Gear Guide: Therm-a-Rest Repairs

thermarest leak

A leaky Therm-a-Rest makes it “snow” in summer. Photo credit: Emma Dowds.

Gear is an essential part of our lives as canoe campers.  Good gear can be a costly investment, which is why we want to be able to make it last.  Today, Woody guides us through patching a leaky self-inflating mattress, a trick that will extend its life and keep it from “snowing” in your tent (see above).

One essential piece of gear to make a canoe trip a bit more comfortable is a Therm-a-Rest (self-inflating) mattress. Not only is it more comfortable than the ground for sleeping it is also warmer which can be really helpful when canoe tripping, especially in the far North and even later into the summer season on a more local level.  Regardless of time of year or temperature, sleeping on a Therm-a-Rest just makes good sense when on trip.  It is the most comfortable way to go unless of course you bring a large blow up mattress – but we know that’s not the most practical thing for a canoe trip.

What happens though if your sleeping pad develops a leak? What if you are only part way through your canoe trip? The good news is that it’s generally a quick and easy repair in the field.  If you are purchasing a new Therm-a-Rest it will come with a patch kit, if you have an older Therm-a-Rest and you’ve misplaced the patch kit you can easily get a repair kit at most outdoor stores. Bottom line having a small patch kit can pay you dividends when needed most.

Here is a step by step guide for doing the repair from the people at Therm-A-Rest.

You’ll Need:

– a glue dot repair kit or Universal Repair kit (adhesive glue and a patch)

– soapy water

– an alcohol swab

Step One: Identify the hole

Fold your inflated sleeping pad in half and rub soapy water along the surface.  The hole will cause the soap to bubble.  Mark the hole and dry off the surface.

Step Two: Prepare the surface

Unfold the sleeping pad and open the valve.  Wipe the area over and around the hole with an alcohol swab.

Step Three: Patch the hole using a glue dot repair

Newer Therm-a-Rests come with a glue dot repair system.  This is an easy method.  Simply peel the white side of the glue dot away and centre the dot over the leak, pressing firmly with your thumb.  You can overlap the dots if you need to cover more space.  When the dot is secured, remove the clear film and cover with the self-adhesive patch in your kit.


Patch using a Universal Repair kit

Choose a patch that covers the puncture at least one inch in all directions.  Add the adhesive right over the puncture.  Use enough that it is soaked into the fabric and extends one inch around the hole.  Let the glue cure for 10-20 minutes, until it becomes tacky.  Remove the backing from the fabric patch and lay it over the adhesive, pushing it on with the palm of your hand.  Leave it sit for 3 hours, with the valve open.

So that’s how do we do a simple repair in the field……to see the above instructions in practice, or to see how to replace a leaky valve, please watch the YouTube video below:

One last thing.  In my opinion no one makes a better canoe tripping mattress than Therm-a-Rest does.

Woody is the co-director of Wanapitei and master of all things gear-related.