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Gear School 2009: Essentials

From sleeping pads to trekking poles, we'll have you good to go in no time.
Gear School 09 Essentials 200x170Gear School 09 Essentials 200x170


  • Tempted to puff up your self-inflating pad? Not so fast–the moisture in your breath can get trapped inside the pad, encouraging mildew. To make your bed, simply open the valve and lay it out flat for an hour; air will get in by itself (and you can top it off with a few breaths).
  • To deflate a self-inflater or air mat, open the valve and start rolling on the opposite end, squeezing air out and kneeling on the roll as you go. When you reach the end, close the valve so it doesn’t puff back up, and stash it in its stuffsack.
  • Self-inflating pads and air mats double as comfy camp chairs with the Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair Kit ($40,, one of last year’s Editors’ Choice honorees.
  • To store any inflatable pad, leave it inflated with the valve open to encourage circulation.

Problem Leaky valve
Solution Run a thin bead of Seam Grip around the valve at the spot where it protrudes from the pad.

Problem Hole in an inflatable pad
Solution First step: Find the puncture by inflating the pad, then submerging it in a stream to find the telltale air bubbles. No stream? Pour water on the pad and wipe every last inch with a bandana until bubbles appear. Circle the spot with a marker and deflate the pad. To patch a tiny hole, apply a drop of Seam Grip. For larger holes, mix a few drops of water with Seam Grip and apply to the gash, extending 1/2-inch around its edges. Stick a nylon patch with rounded edges to the hole and let dry for at least 30 minutes.

3 New Uses for Old Closed-Cell Pads
Camp seat: Cut a piece and use it to insulate your butt on cold or snowy ground.
Soup/tea cozy: Tape a scrap around your water bottle.
Stove insulation: Wrap a square in duct tape and use as a cooking platform.

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