User Review: Big Agnes Unisex Air Core
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $70 CAD
Packs small, about the size of a 1L bottle, doesn't take long to inflate and really gives you a luxurious sleep!
- Comes in many sizes
- Well priced
- Not self-inflatable
- Can be too hard
We recently switched our self-inflatable pads for these air chamber mattresses: a short narrow one for me, and a long wide one for my bigger and better half. Why? Because we move a lot in our sleep, from back to side, and our previous pads were very uncomfortable, giving us "hippers" by the end of the night. Sure, you can buy thicker self-inflatables, but then the price sky-rockets if you still want ones that don't take up the entire volume of your 40L pack!
Sleeping on 3.25" air cushion has allowed us to have the best outdoors night sleep in years. We joke that it's better than the mattress at home! Using them in the tent on several 3-5 day backpacking trips, we have found them to be durable and lightweight. They hold their air for a few days, without having to give it another "top-up blow", and the construction sort of cradles you so that you don't slip off the mat easily when you roll over... That was a real problem with our previous self-inflating pads.
Also the fabric is sort of textured, which prevented us from sliding down when sleeping on a slope. There's an added bonus that they're relatively quiet when moving around: I've slept on others that sounded like you were making balloon animals all night. For spring nights, we placed a thermal emergency tarp underneath to insulate against the cold wet ground.
The only downside really, is that you have to inflate them yourself. Not that it takes very long (2-3min), but it's nice to be able to let the pad inflate in the tent while you get going on cooking. That being said, don't wait until the end of the night to inflate, especially after some wine!
Also: if you inflate it all the way, the mattress can actually be too hard for side-sleeping. Woke up with a charlie horse the first night out with it... I had overzealously inflated it.