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I recently changed from a foam to inflatable sleeping mat.

I try to keep weight at minimum. I prefer a light hiking setup, so the inflatable mat weights 400 - 500 grams (1 lbs).

The problem is that I need to inflate it multiple times during the night. It leaks. The leaks are tiny so there is still air inside. I poured water into it and so I located the leaks (the area where water comes out). The method with air bubbles did not work. The problem is the design, even when using multiple patches, still leaks, and I need to inflate it again. Air always finds the way out in some new spot, even when patched. Sometimes I need to sit on the mattress so my weight is concentrated on one spot. Is that the issue that light mats can't take that?

There are a lot 1 kg or about 2 lbs mats. That seems too heavy for extensive hiking. So I ask you is it normal to expect, that 500 g (1 lbs) mat would last 15 usages or not? In some cases I sleep on good ground, forest soil. Sometimes there are rocks under tent floor (mountain areas) and I can't remove each one of them. I am careful.

My mat


I thank everyone for taking time and answering. I will buy new one from different brand and with different build structure.

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  • Do you always use it the same way up? Are the leaks on the top or bottom?
    – Chris H
    Mar 26, 2023 at 4:54
  • The brand is well known, costs 60 - 90 euro or dollars, so it is not a very cheap thing. Leaks are in both directions and I always use it the same way up. I patched it 4 times and it is still leaking.
    – Alex J.
    Mar 26, 2023 at 12:00
  • I had a very similar looking one. It never leaked from the parts that would touch me or the ground, but almost immediately started having countless tiny leaks from the edges of the areas where the two sides are glued together. Quite successfully plugged them with a little bit of "Uhu Weich" glue from Germany (it's a PVC glue that stays flexible, but doesn't seem to be available globally), but after a year of rather frequent use, there were just too many of these holes...
    – heiko
    Mar 27, 2023 at 2:56
  • @heiko it was probably heat-sealed originally, but good to hear you found a glue that worked as a sealant.
    – Chris H
    Mar 27, 2023 at 5:47

3 Answers 3

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It should be possible.

Mine is 400g. I use it for bike touring and bikepacking, either with a tent or a tarp. If using a tarp over me, I use a smaller one as a groundsheet, but it's not unknown for the mat to slide off that in the night. The groundsheet tarp probably takes the total weight up to 500-550g

Quickly counting up nights, I've probably only used it for a couple of dozen, but I've never needed to patch it, or had it deflate on me, and that's still longer than yours has lasted.

With these light mats you do need to be quite careful about the ground underneath. On the other hand pitching in the dark it can be hard to avoid all sharp stuff, and I've certainly had a couple of nights with brambles and enough of a slope to not wake up with the mat fully on the groundsheet.

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  • 4
    Agreed - a good quality air mattress from a known manufacturer, treated well, should last quite some time.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 24, 2023 at 17:12
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It's not unreasonable, but it's also not a guarantee. I have a 425g Nemo Tensor Insulated Ultralight Sleeping Pad. I use it mostly in my tent, which is on a ground tarp, but I've also used it for weeks directly on the floor in a more urban context (rough dirty concrete). It's seen easily 50 nights, maybe closer to 100, and have never had to patch a leak. I'm pretty careful about checking where I'm setting up, but I don't think about it beyond that. I'll sit in one spot, concentrate weight, etc. I'm also not exactly light (~205lbs).

All that said, I also know people who have non-ultralight pads that have leaked the first use. It can be very random. Patching inflatable pads is pretty normal. I bring a kit with me every time and have just been incredibly lucky to not need it.

What I won't do with my inflatable pad that I'll do with my foam pad (Nemo switchback), is use in in the kitchen/on open soil. With a foam pad I'll fold it up as a camp seat while cooking/hanging out, etc. It's definitely significantly more durable. Another thing I'll do when weight isn't as much of an issue is double up. Inflatable on top of foam makes for a very comfy, and warm, night's sleep. And the foam pad then helps to protect the inflatable pad.

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Your mat should not leak like that. But do you happen to have cats? Or have you slept on brambles or any other prickly ground-creeping shrubs? If your mat is still within the warranty period and you have looked after it well, maybe you can make a claim.

I had two self-inflating mats -- the type that has open-cell foam within an inflatable shell. Unfortunately, I kept them in a place where my cats had access to. I didn't notice until too late that the cats had poked dozens of tiny, invisible holes with their claws into each mat. I did start to block the holes with a sealant but gave up as there were just too many. And the blobs of sealant were adding extra weight.

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  • I realize OP said they were careful with their mat but my warning might help others...
    – Martin F
    Mar 26, 2023 at 18:24
  • Yeah I should use warranty. No cats or thorns, but yes that could cause puncture in some other case for somebody else.
    – Alex J.
    Mar 26, 2023 at 19:45

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