Using your sleeping pad in the bush
“If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.” Dale Carnegie
In the bush, treat your sleeping pad gently. Avoid using it on sharp surfaces, always put a groundsheet down first. Choose the smoothest surface to camp on, and remove surface rocks or sticks that may cause damage to the pad.
Expect your sleeping pad to get a bit dirty in the bush – this is something you can deal with at home. However, there are a few things worth cleaning up immediately if they are spilt on a sleeping pad: insect repellent with DEET can damage material, and sap from trees can stick to material and be hard to remove. Wash off with a cloth soaked in water. If the sap is hard to remove, consider using alcohol wipes from first aid kit.
When setting up your sleeping pad, over inflate it slightly. Then when you lay down, you can release a bit of air until it feels super comfortable. Roll on your side and make sure your hip is not pressing against the ground.
Repairs in the field
Finding a leak in the field can be disheartening, to say the least, but if you carry a patch repair kit, it’s usually fairly straightforward to repair. Remember, the job done in the field doesn’t have to be the final one, it’s merely a way to get the gear to last until the end of the trip. Even if you don’t have specific patches for a sleeping pad, you may find that improvising a patch with tape or bandages from your first aid kit is good enough to make the gear last the remainder of the trip, and you can do a more thorough repair at home.
The first thing is to find the leak. Sometimes this is easy as you can hear the air leak or see a hole. Other times, this can be much harder, especially if there is a tiny hole or a really slow leak. In these cases, it works well to use water to identify the leak (for details, see Sleeping Pad: Care and maintenance). However, you need to make a judgement here: is it worth getting your sleeping pad wet? Are you able to dry it adequately before doing the repair and subsequently using it? If not, given that you have a slow leak, you may be better off just accepting the fact that the pad will leak a little over the course of the evening, and you need to re-inflate it during the night. This is usually the better option than sleeping on a semi-wet pad, with an improper repair job that only needs to be redone again and again. However, if you have good sun and warm conditions, and you can dry out the pad, then locating the hole by immersing the pad in water is helpful.
After finding the leak, use an alcohol-based wipe from a first aid kit to clean the area. Then follow the instructions on the patch and glue. Some adhesives need time to dry before applying the patch (this is called curing), while others don’t need a patch at all. In general, make sure that the patch covers at least 1 cm surrounding the hole, but follow specific instructions by the manufacturer.