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The Big Agnes Q-Core

The Big Agnes Q-Core

Getting a good night of sleep while camping is a pretty important part of any camping trip... obviously there are plenty of thing outside of our control (rain, wind, animals, noisy neighbors) that can make sleep difficult, but there are plenty of things within our power to improve our sleep. Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, clothing... all important things to consider when crawling into the cozy nest of the tent for the night.

I've tried a few pads, and have had a good deal of difficulty getting to a good place with my sleep system. I had a couple of pads that I wanted to love, but they didn't hold up well. After three pads being returned for leaking, one after just one night out, I decided to get serious about my search. I was tired (literally) of waking up multiple times during the night with my body on the ground, or one of my special issues... waking up because I've fallen off the pad and landed on the ground.

I hit the internet and started searching for what other campers recommend for these issues like not being able to say in one spot at night, or durability and insulation comfort. All of these details led me to Big Agnes, and narrowed my search down to three pads. I ordered all three, just to get a hands on them (they weren't available in my local shops), and hoped one of them would be the winner.

What I Ordered: 

  • Big Agnes Double Stuffed Double Z
  • Big Agnes Air Core Insulated
  • Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core

The major criteria that I used to choose these were the amount of padding and the amount of insulation. We do a lot of our camping in the winter on cold desert ground, and I was pretty sick of having a cold back and bum. I also wanted the pad to still be lightweight enough to take backpacking. Obviously, these two criteria somewhat contradict each other, so this was about finding a happy medium. 

The Big Agnes Double Stuffed Double Z:

This pad was HUGE. Perhaps it'd be wonderful for car camping, certainly smaller than our big air mattress, but... no way would this thing be reasonable for backpacking. That said, it looked to have amazing padding and like it might be a dream to sleep on!

Big Agnes Air Core Insulated:

This pad was much smaller, an ideal size for backpacking, while still offering insulation. This was almost my top choice, but I opened the Q-Core, and this pad lost the race almost immediately.

Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core:

This was the winner. I've used it on a few different trips now, and it is honestly so wonderful. I'm shocked at how comfortable this thing is, and a little peeved that I had no idea for a couple of years, that I could be so comfy. So... some highlights:

  • It doesn't weigh a ton (2 lbs., 1 oz.), and packs down pretty small. It's about as tall as a Nalgene bottle, and maybe about twice as wide. Not bad for stuffing into a backpack. I know some may think this is big and heavy, but to me, it's worth it to be comfortable.
  • It has a quilted pad design and "side rails". The pad feels fluffy when you lay back on it, with slightly larger chambers on the sides to help keep you on the pad at night. This makes me a feel a little more normal about my inability to stay on a pad at night, clearly I'm not alone. While these side chambers are barely noticeable to the eye, when you lay on the pay, they show up and make it so much more stable. Also, at 4 inches thick... seriously, I've considered sleeping on the floor at home just to use this pad.
  • The insulation is excellent. Big Agnes calls it "X-Static", which is a synthetic insulation with antimicrobial properties. That's fancy talk for one heck of a warm pad. They rate this at an r-value of 5, and sleeping at 40 degree temperatures so far, I haven't been cold. 
  • The fabric has a soft feel, and isn't that crinkly typical fabric on cheaper pads. This pad sleeps very quietly, even with shifting and rolling around. A quiet pad is a good pad. 
  • It has one valve for inflating and deflating. It takes about 25-30 puffs of air to inflate, which isn't too bad. It stays inflated all night, and deflates very quickly even without a dump valve.
  • It includes a mesh stuff sack and a repair kit. I add a compression strap to wrap around the rolled pad to keep it small. 

I've had the best nights of sleep while camping since getting this pad. Not to say that this pad is the best out there, but for me, it's making me really want to go sleep on the ground. I forget that I am sleeping on the ground now, which is a new experience that I am really enjoying.

(This is an unsolicited review. We did not receive a product or compensation and we were not asked for feedback or promotion.)

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