Introduction: Compression Strap for Self-Inflating Camping Mat

About: Enthusiastic hiker, quilter and creator with a passion for making the most of every situation and finding the best and easiest way to do anything!

Ever have trouble packing up when you are camping? Does it feel like a struggle to get your camping mat into the stuff sack it came in?

There is a simple solution to this. This easy-to-make compression strap will help you wrestle your Therm-a-Rest or other self-inflating camping mat into a tight roll and keep it there, making it easy to get into its original sleeve. Perfect for camping mats and any other rolled items!

I've been making these straps for camping gear for years, and decided to make a new strap so I could show others how to make them through an instructable.


To make the strap, you will need access to a sewing machine, and:

Step 1: What You Will Need

To make the strap, you will need access to a sewing machine, and:

  1. a rectangle loop or triglide slide or ladder lock with a 1" inner diameter: any of these will work although the triglide slide is probably best
  2. 1" wide sew on hook and loop tape (also known as Velcro) - about 20" of the soft "loop" side, and 6" of the hook side
  3. thread
  4. scissors
  5. optional - duct tape

Step 2: Measure and Cut

  1. Measure the circumference of your sleeping pad, when rolled up. My extra large Therm-a-Rest was 18" around.
  2. Cut a piece of the "hook" part of the hook and loop tape, about 6" long. Cut a longer piece from the "loop" side, approximately equal or slightly longer than the circumference of your sleeping pad - in my case, I cut a piece that was 20" long from the "loop" side.
  3. Use scissors to round off the sharp corners of the end of this strip - this will make it easier to insert the strip into the hardware.

Step 3: Sew

  1. Lay the "hook" piece on top of the "loop" piece, with a 3/4" overlap. Both the loops and the hooks should be on top (i.e. the smooth side of both pieces of tape should be on the bottom).
  2. Sew this overlap area together securely. See photo - stitch a rectangle over the 2 overlapped pieces, and further secure by stitching in an X shape inside the rectangle.
  3. Sew the loop end of your Velcro strip to the rectangle loop, with the smooth side against the loop (i.e. fuzzy side out). Go over this stitching several times, so it is secure. Your Velcro strip is now attached to the loop.
  4. I found that the new Velcro I had purchased was so strong that it was difficult to separate the Velcro once it was stuck together. To solve this problem, I added a small strip of duct tape to both sides of the curved end of the strap, creating a small non-stick tab at the end of the loop.

Step 4: Pull Strap Around Camping Mat, Compress and Go!

  1. Open the valve of your camping mat and start rolling it from the opposite end.
  2. I find it helpful to kneel on the roll, raising my knees to roll it, and kneeling down every 1/2 turn to squeeze out the air.
  3. Close the valve once the pad is rolled up and the air is squeezed out.
  4. Put your strap around the middle and cinch tight, inserting the loose end into the rectangle loop and pulling the strap back. The rectangular ring gives you leverage to pull against it, squeezing the camping mat into a tighter roll.
  5. Secure strap in place by pressing it against the hook and loop tape.
  6. Now it's easy to slip it into the stuff sack it came in.
  7. You can see this demo'd in the short video below. (This video shows an older version of my compression strap, not the new improved version in this instructable.)

Happy camping!

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