A good night’s sleep is essential on any back country adventure and often it starts with a good sleeping pad. A growing trend in the outdoor industry is using a mix of air and insulation to create plush mats that pack up small and weigh very little. However the main disadvantage to these mats is the chance you may get a hole in them and therefore lose its warmth and comfort. This risk grows significantly if you bring a K9 adventure buddy with you.
We have learnt the hard way to always bring a repair kit with us, cause there is nothing worse then on the first night getting a hole in your mat. *Disclaimer- all the holes that we have experienced in our mats have been caused from our dog*
How to fix your mat:
Step 1: Locate the hole, some holes are obvious and are easily to spot however sometimes are mats slowly leak and the location is less obvious. If the latter is the case the best way to locate a hole is using the bath tub test. Submerge your blown up mat under water and apply pressure. If you notice any air bubbles that is the location of your hole. Mark the location so you know where to fix. Let your mat dry if you completed this test.
Step 2: Once the location of the hole has been located clean the area using alcohol wipes to ensure no dust or dirt contaminate the bond. The mattress should be fully deflated.Lay the mattress on a flat surface. Do your best to close the hole, if fabric is missing your best option is to use a patch kit. If the hole has all the fabric in place you can choose between a fabric patch or a seam grip closure.
Seam Grip Closure: I have chosen to use this method on my mats as there was never fabric missing. I have also done both repairs at home so I have adequate time for drying. For this method, apply a generous amount of seam grip over the tear and use the brush included in the package. Make sure you go about a centimetre extra around the rip. Let the seam grip dry. I will apply a second coat just to make sure everything it fully covered. This method will last longer than patch methods and withstand the force exerted when we use the mattresses, however does require more drying time.
Patch Closure: Lots of mats comes with a repair kit which usually contain a patch, this method is best used for field repair as you can speed up the amount of time needed for drying. Some patches are self adhesive and others you need to use a glue to bond the patch. Once again make sure the area is clean. You will want to ensure you round the edges of your patch. This will prevent it from getting peeled back as easily. A patch alone will not be strong enough to withstand the levels of PSI that will be exerted over time once we use the mat, so you need to use a glue in-conjunction for a repair to last longer. Once you locate the hole cover the hole with a generous layer of seam grip or glue and let it dry for about an hour. Make sure the patch adheres directly to the dry sleeping pad or air mattress fabric (NOTE: The patch must extend at least ½’’ beyond the Seam grip or glue and bond solidly to the pad fabric). This will allow you to get back on the sleeping pad, so that you can use it immediately as the glue dries. If you do not have seam grip or glue with you, a self adhesive patch should work temporarily in the field until you have a chance to properly repair your mat at home.
Once I have completed the repair I will always tested it with another bath tub test to make sure I didn’t miss any holes and to ensure my repair fully sealed.