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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad > Test Report by Mike Wilkie

BIG AGNES CLEARVIEW AIR PAD
TEST SERIES BY MIKE WILKIE
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 19, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Wilkie
EMAIL: foreverwild1885 at yahoo dot com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Davenport, New York (USA)
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 148 lb (67.10 kg)

Hiking for me started at an early age, as I was always an avid camper and as a young Scout my backpacking obsession began. Living in the Catskill Region backpacking has become serious for me over the years. I hike, snowshoe, canoe, snowboard or multi-day backpack through the Catskills or Adirondacks almost every weekend. I am learning and practicing safe lightweight techniques and greatly reduced my pack weight adding more comfort and mileage to my adventures. Being an aspirant of the Catskill-3500 Club and Adirondack-46ers, peak-bagging is my main outdoor activity. My long-term goals are to complete long distance thru-hikes.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bigagnes.com
MSRP: US$42.95

Manufacturer Details -
Listed Size: 20 x 72 x 2.5 in (51 x 183 x 6.35 cm) Mummy
Listed Weight: 14 oz (397 g)

Other details:
Great value and 2.5" (6.35 cm) of comfort
Compact alternative to self-inflating and air chamber pads
Durable and lightweight polyurethane shell material with welded seams
Durable plastic valve
Add a closed cell foam pad in cold temperatures for extra insulation
Store unrolled with valve open
Mesh stuff sack included
Each pad individually inflated and tested

* The above manufacturer details are taken from bigagnes.com.

Tester Details
Measured Size when filled: 20 x 72 x 2.5 in (51 x 183 x 6.35 cm)
Measured Weight: 10 oz (283 g)
Compressed Size (in stuff sack): 4 x 8 x 2 in (10.16 x 20.32 x 5.08 cm)
Measured Weight with Stuff Sack: 10.5 oz (298 g)



IMAGE 1






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Images courtesy of bigagnes.com







INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Big Agnes Clearview Pad arrived in excellent condition and was well packed. Included in this package was the Clearview Pad in its stuff sack and the Elbert 35 SL Sleeping Bag (sold separately). The Elbert 35 Sleeping Bag is designed to accommodate the use of a mummy sized pad in its featured pad sleeve. The Clearview Pad is a perfect fit in the Elbert's pad sleeve. All future use and testing of the Clearview Pad throughout this test series the pad will be used along with the Elbert Bag.

Reviews for the sleeping pad can be found on http://www.backpackgeartest.org as well.


When I initially opened the package upon arrival I briefly thought the Clearview Pad was not included. Then there it was, on the bottom tightly folded and neatly packed in its small mesh storage bag. The size was truly impressive.

Now after inflating and deflating the pad I am finding it impossible to repack it to the original size when it was first received. However, the pad still packs down to the size mentioned above in the test details and I still find the size quite impressive.

The Clearview Pad is new to the Big Agnes lineup for warm weather equipment and is listed as "superlight & ultra-compact warm weather pads. There are two styles, rectangle and mummy with several available lengths in each. These pads are non self-inflating as most Big Agnes pads are. Only one color is available and that is clear.

Big Agnes states the pad had a comfort range of 35 F (1.67 C). They also state to add a closed cell foam pad for extra insulation in cold temperatures.

The outer shell is made of lightweight polyurethane and has welded seams. Currently I am unsure of the durability but the lightweight material makes me a bit nervous of an easy puncture. I am also nervous of inflating the pad with too much air and popping during sleep. Since I toss and turn much during sleep I will be sure not to overfill.

TRYING IT OUT

So far my experiences with the sleeping pad hasn't gone beyond my bedroom floor as of yet. However I did try the pad when I first received it as well as several other times for initial evaluation. My wife thought I was going insane when she found me snoozing in the Elbert bag using the pad in its pad sleeve the first time I tried it out. With the Elbert 35 bag I found the Clearview Pad to be super comfy and allowed me to nap soundly on my bedroom floor.

Using the pad in the Elbert's pad sleeve was a snap. At first it was a bit fussy trying to get the pad into the sleeping bag pad sleeve but after a few goes I am now able to put the system together in no time at all. As for breaking the system down, that has not been a snap. The bag was a breeze to pack up but the pad was a bit awkward trying to get all the air internal air to release. Hopefully with some practice I will learn how to pack up the pad more efficiently. As we all know set up and break down times can take up valuable trail time so to be able to pack up and/or set up this sleep system in minimal time is crucial for me. So far I'm very pleased with that aspect of the sleeping bag and not so much for the pad.

TESTING STRATEGY

In the upcoming months I have many overnight trips planned to use and test the Clearview Air Pad. Most of these overnight trips will be in the Catskill Mountains as I climb up, over and through the high peaks. Some backpacking trips will also take me within the Adirondacks as well. Also planned are some river trips where I will be traveling by canoe or kayak. The Clearview Pad will surely receive consistent and constant use throughout this test series.

SUMMARY

After catching those first few z's during the initial try out I am convinced that Big Agnes is all about comfort and quality. Comfort for while sleeping on the pad as well as comfort when carrying the pad. As I am learning to decrease my pack weight and practice safe lightweight techniques I am pleased to be testing this ultralight sleep system.

All of the qualities and features of the pad used along with the Elbert bag I feel were well thought out by Big Agnes and they designed a superior ultralight sleep system.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

The Big Agnes Elbert Clearview Air Pas was used and tested at the following locations.

7/11 - South Hill State Forest: 3 day/2 night car camping birthday trip
Elevation: 1900 ft (579 m)
Weather: Day 1 - 80 F (26.67 C) high humidity - Night temperature 68 F (20.00 C)
Day 2 - 82 F (27.78 C) partly cloudy with afternoon thunderstorm
Campsite: Under tree cover with cleared bare soil/sandy site

8/17 - North/South Lake - Northeastern Catskill Park
2 day/1 night car/base camping
Campsite elevation: 2100 ft (640 m)
Weather: 85 F (29.44 C) mostly sunny

8/24 - Pond Mountain/Dagget Lake - Southeastern Adirondack Mountains
4 day/3 night base camping at Dagget Lake
Camp elevation: 930 ft (283 m)
Weather: 80 F (26.67 C) sunny and clear (perfect summer camping conditions)

8/31 (Labor Day Weekend) - Pond Mountain/Dagget Lake - Southeastern Adirondack Mountains
4 day/3 night base camping at Dagget Lake
Camp elevation: 960 ft (293 m)
Weather: Around 54 F (12.22 C) at night and up around 78 F (25.56 C) mid day
Light rain during second night

Above I have logged 9 nights where the Clearview Pad was used in the field.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During all field testing for this portion of the test series the Big Agnes Clearview performed better than expected. It has been such a pleasure using this sleep system along with the compatible BA Elbert 35 Sleeping Bag as it provided me with absolute comfort while sleeping in the outdoors. In the past with the use of my previous outdated bag and thin closed cell foam pad I endured many uncomfortable sleepless nights. I never expected to receive such comfort with the highly compressible lightweight system.

It truly was a pleasure testing and using this lightweight, ultra comfy air pad. The Clearview has provided me with superior comfort over any other pad I have used in past years. Not only did I receive absolute comfort when sleeping, it has also helped to reduce pain from my back ailment. The polyurethane material has a silicone like feel with 2.5 in (6.35 cm) of thickness that floats my body up off the ground. I have consistently woken in the wilderness after a good nights rest and free from the usual sleeping on the hard ground stiffness and soreness.

Thus far the Clearview Pad has proven to be durable as it still appears new in condition. However I have been careful when handling the pad as I do feel it can puncture easily. I also release some pressure from the pad after inflating to help reduce any chances of an over inflation rupture.

The pad has been used with the BA Elbert Sleeping Bag that offers a pad sleeve to fit mummy style pads. This sleeve has helped to add comfort to the pad as I always remained atop and never woke off the pad. Also the sleeve has helped to protect the Clearview Pad from punctures as well.

SUMMARY

The Clearview is a lightweight pad and compresses as small as a rolled t shirt taking minimal pack space. Thus far it has proven to be durable and puncture resistant.

It has been delightful spending nights on the Clearview Pad as it offered much comfort for my stays in the wilderness. The pad floated me up off the ground protecting me from the earth's rough terrain.

The Big Agnes Clearview Pad is superior in comfort and in weight in its class.

Pros
Comfort
Lightweight
Minimal pack space used

Cons
None at this time

TESTING STRATEGY

The next few months are big backpacking months for me as they offer me much time to spend in the wilderness. I have many backpacking trips planned for the next two months affording much more time testing the Clearview Pad. Long overnighters and canoe camping trips through the Catskills during this next testing period will allow me to further evaluate my current findings as well as any new ones if any.

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report should be completed by 11-18-08. Please check back then for further information.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

The Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad was used and tested at the following locations.

Glimmerglass State Park
2 night/3 day base camping
Site elevation - 1200 ft (366 m)
Weather - night temperature at 50F (10.00 C) mostly clear

South Hill State Forest: 3 day/2 night car/base camping
Elevation: 1900 ft (579 m)
Weather: night at below 32 F (0.00 C)

Above I have recorded four nights of field use and testing for the Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

With all the use the Clearview has received during these past four months the pad is beginning to appear a bit used but still performs as new. The pad continued to provide much comfort for me during my stays out in the wilderness and also help me to lighten my pack weight. Throughout this portion of the test series I continued to use the Clearview Air Pad along with the Big Agnes Elbert 35 Sleeping Bag inside the bags compatible pad sleeve.

The pad used with the Elbert bag made for a great sleep system throughout this test series. For me I never received as much comfort while sleeping in the outdoors. The pad has proven durable thus far, however I still remain cautious about where I place the pad and what is under it. I still feel the pad can easily burst if not properly cared for. Clearing any rocks, sticks or anything that can pierce the pad will always remain a ritual before setting up camp.

Cleaning the pads is an easy task as it wipes down easily with a damp cloth or sponge. I have noticed that moisture does collect inside of the pad due to the manual inflation. From my breathing into the pad to inflate it causes moisture to become trapped inside. At this point this has not had an affect on the pad and it seems to dry out while storing the pad with the valve open.

On colder nights the pad did not allow the ground to sap my body heat but this was only the fall season where the ground isn't cold enough to do so. In my opinion the pad will not be enough when the ground is frozen or snow covered. The pad may have to be replaced with and insulated pad or used in conjunction with a closed cell foam pad and of course a proper temperature rated sleeping bag. With my past experience a closed cell foam pad under the Clearview pad may offer the insulation needed to reduce conductive heat loss from the frozen or snow covered ground.


SUMMARY

The pad consistently offered plenty of comfort while sleeping in the field as well as carrying it in my pack. The pad compresses down to a small size taking minimal pack space and its weight has also helped me to reduce my pack weight substantially.

The pad has proven to be durable with very little signs of wear. However I still am weary of the pad puncture and rupture resistance. At this point there are no flaws with the pad. Having the mummy style design allows my to insert the pad into my mummy sleeping bags pad sleeve.

Pros
Comfort
Compressibility
Lightweight

Cons
Although not proven, I will remain cautious of the pads puncture resistance

CONTINUED USE

For now the Clearview will remain my main and favorite sleeping pad. I will continue to use it on all my overnight adventures and it will not be replaced until I find another pad that offers more comfort while sleeping in the wilderness. I will also continue to use the pad during the winter months along with a closed cell foam pad for insulation. This may however change with my experience in the colder temperatures.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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