An inflatable sleeping pad pretty much has one job: to be airtight. If something causes the mattress not to be airtight, it’s time to repair your sleeping pad. Below we will teach you how to effectively repair your sleeping pad so you can get back out on the trail and enjoy your nights outside.

man inflating sleeping padImages photographed and owned by William Woodward

Repair kits are included with all of our sleeping pads. There’s the Permanent Home Repair Kit and the Instant Field Repair Kit. Though either of our repair kits will work, the Field Repair Kit is designed to provide a speedy fix for any pad while the Home Repair Kit is a longer process that results in a long-lasting fix.

How to Find the Leak in your Sleeping Pad

Whether you’re at home or in the field, you’ll want to inflate your mattress as firm as you can get it with your breath. If you’re lucky, you might hear air escaping and you’ll be able to locate the puncture right away.

If it’s not readily apparent where the leak is, you can either submerge the pad fully in water (a tub at home, or a body of water nearby if you’re out in the wild) or you can spread a water and soap mix over the pad with a sponge, cloth or spray bottle.

submerging sleeping pad to look for leaks

In both cases, you’re looking for bubbles to form, which will indicate where the air is escaping. In the case of a pinhole puncture that takes all night to leak out, the bubble stream may be subtle so carefully inspect your whole pad.

Patience is the most effective tool in the toolbox at this point. One trick is to fold the mattress over on itself when submerging it or soaping it up, and inspecting one half of the pad at a time. This will increase the internal pressure and hopefully force air through the hole a little quicker. Another method to try is to mentally break it down into smaller areas and go through one section at a time, slowly and meticulously. Flip the mat over and inspect the other side.

finding leak in sleeping pad

Our repair techs follow these same procedures when we receive mattresses for repairs. At any rate, once the leak is found, follow the repair directions to patch that sucker up and you’re back in business.

How to Repair Your Sleeping Pad at Home

If you’re at home, our Permanent Home Repair Kit can help you patch the puncture.

permanent sleeping pad repair kit

Depending on the model of pad, it may require sitting overnight, but since you’re home, that shouldn’t cause too many issues.

(Pro tip: Inflate your pad and test that it holds air few days before heading into the backcountry.)

How to use the Permanent Repair Kit:

How to Repair Your Sleeping Pad in the Field

If you experience a puncture while out camping, hopefully you’ve brought a Instant Field Repair Kit with you.

sleeping pad field repair kit

How to use the Instant Repair Kit:

How to use the Valve Repair Kit:

Send Your Sleeping Pad to the Pros to Repair

If you have tried everything, or your mattress damage is significantly more than you want to take on, you may send your mattress to us for repair. If the problem is covered under our Limited Lifetime Warranty, we’ll repair or replace your mattress at our discretion. These issues are limited to defects in material or manufacturing. If we find that there are punctures/tears in the mattress, we can repair those, but these are typically wear-and-tear situations, and not covered under the warranty.

Cascade-Designs-Repair-Shop-Team

We charge a flat-rate fee to repair a mattress (contact us for current rates). This repair charge covers up to 10 punctures at any one time—if we find more than 10 punctures in a mattress, then we consider the mattress to be at the end of its service life.

If you choose to send your sleeping pad to us, please make sure it’s relatively clean. We don’t need to be able to eat off of your mattress (nor do we want to), but some mattresses have shown up here in surprisingly gross condition. If that’s your mattress, clean it by inflating it and wiping it down with a mild detergent. Follow-up with a rinse, and let it dry out before shipping it to us.

Please note: if your mattress is excessively dirty or has a strong off-putting odor when it arrives at the repair office, it will not be worked on or evaluated and instead will be returned with cleaning instructions.

examining sleeping pad to repair

This brings us to another point: Keeping your mattress clean is very important to its longevity. For folks who are on long-term camping trips, body oils, bug spray, and sunscreen can all contribute to the breakdown of the laminates that bond the external fabrics to the internal components. This goes for the foam, cores of self-inflating models and the internal baffles in one of our NeoAir® models. Using camp sheet on the mattress, or sleeping with base layers on and cleaning it regularly (both the sheet and the mat), will help you get the most out of your sleeping pad.

adding sheet to sleeping pad

If you ship a mattress to us, we aren’t concerned with the method of shipment, but we do recommend send it with a method that is trackable. If anything goes wrong in shipping, you can at least find out where it was delivered by mistake. To get started with your repair, head to our warranty page and create a Return Authorization Number.

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Updated. Originally Published Oct. 18, 2019.