So why do waders leak so frequently? I have done a lot of research on this, testing many different types, makes and styles. We keep a detailed record of every one we test, including make model and the leaks we have found. If we see anything interesting or unusual we record it with a series of photos. I believe waders leak for 3 main reasons:
User problems are obvious. Sitting on rough or thorny ground, crashing through beds of thistles or brambles or hitting yourself with a large salmon double will all puncture your waders, and all this will always leave a distinctive mark. Standing on them, whilst dressing particularly on rough ground does them no favours. Basically with breathables, exposing them to anything spiky will puncture them. Wearing the wrong size puts strain on the seams. This manifests as a distinctive leak area, and stretch liners on the seam. It can – in bad cases, rip the inner lining. Ok, the sales team share some of the blame on this one, but you do also – you bought it! If the waders are too tight they will strain when you walk, climb, or kneel, bend or sit down. None of this takes time. So if you buy waders that are too small, and sit down in them at lunch time, then they will leak in the afternoon.
Storage problems are more subtle. The fabric does not like to be tightly folded or creased. This can make for long thins leaks, typically along your shins or calf.
THIS STRAIGHT LINE LEAK ALONG THE CALF IS TYPICAL OF A CRUSH FOLD LEAK
Boot foots do not like being hung by the braces. Not only will this stretch the braces but it also puts considerable and prolonged pressure on the seam between the boot and the fabric, a common leak point in boot foots. Finally leaving them in a place where mice can get to them is a disaster. If the damage is minimal then we can certainly sort it for you, if not it is a trip to the tackle shop I am afraid (or perhaps my special offers dept!)
Ok, so as anglers we don’t always get it right, but the manufacturers must shoulder some of the blame as well. I am talking about the folks who make it here and not the suppliers. To make waders at a sensible price, they are often made down to a cost. Taping the seams using a glue by hand would make for very expensive waders. So they are taped using a roll of tape that is coated with a dry glue on one side, and this tape and glue are heated and applied to the material. It melts, sticks and dries in seconds, just like a glue gun using the dry sticks. It is a thermo set glue and works well in many applications. Thermo sets are quite brittle once dry, but being very thin they are also very flexible. Your fishing rod is flexible but brittle. If you take a very thin tape of glue, with hundreds of stitch holes behind it and wiggle it back and forward a few hundred or thousand times it will develop tiny cracks, and the water will go through the stitching, and then travel along these cracks, you will get seam leaks – the most common wader leak. However we also see other problems. The tape for example must cover the seam, and from time to time we see a miss. Folds, creases and air spaces in seams, and under the tape are asking for trouble. I think the manufacturers are always looking for ways of improving. Improving the waders for you – and improving the profits to them. This is only fair. But using lots of little bits of material, with lots of seams makes for lots of stitching, stitch holes, seams and leaks. I think they are all looking for ways of moving the seams to places where they will see minimal stretches, flexes and seams, and some have managed to an extent. I am delighted to say that they have not fully managed!
STITCHING RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE, MISSING THE UPPER LAYER OF FABRIC
THIS SEAM HAS BEEN TREATED BY US, AND HAS BECOME TRANSLUCENT, AS THE SEALANT SOAKS INTO THE MATERIAL. IT WAS PREVIOUSLY WHITE. OUR SEALANT HAS SOAKED RIGHT IN AND REVEALED A FOLD IN THE MATERIAL, WHERE IT HAS BEEN STITCHED TOGETHER. THIS HAS TO HAVE AN AIR SPACE, AND IT WAS A LEAK POINT. AS CAN BE SEEN, OUR SEALANT HAS TOTALLY SOAKED IN, SEALING THE MANUFACTURING FAULT AND REMOVING THE PROBLEM - THIS CANNOT LEAK AGAIN. BLOBBING GLUE ONTO THE SEAM SIMPLY WOULD NOT FIX THIS
Anyway, that is why they leak, can we help and fix this – yes we can!
A dive suit should not leak – it could very well endanger your life if it did. I was an extreme diver (technical diver is the correct term) I did the first nitrox, trimix and rebreather in the Scotland, training with Rob Palmer. I owned for many years Scotland largest dive and scuba repair and maintenance centre. I ended up as an International Instructor Examiner and Course Director, training divers down to a depth of 100mtr, 330 feet in Scottish waters, and did many courses in diving and also in equipment maintenance. Although it was not really my thing I did a number of extended cave dives, exploring the inside of deep wrecks was my passion. In a deep, cave or under ice environment a suit leak or flood could very well be fatal. My main dive suit is 22 years old – it has completed 5000 dives and is still in regular use today. It does not leak one bit, and like James Bond I would happily dive in a dinner suit in it.
So it can be done, but at a cost. What we do is use diving technology to improve what the manufacturers do, but at a far reduced cost, as our overheads are considerably lower. This does not make it thorn, mouse or idiot proof, but when exposed to these, we can repair them!