On first unpacking the Insulated Air Core, one is immediately struck by the compact size of the rolled pad, tucked snugly into its included stuff sack. It is less than one-third the overall size of a typical closed-cell foam sleeping pad, and substantially smaller than nearly any popular self-inflating pad. Those seeking to further reduce the volume and weight of an Insulated Air Core should consider the optional version shaped to fit mummy-style sleeping bags.
Inflated, the Insulated Air Core firms up to a plump and cushy mattress, covered in a non-slip ripstop-textured nylon fabric. At 5'10" and 180 lbs., even my bony hips had plenty of cushioning to spare, and I found the 66" length to be sufficient for resting in any position, with my pillow positioned off the end of the pad on the tent floor. Campers who prefer their pillow on the pad may want to consider the 72" version.
Unlike other Big Agnes sleeping pads, the Insulated Air Core includes the addition of an interior layer of synthetic insulation, ostensibly offering warmth down to 15F. Conversely, when making your camp on hot sand or bare rock heated by the summer sun, flipping the pad over (insulation side down) reputedly insulates you from that ambient heat. This insulation has been treated with an anti-microbial silicon to prevent the growth of mold inside the pad resulting from the moisture inevitable with manual inflation.
Making your bed consists simply of unrolling the compact pad, opening the clever EZ-Flate valve, and inflating with about 15 long, hearty breaths. Twist the valve shut and you're done. I like a pretty firm mattress, and find the Insulated Air Core quite comfortable; some campers may prefer a softer sleep, and this pad can easily be adjusted by simply deflating a bit.
In the morning, stowing the Insulated Air Core is as easy as twisting open the valve and allowing it to deflate. Fold and roll the pad back into the included bag, and you are ready to move on to your next campsite.
The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core truly strikes a near-perfect compromise between weight and compactness, while providing the most comfortable sleeping surface I've ever enjoyed.
Though generally quite happy with the Insulated Air Core after a few seasons of tripping, it has recently begun having trouble with that age-old nemesis of all inflatable pads: air leaks. Despite great care to protect my Insulated Air Core from punctures and abrasion (I always use it on a tent floor or groundcloth), a couple of pinhole leaks have sprung up, allowing the pad to slowly lose firmness through the night. Using the patch & repair kit included in the stuff sack, I've sealed the tiny leaks.
very compact, lightweight, comfortable, easy to inflate, warm, adds 10-20F to a hammock
slightly more expensive than many other comparable pads, prone to leakage, somewhat slippery
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