A dependable pair of waders is one of the most important pieces of gear to the cold water angler. Make no mistake however, waders aren’t cheap. At upwards of 800 dollars these days for premium waders, it makes sense to take good care of them.
Inevitably all waders will wear out at some point, but properly caring for them can help you get the most out of your investment. Consider the following tips to prolong the life of your waders.
- Get the best fit. Right from the start, one of the best things you can do to make sure your waders will last as long as possible is buy waders that fit. Ill fitting waders allow fabrics to fold excessively over time causing them to break down along stress points. Sort of like bending a paper clip back and forth until it breaks. Don’t settle for a pair that ‘pretty much’ fits, buy the right body AND stocking foot size.
- Dry ’em out. The inside that is. Most of us hang our waders up to dry after a day on the water, but the inside of the waders are often neglected. Remember, while you’re waders might be ‘breathable,’ they don’t ‘breathe’ while they’re submersed in water. Moisture builds up quickly on the inside of your waders which leads to mildew. Sure, mildew stinks, but it can also break down the breathable membrane of your waders, and that’s what we’re most concerned about. Turn your waders inside out to allow the inside dry out completely as well.
- Roll, don’t fold. When traveling with waders, make sure to roll them up from the feet up as opposed to folding them. Folding waders causes stress along the same crease-points that can break down over time.
- Store flat or hanging. If at all possible, storing waders by hanging upright or lying flat on the ground (such as under a bed) is the best way to store waders when not in use.
- Keep out of sunlight. No, we don’t mean while you’re fishing, but when you’re hanging your waders to dry for example, keep them out of direct sunlight. UV rays break down DWR and other waterproof finishes and can greatly reduce the life of your waders.
- Wash by hand. Regular washing can greatly extend the life of your waders. However, waders should be washed by hand and allowed to air dry, with a mild detergent such as powdered detergent of even hand soap. We really like Nikwax Tech Wash. Conventional detergents can break down waterproof materials.
- Rinse off saltwater. Saltwater is extremely corrosive on just about anything. If you use your waders in salty or brackish environments, make sure to rinse your waders off with fresh water after use, particular areas containing zippers.
- Cut your toe nails. In his previous life, your humble editor use to work at a number of fly shops that sold waders. What did he see? A reoccurring complaint that waders were wearing out in the toes from the inside. The cause? Untrimmed toe nails and ill fitting waders. So, trim ’em up, you’re waders and your significant other will thank you.
More on Waders
- 3 Uses for Opposing Wader Straps
- Try Some Gold Bond Powder in Your Waders
- Reader Poll – What’s Your Favorite Pair of Waders?
Bob Triggs says
Storing out of direct sunlight is also very good practice.
REALLY good article. Thank you for writing it and providing this valuable info!!!
Kyle Shea says
Good call Bob! We couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for weighing in!
Jake White says
I have been planning a trip with my family to go visit my Grandparents up in Alaska. We love to fish up there, and I am just trying to be prepared because I know that every time we go up there we end up trying on a bunch of old waders that have been lying around, and almost always someone ends up with a leak. These tips from the article are super helpful, and I realized that we never roll ours up, but rather we just fold them and store them, and that would probably explain the reason they start to get holes in them and leak. Thanks for the information, as this will help us keep these waders more protected.
Kyle Shea says
You’re very welcome Jake! Glad you found the information helpful and have a great (and dry) trip. Thanks for stopping by!