Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Pad


This Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core sleeping pad blends supportive construction and synthetic insulation for an incredibly comfortable sleeping surface on the cold, hard ground.

  • Made from a rugged ripstop nylon, this 4 in. thick deluxe inflatable pad packs down small, and is light and durable enough for backpacking
  • X-Static® synthetic insulation provides superior warmth and comfort; X-Static has antimicrobial properties that help keep odors at bay and enhance thermal regulation
  • Integrating vertical and horizontal tubes in the construction, this seam-welded pad provides consistent airflow for stability, support and smooth feel
  • For quick inflation/deflation, Big Anges Insulated Q-Core features an airtight, nonbreakable brass valve with plastic coated mouthpiece
  • Comes with a stuff sack and a repair kit

Tech Specs

  • Specification: Regular
  • Best use: Backpacking
  • Sleeping pad type: Air pad
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Insulation Type: Synthetic
  • R-Value: 5
  • Repair kit included: Yes
  • Stuff sack included: Yes
  • Packed size: 5 x 9 inches
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Width: 20 inches
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Dimensions: 72 x 20 x 4 inches (183 x 51 x 10 centimeters)
  • Packed weight: 1 lb. 11 oz. (0.76 kilogram)


Before making the trip overseas, naturally I tried to relate my many years of camping, hiking and backpacking experience to what type of situations I would encounter abroad in Malawi. My backpacking style is being versatile while remaining light and functional.

I quickly wrote off buying a sleeping pad because of the limited packing space I had available flying over. With a pad I would also have to pack a tent (for moisture and mosquito protection). In my experience, I’ve always found a hammock (with rain fly and netting) to be more convenient in outdoor camping situations. So I went with a hammock.

But my departure date came nearer and nearer and I started to doubt my decision. I started to think of contingencies and began to worry that maybe a hammock was not enough.

I meticulously packed and when I started to look over where I would accommodate a tent and pad, I made a bold decision to bring only a tent and not a pad. My logic was that the container that I slept in was more important than the material I slept on. I also banked on a COSing (Close Of Service, departing) Volunteer having one for sale.

I came in luck at Pre-Service Training. I found a steal-of-a-deal from a decent lad named Brooks who would be COSing in the short future. I didn’t hesitate when he announced it to the cohort that he was selling his Big Agnes pad for $25.

A company’s name can often be synonymous with proven quality and expert performance. Big Agnes is one of those companies.

I had experience with the same model on the Appalachian Trail. I borrowed the pad from a friend to use on a leg stretching from south of Roanoke, VA into Dragons Tooth and McAfee Knob. It was the ‘Long’ version which was nice because the extra six inches is needed for my 6′ 3″ frame. I was very impressed with it as it did its job well but I longed for my hammock that I left back home. Hands down, hammocks are the best when on the trail.

Now that I’m in Africa, the situation and landscape have (obviously) changed. I use the pad on a weekly basis. I don’t even bother deflating it — I keep it suspended on string in a spare room in the house. I use it to lay down for a mid-day snooze when I’m much too dirty to climb into my bed. It is also handy for when I have guests. It packs away in five minutes if I need to take it on the road.

When planning a trip, knowing your accommodations before hand is ideal but not always reality. This is especially true in Malawi. I enjoy the versatility of having the pad and tent versus just the hammock. I can easily set up a tent in an urban setting (in a house, to use in place of a mosquito net) where as a hammock is a bit trickier, mostly for security reasons (hanging outside the confines of a secure home) but also for practical reasons (like locating adequate points in which to suspend it within a home).

The pad is a ‘Regular’ size which makes it shorter than I would like but still works grand. The smaller size does make it a lighter, smaller-packed size which is a plus. The mouthpiece is simple to use and with a good set of lungs, one can have it easily inflated to a firm swell in five minutes. The pad is light and packs an incredible nights’ sleep compared to sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

I highly recommend a Big Agnes insulated pad to anybody wanting to do extensive backpacking and camping. The quality, weight and insulation properties of a Big Agnes pad are superior to anybody else in the market.

95 out of 100.


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