With the onset of Autumn, night time temperature are starting to drop into the mid-40’s F in Vermont’s north country, and it’s time to increase the R-value of my sleeping pad.
On my next section hike of The Long Trail to the Quebec border, I’ll be taking along the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Sleeping Pad, replacing the Big Agnes Clearview Sleeping Pad that I’ve brought on the past several sections. The Air Core is filled with Primaloft, a synthetic insulating fill, with an R-value of 4.1 that is rated down to +35 F. The Clearview, which has no insulation, but is also super-comfortable, has an R-value of 1.0. As a point of comparison, a winter pad, like the Exped Downmat 7 has an R-value of 5.9 and is rated to -22 F. Naturally, there is a weight penalty for added insulation: the Clearview weighs a mere 13.6 oz., compared to the Air Core which weighs 22 oz. and the Downmat which weighs 34 oz.
The Air Core is sinfully comfortable when compared to self-inflating Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 or foam pads and rolls up to the size of a quart Nalgene bottle making it much easier to pack in a lower volume lightweight backpack.
The Big Agnes Air Core is available in a number of different cuts and sizes depending on your preferences and needs. Mine has a mummy cut and is 20″ x 72″ x 2.5″. Yes, that’s right: this pad is 2.5″ thick which is why it is so warm and comfortable. See my article on how to select a sleeping pad for an explanation on why pad thickness is the most important factor in how to sleep warm in colder weather.
The Insulated Air Core has a heavy duty 70 denier cloth exterior and comes with a patch kit. Big Agnes also provides a lifetime warranty and cost is under $75, which in my opinion is an incredible bargain for such a great piece of gear.
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