Author Topic: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat  (Read 5532 times)

Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« on: September 28, 2014, 08:49:34 pm »
I still haven't used it a huge number of times, but following a light grilling on this thread and also at Long Itchington this weekend I thought I'd better get a bit of a review posted.



So, the Q-Core SL. Here's what Big Agnes have to say about it:

  • Superlight version of the Insulated Q-Core pads
  • Light and compact three season pads at 3.5”/9cm thick for extra comfort
  • Estimated R-Value of 4.5
  • X-Static synthetic insulation with the natural performance of silver filament to enhance thermodynamic, anti-microbial and anti-odor properties
  • Alternating I-Beam construction creates a smoother, more comfortable feel
  • Durable, light-weight nylon rip-stop top and bottom
  • Internal polyurethane coating
  • Add a closed cell foam pad in colder temperatures for extra insulation
  • Durable inflation valve
  • Store unrolled with valve open
  • Includes stuff sack and repair kit. The repair kit is in a small pocket on the inside end of the stuff sack. It's sort of hidden, so look twice.
  • For complete specs and to compare all pad models, see our Pad Specs Chart at the left, under Tips & Resources
  • Each pad individually inflated and tested
  • Larger outsider air chambers keep you cradeled in the middle of the pad.

I haven't tried Downmats or Synmats or anything other than a secondhand thin Thermarest and a Go Outdoors North Ridge self-inflating mat in recent experience, so I can't compare it to them, however, when I started using both the Thermarest and the North Ridge together I took it as a sign that I should be looking for something to provide a bit more padding (not that I'm not already carrying enough of that on me already!)

I was on the Big Agnes website scoping out their tents, and saw this sleeping mat. I'm not sure where/when from, but I have a deeply engrained knowledge that I do not get on with lilo-style mats with longitudinal ridges, so this caught my eye. I'm also hoping this design with the short, alternating baffles will be self-limiting if internal structure starts to fail.

I eventually decided to buy a Big Agnes tent (the Seedhouse SL2, reviews here) so I added the mat to the order thinking I wasn't likely to be tempted to shop for it in isolation (try ebay though, I think I've seen some on there and there are a few UK retailers selling BA kit). Not being able to find an UK supplier for the tent I wanted, I bought tent and mat from http://www.backcountry.com in the USA in one of their sales.

I've got the short rectangular variant and it cost me just over $100 - so just under £70 - although I also had to pay import fees on my whole order, so add a bit on to that.

Lying on my back, it's as wide as my arse. Lying on my side, I don't have to have it fully inflated to be able to prevent my hips from touching the ground.

I understand an early run of the mats miscalculated the mould design and they were coming up narrower than stated when inflated. Mine's as it should be, but be aware of this if you're buying secondhand...

How do you inflate it?





It's a bog standard sort of valve so you can huff into it if you're feeling oxygenated, and they do a pump thiggamabobber for non-lung inflation and reducing the amount of moisture that gets trapped in the mat. I got one of these too (from a UK seller, http://www.franticelix.co.uk I think). I haven't counted properly, but I think it takes about 10 bagfuls to inflate the mat to something quite firm. I usually then let some air out whilst lying on it to get optimum softness.

Is it noisy?
Not so much in itself. The material's a little bit 'crinkly' at the low pressures I have it at, but I really only notice that when I'm sat or leaning on one end as I move around during the day.

Does it squeak?
On my groundsheet, yes. Solved by making a bag for it out of a cotton sheet. (I'd tried up to two silk liners, but cotton's the magic interface and it was practically silent for its first outing last night.)

How small does it pack down to?
This big. (Spork for scale, pump also in the same bag)


Is it warm?
I've not tested it in properly cold weather, but it's been pretty toasty so far (note for people reading this from the future: it's just been used on the 27th of September in the UK). I use my sleeping bag opened up and quilt style on top of me, and I've been plenty warm enough with just the mat under me.

Is it robust?
Seems to be.

Can I jump on it?
Only under strictly controlled conditions and if you're very cute.


Provisional verdict:
I like it so far. Fingers crossed it has a long lifetime.


barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2014, 11:06:26 pm »
Kim was telling me about your mat so this review is really interesting. Kim likes my new mat and says yours sounds quite similar except possibly warmer and not as big/bulky but of the same ilk.

Loved the pic of the cute-randomiser there too!

Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 09:49:44 am »
So it is basically a super-lightweight inflatable mat?

I've always found those to be cold (but that could be the rubber, rubber conducts heat well).
<i>Marmite slave</i>


Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 11:55:36 am »
Kim was telling me about your mat so this review is really interesting. Kim likes my new mat and says yours sounds quite similar except possibly warmer and not as big/bulky but of the same ilk.

Loved the pic of the cute-randomiser there too!

The Randomiser started to give Mlle PB's Synmat a similar rigorous testing, but then got a bit phased when he found a PB lying on it :)

You're welcome to give the Q-Core a prod with shoulders and hips next time you're in the same field/lounge as it.

So it is basically a super-lightweight inflatable mat?

A sleeping mat that's light and inflatable *nods*

I've always found those to be cold (but that could be the rubber, rubber conducts heat well).


They estimate an R-value of 4.5 and it's rated down to 15 degrees. I'm assuming Fahrenheit, so that would be -9.5°C.
(For comparison the Synmat 7 give specs for R-value of 4.9 and rated to 1 °F / -17°C)

I'll leave it to personal judgement as to whether that's cold or not.

There's a spec sheet for comparison of the Big Agnes mats here: https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Specs/Pad

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2014, 12:52:41 pm »
So it is basically a super-lightweight inflatable mat?

No, it has a filling, like a SynMat (though judging by the spec, I assume slightly less of it).

Should be much warmer than the unfilled super-lightweights (AirMat, NeoAir, balloon bed or similar).
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 07:56:32 am »
I'm not going to open it up to confirm this, but from what I can make out by touch and looking at the internal shadows, I'd be very surprised if it has a 'filling' as such.

My hypothesis is a thin layer of the silver-coated X-Static threads on the inner face of the orange layer you can see in the photos. Similar to wadding and unwoven, but of the thickness of thin interfacing fabric, if that helps as a description.

So for thermal strategy think space blanket reflecting heat more than duvet trapping pockets of air.

Re: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping mat
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 01:18:30 pm »
Should be much warmer than the unfilled super-lightweights (AirMat, NeoAir, balloon bed or similar).
The NeoAir uses internal baffles instead of a down or fibre fill to stop the air moving about.
The lightweight version (NeoAir XLite) is about the same as a lightweight self inflating mat (1" thick, punched foam core), and is OK for me down to just above freezing.
The warm version (NeoAir XTherm) is about the same as a Downmat 7.

The advantage is that it is possible to just blow it up by mouth as there's nothing inside that will suffer badly from damp. The downside is that the air chambers are crossways and there's nothing to hinder rolling off the side of the mat.