Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Field repair of an Exped mat. For those of us who can't (don't) read hang tags #2!

Ever seen one of these before?

This is that little repair kit that was dangling with the hang tags of your mat when it was all nice and new. Most of us probably lost it after we threw away (recycled) the hang tags. Someday, as with all air holding contraptions that make us more comfortable and happy (tires, rubber dingies, and balloons) you will put a hole in your mat and you will want to know how to fix it. Here are a few simple pointers to restore a comfortable night of sleep.

Contents of the Exped Mat Repair Kit:
  1. Instructions are in multiple languages. Always fun to read to your tent mates on the 3rd storm bound day. Josh prefers to read the German version with a lilting Spanish accent.
  2. Several "fast-patch" self-adhesive square patches, that match your mat top and bottom sides. In the following pictures you will note that we use the "wrong color" patches for emphasis on the project.
  3. Several "neat-patch" self-adhesive patches with die-cut circles that also match the top and bottom sides of your mat.
  4. Exped Textile Glue. Depending on the nature of your trip, you will definitely want to use this stuff in a well ventilated spot.

With this little kit you should be able to take care of most any field encountered puncture or tear situation in your mat. These same techniques can be used on clothing, dry bags, tents, packs, etc. It is worth keeping in the bottom of your mat stuff sack so you always know where it is.

Glue-Only Repair

Small punctures: thorns, sewing needles, fish hooks, cactus spines.
Repair time: 30 seconds or less
Dry time: 1hr to allow complete drying. In most cases, you can inflate and sleep your mat 45 minutes after putting the first drop of glue on a small puncture.

Remove the offending thorn or spine. Apply a well rounded drop of glue to the hole on the deflated mat. Let it cure and dry for at least 45 minutes.

If it is tacky, it ISN'T dry! If you are impatient (or tired and cranky), try the "fast-patch" technique below and you'll be sleeping sooner.
Small. Clean. Done.

The Fast-patch:

If your hole looks more like a tear, or you want to have a quicker repair time use this "fast-patch" method. This works really well when you don't discover the hole until you crawl into your bivy late at night..

Ideal for punctures or tears 3cm or less: caused by campfire sparks, crampons, fork, knife, etc
Repair time: 3-5 minutes
Dry time: Allow 45 minutes for maximum strength, but in most cases, you can inflate and sleep on your mat 10 minutes after putting the fast-patch over the puncture or small tear.

Spread the textile glue liberally around the tear or puncture so that you can acheive an effective seal. Leave at least 1cm of unglued space around the perimeter of the glued surface so that the "self-adhesive" fast-patch has a dry surface to adhere to.

Pull the paper backer off of the fast-patch and apply over the glued puncture or tear.

Smooth the fast-patch into place and firmly press the edges down to ensure positve adhesion.

Once the fast-patch is in place, wait for at least 10 minutes.

Inflate and be happy!

The only compromise with the fast-patch method is the long term cosmetic. After continued usage the self-adhesive edges of the quick patch will tend to peel back. If you are looking for comfort in the middle of the night, you really don't care how bad it looks as long as it pads, protects and insulates. Most of us are willing to deal with the cosmetic in the morning or when we get home from the trip. If you don't like the peeled back look around the fast-patch you can apply a perimeter bead of glue to keep fast-patch egdes permanently in place.

The Neat-patch:
If you are a neat freak, have the time, and want a proffessional looking repair job this is the ticket.

Ideal for punctures or small tears 1cm or less.
Repair time: 30 minutes
Dry time: Allow 45 minutes for maximum strength.

Remove the die-cut circle patch from the center of the "neat-patch", and set it aside. Peel paper backer off of the remaining template patch.

Carefully center the template, sticky side down, over the puncture. Run your finger firmly around the inside perimeter of the template hole to ensure a solid bond. Once the neat-patch template is in place, fill in the center of the template with the textile glue.

Now peel the paper backer off the circle patch.

Carefully place the circle patch over the glued hole. Try to eliminate any overlap between the cirlcle patch and the neat-patch template.

After 20-30 minutes, gently peel back the self adhesive neat-patch template. Use your fingers to keep the circle patch in place while removing the template.

Inflate and enjoy. The neat patch provides a permanent and clean solution.