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Backpacking provides an escape from my urban lifestyle. I feel all my worries and anxieties slowly fade into the distance when I head for the mountains. Sleeping under the stars, with the sounds of nature quiets my soul. But, well-deserved sleep is abruptly interrupted if your sleeping pad leaks? More importantly, how do you fix a hole in a sleeping pad when you’re on the trail?
First, locate the source of the leak. Second, clean the area surrounding the hole. And lastly, apply a patch over the hole. That is the traditional way.
But what if the Geez could tell you how to permanently fix a hole in your sleeping pad on the trail in under 3 seconds?
But first, let’s look at how to find that hole or leak in your inflatable sleeping pad.
Why Does An Inflatable Sleeping Pad Leak
The most common reason an inflatable sleeping pad develops a leak is that a sharp object punctures the material. Small sticks, pine needles, sharp rocks, and stickers can puncture the underside of your sleeping pad. This can happen even when you set up your tent with a footprint underneath.
Stickers make holes so small that it takes half the night for the air to leak out. Suddenly at 3 am you wake up and find yourself lying on the ground. Talk about losing your comfort. This is not only uncomfortable but cold weather can lead to hypothermia if the ground is frozen.
Another common area where leaks occur is in and around the valve. In addition, many leaks are found in sleeping pad creases or along seams. These areas get stressed repeatedly. Less common, but equally annoying, is a leaky air inlet valve.
On my backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, my brand new Klymit sleeping pad developed a leak. Therefore, in the middle of the night, I found myself sleeping on the ground. The leak was quite small and probably the result of a cactus thorn. I only had to re-inflate the pad twice during the night!
I always carry a repair kit when I go backpacking. But I discovered another issue. I couldn’t find the leak. I went over every square inch of my sleeping pad and could not locate the hole. Without knowing where the hole was I could not patch it.
How Do I Find A Leak In My Air Pad
The most common method of finding a leak is to submerge the pad. Sometimes you don’t have a place to submerge your pad to find leaks. In addition, sometimes it’s just too cumbersome to do so.
This method for finding the leak can be done on the trail
- Fill a squirt bottle, spray bottle, hydration bladder (something with a nozzle to control the flow) with water near the top. You might have to refill the bottle once or twice before you find the leak, depending on the size of the pad and just how lucky you get.
- Add several drops of liquid soap (dish detergent works best). If the mix isn’t sudsy enough, add more soap.
- In a similar manner, if you don’t have a spray or squirt bottle, fill a cooking pot with water and add several drops of liquid soap to make a soapy mixture.
- Wet your fully inflated sleeping pad with the mixture. If using the cooking pot, dip a sponge or soft cloth into the soapy mixture and wet the sleeping pad with it.
- Look for bubbles forming to isolate the leak. Pay attention to the difference between the bubbles from the leak and the bubbles from the suds!
- Carefully mark the location of the leak with a needle/pin from your repair kit (you’ve got to fix the leak anyway). You will lose track of where the hole is as soon as you rinse off the soapy water. You may try a pen a pencil but it is difficult to write on a soapy wet surface. Note: Make your reference markings outside of the range of where the patch will go. You need to patch to stick to the pad. Therefore, a pin or needle is the better way to mark the location of the leak.
- Thoroughly rinse the sleeping pad. Remove any soap from the area.
- Let the pad dry and follow your procedure for repairing the leak!
I’ve had to use this method several times and it always works. Be systematic about it so you can keep track of where you have already checked. Usually, leaks occur on the bottom of your pad. However, they could be at a failing seam or in a crease. Therefore target these areas first.
How To Patch A Leak In An Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Retailers typically sell inflatable backpacking sleeping pads with a patch repair kit and stuff sack included. Therefore, if a leak occurs you do not have to search for the proper material to patch it.
- The first step in applying the patch is to rinse off the soap from the pad and let it dry. Spread the glue evenly on a dry surface. This will create a permanent bond when applying the patch.
- Next, rough up the exterior of the pad surrounding the hole. At home, you can use sandpaper. But in the field, you seldom carry sandpaper with you. Use a pocket knife to lightly scrape the outside of the pad around the hole. The cement will bond better on a rough surface.
- Use scissors to cut the patch to a proper size. Apply a light coat of glue to both the sleeping pad and to one side of the patch. Let the glue dry until tacky.
- Finally, press the patch on the deflated sleeping pad over the hole. Most importantly, let the glue thoroughly dry. The glue must cure to create a permanent bond. However, this requires a certain amount of time.
We know how to traditionally fix a hole in a sleeping pad. Now, let’s discover my secret for permanently repairing holes in inflatable air mattresses in just seconds.
How To Repair A Hole In Your Sleeping Pad On The Trail In 3 Seconds!
Stop struggling with inflatable sleeping pad patches. Repair patches usually do not work in sleeping pad seams or creases. Leaks may develop when putting your sleeping pad away in its stuff sack. Constant folding of the sleeping pad creates stress in the fabric. In addition, it is difficult to get the patch to permanently adhere in those areas.
However, small holes are a piece of cake to repair if you know the secret. What is that secret? Bondic®. There is no sticky glue to get on your fingers. Repair holes permanently the first time in three seconds.
So, what is this old geezer’s secret? A product called Bondic LED UV Liquid Plastic Welding Pro Kit
- Extremely Strong – Once it cures in 3 seconds using the battery-operated ultraviolet light included in the kit. Most importantly, Bondic® makes a permanent patch once the liquid plastic is cured with ultraviolet light. It lasts the life of the sleeping pad. Bondic® ensures your sleeping pad never leaks in that spot again.
- Ultralight – only adds 1/2 ounce to your backpack gear
- Works On Any Surface – Metal, wood, glass, plastic, ceramics — you name it.
- No Mess – Kiss sticky fingers goodbye. Bondic® only cures when exposed to UV light, so you decide when (and where) the results end up. Everything is 100% under your control!
- Won’t Dry Out – Bondic® is not glue! So it won’t dry out in the tube before you can use it again. Keep it in your backpacking repair kit. It will be ready for the next leak repair job.
- Safe– Bondic® is non-toxic, and once cured, requires no heat.
Directions for Repairing a Hole in Your Sleeping Pad
- Locate the hole.
- Clean and dry a one-inch circle around it.
- Squeeze a quarter-inch diameter of the liquid plastic directly over the hole and onto the sleeping pad.
- There is no need to completely deflate the sleeping pad. But, just make sure that it is not fully inflated or the air pressure will force the liquid plastic away from the hole.
- Illuminate the battery-operated ultraviolet light for 3 seconds next to the hole.
One word of caution when using Bondic® to repair small holes. Do not attempt the repair a sleeping pad out in the sun. The ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays will immediately cure the liquid plastic before it has a chance to settle into the hole.
Is It Possible To Repair A Leaky Value On A Sleeping Pad
Unlike small holes in a sleeping pad, you are seldom able to repair a leaky valve on a sleeping pad. Some manufacturers offer a valve replacement kit.
However, replacing a valve is something that is not done out in the field.
Depending on how and where the valve is leaking, you may be able to use Bondic® to stop the leak. In this case, it would be a temporary fix until you can get home.
How to Repair A Hole Caused By A Rip In The Fabric
Small cuts or rips in the sleeping pad can be repaired using a patch. Most likely, repair patches are included with the product when you buy it.
Follow the procedures outlined above in this post to securely repair the cut or rip by using a patch.
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