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Thermarest Repair and Care

How To Repair, Clean and Store
Your Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

You'll probably never need to know about Thermarest repair - but I'll tell you how to do it, just in case!

If you follow these common-sense instructions, your self-inflating sleeping pad will last for many years.

four Thermarests in a tent

What is a self-inflating sleeping pad?

A self inflating sleeping pad consists of a foam core inside a durable shell. When its valve is opened, the mattress fills with air.

These mattresses can ensure you a great night's sleep even when you are sleeping right on the ground.

Here's one of my Thermarests.

I've owned this lightweight 3/4 length sleeping pad for more than 20 years.

Thermarest mattress on grass

Despite lots of use on countless camping trips, it is still in excellent shape. It has never had a leak and has never needed any type of repair.

There are a number of brands of self inflating sleeping pad. I'll say "Thermarest repair" because that's what I have, but the information here applies to other brands as well.

Preventing leaks

A self inflating sleeping pad is very durable, but it is possible to puncture it if you aren't careful. Be sure to treat your mattress with care.

Pack your sleeping pad carefully.

Don't pack it with sharp or pointy objects.

For backpacking, put your sleeping pad in its stuff sack.

For car camping, we carry our mattresses in a large duffle bag.

Thermarests in duffle bag

Watch where you place your mattress.

Look down before you place it on the ground. Don't place it on sharp rocks.

Treat it with respect.

A Thermarest is just for sleeping.

Teach your children never to stand or jump on an inflated sleeping pad.

Thermarest Repair

If you do end up with a leak, you can repair it easily by following these simple Thermarest repair instructions.

Locating a leak

  • Open the valve and let the mattress inflate. 

  • Blow in more air until it is very firm. 
  • Close the valve.
  • Put some water and a squirt of dish soap into a bowl. 

bowl of soapy water for finding thermarest leak

  • Spread this soapy water over the area where you suspect a hole.
  • Fold the mattress to force out air, and watch for bubbles. There's your hole!
  • Circle the hole with a pen.
  • Turn the pad over and check the other side too.
  • Rinse off the soap.
  • Let the mattress air dry.

two thermarests

Repairing a leak

Here's what to do in the unlikely event that you get a leak in your self inflating sleeping pad.

I don't have any photos of this process - because none of our Thermarests has ever needed to be repaired! I told you that they are durable!

This thermarest repair kit has everything you need for a quick repair job. Just follow the directions in the kit.

You can also do a Thermarest repair using urethane glue. Look for Freesole or Seam Grip. Here's what to do:
  • Deflate the Thermarest completely and close the valve. 
  • Spread the urethane glue over the hole.
  • Open the valve. This draws the glue into the hole, forming a long lasting seal. 
  • Let dry for at least 24 hours before using the Thermarest again.

Emergency repair

If you're on a camping trip and you don't have urethane glue or a thermarest repair kit on hand - or if you can't wait 24 hours before using your mattress - you can make a temporary repair.

Just put a small duct tape patch over the hole.

duct tape patch on Thermarest

Remove the tape as soon as you get home, and do a proper repair job when you can.

What if the valve breaks?

I have never had this happen - and I've never even known anyone who's had this happen - but if it does, you can buy a replacement valve kit.

Cleaning your Thermarest pad

A Thermarest pad can be easily cleaned by wiping it with a damp cloth.

Allow it to air dry.

Storing your Thermarest

Be sure that your Thermarest is completely dry before you store it away. If you store it when it's damp, you risk mildew.

Don't leave it in its stuff sack.

Don't leave it rolled up.

Thermarests rolled up

Leaving it deflated and rolled up for long periods will shorten its life.

Store it unrolled, with the valve open.

thermarest valve

Now that you know how to take care of your Thermarest pad, click here to learn about some of the other camping sleeping pad options.

Going camping? Visit the The Camping Family home page for lists, food ideas, safety tips and more.

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