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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Gear Guide 20120: Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Sleeping Pad

Get the comfort you deserve with horizontal and vertical tubes that add both support and cushion.

by: Will Rochfort

Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core (Ben Fullerton)
Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core (Ben Fullerton)

Bundle of Bags
See all the summer, 3-season, and winter bags from our 2012 Gear Guide. Sleeping pads too!
[most comfortable]

“I have not slept on anything more comfortable in 40 years of backcountry travel.” That was the conclusion of one of our most experienced testers after he packed this 3.5-inch-thick pad on a three-week Himalayan climb. The secret: welded horizontal and vertical tubes, which give the pad its quiltlike appearance and a more uniform and supportive feel than pads with either horizontal or vertical baffles alone.

“It’s as close as you can get to carrying your own bed,” reports another tester. Warmth comes from the polyester insulation that’s woven with heat-reflective silver filament; we tested it well below freezing on snow. It packs down to water bottle size, but there is a downside: All that cushion takes about eight minutes to inflate with your lungs; get help from the Pumphouse ($20, 1.5 oz.), which also serves as a pillow. $140; 1 lb. 11 oz.; 72” x 20” x 3.5”; bigagnes.com

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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star
Jules
Mar 19, 2014

Unfortunately I have problems with this pad. It had a slow leak on my first outing, going down on second night. I found the slow leak (right in the seem) I did a bodge job whilst camping to fix it. It still is slow leaking, but very slowly, am fixing it now. It is a very narrow pad and I had problems finding where to lay my arms. It is very slippery and noisy. It is very warm though. I'm going to give it another chance on next outing. This time completely fixed and with a liner to stop the slipping and noise when moving to settle into sleep. Hopefully it goes better this time, cause I do want to like it, but it caused me some grief on my first outing!Will ramp up rating to 4 stars if it goes better next time.

Star Star Star
Jules
Mar 19, 2014

Unfortunately I have problems with this pad. It had a slow leak on my first outing, going down on second night. I found the slow leak (right in the seem) I did a bodge job whilst camping to fix it. It still is slow leaking, but very slowly, am fixing it now. It is a very narrow pad and I had problems finding where to lay my arms. It is very slippery and noisy. It is very warm though. I'm going to give it another chance on next outing. This time completely fixed and with a liner to stop the slipping and noise when moving to settle into sleep. Hopefully it goes better this time, cause I do want to like it, but it caused me some grief on my first outing!Will ramp up rating to 4 stars if it goes better next time.

Judi
Jun 21, 2012

I just spent two nights on a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. Unlike everyone else in my group, I slept comfortably. Yes, the price is steep, but a good night's sleep is top priority for me.It's worth every penny!

Tracy
May 30, 2012

I've had my Big Agnes Insulated AirCore pad for almost 4 years, and it's seen some considerable use in deserts, snow, and forest. We also have a BA REM Hinman self inflating, a Clearview inflatable, and just added a 25" wide insulated air core. No issues with any of them holding air at all. I would definitely recommend this brand.

cam
May 30, 2012

@gator if you took the time to read you would realize the pump/ pillow is $20, the $120 is for the pad itself. I have a big agnes tent, sleeping bag, and pad, and love them all. I can't wait to pick one of these up!

cam
May 30, 2012

@gator if you took the time to read you would realize the pump/ pillow is $20, the $120 is for the pad itself. I have a big agnes tent, sleeping bag, and pad, and love them all. I can't wait to pick one of these up!

Mark
May 30, 2012

@ inst a gator: The pad is $140. The Pumphouse pump/pillow is $20 as shown in parenthesis.

Mark
May 30, 2012

I never post comments or reviews but I have this pad and it does NOT take 8 minutes to inflate. I timed it and it took me 2 minutes and 23 large, deep breaths to inflate fully. I don't sleep on it fully inflated so it doesn't take quite that long. This is THE BEST SLEEPING PAD I have ever owned. I would never have bought it except that my wife doesn't sleep very well camping and she purchased it for herself. While on a scout camping trip she told me to take it and try it out. Unbelievable how comfortable it is! Honestly, I really didn't know I was getting such poor sleep outdoors. As soon as I came home I bought one for myself as well. The reviews in the article are correct on how comfortable it is. I also bought the Thermarest Neo Air XLite to try. It is lighter but not as comfortable. As to the deflation time, it takes no more time to deflate than a regular 1.5" thick Thermarest/REI self inflatable pad to me. For the sleep I now get, it is worth every penny, ounce of weight and every minute it takes to inflate or deflate but everyone has their priorities. Mine as I am getting older is to get a good nights sleep so my trips are more enjoyable. Hope this helps :-)

Mark
May 30, 2012

I never post comments or reviews but I have this pad and it does NOT take 8 minutes to inflate. I timed it and it took me 2 minutes and 23 large, deep breaths to inflate fully. I don't sleep on it fully inflated so it doesn't take quite that long. This is THE BEST SLEEPING PAD I have ever owned. I would never have bought it except that my wife doesn't sleep very well camping and she purchased it for herself. While on a scout camping trip she told me to take it and try it out. Unbelievable how comfortable it is! Honestly, I really didn't know I was getting such poor sleep outdoors. As soon as I came home I bought one for myself as well. The reviews in the article are correct on how comfortable it is. I also bought the Thermarest Neo Air XLite to try. It is lighter but not as comfortable. As to the deflation time, it takes no more time to deflate than a regular 1.5" thick Thermarest/REI self inflatable pad to me. For the sleep I now get, it is worth every penny, ounce of weight and every minute it takes to inflate or deflate but everyone has their priorities. Mine as I am getting older is to get a good nights sleep so my trips are more enjoyable. Hope this helps :-)

Danl
May 29, 2012

I bought this q-core and am very happy with it so far. I did have a problem one night with it going flat, but it was due to me not shutting the valve tightly.

inst a gator
May 29, 2012

140. for a pump/pillow ? really what dumb ass would pay that? you wanna sell more gear make it afforible

inst a gator
May 29, 2012

140. for a pump/pillow ? really what dumb ass would pay that? you wanna sell more gear make it afforible

Steve C
May 29, 2012

Yesterday in breaking camp with the family, I deflated & rolled four pads (three different types). While on the last one a thought came to mind: What is the quickest and easiest pad to deflate & pack? My son quit using a self-inflating pad because of the sqeezing and rolling and exersion needed to get every bit of air out. A person becomes a human steam roller just to roll up a sleeping pad. So, BP here is a challenge. How about including the average repacking/deflation time when reviewing airmats. Repacking time is something worth reporting, would be a selling point for buyers and could motivate new improvements in the way mats are made. By the way, even though it takes some effort to repack, I am a big fan of the great night's sleep I get when using a self-inflating mat and will continue to use them, but an improvement in this would be an improvement in the overall camping / backpacking experience. Thanks

Afran
May 29, 2012

I have had problems with bad values with Big Agnes pads. They seem to always leak. Would not recommend this brand.

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