Brand: Big Agnes
Model: Air Core
You’d think this pad had a built-in espresso maker after seeing the way testers bounced up in the morning. “I’d sleep on this at home!” gushed one. “Best rest I’ve ever had in the backcountry!” enthused another. The only downside was how annoying these perky fans became to testers not sleeping on the 2.5-inch thick NeoAir.
And that’s before the NeoAir disappeared into their packs. Deflated, it’s pint-glass size. And at just 13 ounces (for a 72-incher), the pad is in a class by itself in terms of warmth and comfort for the weight. The secret? There are two, actually. First, a horizontal network of internal baffles creates a mattresslike coziness that’s both more level and less bouncy than other inflatables we’ve tried. Second, it’s warmer than other pads that lack bulky internal insulation, thanks to a micro-thin layer of aluminum that retains and reflects body heat. It’s rated to 30°F, but one tester stayed toasty on an 18°F night in Utah’s Bryce Canyon.
The 30-denier nylon shell feels paper thin, but it withstood more than 50 nights of abuse, including throw-down bivies in the open desert. Bonus: A thin layer of silicone gives the pad superior grip on tent floors and against the slippery taffeta of sleeping bags. Caveat: Our XXL testers thought the regular pad (72″x20″) felt too narrow; the large is five inches longer and wider (and a fair bit pricier). The cost gave us pause, but as one bright-eyed tester said after a cold night atop the Glyder Range in Wales, “You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.” $120-170 (four sizes); 13 oz. (regular); thermarest.com
-Durable 70D nylon top & bottom
-Internal polyurethane coating
-Non-breakable EZ-Flate plastic coated brass valve