How To Patch a Sleeping Pad in the Backcountry [3 EASY STEPS]

Knowing how to patch a sleeping pad is an important backpacking skill. Most of the time, you’ll be in the backcountry when you notice that your sleeping pad is not holding air like it should. Not only do sleeping pads provide comfort, they also provide insulation from the ground to keep you warmer at night. Without an inflated sleeping pad, you’re likely to be uncomfortable and cold. Luckily, patching a sleeping pad is really easy, and if you know how to do it, you’ll be back on your sleeping pad snoring in no time!

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In this post we’ll cover:

  • 3 different ways to find the leak
  • the materials you’ll need to patch it up
  • exactly how to patch it in the backcountry

How to Patch a Sleeping Pad: (Video Tutorial)

If you’re like me and you prefer to learn things by watching, watch the video below where I show you the entire process in this step-by-step video tutorial:

How to Repair a Sleeping Pad in the Backcountry [3 EASY STEPS]

How to Repair a Sleeping Pad (3 Easy Steps)

Step 1: Find the Leak.

If you’re lucky, this will be really easy, but most of the time the leak is very small, and finding it is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process.

But don’t worry, here are a few tips and tricks for finding the sleeping pad leak in the backcountry:

Listen and feel for it:

Blow the sleeping pad up as much as you can. This creates pressure inside and helps you find the hole easier. Hold the sleeping pad up to your ear and listen for the leak. You want to be organized when you’re doing your scan to make sure that you cover the entire sleeping pad on both sides. While you’re listening for the leak, use your hand to feel along the surface of the sleeping pad too. Sometimes you can feel it better than you can hear it. Go slow and really try to scan every part of the sleeping pad.

Use your headlamp:

Hold the sleeping pad with one side facing you. Take your headlamp and hold it behind the sleeping pad to shine light through. Start on one end and work your way across the pad looking for any holes. Flip the sleeping pad and repeat on the other side. This method works well in the dark.

Use the sun:

If the sun’s out, hold the sleeping pad up to the sun so that the sunlight can shine through. Scan the entire sleeping pad looking for the hole which will be brighter than the rest of the sleeping pad.

Like I said above, sometimes finding the hole can be challenging. Be patient and organized as you look for it using these methods.

The supplies you’ll need to repair a sleeping pad in the backcountry

Step 2: Prep for the patch.

The next step in the sleeping pad repair process is to gather and organize the materials you’re going to need.

Most sleeping pads come with a small repair kit and instructions. It’s always a good idea to review the specific instructions given by your sleeping pad manufacturer.

If you don’t have a repair kit, you lost it, or you already used it all, continue reading for the materials I recommend. The patching method in this post should work for most sleeping pads on the market.

Repair Materials Needed:

  1. Tenacious Tape
  2. an alcohol wipe (these should be in your med kit)
  3. small multitool with scissors

Tenacious Tape is the best stuff for repairs. I carry some on every backpacking trip. It’s great to have for repairing not only sleeping pads, but tents and clothing too! I highly recommend you always pack it on your backpacking trips.

Lastly, you’ll need a multitool with scissors to cut the tenacious tape. I linked one above, but there are so many options for multitools, so carry whatever one you like or already have.

All three of these supplies are things you’re probably already carrying on your backpacking trips! No extra gear needed. Yay!

adding a patch to a sleeping pad

Step 3: Apply The Patch.

Now it’s your time to shine! Follow the steps below for the perfect sleeping pad patch:

  1. Deflate your sleeping pad completely. Smooth out any creases or wrinkles as best you can and lay it flat. 
  2. Take an alcohol wipe from your med kit, and wipe around the leak and surrounding area to remove any dirt or oils. Let the alcohol dry completely before moving on.
  3. While the alcohol is drying, use your multitool to cut out a circle of tenacious tape that’s larger than your leak. 
  4. Peal off the back side of the tape and place it over your leak. Starting from the center, use your thumbs to press in an outward motion to smooth out any air bubbles. Then, use the palm of your hand to press down firmly over the patch. See the video above for a demonstration.
  5. Wait about 5 minutes before inflating your pad. That’s it! Easy, right?

If you have any questions about this process, ask me in the comments below!

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