Thermarest puzzle

This problem has been puzzling me for about two years.  I felt I needed to tackle it after a friend reported the same issue a few weeks back.  We go camping.  We sleep in tents on hard surfaces.  And we all have Thermarest camping mats – in itself the best invention ever.  It rolls into the tiniest package and, once unleashed, inflates itself.  You give it a few more hard air pumps and you are able to sleep semi-cushioned and warm(!) for a whole night.  That is…until it develops a leak.  A slow one at that.  You’re flat on the rocky bottom by morning.  Then you shelve the camping season, forget about the leak (because you CANNOT detect a hole!!!) until you take it out again to camp out at a friend’s house.

Something has to be done.  The friend discovered Thermarest’s own repair kit at the local camping store.  Sounds promising but isn’t.  He goes first.  Immerse the mat into the bathtub, find the bubbles, mark the spot, apply the kit.  Sounds simple enough but air still escapes.  Apply more glue.  Affix another patch.   Still to no avail.  Why are they making the kit when it does not do the job????  Friend is getting impatient, I have yet to tackle my mat.  These things are expensive, they have a lifetime guarantee, their inner life is a mystery to me.

Until the day I pick up my bike from the repair shop.  Ha!  They are making repair kits for bike inner tubes.  The repair man is skeptical.  After all, the glue V U L C A N I Z E S, he says – what will that do to the mat?  Since vulcanizing is as much a mystery me to me as the inner life of the mat, I buy the kit.  It’s made in Germany, it must be good.

By now, we know that we don’t have to immerse the whole mat (applying soap water will do), but I still stick it in the hot tub.  Find my leaks (6! five in front and one in back).  How did that happen? – I do not recall ever sleeping on a cactus!  I dab generous amounts of the (vulcanizing) glue to the mat, apply the patch and wait. When I see tiny air bubbles come out from under the patch, I simply apply more glue around the rim.

And it holds!!!!  The final test comes when I bed myself at night to sleep on it.  I still have all the air in the morning!  Success!  Looks funny, but success!!!

sunny spots on the green mat

Now my friends regrets that he has thrown out his mat.

Never doubt that an unusual approach can have the best results


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