User Review: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core
Price Paid: $80
I have to say at first I was skeptical at the idea of a mini-air-mattress insulating me. BUT, after using it for a while now, I can't say enough about this pad.
First, this pad feels and is durable. My brother and I hike the AT in NJ and PA. This equals rocks protruding from underneath the soil no matter where you setup camp. Inflate it lay it down where ever. Sleep comfortably. It's as easy as that. As a side note, it comes with a patch kit integrated in the stuff sack. Haven't needed it yet, but real convenient.
With regards to insulation properties, last weekend we got 15 degrees at night and I could not feel ground cold at all. I noticed this when I put my hand on the ground and it was freezing compared to the space between my bag and the pad. I was actually warmer underneath than on top.
Inflating it? As a chronic Asthmatic I can share that inflating this is no big deal at all, 1-2 minutes at most with minimal effort and my understanding is that all pads need inflating at some point. It packs up real small (I fit it with my bag in my pack's bag pocket) and quickly. I strongly believe its worth the $$ over the non-insulated version.
Advice: 1) Make sure to deflate it a little before you lay down. You nestle right into it and this doesn't affect the insulation properties at all. 2) Buy the rectangular one, I've heard from many people it doesn't make sense to buy the mummy version. 3) Along these lines also buy the regular size. It's long enough and my brother (6'2") wished he had bought the regular instead of long.
Pros: Comfort, packability, insulation, quality.
Cons: Higher end cost, but provides more value than the $100+ pads, and is a massive upgrade from non-inflatable pads.
Bottom line: If you're looking to get a good night's rest, you can't beat using this pad.