Caring For Zip-front Waders

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Photo by Kent Klewein

Photo by Kent Klewein

Modern waterproof zippers have revolutionized the design of waders.

The ease and convenience of zip-front waders is easy to get used to. There was a time when I scoffed at the idea, but now I can’t see fishing in anything else. Especially with the durability and dependability found in the new waterproof zippers. My Simms G4Z waders are bombproof and require virtually no maintenance. Still, waders are expensive and it pays to take care of them.

Here are a few tips to keep your zip-fronts going strong.

Never pack your waders zipped

This is the most important thing I can tell you about waterproof zippers. I once spent a very cold week steelheading in open waders. Throwing a pair of waders with the zipper zipped into your duffle and driving to the river may not be the end of them, but fold those waders and put them in a bag and hand them over to an airline and you’re screwed. When your bag ends up at the bottom of a pile of luggage a lot of weight is on the fold in that zipper. As that fold is flattened, the teeth pop apart below the pull. The zipper pull will not re-mesh them and the separation will grow until the entire zipper is open. Your waders are done. Always pack your waders unzipped to avoid this problem.

Wash your zipper

It’s a good idea to wash your waders once in a while anyway. This will greatly increase the longevity of your fishing buddies. It will also keep mildew from growing. Mildew, in addition to smelling awful, will degrade the seams and cause waders to leek. While you’re at it, wash the zipper thoroughly with running water and dry your waders wrong-side-out. This will clear grit from the zipper that can jam the pull and damage the teeth.

Lubricate your zipper

Lubricating your zipper will keep it moving freely and reduce wear on the teeth. Use Max Wax. Max Wax is made by McNett and you can get it from Simms. Like any moving mechanical part, a little lube goes a long way.

Never stress the wader opening

Have you ever noticed that most zip-front waders have a snap at the top? It’s there to keep the stress off of the zipper. One of the worst things you can do to a zipper is to separate it by pulling it apart from the top. Whether by accident or on purpose this is a killer. Use the snap and be conscious of stressing the zipper.

Follow these simple suggestions and your waterproof zipper will last for years.

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Caring For Zip-front Waders

  1. Fairly recently I bought some rather expensive zip front waders (won’t mention the brand) with a bit of hesitancy. After about 5 outings the zipper jammed & wouldn’t go up or down. I had to send them back (at my expense) and get them replaced. The zipper on the new waders leaked the first time I got into a deep spot crossing a stream. I sent these waders back and got a refund and purchased new non-zip waders. Think I’ll stick to the old kind. 🙂

  2. Simms also told me to get Max Wax for my raincoat zippers at a dive shop. Divers always use it to lubricate their dry suit zippers. The shops I visited had lots in stock….. Great stuff.

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  5. Winter fishing AI drink lots of coffee to stay warm, and since I am old enough to qualify for senior discounts, the small bladder has to be emptied often. Soooo I really wanted a zippered wader. The zipper on the first pair failed, I sent them in and they were replaced. The fix was short lived…the zipper on the second pair failed also. I bit the big one and bought the most expensive waders on the market…they work great. Now I do not have to take all the equipment off to relive myself in the winter time. Wish I’d bought them the first time.

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