Sleeping Pad Reinvented: Big Agnes Q-Core SLX

Big Agnes has been redesigning some of its great pads. For example, their Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite Pad: 15 oz  (427 grams) and rated to 15F (-9.5C ie R = 4.5) and 4.25” (10.5cm) thick! Reputed to be superbly comfortable and dramatically robust. The square ends also make the Q-Core an excellent hammock pad, particularly if you chose one of the wider models. RRT US$139.95 ‘Offset I-beams, ‘micro’ air-pressure adjustment, and aviation-grade TPU lamination… sleeping pads can be deceptively high-tech. But what does it all mean?


Stability = Comfort It’s all about the I-beams… on the contours of the sleep surface…making the pad surface more even would increase the comfort of the pad…the offset quilted pattern replaces standard parallel I-beam construction, preventing you from sliding on the pad…the outermost I-beams on both sides are slightly larger, which creates a cradle that holds you near the center of the pad.

‘Ultimate Durability’…this pad is 25 percent more durable than its Q-Core SL predecessor. We’ve improved materials and construction with new double rip-stop and aviation grade TPU lamination technology…‘Superlight,’ Micro Adjustment Total weight for this pad falls between 15-22 ounces, (ie from 427 grams) depending on the model size (66-78 inches long, and 20- or 25-inch widths).

 Its micro air adjustment’ is a tiny ball that sits in the center of the inflate valve. You can press it to allow a little air to escape, reducing the pad’s stiffness. It works just like a presta valve on a bike tire.’


We have owned their Insulated Air Core pads for many years. When we bought them they were the only pads which had anywhere near that thickness (3.25”) and R rating 4.5 (ie good down to 15F or -10C) – and cheap. They have proved incredibly durable and comfortable pads. For example their Insulated Air Core starts off at US$84 for a full-length pad and is under 600 grams, yet over 3.25” thick. We have two, their regular 6’ pad and their Petite Mummy 5’ pad (not currently available) which is around 500 grams and actually long enough for each of us (I am 5’7”, Della 5′). Most folks will really not need a pad longer than 66” (1.675m). It doesn’t matter if your feet overhang.  I am a side sleeper anyway, so they don’t. Your feet won’t touch the ground so your sleeping bag will keep them warm as it is not compressed by your weight.

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