Spraying a sleeping pad to find the hole

How to store and repair a sleeping pad

Your sleeping pad is an important layer between you and the rocky, rooty ground. Learn how to look after your sleeping pad once your camping or backpacking trip is done, and how to fix it if it’s sprung a leak.

How to store a sleeping pad

To keep your sleeping pad in top shape after your trip, wipe down the pad with a damp cloth and mild soap. Let it air dry fully before putting it away and store it unrolled with the valve open. Don’t have space to leave your sleeping pad unrolled? Loosely roll it and slip it under your bed, in a dry closet or tucked away with your camping gear.

Video: storing your sleeping pad

How to repair your sleeping pad

Sometimes your sleeping pad falls victim to sharp rock or gets snagged on a thorn. The good news is that it’s not hard to fix. If your sleeping pad has a pinhole, a tear or a leaky valve, you can use the repair kit that came with it to patch the surface or replace the valve.

For a quick pinhole fix in the field, you can use repair tape. But for a more permanent fix, follow the instructions below.

Video: how to patch a sleeping pad

What you’ll need

  • Sleeping pad with a hole
  • Pump to inflate the pad (if required)
  • Spray bottle filled with soapy water
  • Marker
  • Towel or cloth
  • Sleeping pad repair kit – some sleeping pads will come with a repair kit (or you can purchase one separately, like the Thermarest repair kit)

Instructions

When it’s time to patch, follow the instructions that came with your patch kit. If the instructions are long gone, follow the steps below.

If you already know where the hole is, you can skip ahead to step 4. But if you’re not sure what’s causing the air leak, you need to do some simple detective work to find the hole in your sleeping pad.

  1. Make sure your pad is fully inflated.
  2. Once your pad is blown up, fold it in half and kneel on it so that there’s plenty of air pressure.
  3. Spray some soapy water on your pad to find the leak. Look for tiny air bubbles oozing out – that’s a sign you’ve found the hole.
  4. Use a marker to place a small dot on top of the hole (so you can find it again later).
  5. Wipe off the excess water with a towel, and let it dry completely before you apply the patch.
  6. Once the pad is dry, apply the glue over the hole.
  7. Let the glue sit for 2 hours.
  8. Apply some glue to the shiny side of your patch, and make sure it goes all the way to the edges.
  9. Place the glued side of the patch on top of the glued hole. Use firm pressure to get a good seal all the way around the edges.
  10. Let the patch set for 2 hours before you reinflate the sleeping pad to test it (it’s tempting to try it right away, but the glue won’t be ready to handle the air pressure yet).

If you’ve got a big camping or backpacking trip planned, it’s a good idea to test out your repaired sleeping pad before you leave to make sure it hasn’t started leaking air. If it’s sprung a leak, simply repeat the steps to repair it and rest easy.