At the end of my last day on the river, as I removed my 7 month old Orvis waders I was a little surprised to find my right sock wet through from the toes to heal.
I hadn’t noticed the leak during fishing but it was certainly there as my foot, now turning very cold, was able to testify.
After letting my waders dry out for a day or two, I got to work investigating where the leak had come from. It was mainly the bottom of my sock that bore the brunt of it, so I assumed the leak was within the neoprene boot. I turned the waders inside out filled the neoprene boot with water and gently squeezed. After a moment or two a wet patch started to appear at the top of the boot, around the position where my big toe would normally be.
I marked the spot with some of the kids chalk, and emptied the water out. Upon closer inspection I could see the neoprene in this area was quite a bit thinner than in other areas. It wasn’t a hole in the neoprene, more a thinning of the material to such an extent the water was seeping through. I think there must have been some pressure from my big toe/toe nail that’s caused this to happen. Not wishing to get overly gross, but I don’t keep long toe nails – so not sure why this would have happened with such soggy consequences.
I went onto the Orvis website and used their online chat facility to talk with a very pleasant support guy called Jimmy C. He advised me that Orvis would be pleased to receive the waders back to asses the problem, and repair at their discretion or my cost (Whichever they decided was more appropriate for the cause of the leak). This was all perfectly acceptable to me, until he told me it’d be 4 to 6 weeks before I’d see my waders again!
At this point I asked if I were to attempt the fix myself, would it void any warranty. Jimmy kindly answered that it wouldn’t, and offered me some advice for fixing the problem and wished me the best of luck my repair.
Time to get all DIY on these mothers
When I purchased the waders they came with a small tube of Aquaseal and a selection of patches. I didn’t need the patches for this repair, but the Aquaseal would (hopefully) do the trick nicely. Before I got stuck in, I had a trawl around the internet to see if there were any tips of handy hints I should know.
Turns out there is a bit of a love/hate relationship with Aquaseal – some love it to bits, others think it’s overpriced and not as great as the other lot would have you believe.
Anyway, of all the sites I read, I thought I’d collect together some of what I thought sounded like the best advice. Please use this at your own peril, if after following any of this advice your waders are rendered useless, don’t blame me!
- If you’re using Aquaseal, check if you’ve got the UV or non-UV curing type. Orvis supplied the UV with my repair kit, as I was going to do the repair outside (it was a sunny day) it might have dried a bit too quick. I ended up repairing in the kitchen and leaving the waders outside, they were touch dry in seconds.
- Be very careful filling your waders to spot a leak. It’s not so bad if the leak is in the foot, but if you have to fill the whole wader the pressure of the water can cause a lot more problems than it solves. One method you could try is, in a completely darkened room take a torch and shine it from the inside of the waders out. You’ll see the hole/cut/tear as a bright spot. Another alternative is to mix water and surgical spirit 50/50 into one of those small garden spray bottles. Turn your waders inside out and spray this mixture over them, immediately turn back the right way and look for dark spots where the mixture has seeped through. The leak will show up as a dark area where the mixture as seeped through.
- If you’re going to mark the spots that need repairing with pen, make sure you turn the waders inside out first – you don’t want scribbles all over your expensive waders! (chalk is a good bet for marking the outside)
- Before smearing your waders with Aquaseal, tape around the effected area with masking tape first. Place the Aquaseal on the hole and smear into a thin layer. Once it’s set a little, remove the masking tape. Leave to dry fully. Once fully dry, apply the masking tape around the first layer of Aquaseal (leaving a bit of space all around) and smear another layer of Aquaseal over the top of the last one. Remove tape, and you’ll have a neat and water proof seal to what was a hole.
- Aquaseal is bloody expensive. It has a nasty habit of solidifying in the tube once it’s been opened. If, after doing your repair you’ve some left in the tube, pop the lid back on and chuck it straight in the freezer. When you want to use it again, pop it in a bowl of hot water to de-frost, then stick a nail through the end to ensure the tube is clear. Soon as you’ve used it (if there’s some left) stick it back in the freezer again! Don’t forget to let the wife know, it’ll get chucked out otherwise. Mind you, it’s better than storing maggots in the fridge, which my father did not long after marrying my mother.
- Shoe Goo is alternative to Aquaseal, some prefer it, if only through it being cheaper.
Hope that helps someone – I’m off out this coming weekend so will see how well my venture into wader repair has worked out!