Repairing a Sleeping Pad on the Trail

Thorns, rocks, or even a violent turn in the middle of the night can puncture or rip your sleeping pad, causing it to leak air. A sleeping pad that doesn’t hold air is bad news. It means less comfort, less insulation, and depending on how severe the leak is, it can render your sleeping pad completely useless.

A leaky self-inflating sleeping pad with a foam core will still provide some support and some insulation. A busted air core sleeping pad, however, does little more than take up space in your pack.

Here’s how to repair a sleeping pad while you’re on the trail.

Bring a repair kit

Before you even leave your house, be sure to pack a sleeping pad repair kit. If you don’t have the supplies to repair your sleeping pad in the field, you’re better off just embracing a few nights sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

Some sleeping pads are sold with a repair kit, but if you don’t have one, it’s easy to put a sleeping pad repair kit together.

Here’s what you need to fix leaks in a sleeping pad:

  • An adhesive seam sealer such as Gear Aid Seam Grip.
  • Soap
  • Water

For larger cuts or punctures you need a self-adhesive patch, or a product like Gear Aid Tenacious Tape.

Step 1: Find the leak

The first step to find a leak is to fill your sleeping pad with air.

Punctures or cuts are sometimes easy to locate, but small leaks can be elusive. The easiest way to locate a leak is by submerging your sleeping pad. However, this isn’t always an option in the field. This is where the soap and water comes into play.

Start in the area where you think the leak is most likely to be. Leaks are often found near the valve, on the underside of the pad, or down near the foot area of a sleeping pad.

Wet the area, and apply a drop of camp soap, and look for bubbles. If you spot bubbles forming, you’ve found the leak.

Step 2: Prepare the area for repair

Now that you’ve located the leak, let all of the air out of the pad.

You need to clean the area before trying to repair the leak or cut. If you used soap to locate a leak, you’re already one step ahead of the game.

After the surface has been cleaned, dry the area for repair.

Step 3: Apply adhesive or patch

Seam Grip is amazing stuff with lots of different uses. With most small leaks, a dab of Seam Grip, or similar adhesive, is enough to fix the problem. Simply apply the adhesive to the area, and let it cure for about 30 minutes.

Larger cuts, tears, or punctures might require a patch. For a permanent repair in the field, apply Seam Grip around the damaged area of the sleeping pad, firmly apply and smooth the self-adhesive patch, and let cure for 30 minutes.

If you’re using a patch that doesn’t have a self-adhesive backing, apply Seam Grip to the patch as well as the pad, follow the same process mentioned above.

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape or other repair tape is another easy way to repair a sleeping pad in the field, and it’s much faster. This method is great for a quick fix, but isn’t as permanent as Seam Grip and a patch.

Step 4: Test your repair

After you’ve let your adhesive cure, fill your pad and see how successful your repair is!

We carry gear maintenance and repair supplies such like Seam Grip and repair tape, as well as sleeping pads and sleeping bags. Stop by the store and let us help you find everything you need to sleep comfortably on the trail.

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