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Big Agnes Air Core vs Insulated Air Core

Old 06-11-12, 06:46 PM
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Big Agnes Air Core vs Insulated Air Core

Hi all,
Wondering if anyone has experience with both the Big Agnes "Air Core" and "Insulated Air Core" sleeping mats. I'm considering getting one, but I'm not sure about the trade-off between smaller packed size and warmth. I currently use an Exped Downmat, but it's overkill for summer - and I'd like to save a bit of weight and space. Also, I have a Big Agnes Horse Thief sleeping bag for summer, which would go nicely with one of these mats. I'll be doing a bit of bikepacking in the next (southern hemisphere) summer, so space is pretty important.

So: if you've used both, which did you prefer? Was it worth being colder to get the smaller pack size? Is it significant?

Experience from people who've tried one or the other would be very welcome, too!

(I'm not really concerned about the 60g or so of weight saving between them - compared to around 500g of saving over the Downmat).
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Old 06-11-12, 07:04 PM
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I have the insulated and so far, even though it has not seen a ton of use, I am quite pleased with it. I was moving from a Thermarest self-inflating pad (useless IMHO) and really appreciated the extra padding. I'm sure in your research you have already discovered that it packs down to the size of a Nalgene bottle so it takes up minimal room. I have seen comments about them leaking but I have not had that experience thus far.

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Old 06-11-12, 07:49 PM
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The air-core pads have an r-value of 1, which isn't much. Big Agnes themselves claim it's good to 35 degrees, but I'd take that with a grain of salt. The insulated pad has an r-value of 4.1, which should be good for most anything you're likely to come across. If you're only doing summer stuff, go with the air-core, but if your going to even risk 35 degree temperatures, get some insulation.

You could also get the air-core, and use additional closed cell foam when you might need the warmth. You loose the packing benefit, but you get a lighter pad when you don't need insulation, and it's cheaper than buying both. Plus, a winter load is heavier anyway.
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Old 06-11-12, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050
The air-core pads have an r-value of 1, which isn't much. Big Agnes themselves claim it's good to 35 degrees, but I'd take that with a grain of salt. The insulated pad has an r-value of 4.1, which should be good for most anything you're likely to come across. If you're only doing summer stuff, go with the air-core, but if your going to even risk 35 degree temperatures, get some insulation.

You could also get the air-core, and use additional closed cell foam when you might need the warmth. You loose the packing benefit, but you get a lighter pad when you don't need insulation, and it's cheaper than buying both. Plus, a winter load is heavier anyway.
Hmm, yeah. I don't know what weather is like in the US, but here in southeastern Australia, it's rarely that predictable. You can set off on a 3 day "summer" trip and hit all four seasons. So, I guess the huge improvement in insulation is probably worth it for me.

(It doesn't make sense for me to take a closed cell foam mat - they're so massively bulky, and it would only be to save a few hundred grams. I've camped with my Downmat on snow, and was toasty warm - with the right sleeping bag.)
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Old 06-11-12, 08:35 PM
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Have you thought of shaking the down to one end of the Exped? I know ours collect the down at the ends and the instructions identify this. I think the instructions suggest you have the inflated mat in a vertical position, then tap to get the down to distribute more evenly.

Maybe going the other way might help, although I would be inclined to tap one end of the mat on the ground rather than tapping with a hand from the top.
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Old 06-11-12, 08:47 PM
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>Have you thought of shaking the down to one end of the Exped?

To solve what problem exactly? I love my downmat, it's just a bit heavy and bulky for lightweight summer bikepacking tours.
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Old 06-11-12, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by stevage
Hi all,
I currently use an Exped Downmat, but it's overkill for summer - and I'd like to save a bit of weight and space.
You said it...
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Old 06-11-12, 11:19 PM
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I just got a BA aircore mummy pad earlier this year when REI had them on sale. I've been happy with it on a few trips so far, but it's never been colder than 40F. I also have a Thermarest 'self-inflating' pad and will probably take that on trips where colder temperatures are expected. But the aircore packs smaller and is thicker when inflated.
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Old 06-12-12, 05:48 AM
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if you won't be camping during the winter then there's no need to get the insulated version.

even if you get caught with your pants down (freak cold front during the spring or fall), you'll just have to suffer through a night of poor sleep - we're not talking about life-threatening situations here.
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Old 06-12-12, 11:47 AM
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Summer here in Washington can also mean you will still run into some colder temps. I was out a couple of weekends ago and the the daytime temp was in in the 70s, night temp was mid 30s. Using the air-core I was a bit cold with my big agnes lone ranger sleeping bag (rated to 15 degrees). I've been out a few times when I have wished I had the insulated version. My wife has the insulated version, and on those cold summer mornings when I complain of freezing the night before she never seems to have had a problem.

That said, I also tend to sleep kind of warm, and I am worried that if i did have the insulated version and ran into higher nighttime temps I would be sweating like a pig. "summer" weather here is difficult to plan for.....
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Old 06-12-12, 11:48 AM
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Oh, and you mentioned pack size, the insulated version doesn't seem much bulkier than the regular, though I am comparing a regular length to long.
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