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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Big Agnes Insulated Air Core > Owner Review by Nancy Griffith

March 21, 2011


NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 44
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.


Insulated Air Core
Photo courtesy of Big Agnes
Manufacturer: Big Agnes, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $79.95 US
Listed Weight: 24 oz (680 g)
Measured Weight: 25.9 oz (734 g)
Size Tested: Rectangular, Regular: 20 in x 72 in (51 cm x183 cm)

Available in multiple sizes listed below with weights and price:
20 in (51 cm) x 66 in (168 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 22oz (624 g); $74.95 US
20 in (51 cm) x 72 in (183 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 24oz (680 g); $79.95 US
20 in (51 cm) x 78 in (198 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 27oz (765 g); $84.95 US
25 in (64 cm) x 78 in (198 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 2 lb 4oz (1.02 kg); $109.95 US
20 in (51 cm) x 60 in (152 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 18oz (510 g); $74.95 US
20 in (51 cm) x 72 in (183 cm) x 2.5 in (6.25 cm); 21oz (595 g); $79.95 US
20 in (51 cm) x 78 in (198 cm) x 2.5 in (6.15 cm); 23oz (652 g); $84.95 US

The pad is 50D nylon on top and bottom with PrimaLoft™ eco: synthetic insulation made from 50% recycled materials. The construction is I-Beam to help reduce cold spots and is also supposed to decrease inflation/deflation times. There are 7 lengthwise air chambers. The inside surface is coated with polyurethane. The valve is brass with a plastic coating. The temperature rating is 15 F (-9 C).

The pad comes with a stuff sack and repair kit. The repair kit is in a small pocket on the inside of the stuff sack.

EZ-Flate Valve instructions: Twist black part of valve counter-clockwise to open. Blow into valve to inflate. Hold gray portion of valve in mouth while spinning black portion clockwise to close.


Stuff Sack
Photo courtesy of Big Agnes
I have used this pad for backpacking and camping over the past 4 seasons. In total I'd estimate that I have used it for 56 nights of backpacking and another 10 nights of camping/home use. Locations ranged from the Northeast (Maine and New Hampshire) to the Southwest (Utah and Arizona) to the Northwest (Washington) with most of the use being in the Sierra Nevada of California. Conditions varied widely from below freezing to summer warmth and from rainy to clear skies and from sea level to 12,139 ft (3,700 m) elevation. We've also used them for car camping and at home when accommodating extra guests.

Some examples of backpacking uses include:

Tahoe Rim Trail (Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, California): 2 nights; 7,390 to 9,010 ft (2,252 to 2,746 m) elevation; 50 to 65 F (10 to 18 C)

King's Canyon National Park (Southern Sierra Nevada mountains, California) : 6 nights; 5,000 to 11,978 ft (1524 to 3651 m) elevation; 22 to 65 F (-6 to 18 C)

Mount Whitney, Southern Sierra Nevada (California): 2 nights; camped at 12,139 ft (3,700 m) elevation; 35 to 55 F (1 to 13 C).

Mount Rainer Northern Loop (Washington): 5 nights; 1,700 to 6,740 ft (518 to 2054 m) elevation; 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C)

Arizona Superstition Wilderness: 2 nights; 3,620 to 5,360 ft (1,100 to 1,630 m) elevation; 32 to 85 F (0 to 29 C)

Appalachian Trail, White Mountains (New Hampshire): 2 nights; 2,032 to 5,367 ft (619 to 1,636 m) elevation; 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C)

La Verkin Creek Trail, Zion National Park (Utah): 2 nights; 20 mi (32 km); 5,413 to 6,070 ft (1,650 to 1,850 m) elevation; 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)

Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington: 10 nights; 100 mi (161 km); 2,600 to 7,200 ft (792 to 2,195 m) elevation; 32 to 62 F (0 to 17 C)

Point Reyes National Seashore, California: 2 nights; 21 mi (34 km); 0 to 1,407 ft (429 m) elevation; 40 to 55 F (4 to 13 C)

Baxter State Park, Maine: 3 nights; 1,079 ft (329 m); 38 to 65 F (3 to 18 C)

We purchased two of these pads for use with our Big Agnes double-wide sleeping bag. See my separate review for the Big Agnes King Solomon sleeping bag. After about 13 nights, one of the pads started to leak. We tried to repair it but had a very difficult time finding any leak.
Photo courtesy of Big Agnes
Despite submerging it in the bathtub and in the hot tub, it was nearly impossible to force out any air. But over the course of a night of sleeping the pad would deflate. We ended up buying a Big Agnes non-insulated pad and eventually sent the leaking one back to Big Agnes for repair. I had no intention of it being a warranty repair since we may have caused some slight abrasion that was allowing the air to leak slowly. In just a few days I received acknowledgement that they had received it. Then after a very short time, a new pad arrived in the mail at no charge.

The Insulated Air Core definitely provides more insulation than the standard Air Core without it. In temperatures below approximately 40 F (4 C), I really appreciate the added insulation. On one snow camping trip, I used it with a closed cell foam pad beneath it. Otherwise I always used it as the sole sleeping pad.

The pad is easy to inflate even at high elevation after a long day of backpacking although I have to admit that my husband does most of the work. It inflates in the same manner as the uninsulated pad. The best part is the comfort level. It reminds me of sleeping on one of those thick home air mattresses like an Aerobed. With the air adjusted to just the right level, I can sleep through the night without even realizing that I'm not in my own Tempurpedic bed at home. I even find it comfortable to sleep on my stomach at times. With too much air, it makes my shoulders start to fall asleep and tingle when lying on my side too long. However, I can adjust this while in my sleeping bag by simply finding the valve and letting a little air out.

I have used the nylon stuff sack for many of our backpacking trips but have also carried it folded up as a back support in my pack. When we get home, I open them and store them flat under a bed.


The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Sleeping Pad is a high quality, very comfortable air mattress.


Easy to roll/stuff into stuff sack
Big Agnes Customer Service
Insulation helps without much added weight


Had problems with leaks


Nancy Griffith

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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