How to shop for cheap Sleeping Pads

Depending on the trip, distance, and weather I will carry different pads and or combinations of pads.  Everyone is a little different when it comes to comfort and their sleep systems.  The problem with going on different types of trips in different locations is that you may want to have several options and different combinations of sleep pads.  I typically use a closed cell foam pad as well as an inflatable pad on colder/winter trips so I like to use something a bit warmer than my summer pad.

I have several pads that I’ve picked up here and there at yard sales, swap meets, and REI garage sales.  All inflatable pads were picked up for $10 and each had a small leak that people did not feel like finding/fixing.  I used the same $5.50 REI repair kit to repair 4 different pads.  After dipping each pad in either the bathtub or our pool I was able to find the leaks quickly, and patch them up as soon as the pad dried.  You can save a ton of money by buying these cheap pads with one tiny pinhole and fixing them up.

  • In my experience, if you see a used inflatable sleeping pad for sale, chances are: it has a leak.  This is not the end of the world, and probably why you can get it so cheap.
  • The first thing I do when I see these is to look over the whole pad to see if there are any visual punctures, slices, or open seams.  I also like to see if it has been patched before as well.  Chances are, if it was patched once it will be difficult to patch the same area again.  Also, if the person selling it went through the trouble to patch it the first time, and not this time around, it may be too much of a pain.  Skip it and move on unless you like more of a challenge.
  • Next, inflate the pad and lay on it to get a feel for if it will be something that you can sleep on.  The main thing you will be looking for is it see how long the pad holds air.  Some pads will lose air very quickly which tells you that you have a large puncture, split seam, or valve leak.  All are fixable, but I tend to have recurring issues with split seams.  They are fixable, last a few trips, and then need to be patched again.  If you don’t have a lot of options, go ahead and take it on and be sure to always have your patch kit with you on your trip.  If it loses air very quickly and you think you can patch it, point out to the seller that it has serious damage, you may be able to haggle the price down even more.

There are several links to fixing pads out there already so I won’t go into the whole process.  Once you have gotten your “new” sleeping pad at a great price, check out these helpful links on fixing a pad.  Note: if you have a Thermarest Neo Air I will have better fix info for you coming soon.

Backpacker magazine teaches you how to fix a pad

McNett makes great products, here they show you how to use their pad repair

Coming Soon: Review and uses of Thermarest Ridgeline, ZRest, Basecamp, and Prolite Z.


About mattlacuesta

Just a Buckeye living in Denver and enjoying playtime in the Rockies. View all posts by mattlacuesta

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