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Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad

in Sleeping Pads - Inflatable

Average Rating
4.13 / 5 (46 reviews)

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Mitchell Keil
( mitchellkeil )

Deep in the OC
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad on 08/03/2005 17:22:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I have used this pad in weather down to 20 degrees. It is 2.5 inches thick and a slice of heaven for these old bones. In the long rectanglular shape, it weighs 23 oz so it is not the lightest pad out there. It takes about 20 puffs to fill so sit down to inflate it if you have just gotten into camp or you will pass out. I use it in my tent but have also used it on top of a picnic table and on fairly clear ground. It appears to be able to handle some abrasion but don't push your luck. If you fill it and then lie down on it to let air out until your hips are just off the ground you will have a pad that is as comfortable as your bed at home. It is 20 inches wide so don't buy this if you are a broad person but for most people this would be just enough width to satisfy. I fold mine in quarters and use it as a support in my pack against my back. It is only about 3/4" thick in this usage, so I don't have to hang it on the outside of the pack. The primaloft sport insulating material is attached to one side of the laminated 30d nylon I-beam construction and expands when you fill the mat with air. I would suggest not rolling this one real tight and then closing the valve. I feel that doing so overly compresses the insulation and would shorten its life. (As it would with a synthetic bag.)
Overall I am very pleased with this pad and would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a pad that provides extraodinary comfort and insulation down to about 15 degrees. Not the lightest. So the trade off is comfort for weight. I like my beauty rest so I choose comfort.

Comment from reading other reviews below:
I have had both the non-insulated and my current insulated version now for about 3 years and have never had a leak. Don't know why the others have had leaks. As I have indicated this mat needs some care in using. Making sure that the undersurface is clear of any form of sharp object is essential.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 10/12/2005 11:11:34 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core priced at: $56.21 - $129.95
Big Agnes Air Core Pad priced at: $49.95 - $99.95
John Adams
( scsjohn )

Sleeping on Air on 08/06/2005 19:51:53 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This is the best sleeping pad I have every owned. I have used this thing down to -5F. It is great and comfortable. It is just (well almost) like sleeping at home on your matress. I have the long mummy style that is 23oz. It may not be the lightest pad, but it has to be one of the most comfortable and it pack down really small too.

I liked it so much that I purchased an insulmat max-compact for my wife (as she will not go winter camping) and she LOVED it. It is very similar the the Big Agnes. I also purchased an Insulmat for myself for summer camping.

I think the 2.5 inches of air or air/primaloft provides for a lot of comfort in a small little package.

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Jim Ells
( ellsfamily )
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Mattree on 08/07/2005 18:43:13 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Oh how I love this thing. I sleep better than in my own bed. It is comfy, stays in my Mica bags sleeve like it was intended to, and almost never lets me down. Almost being the night it stopped holding air. I checked it by dunking it in my tub, but couldn't find a leak. When I called Big Agnes, they told me to send it back and they sent me a new one tout suite!
So, great mattress and great customer service.

Edited by ellsfamily on 08/07/2005 18:43:45 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core priced at: $56.21 - $129.95
Kevin Lane
Size on 08/08/2005 09:06:18 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I am about 6 and bought the long size, which was a mistake. I wish that they had a torso lenght baby. The long length kept running out of the GoLite Hex

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( rrantz )
Wonderful when it works, awful when it doesn't on 08/11/2005 10:43:17 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

The first three nights were wonderful. I'm a thrasher, so the slipin sleeve and the amazing amount of padding from all that air were truly wonderful things. I was making all my friends come in and lie down on my sleeping bag! The fourth night I got into my bag, and thought hmmm, I must have left the valve open. Blew it up thoroughly, closed the valve and listened to the air whistling out through a very small hole where the valve joins the seam. Had left the repair kit at home, of course, so I had a long, sleepless night. Used the glue after I got home, and hopefully this mattress won't be totally prone to these problems. I'm not holding my breath. There's reasons why closed cell foam pads took over the market.

Alex Orgren
( big_load )
Very comfortable, could be warmer. on 09/12/2005 17:46:44 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

1. Far more comfortable than most Thermarest variants and Z-rest for side sleeping. This alone far outweighs the dislikes below.

2. Blows up in about 20 puffs, just a few more than a compressed Thermarest.

3. Definitely not as warm as my Thermarest (tested side-by-side), but not enough to matter for most 3-season camping.

4. 20" is a bit narrow for a sprawling thrasher like me.

5. The stuff sack it comes with is short and fat. I prefer to roll it long and skinny. However, I may skip the stuff sack altogether.

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Manuel Ceja
( manuelceja )
Comfort - Good. Warmth - Fair. Reliability - Questionable. on 09/25/2005 21:39:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I'm on my second pad. My first one suffered from a mysterious leak. The first night I took it out I had to inflate it once during the night. On the second night I used it I had to inflate it 6-7 times during the night. When I got home I carefully inspected it underwater with no obvious signs of leaks. I subsequently tested it with no external pressure and it went flaccid, almost flat, within a half hour four times within a half hour - I returned it to Big Agnes and they promptly replaced it, with what appears to be an upgraded model. It is this new model that I’ve assigned my rating to.

What's new: The fabric is new, it is less slippery, and has a more vinyl feel to it. The new material is more tactile, which was a big plus, as I did not slip off during the night versus the previous version. When packed the pad rolls much tighter and it thus more compact. The width, when inflated is about 21.5 inches, noticeably wider than the previous model. The stuff sack is smaller and has a more compact repair kit. Perhaps the biggest improvement is to the valve - Rather than plastic it is now constructed of what appears to be plastic covered brass.

In order to allow for a more compact model it is possible that the insulation was cut back. My perceptions is that it is a tad colder than my previous one - I don't know this to be a fact however. In just above freezing temperatures, 33-34 oF, I definitely felt cold spots as I shifted around on the pad during the night. However to be fair, I was poorly dressed and had a ultra lightweight bag. With a better bag and more clothing I sure the cold spots will not be a problem.

When fully inflated the pad is wonderfully comfortable - Even sleeping on top of thumb thick twigs, small rocks, and pine cones I didn't feel a thing. It does take some effort to inflate 18- 22 strong puffs, but deflates, and rolls up easily.

Although now happy with my pad, I can't give it more than a four rating - My hope is that its performance does not deteriorate over time.

Edited by manuelceja on 09/25/2005 21:44:47 MDT.

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Tim Garner
( slowhike )

South East U.S.
big agnes-5 on 10/04/2005 14:33:09 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

i had a leak w/ my 1st pad (reqtangle)too, but they replaced it (w/ a mummy at my request). i use it in my hammock & sleep on it every night, even at home in my bedroom (yep...i`m single). one thing i learned, as others have said, i didn`t find it very comfy when full. i let air out untill my rear is almost touching. then it fills every void up & down my body. WONDERFUL! ...slowhike
### since my last post on this review in oct 05, i`m sad to say that my BA insulated air core (mummy) that replaced the first, developed a slow leak.
the leak became not so slow, so i put it in the tub & found the one pin hole near the foot, in one of the creases that form the channels.
i patched it w/ the glue that came w/ the pad & after about a week of sleeping on it, no problem.
it`s a great pad if they can figure out the leak problems. ...tim

Edited by slowhike on 05/19/2006 20:05:39 MDT.

Michele Mason
( bianchilvr )
Comfy, but Delaminated on 11/08/2005 06:30:54 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Yeppers, gotta spread the word, as I was disappointed in my pad's longevity.

I only got to use my BA Insulated Air Core (regular size) once, in February. I bought the pad after a long weekend winter hike on which I spent 3 very cold nights on my Prolite 3 and was cold, cold, cold!

The BA Insulated pad sleeps very comfy. I'm a side sleeper with pointy hips, so a good cushy pad is a must for me to get a good night's sleep.

I got the pad out this week as I'm preparing for my first winter hike this year. Though the pad was stored properly (out of sack, alone on shelf in closet in air conditioned house), the primaloft insulation had come unglued. Some strips of insulation were floating completely free inside, and others had one end still attached.

I took my pad back to REI, where they refunded my $$$. I'm nervous that the same thing will happen again, so I didn't want to exchange the pad for another BA Insulated...still researching other options, but my time is running out!

Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
Best If You Want Padding on 11/09/2005 12:24:47 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've owned three of these. I gave one to a friend (rectangular). The other two (mummy) have been used on about 25 short trips over the last year. I haven't had any problems with either of them. Let a little air out, so they aren't too full, and they provide great padding. I've used them on many backpacking trips with temperatures in the 15-25 degree F range without feeling cold. They haven't popped, delaminated, etc. If you can handle the weight, then these are great pads.

Edited by craig_shelley on 11/09/2005 12:25:49 MST.

Jim Powers
( jpowers )
Big Agnes 60" IAC Mummy on 11/16/2005 06:36:34 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

New for Spring 2006. Big Agnes will be offering their Insulated AirCore Mummy in a 60 inch length. At 17 oz, this smaller length saves 4 oz as compared to the 72 inch length and 6 oz when compared with the 78 inch length. I used the 60 inch IAC on a weekend backpack this past week. Night time temperatures were in the -6C (21F) range and the pad performed exceptionally well. Excellent insulation, incredible comfort. I used it with a Big Agnes 78' Horsethief sleeping bag, a 3/4 zip, hoodless bag w/o bottom insulation but with a sleeve to hold the IAC. I slipped my Granite Gear Latitude Vapor pack into the foot of the sleeve to provide insulation for my feet. All of this slid into an Integral Designs eVent Micro Bivy. The whole system worked very well. I was warm and toasty w/o drafts or condensation.

Now I must confess that I am the Western Canada sales rep for Big Agnes, Integral Designs and Granite Gear. However, I do extensively use and field test the gear I sell and if it didn't perform up to my rather high standards, I wouldn't be wasting readers time with a review.

The 60 inch IAC sleeping pad isn't in stores yet but it will be available in early February '06.

Zeno Martin
( ananda )
Fabric seems to reliably leak on 05/14/2006 23:25:00 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

First, when this works, it's the best pad that I know of. It's so comfortable, light and packs small.

My girlfriend and I bought two when they came out. We always use foam pads that lock together underneath the BA air pad for extra warmth and comfort. Sharp objects are not an issue. I weigh about 165 lb and she about 120 lb. After about a year (maybe 10-15 nights) they both started leaking through the fabric, so that they basically couldn't hold air. BA was great and sent two replacements, saying the early run had some problems. Now, after 1 year and maybe 10-15 nights, the replacement also leaks so that it doesn't work. Again, it's the fabric. So, 3 of 4 BA air pads have leaked after 10-15 nights, and each has failed in the same manner, the fabric itself stops holding air. The failure is somewhat abrupt, i.e. it just happens one night. As much as I like these pads when they work, the failure rate seems high.

Edited to add: Big Agnes has been good about replacing the pads and knows they have defect issues. Apparently, they have changed suppliers within the last year to address the problem. The new pads sent to me are supposedly the new ones (though they did say similar the last time). The advertised weight is 24 oz. while the actual weight is 30 oz. The replacemnt pads do have a different fabric though and are heavier than the old.

Edited by ananda on 05/18/2006 22:46:50 MDT.

Mike Barney
( eaglemb )

AZ, the Great Southwest!
I like this pad on 11/08/2006 20:42:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The thickness and warmth of this inflatable insulated sleeping pad is excellent. This is very important to me as I try to get 8 hours of sleep, and having a bad pad doesn't make for a happy camper.

As an inflatable, you have to keep a repair kit with you, realizing that sooner or later a puncture is a real possibility.

It does pack up small, is easy to inflate and deflate, and is moderate in weight, a bargain at that when you look at how much time you're going to spend on it. The extra thickness (2.5" vs Thermarest Prolite 4's 1.5", is also very nice.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4 priced at: $69.97 - $69.98
Therm-a-Rest ProLite - Women's priced at: $57.34 - $119.95
Mark Verber
( verber )

San Francisco Bay Area
Great night sleep if you need good padding on 11/11/2006 10:11:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I wish I was one of those people who could sleep on a thin torso pad... but that just doesn't work for me. I can't fall asleep on a foam pad unless I am extremely sleep deprived (e.g. around the third night of use). I have used therm-a-rest since they were first released. I could sleep each night, but I would wake up several times a night. Why talk about these other pads? Because the first time I used the BA Insulated Air Core I slept the night through without waking up! This is the first this has ever happened.

Super comfortable to sleep on, warm enough for 20F temperatures, reasonably compact, reasonable weight. Now available in a petite length to save weight. Some people have reported durability issues, but we haven't had problems since we starting using one in 2003. It would be nice if it was lighter, but I doubt it's possible to make it significantly lighter with current materials technology.

Patrick Young
( lightingboy )

Super Comfortable!! on 11/15/2006 13:24:55 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This pad replace a POE Max Thermo.
The pad is like sleeping in my own bed.
The air chambers transition well and they can't be felt.
The rectangular shape is great for moving around on and finding that your still on the pad.
I found that it works well so far in temps. down to the 20's. It packs down small.
If it could be a little lighter that would be awesome but the weight is worth the comfort.

After a year and a half the primaloft insulation delaminated inside my pad. BA sent a new one ASAP with a few material changes so well see how the durability has changed. Will review the new pad after I get some time on it. It should be functionally the same.

Update: Received a rplacement pad from BA and have used the pad down to 19F with no cold spots. This was not on snow (I use the DualCore for snow). The weight was right on spec. 24oz. This has been my goto pad for 3 seasons but I recently got a Clearview for summer and will carry that for any conditions above freezing and use this one for temps. down to 15F without snow.

Edited by lightingboy on 05/01/2009 15:08:38 MDT.

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Donald Browning
( docdb - M )

LEAKS on 11/16/2006 05:32:29 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

The first one slowly leaked, and so did it's replacement. I've given up, as depending on this pad has left me flat on the ground several times. This is sad, because the comfort level is unmatched when it stays inflated.

Cameron Cole
( Straegen )
Best pad so far on 12/06/2006 07:40:51 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

It isn't the lightest pad and it takes a couple minutes to inflate. OK now that the cons are over for this piece of gear lets get to the good stuff. This thing is about as nice as it gets out in the woods. It is very comfortable probably the most comfortable I have used. Also, It sleeps warm as advertised. I am normally that guy who doesn't take a sleeping bag on trips because I sleep really hot, but on the rare occasion I do get cold this pad has been wonderful. My girlfriend bogarts it now so she can sleep warmer. She is definitly getting one for Christmas. Pack size is good and great compared to a self-inflating or rigid pad.

I don't rate many items as a 5/5 since I feel that rating should be for gear that is considered a must have. I certainaly consider this a must have item on my trips and since it hasn't failed on me in two years, I have nothing but good things to say.

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b d
( bdavis )

Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Love it, don't take it everywhere on 12/06/2006 19:20:09 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I love this pad. It is, as said above, like taking your bed with you from home. The feature that makes it a 5 to me is that you can release air and get it just right after you are on it. (I have not had problems with leaking air, which would be a real pain.) It also seems, except for others experience to be sturdy.

It also is supposed to be a good barrier for snow/cold, but that I have no idea about since I wouldn't use it in the snow ... and if I was going to get a pad for that I would probly get one of the down pad specialty items ... but can't justify the price or trouble, since to me snow is pretty smooth, moldable, and easy to sleep on (having only done it a few times ... but going for more).

Finally, I take it because I can use it to paddle around on the lakes here, in the warm weather. I even thought of trying to figure out a sail rig for it.

Sarah Kirkconnell
( sarbar )

In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
A great pad, great customer service on 12/11/2006 08:39:48 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I acquired a BA pad about a year ago, after seeing so many friends get them and rave. And yes, it is worth it. It is the heaviest sleeping pad I own, but sleeping on it is heaven. If you side sleep, this is the way to go. It is also the warmest pad I own. When my back is screaming, this is the pad I take.

I have used the pad down to about 15-20* with no issues. I don't feel the cold off teh ground at all.

Down side? Well, my pad was one that started going flat for no reason we could find in late summer. I sent it back and and the customer service dept handled it immediately. It was decided that it was unrepairable, but under warranty so I received a new one. The new one is a couple ounces heavier, but I can live with that when I need a super cushy pad.

Diana L
( mysticmoose )

Great Lakes region
Comfortable pad, but doesn't keep me warm on 12/15/2006 13:26:52 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I purchased two Insulated Air Core pads when I started backpacking 4 years ago. When I used the pad in temps around 35°F or lower, it felt noticably cool beneath me. While not too bad at 35°, at 25° I was unable to sleep. While moving the pad at home, I noticed that there were areas where the insulation was hanging off in strips. I checked the other pad, and it had the same problem. Obviously the pad couldn't keep me warm if there was no insulation, so I sent both pads back to BA.

Customer service told me that by leaving the pads inflated, the moisture inside might have caused the glue to deteriorate prematurely. They promptly sent me two new pads, which I have stored flat, with the valves open.

A few nights ago, while laying outside at about 37°, I again noticed that the pad felt cold beneath me. I should have been plenty warm, seing that I was inside my WM Apache, but the pad was sucking the heat right out of me. I'm amazed that some folks can use these down to 15° or less and still be warm. Aside from the cushiness, I may as well have been sleeping on bare ground.

I've found these pads to be extremely comfortable for summer use, especially if you don't inflate the pad fully. Customer service is also top-notch, but I feel that there's a serious issue with the insulation/R-value. In BA's defense, I have an older version of the pad (24 oz), so the newer ones might actually perform as advertised.

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