Big Agnes Q Core SL Rectangle Pad 20 x 72 Review

BigAgnesInsulatedQCoreSL

I have the Klymit XL, the Thermarest Prolite, a cheap Wenzel foam pad, and a Thermarest folding pad.

Recently, I purchased the big Agnes Q Core SL, and had a chance to try it out.

Some initial thoughts.
– Inflating: It inflates surprisingly fast for a 3.5″ loft sleeping pad. But as a smoker, I do get a little winded. Maybe take two minutes to inflate fully
– Firmness: When inflating to relatively firm state without killing yourself trying to max out pressure, the 3.5″ loft proves great when lying down, but there isn’t much float when sitting on it. This is true, of course, of many inflatable pads, but it’s more noticeable with this unit because the loft is so deep.
– Lying down: The expression, floating on air, is an accurate one for all inflatables, but the Q Core SL epitomizes the feeling. Almost like a waterbed, you really feel the wrap-around when not firmly inflated, and even when it is, it feels…well….just different.
– Noise: The X-Lite and X-Therm are both pads that I’ve tried out, and also have friends who own them. Unlike these units, the Q Core SL material is much less noisy. Not super silent, but the material has that ever so slightly rough feel that some nylon shoulder straps have, and this material doesn’t make as much noise as the X-Lite/X-Therm
– Side-sleeper: Of all the pads I have, this is the best for side-sleeping. The 3.5″ loft is amazing. hips sink down enough, while still retaining loft, that my knees are more centered when side-sleeping. Dunno if that makes sense, but imagine sleeping on a wooden floor on one’s side, and the hip strain (over several hours) of the upper leg from being at a steep angle and you get the idea. The loft on my other sleeping pads is much thinner making this the most comfortable pad I own.
– The regular size, 20×72, is 18 oz with the bag (roughly). the pad itself is 17oz (according to the manufacturer tag). That is pretty damn light. The long and wide (25×78) is 23oz without the bag. I was sorely tempted to get the larger size and still might in the future, but that difference was significant enough that I went with the regular. Also, when rolled up, the long and wide version is about a 1.5″ longer cylinder shape. That difference is also noticeable in the pack, another reason to get the regular.
– Edge seams/material: unlike the Klymit, which has a super wide edge seam, the Q Core’s edge seam is much thinner. While the material is thinner and lighter than the standard Q Core (non-SL version), it still seems strong enough to hold long term. I do still worry about it though. The Klymit XL is something I don’t really worry about, but the Q Core makes me a tad nervous.
– Color: I really couldn’t care less, but it’s a slightly darker orange than the Thermarest.
– Cleaning maintenance: The material seems relatively easy to keep clean. I haven’t used it backpacking yet, but most of the pad materials of the pads I own are fairly easy to keep reasonably clean, so it’s not much of a concern. The Pro-Lite is the only one that seems a touch difficult.
– Warmth: The r-value is fairly high, though I never put stock in those. I can say for sure that the common drafty edges where I often feel cold aren’t there with this pad. I think it’s because you sink in a little more on this pad, which makes the sleeping bag along the edges fan out more smoothly, helping to retain heat better, but regardless of the reason, there are fewer cold spots and cold lines on this than the Prolite Thermarest. Given that the Klymit is really a summer pad with no r-value whatsoever, the Q Core will likely be my goto for most camping trips going forward.

All in all, an impressive pad.

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