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Therm-a-Rests are great until they puncture and make like a flat

tyre, but relax, it's not the end of the world. Here's how to fix

your self-inflating mattress using: a Therm-a-Rest Repair kit

(£4.00), a bath-full of water, a stove and pan, a plastic bag

and a jar of pickled gerkhins.

The materials in the repair kit are, say Cascade Designs, the manufacturers, the same as those used in their own workshops for the repair of stricken mats.


Slow punctures are generally apparent when the mat deflates slowly

overnight usually means a pin-hole puncture. Hard to find, easy to

fix. Some leak significantly only when part of the mattress is bent


Ctastrophic deflation, which happens more quickly generally

indicates a larger tear. Easier to spot, more extensive repair.

Location, Location, Location Use

water to find the leak. Inflate the mattress then either

submerse it and watch for bubbles or smear soapy water

across the surface to find the leak.Often the leak will

whistle softly under pressure. Once you've found it, mark is

with a pen or you're bound to forget exactly where it


Boil The Adhesive To activate the

adhesive you need to boil it for 3 minutes. The old tubes

always congealed after first use, but the latest sachets

mean you can make at least three repairs with each kit,

though they're not reusable.

Stick It Make sure the surface of

the mattress is dry, though they can be repaired in wet

conditions and open the valve to prevent damage. With a

pin-prick type repair, it's simply a question of rubbing

some adhesive into the area of the puncture using the wooden

'lolly stick' supplied.

Patch It: For bigger tears, like

this one which was previously covered with an acre of duct

tape and a Compeed blister plaster, spread adhesive over the

area - you have a couple of minutes before it


Then stick one of the pre-cut patches

over the area.

Before covering with a handy plastic bag

then plonking the hot pan down over the patch to heat the

adhesive and seal the bond. The placcy bag is to prevent the

adhesive from stickign to the bottom of the pan. A logical

move since sleeping on pans is woefully uncomfortable. Make

sure the valve is open to prevent serious side effects as

the air inside the mattress expands.

Finally remove pan and bag, before seeking out a

jar of pickled gherkins and rolling it over the patche and repaired area in a

stylee. This ensures that the patch is firmly in place.

Et voila. Simply leave the repair

to stabilise for 10 minutes before use and be more careful

next time.


In the past I've used a Compeed blister

dressing overlaid with layers of duct tape which actually

worked okay for about a year (carry duck tape rolled around

a 35mm film cannister for ease of use). Duct tape will do

the job on its own, but it can be hit and miss, it also

tends to strip off if it gets very wet.

Seamgrip, the American seam-seal come

urethane adhesive thing works pretty well, but needs to cure

overnight, which isn't always practical.

The best solution really is the genuine

Therm-a-Rest repair kit at £4.00


Carry the rest inside your pack rather

than strapped on the outside and exercise care with spikey

things like crampons, cutlery and roses. If you're bivvying,

be doubly careful, certain spiked grasses and rocks can make

your mattress look like a pin cusion in seconds. Never lend

your mattress to anyone with long, sharp toe


Pushed for

time? If your Therm-a-Rest punctures, all is not lost. Make sure you have a four

quid Therm-a-Rest repair kit along for the ride and follow the

instructions carefully. You could also use duct tape in extremis