way of ensuring that problems are avoided in the long term.
Following these simple instructions should prolong the life of your waders, and will explain why some anglers get years out of their waders, and some anglers get weeks out of them, before they start leaking.