How to Repair a Backpacking Sleeping Pad

High quality sleeping pads are a must for backpacking. They keep you warm and dry, and for moms who have given birth, sleeping pads feel great on the hips. In fact, our Big Agnes sleeping pads are more comfortable than our real beds in the house. Quality can’t be skimped on though…the El Cheapo bargain sleeping pad will have so many leaks by its second hiking trip that it’ll be irreparable. People sometimes say, “Well, REI is so expensive,” but considering one quality product from REI lasts many years when properly cared for, it’s a savings in the long run. Plus, REI is a co-op, so members will get a dividend on purchases. But enough about REI, as there are many other reputable outdoor gear suppliers…just be warned that mega superstores that don’t specialize in outdoor gear may not be the best option.

Anyhoo, even the best sleeping pads can sometimes spring a leak. The good news is, they’re fixable! (unless El Cheapo sleeping pad is full of leaks, but since you read the first paragraph, you’re already sold on the idea of buying the best product one time rather than buying El Cheapo for every single trip).

When you wake up wondering where your sleeping pad went and realize it’s deflated under your cold, aching body, don’t throw the sleeping pad or throw a fit. With these DIY steps, you’ll be sleeping like royalty again!

  1. Re-inflate the sleeping pad.
  2. Submerge the sleeping pad in water. If you’re doing this in a bathtub, it’ll work if you can only submerge portions of the sleeping pad at a time.
  3. Look and listen for a leak. You’ll see a stream of bubbles ascending from the problem spot, and you may hear a slight whistle sound. If you can’t find the leak, gently press your hand down every few inches along the pad until you locate it.
  4. When you’re sure you’ve identified the leak, dry off the spot and mark it with a permanent marker.
  5. Since the sleeping pad is already all wet, you might as well do a thorough check for any additional leaks.
  6. When all leaks are marked, dry off the whole sleeping pad.
  7. When the pad is fully dry, pick the best sized patch from the repair kit that came with your sleeping pad, or buy a patch kit.
  8. Deflate the sleeping pad. Double checking that the area is dry and you have the correct spot, peel off the patch’s adhesive backing and press the patch onto the sleeping pad so the leak is in the center of the patch. Press out any air bubbles or wrinkles.
  9. Inflate the sleeping pad.
  10. Let it sit a few hours to make sure it’s still fully inflated. If not, head back to step 1.

Have you repaired a sleeping pad, or do you have additional tips for how to do it? Post your helpful comments below 🙂

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