Sleeping Pad Recommendation

Big Agnes Issues…

– Last Updated: Aug-19-10 10:48 PM EST –

I've had a lot of issues with Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pads. Super comfortable and compact, but always leave me on the cold hard ground, usually at the beginning of a long trip. Had one brand new pad that was delaminating after a week of use, and was unrepairable. Kinda sucks when you have 24 more nights, and your sleeping pad has $hit the bed... I'd have to say Big Agnes sucks, and the customer service I got left a lot to be desired, they basically told me to return it where I bought it, no apologies or acknowledgment of a problem. Now a Thermarest user, and totally digging it. Self inflating, durable, comfortable, easy to repair...

(Sorry to ruin your sale Waterbird...)

The additional thickness
is where I’m getting the improved sleeping comfort.

I like my mattresses inflated a bit less than full/very firm. With the Prolite pad this allowed my shoulder to sometimes run ‘through’ the mattress and I’d wake up a little stiff in the morning. Full inflation eliminated the issue but I didn’t like that much firmness in the pad.

The extra height of the Neoair allows me to keep the inflation/firmness level to my liking without having the shoulder make ground contact.

Probably only an issue for old skinny guys :slight_smile:

Ever try a nylon Hammock
With an under quilt. Very comfortable. has all the info and help you need. Since I left the ground sleeping outside isn’t uncomfortable and the weight savings is a plus.

down mat?
The mat (or pad) doesn’t have down in it, just the bag. Unless I’m misunderstanding…

“ditto” on Big Agnes
Same story. Same conclusion. Avoid Big Agnes.


Satisfaction Guarantee
Can’t speak to the Exped or the Stephensons (Warmlite) high-end products, but it seems like every sleeping pad I have ever had developed problems sooner or later.

Shopping at a store with no question, satisfaction guarantee is a good idea.


Perhaps she’s gotten lucky, but my wife got a Big Agnes earlier this year and has spent about 10 nights on it so far. No issues and very comfortable. I traded my old thermarest to her slightly thicker self-inflating REI brand. It’s better than what I had before, but I find myself wanting the Big Agnes.

Anybody used the NeoAir in a sandy environment? We looked at one when we got the Big Agnes, and it just didn’t seem like it would be durable against abrasion.

Check the reviews
and discussions at backpacking forums. You will find that your experience was really an exception. The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core is one of the top 2 favorites among backpackers. The other favorite is the Exped Synmat, which is heavier and packs larger than the Big Agnes IAC.

The BAIAC is consistently rated more comfortable than ANY Thermarest product. I had the Thermarest Luxury Camp mattress (for car camping) and can say that the BAIAC is more comfortable, for far less weight.

I’ve had to return a couple of items to Big Agnes (due to fit issues, not quality) and found their customer service excellent. If they goof they make it right for you.

I’ve had terrible luck with Big Agnes

– Last Updated: Aug-25-10 10:23 PM EST –

Three pads, three complete failures. I wanted to believe in Big Agnes, they were super comfortable, but just were not reliable enough. The first pad I got about 6 nights out of, then it failed on night 1 of a 3 week trip. Luckily we were camping en route to our put in, and I was able to pick up a cheapie at a Canadian Tire, otherwise I would have been screwed. Exchanged that one. I got about 5.5 months of use out of the second pad, before it too gave up the ghost. Not so bad, was day 20 of a 24 day trip. Exchanged again. The third, and last pad, died only 5 or 6 days into a 26 day trip. I would patch a hole, have the pad work ok for a night, then it would start to deflate 2-3 times a night a day or two later. It would take a day or two until I could finally find a location suitable for submerging the pad and finding leaks, and they seemed to appear exponentially. I'd spend 15 minutes standing in freezing water somewhere, circling 3, 5, sometimes 8 pin holes. I'd take the time to make a hot water bottle and steam the pad dry inside my tent. Then I'd seal each hole, let the glue set, and find the pad still wouldn't hold air. I had about 45 pinholes patched before I just gave up. I wish I had taken pictures of it before I returned it to REI, who did a great job of exchanging the stupid pad each time I brought it back. With the first two I thought it must have been my bad, but by the last pad I realized it was just poor build quality. The material delaminates. 5 months on a Thermarest, not a problem. Also a lot easier to locate holes on a Thermarest (not that I've had to) because they're flat and don't have all the stupid baffles. Self inflating, don't feel light headed as I inflate it every night. That's my review of Big Agnes, 100% failure rate, 3 out of 3 pads failed not due to user error. Customer service that didn't want to make it right for me, just made it another return for REI that would end up in a land fill. I hope other peoples experiences are better...

Big Agnes Insul Core
late to the party: have used it 3 seasons and counting, it’s great! I have the 3/4 mummy, it’s compact for sure.

not inflating completely helps w. my comfort level and maybe has contributed to its longevity.

Have had no issues, so no contact w. customer service.

Didn’t buy it at REI :smiley:

also have a Thermorest Outfitter’s model - it’s ok, IMO kinda “boardy”. I keep it for friends.

There’s actually a female issue, too
I get what you’re saying. I don’t like the pad pumped all the way firm, either. But if I don’t put enough air into the pad, my hip bone makes contact with the ground when side-sleeping. Same issue–different body part for most women. If I had very wide shoulders, I bet it’d be the same as your issue.

Fortunately, the ProLite 4 has been comfortable enough. My wish is that it were available in the same shorter but full length (women’s pad is 66" long) but 24" wide, to better accommodate sprawly side-sleeping.

How are the BA fans inflating your pads?
I picked up a couple on closeout at REI, but they didn’t have the pump-bag in stock. What are you folks using?

By mouth
The comfort of the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core is worth the effort it takes to inflate it. Two minutes of work and you have a great night of sleep. I feel that no foam pad can be as comfortable as an air mattress.

my pump = my lips LOL
never even considered a pump…from my perspective a pump means extra weight, takes up extra space… just for a little pad? nah.

YMMV of course. IIRC there is a self inflating version.

As Waterbird wrote, the BA Insul core is very quick and easy to inflate. Stopping well short of full inflation works best for me… not inflating it 100% may perhaps make it less prone to punctures or seam failure… IDK… all I know is it’s simple, easy, comfortable and at well under $50 four years ago it’s quite a nice piece of gear.

BA warns about moisture…

– Last Updated: Aug-26-10 10:56 AM EST –

...accumulating in the pad if you inflate it by mouth. They make a "pump" that's really more of a bellows-type bag that has multiple other functions:

I was curious if anyone here has used it.

well looka this
I’m back from a week outstate and going thru mail… REI has a flyer out and there are sales on both a Thermarest model (not the NeoAir) and the rectangular (not mummyshaped) Big Agnes Insulcore…

advertised online as well

shop and compare, gotta love the take-it back ease at Return Equipment Indefinitely LOL

thanks for the advisory

– Last Updated: Aug-26-10 1:35 PM EST –

hasn't been an issue.

curious why Big Agnes issues an advisory but not Thermorest or any other maker of inflatable pads?

sleeping pads have been inflated by mouth for years, if not decades. Of course there is some moisture, but perhaps some people inject less than others during the inflation process.

won't be losing sleep over it, on my very comfy Big Agnes ')

edited for spelling... olive oil on my fingers LOL

I am faithful to Agnes
She appreciates my frugality, keeps me warm at night, and has never let me down, even I treat her rough (but she encourages it. What kind of monster do you take me for?!). All that for just a little lip service each night (I must be doing something right!).

I will never sleep on anyone else.