Posted on May 25 2013
Our friend Bill Lenehan wrote up another great, practical gear-oriented tip for your reading pleasure.
Finding and Fixing Leaks in Your Gore-Tex Waders
There are few items on your packing list to Alaska, BC, or Tierra del Fuego as important as your Gore-Tex waders and rain jacket. Arriving thousands of miles from the nearest fly shop only to find pin-hole leaks is no fun. Especially since you will only realize it when you are miles from camp stepping through the first run and will have to live with it for at least a day. Better to arrive knowing that you are leak free.
At the end of the day, it is usually pretty obvious when you have a leak – your legs and feet with be wet and freezing. But actually identifying a pin-hole leak or an abrasion in the Gore-Tex that is now permeable used to be a challenge. Folks used to recommend filling a bathtub, pumping air into your submerged waders with a vacuum on reverse, and looking for bubbles. As you can imagine this is a bit of an awkward process.
Here is an easier way: make sure your waders are completely clean and dry, turn them inside out, and spray them with rubbing alcohol. A small plastic spray bottle is perfect for this. Pin holes and abrasion spots will significantly darken and become very obvious. Just mark the spots with a piece of duct tape or a clothing marker. Wait for the alcohol to dry and rub liberally with Aquaseal, working the glue into the fabric with your fingers, or, on larger issues, use a Gore-Tex patch and Aquaseal (all still on the inside of the waders).
Best to do this well before the trip because you need to be realistic about what can be repaired at home. Big seam leaks are very tough to fix for the long term. If, after a good spray, the inside of your waders look like a Gore-Tex leopard, it may be time for a new pair.