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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Big Agnes Dual Core Pad > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

BIG AGNES
Full
Dual Core Pad
Initial Report: April 16, 2007
Field Report: July 12, 2007
Long Term Report: August 22, 2007
 

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Name: Chuck Carnes

Age: 37
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft. 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)
Shoe Size: 9.5 US
(43 Euro)
E-mail address: ctcarnes1(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Greenville, South Carolina USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
I love the outdoors – I’ve spent time camping in the outdoors since I was born, and have been actively hiking and backpacking since then. I consider myself a lightweight hiker, usually carrying 20 – 30 lbs (11-13 kg) for hikes up to a week in length. I hike at an easy pace, averaging 2 mph (3 kph). I am a one-man tent camper for now. I like to carry a single trekking pole when I hike to help relieve stress to my legs and knees. I like to get out on the trail as often as I can.



PRODUCT INFORMATION
Manufacturer:
Big Agnes

Model: Dual Core Pad
Shape: Rectangle
Temp Range: 0 F (32 C)
Size: 20 in x 78 in x 2.5 in (51 cm x 198 cm x 6.3 cm)
Stuff Sack Size: 6.5 in x 14 in (16.5 cm x 35 cm)
Year of manufacture: 2007
URL: http://www.bigagnes.com
Listed Weight:  41 oz (1162 g)
Actual Weight:  35 oz (992 g)
MSRP: $104.95 USD

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION (taken from web site)

Features of the Dual Core Pad
* 2.5" thick, 3+ season Air Core pad insulated with PrimaLoft insulation and hi-density foam.
* Full length 2.5" thick pads available in multiple lengths and shapes are lightweight and pack smaller than a self-inflating pad.
* Unique construction technique prevents the insulation from shifting inside the air chambers.
* Exclusive: Non-breakable, EZ-Flate brass valve for easy closure

* I-Beam Construction eliminates welded seams to reduce cold spots and ensures quick inflation/deflation, consistent air flow and stability
* Stuff sack and repair kit included
* Dual Core pads are semi self inflating and require some inflation by users




I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
April 16, 2007

The Big Agnes Dual Core Pad (from here on out phrased as 'the pad') is very versatile with the Big Agnes Sleeping Bags. This rectangle style pad will work with just about all of the bags that Big Agnes has to offer.

I received the pad in a box and the pad was folded and rolled into it's own stuff sack. I noticed on the web site that it said this pad was  "semi self inflating". After reading a bit further, the pad is insulated with a hi-density foam along with 'PimaLoft' Sport synthetic insulation. This is what separates this model with the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pads; it only has the synthetic insulation. I have one of the BA Insulated Air Core Pads and I know that I have to inflate it from the beginning. It doesn't have a foam pad to expand and suck in air to help inflate it. So, I was curious to see how much of the Dual Core pad would inflate itself.

I removed the pad from the stuff sack, unrolled it and laid it out on the floor. I opened the valve fully and heard a slight hissing sound which meant the pad was starting to inflate on it's own. I left it there for approximately 10 minutes or so and figured that was all it was going to inflate on its own. Well, it wasn't much but it did help a little bit. I continued to manually inflate the pad with my own air. It took 15 more breaths within 2 minutes to get the pad fully inflated. I know it is not a good idea to inflate a pad with my own breath, especially a pad with insulation in it, but I don't know of any other way to do it. I found the EZ-Flate brass valve to be a nice feature on this pad. It lets the user continue to blow air into the pad at full inflation and twist close the valve cap to get every bit of air into it as possible without it escaping. Below is a picture of the valve showing the separate gray and black parts of the valve. These rotate independent of each other. The user can bite or apply pressure with the lips to the grey part. While continuing to blow into the valve, the black part can be twisted closed to insure full inflation.

Valve

I inspected the pad after inflation and everything seemed to be very well constructed and the material seems to be very durable. I inserted the pad into the Big Agnes Lost Ranger pad sleeve to see how well they work together. I found it very easy to slide the pad into the sleeve without a corner snagging the pad sleeve material. I lay in the Lost Ranger with the pad in place and found the pad to be very comfortable. It reminds me of laying on the inflatable canvas floats that I used to take to the beach, except without the burn marks on my chest from the canvas rubbing my skin. The Dual Core pad has a soft, slick feel to the top and a little bit rougher feel to the bottom. This helps keep the pad from sliding around if the sleeve pad is not used.

After trying it out a bit, I untwisted the valve to let it deflate. To make sure that I got all of the air out, I rolled it very tight from the bottom towards the top at the valve. I then closed the valve to keep any air from being sucked back in. I unrolled it and folded it in half long ways and rolled it back up again so that it would fit in the stuff sack. When I placed the pad back into the stuff sack, I realized that the repair kit was in a small pocket in the lid of the stuff sack. This is a very convenient place for this to keep it from being lost or misplaced.




F I E L D    R E P O R T
July 12, 2007

The Big Agnes Dual Core Pad has worked great in conjunction with the Big Agnes Lost Ranger. It has packed very nicely in my packs and the slight weight increase has been worth every ounce. I have been able to take the Dual Core Pad on two trips. One was a two night trip to Jones Gap with two of my sons where the temperatures during the night were around 60 F (15 C). My other two sons took their pads and with a two man tent, the floor area was a bit small so the pads overlapped. This did not hinder our seep at all and every night was a great nights sleep. The pad inflated slightly by itself when I unfolded it and left it for a few minutes with the valve open. Every time though I have had to blow at least 15 or 20 breaths in it to inflate it completely. This is certainly not the best thing about this pad. The campsite here was smooth dirt and there were no rocks or stumps that I had to worry about being under the pad. Sleeping on the pad is glorious with the pad being 2.5 in (6.3 cm) thick when fully inflated. I truly like the idea of the bag and the pad being joined so I don't have to worry about slipping off the pad during the night. I thought that the baffle design would bother me but it didn't. After getting in the bag I never stayed awake long enough to notice; obviously it wasn't an issue. Deflating the pad was fairly simple. I opened the valve as I got out of the bag for the last day and let it deflate on it's own while I ate breakfast. Then after a few minutes, I folded it long ways, and began to roll it toward the valve to release the rest of the air.

The second trip was a four night trip to Old Mkushi Village in Zambia, Africa. It was their winter there so it was a bit cold at night. The nights ranged from 40 F to 50 F (4 C to 10 C). The Dual Core Pad again gave me several great nights sleep along with the Lost Ranger. Again, inflating the pad was breath taking; literally, but after laying on it after a long day I quickly forgot how painful it was. The campsite here concerned me a bit because the area was once tall wheat grass before the villagers came through and cleared the area for us. They used a swing blade to cut it so that left a few inches (a few centimeters) of stiff grass blades to lie the pad on. The tent that I was in had a floor but I was concerned about the grass poking through the floor and into the pad. So, I pressed the grass down as best I could with my hand and hoped for the best when I went to lay on the pad. Fortunately the pad stayed fully inflated for the four nights; no holes. I slept very soundly and had no issues with the pad. The ground was a little bit cold but the pad kept the cold from entering up into the bag.

Overall, I am very grateful to have such a nice pad that packs small, inflates to a very comfortable 2.5 in
(6.3 cm) thick, has a 0 F (32 C) temperature rating and only weighs 35 oz (992 g). With these specifications, I can look over having to self inflate most of the pad.
 



L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
August 22, 2007

The Big Agnes Dual Core Pad along with the Lost Ranger make one outstanding combination for restful sleep. For the Long Term phase of this test I was able to take the pad on a one night trip to Paris Mountain State Park in South Carolina where the temperatures were a balmy 80 F (44 C) that night. I packed both the Dual Air Core Pad and the Lost Ranger in a day pack in usual fashion which fit nicely in a 2,000 cu. in. (32 L) pack. After hiking a bit and getting to the campsite I set up the tent and retrieved the bag and pad from their stuff sacks. After many, many puffs of my own air getting the pad inflated and inserting it into the bag sleeve it was ready to give me a great nights sleep.

The pad has a great feel to it with the exposed baffle design. It seems to let air flow between exterior of the baffles and the pad sleeve in the bag. The pad is very easy to insert into the bag sleeve and I have had no struggle with it. I usually like to inflate it to the fullest and then after laying on it, releasing some of the air to make it a bit softer. I really do not have any complaints about the pad other than it takes a lot of breaths to fully inflate it; but I will accept that for the great nights sleep that I have had with it. It is also very easy to deflate and pack back up. After releasing the valve, almost all of the air releases itself, making for quick pack up. I never experienced any holes in the pad and it always kept me warm from the cold ground on those occasions.



This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you Big Agnes and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity.


Read more reviews of Big Agnes gear
Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Big Agnes Dual Core Pad > Test Report by Chuck Carnes



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