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Fast-Drying Waders: 5 Foolproof Methods

Waders are an indispensable part of your fishing gear, but they have a couple of snags that might get annoying sometimes. They take a day, or more, to dry up fully. And they tend to develop an odd smell if they’re left with a bit of moisture for a while. 

From time to time, many of us face the dilemma of skipping a fishing trip, or donning semi-dry waders that feel like a wet suit! And they’ll probably smell like a wet rug.

That’s why knowing how to dry wades fast is important. These practical methods will keep your gear adventure-ready at all times. Additionally, this will eliminate any moldy odors and prolong the waders’ shelflife significantly.

Before Drying Your Waders

Waders are notorious for developing a moldy smell in a short period of time. Sometimes, even after drying them up, they still retain an unpleasant odor. You might also notice some discoloration around the seams, which points to an unwelcome growth of germs. 

There are ways to keep your waders fresh and in mint condition. For best results, you can follow this routine before drying them:

  1. Always do a quick clean to remove salty water, weeds, dirt, and mud from the waders.
  2. Turn the waders inside out. 
  3. Open up any zippers. 
  4. Use a mild deodorizer like baking soda. Just sprinkle a handful around.
  5. Rinse with some freshwater, and if needed, use some mild soap. 

The Quickest Way to Dry Your Waders

fishing with waders

The methods presented here apply to a variety of possible scenarios. Waders could be a little wet or soaked to the core. They might’ve been used in a freshwater lake or in saltwater. Finally, they could have just a few patches of wetness here and there, or, they could be caked with mud and weed. 

Author Note: Additionally, your own usage counts. Maybe you constantly need your waders to be dry and ready. Alternatively, this sense of urgency could be only occasional and happens every other week. 

It’s best to use the drying method that matches your needs.

1.    Get a Nice Wader Dryer

If you’re out fishing and wading into waters a lot, then, investing in a dedicated dryer for your wader would be wise.

An efficient device, like the Peet electric dryer, would get the job done in 3-8 hours. Depending on how wet your waders are, you can actually have them good and ready after watching a game.  

This dryer isn’t aggressive with the heat and pumped air, so the wader’s material and stitching shouldn’t be affected. It performs the double duty of drying and deodorization, which is a big plus for active users.

Not all waders come in the same size, and some of them are extra long to suit taller folks. For that reason, the Peet dryer comes with 12-inch pipe-like extension pieces. These connections add more height to the dryer so that the waders wouldn’t crease or fold on themselves.

Another reason why this dryer is our top choice is that it can dry any boots and any waders. All kinds of materials are fully compatible with that device; from canvas and fleece, to rubber, neoprene, and vinyl.

It comes with a high price tag that hovers around $75, but it works like a charm. Plus, it has a 25-year warranty, which is always appreciated.  

2.    DIY a Wader Dryer

If you have dab hands at connecting and welding, then you should definitely consider DIYing a wader dryer.

The process is pretty easy, and the result is almost similar to commercial devices. You could also size it as you wish, or include extension pieces in the project. Besides the benefits of customization, a DIY wader dryer costs a fraction of the price.

3.    Use a Blower

If the waders aren’t dripping with salty water, or soaked inside and out, then you can resort to a few creative approaches. For example, getting the blower from the tool shed.

Blowers are incredibly versatile devices that can be used wherever a stream of air is needed. Using a blower is like leaving the waders to dry naturally on a cloth line, but, at triple the speed. It’s air-drying on steroids.

The main difference between using a blower as opposed to a tumble dryer is that the latter employs a fierce mechanical action on the fabric. On the other hand, the blower simply drives off the excess humidity without harming the waders.    

4.    Hang the Waders in the Furnace Room

Any warm room in the house will do. You just need to flip the waders, open up the zippers, put them neatly on a wooden hanger, and place them in a nice toasty location. They shouldn’t be too close to the heat source though. As this could damage the fabric.

Author Note: This method would be most effective with waders that aren’t too wet. However, you can still apply it to any level of moisture. But bear in mind that these would take a bit more time to dry up completely. 

The beauty of this approach is that it costs near to nothing, and doesn’t need any special arrangements. If you’re an occasional fisherman, or you’re out in a cabin, then this method might be the quickest way to get your waders good and ready.

5.    Stuff the Waders With Used Papers

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and that’s how we know that it works!

If you want to speed up the drying time of your waders, then stuff them with old newspapers, paper bags, or any kind of paper you can get your hands on. Just make sure that the ink on it doesn’t bleed when it gets wet.

Paper readily sponges off the excess humidity inside the waders. At the same time, it keeps the fabric well extended for the air to flow inside it. This double action speeds up the drying time, especially if you compare it with regular airdrying.

You can also use this method in tandem with a blower. That should decrease the drying time even more.   

Can You Dry the Waders in a Tumble Dryer?

Angler catching the fish during sunrise

Machine-washing or tumble drying waders often results in an ultra-clean fabric, that’s good for nothing. The mechanical action of the machine usually undermines the seams, zipper, and sometimes even the material.

The heat, friction, and detergent used for a machine wash are much too aggressive for this sensitive attire. Even a tumble dry with cool air only might still compromise the waders. 

Additionally, there are many instances where parts of the waders catch in the machine. This ends up with the waders becoming torn or punctured. In both cases, this is unnecessary and avoidable damage.

Top Tip: Typically, waders are hand-washed, and either left to air dry, or they can be dried in an expedited manner using one of the methods listed above.

Some Tips For Keeping Your Waders in Top Condition

You can actually extend the shelf life of your waders and prevent them from bowing out prematurely. The following care tips should help with that.

  1. Clean your waders after every use by spraying them with some water. If you’ve been to the sea, and saltwater is all over it, then make sure to rinse all that with fresh water.
  2. Sometimes a trip to the lake means returning with mud and weeds clinging onto the waders. This dirt needs to be cleaned right away before it sticks. You might need to use mild soap as well.
  3. Remove any debris from the zippers before cleaning and drying.
  4. A biannual or quarterly inside and out cleanup is necessary to make sure that the waders are thoroughly clean. Right before storage for the winter is a good time for that deep clean.
  5. Make sure to patch up any torn or punctured parts in a timely manner. A “stitch in time” and all that. 
  6. Store your waders with the zippers opened. Try to use the hanger loops sewn into the waders to balance the attire. You wouldn’t want it to sag on one side and look pinched on the other.
  7. If you’re traveling with your waders, open up the zippers, then roll the waders from the top to the boots. We open the zippers to avoid getting creases in them, which create blockages, that could spoil them permanently.
  8. If the material of the waders allows it, you can spray your gear with water repellant. This should keep the drying up efforts to a minimum.  

A Final Note

man using waders

After a long day out fishing, it’s tempting to take off the waders and throw them in a heap out in the garage. They’d be lying there beside the rest of the fishing gear, until one can muster the energy to tidy up the mess. 

The problem with that image is that the waders tend to smell after a few hours. And they grow mold after a couple of days. Things get a bit more complicated if the next morning you get an invite to a fishing trip that should never be missed.

It’s best then to know how to dry waders fast. Life would be so much easier that way!


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