Big Agnes Q-Core
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $139
Tired of miserable, sleepless nights in the backcountry? Give the four-season Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core a try. Big Agnes claims that its Insulated Q-Core is the most comfortable pad on the planet. Is it? Well, I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that it is the most comfortable pad I have ever slept on.
Because it is 3.5" thick, you’ll never know you're sleeping on the ground. The Q-Core features a quilted pattern of alternating vertical and horizontal baffles that provides even weight distribution and raised side beams to prevent rolling off the mat in the middle of the night. It may be a little bit on the heavy side at 27oz, but to me, a good night’s sleep is well worth a carrying few extra ounces.
- Warm (5 R-Value, rated to 15 degrees)
- Incredibly comfortable
- Raised side beams to cradle body and prevent roll-off
- Heavier for an Air Pad 27 oz
- Requires more air to inflate due to its 3.5" thickness
I have owned my Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core for about a year and a half now. I have slept on it in temperatures ranging from 15 degrees to 75 degrees and on surfaces ranging from rocky, granite ground to plush grass. No matter the temperature or the surface I slept comfortably on the Q-Core.
The Q-Core offers superb support, no matter if you are a side, back, or stomach sleeper. It can be made very firm for extra support or more soft to cradle your body. Even when it isn’t firm, your hips still don’t touch the ground.
Filling the Q-Core to 3/4 capacity provides a cradling effect on the body when you lie on it.
It does take a little bit longer to inflate the Q-Core than a typical pad because it is 3.5” thick, compared to the typical inflatable mats that range from 1.5”-2.5”.
I have inflated it by mouth and I remember it taking less than 2 minutes. I found it to be a little bit more difficult to inflate than my previous Big Agnes pads, but it wasn't really a major difference. I use the Big Agnes Pumphouse to inflate it now though. When I use it, I don’t have to re-inflate it before going to bed because the air inside it is not moist. When properly inflated using the Pumphouse, I have found that it takes around 11-13 pumps to fully inflate it.
Size and Specifications:
The Q-Core is available in the following sizes:
20" x 66" x 3.5" – 25oz (5”x9.5” rolled)
20" x 72" x 3.5" – 27 oz (5”x9.5” rolled)
20" x 78" x 3.5" – 29 oz (6”x9.5” rolled)
25" x 78" x 3.5" – 36 oz (6”x11” rolled)
I own the 27 oz 20" x 72" x 3.5" size. I am 5’4” and it is plenty long enough for me. If you are concerned about its weight, Big A does make a lighter version, the Q-Core SL. It is 10 ounces lighter, but substantially less comfortable. It is still comfortable, don't get me wrong, but the Q-Core's comfort is in another league. I personally am very happy with my decision to carry the heavier and more comfortable Q-core.
The Insulated Q-Core sports an impressive 5 R-Value. It is filled with X-Static synthetic insulation and silver filament that boost thermodynamic, anti-microbial and anti-odor properties. I have found that it regulates temperature very well. It kept me warm one night on top of snow at 15 degrees and I wasn’t too hot sleeping on it at 75 degrees.
Both the bottom and the top of the Q-core are very durable. It is made of thicker material than typical pads that I have seen. The valve is also new and improved from the previous valves. I have found it to be very durable and have not had any leaking issues.
I previously had an Insulated Air Core Pad (Big A) and it had leaking issues with the valve. I sent it off to Big Agnes to be replaced and the new one also had a leaky valve, so I asked them to send me the Q-Core this time. Of course I paid the difference in price, but it was well worth it!
Big Agnes has fabulous customer service. Each time I sent one for replacement, I had the new one within 10 days of sending it ( I shipped it via Priority Mail). For the record, they have redesigned and improved the Insulated Air Cores now.
Should your Q-Core need minor repairs, there is a repair kit that comes along with the pad.
The Q-Core is without a doubt the most comfortable pad I have ever slept on. I have had my best backcountry sleep on it. I highly recommend it. Yes, it might weigh a little bit more than I would prefer, but it is totally worth it. Guys - if you want to get your lady to come out into the backcountry with you, the Q-Core is a great way to ensure she has a comfortable night's sleep.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $170
Very comfortable, very warm. Lighter than any self inflating pad, heavier than most air pads.
- Hard to inflate/deflate
- Heavy for ultra-lighters
I used the long/wide Big Agnes Q-Core pad on an early April hiking trip in Northern Michigan. Not only was it the most comfortable back country sleeping experience I've ever had, it helped keep me warm on a low 30 degree weekend.
This is my first experience with an inflatable pad but I tested a few of them in the store. I couldn't justify upgrading to any of those 2.5 inch air pad that was only slightly more comfortable than my 2 inch Therm-a-rest Self Inflating Trail Comfort Large until I found this pad.
Compared to my Therm-a-rest 2-inch self inflating, the Q-Core is about 50% more comfortable, especially when laying on your side. And while the Q-Core is thicker, it is also lighter and packs smaller than the self inflating pad. So increased comfort plus lighter weight equals no-brainer.
Compared to the other inflatable pads I tested, the Q-core was thicker than most. The "quilted" surface of alternating horizontal and vertical baffling is absolutely genius. It supports your back while keeping warm air against your body. The Q-Core is also very quiet, no crackling.
On the downside, compared to the other inflatable air pads, this pad is heavier than most of them. If you are going for ultralight, you're going to have to trade off some comfort for a lighter pad that may also pack down smaller.
Compared to self inflating pads, the Q-Core is a pain to inflate and deflate. It took me about 25 big breaths to fully inflate the large/long pad. Do yourself a favor and try to find the Big Agnes Pumphouse pump or other compatible pump to inflate it. Using a pump instead of your breath will also prevent extra moisture building up in the pad. Deflating is less of a pain, but certainly takes twice the time and effort to get all the air out in order to pack it up tightly.
I found that I did slip a bit on the pad during the night, a little more so than on my Therm-a-rest. The Q-Core is made of a lighter and more slippery material. The slipping was minimal and it didn't bother me much.
I feel like this pad is as durable as any other of the inflatables. The material is thinner than what you would find on a self inflating pad, but this is tradeoff is what makes it so much lighter. Overall, I am not worried about puncturing it under normal conditions and while being generally careful.
The Q-Core appears to be on the higher end of the price scale for a sleeping pad. For me, it was completely worth the cost for such a comfortable pad. It truly added to the enjoyment of a long hiking weekend in the back country when I slept so much better than normal.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $139
Luxury in the backcountry.
- Super comfy
- Doesn't crinkle like a trash bag (Neo-Air)
- Heavier than ultralight options (Neo-Air)
- Little slippery
I love my Q-Core, this thing is more comfortable than my bed at home. It's very well insulated and the 3.5 inch thickness is amazing. I'm a side sleeper, 180lbs and 6-2 and this thing is the most comfortable pad I've used.
It makes very little noise when you move around on it at night (in comparison to the NeoAir which sounds like you are flopping around on a pile of plastic bags). It's a little heavier than ultralight options but the luxury is much appreciated it. It rolls up into its stuff size just a little bigger than a Nalgene and I think the regular size which I have weighs in at 25oz.
My 70 lb dog has stomped on it quite a bit getting in and out of the tent and it holds up fine, pretty durable pad. After a 25+ mile day, this pad is much appreciated.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $139.95
- High price
I recently purchased this pad as an upgrade, after handing off my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad to a family member. I have had the opportunity to use it for four nights so far.
One of my favorite enhancements to this pad is the slightly higher side tubes, making it easier to stay on the pad without rolling off; and it just felt more comfortable to "lean" against something, however small, while side sleeping. The quilted pattern felt more comfortable than the straight tube design also, and helped avoid sliding off the end of the pad.
I was surprised that this pad, with the 3 1/2" thickness when inflated, in addition to the insulation, still packed down to about the size of a 1L bottle, and weighed only a few ounces more than my original air core pad. Inflating the pad was not too strenuous, even at 12,000 ft., and only took a few minutes.
During the 4 night trip the temperature would drop into the thirties, and at one point I woke of with ice in my cooking pot. However I never felt cold from underneath the pad, while sleeping in a 20 degree down bag with a thin base layer.
Overall I am happy with the pad so far, and assuming it will last like my other pad, I would recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade or get a new pad.
The downside of course is the rather high price, but may be worth it depending on how much backcountry comfort your looking for.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $119
Excellent pad, designed to be fairly small and lightweight but big on comfort. Slippery finish makes it hard to stay on. I was able to modify this problem by getting a tube of Aquaseal or e-6000 polyurathane glue and putting small dots and strips of sealant on the high spots. Works great.
I use this for backpacking replacing a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core (which is also very good!). This has an inch more loft and a slightly warmer "R" rating. Lightweight sucks if you are stiff and sore in the morning, or lost a lot of heat to the ground! This is a nice compromise.
I also have an Exped down mat 9 (large/wide) for car or boat camping that is warmer and more confortable yet but too big and heavy for packing far.
Recomended! A little more comfortable slightly deflated.