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Hands-on Gear Review

Big Agnes Q-Core SL Review


Men's Sleeping Pad

  • Currently 4.2/5
Overall avg rating 4.2 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: March 24, 2015
Price:   $160 List | Varies from $112 - $140 online
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Moderately light, compact, and comfortable.
Cons:  "Pot hole" surface is not as comfortable as the mostly flat NeoAir series, slippery surface, bumpy side rails, low quality mesh stuff sack.
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ March 24, 2015  
The Q-Core SL is a high quality lightly insulated sleeping pad that scores near the top of the pack in our ratings. It's moderately lightweight, reasonably warm, compact, and reasonably comfortable. Our testers found that the pad's "pot hole surface" wasn't as comfortable as Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir series. That's the pad's largest drawback. Even so, it's still a top finisher.

RELATED: Our complete review of men's sleeping pads

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Performance Comparison

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The Q-Core SL offers a good combination of warmth, light weight, and small packed size. We just wish it were a bit more comfortable.
Credit: Max Neale


Unfortunately our testers didn't think the SL was very comfortable. Here are the two primary problems we've found:

(1) One tester described the top as a "pot hole surface." There are big holes all over the pad!! They collect dirt and adventure grime and are not as comfortable to lay your head on directly as flatter surfaces, such as the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm or the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season. Even though the Big Agnes pad is thicker than these two NeoAir pads, its baffles were a bit uncomfortable. We could always feel them, whereas the surface of the Therm-a-Rest pads was much more smooth and even.

It's also important to note that there are "rails" along the edges that aim to keep your body centered. Some backpackers love these types of rails, which are also found on the REI AirRail 1.5, but they also prevent you from lining two pads up next to each other to create a larger flat surface. It's also difficult to impossible to spoon with someone else.

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In Greenland chilling in the Hilleberg Saitaris with the Feathered Friends Peregrine, Sea to Summit Alp II, and Sierra Designs -25 BTU sleeping bags. Pads, left to right: NeoAir All Season, Big Agnes Q-Core, and NeoAir XTherm.
Credit: Eric Guth

(2) The next most significant drawback to the Q-Core SL is its slippery surface. This is a problem we've experienced with other Big Agnes pads, such as the Big Agnes Air Core, and it's detrimental for people that toss and turn a lot because you can easily slip off the pad. This is readily apparent when comparing various pads side-by-side. If you feel motivated you can lay strips of SeamGrip on the flatter parts to the pad to create more friction between you and the pad and between the pad and the ground.


The Q-Core SL weighs 19.5 ounces on our scale. This is 7 ounces more than the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite and 4 ounces more than the deep winter worthy Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. Thus, the pad is moderately light, but not impressively light.


The pad is sufficiently warm for most winter applications. Our testers felt that the XTherm was slightly warmer, but not but too much.

Packed Size

It packs down to a moderate size, but is still larger than the NeoAir XTherm.

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The Q Core SL packs down quite small. We loved using it when space really matters.
Credit: Max Neale


Based on our experience, we suspect that the pad offers average durability. The only concern we have lies with the dimple-like surface design; surface complexity increases the difficulty of repair. That is, a smoother, flatter surface is generally easier to patch. So, that could be potential drawback if the pad were to tear in or along one of the dimples.

Best Applications

Winter camping and backpacking.


Like all top-tier pads, the Q-Core SL is pricey. If it were more comfortable we would think it a better value.


The Q-Core SL is almost the best lightweight pads we've tested. If it were more comfortable and a bit lighter it might be closer to #1.

Other Versions

Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core
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  • 5 R-value - Warmer
  • More durable
  • Slightly heavier, rectangular shape
  • $120

Big Agnes Air Core
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  • 1 R-value
  • Cheapest inflatable pad tested
  • Comfortable
  • $70

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 24, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

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2 Total Ratings
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   Jun 11, 2014 - 03:20am
Traci Walker · Snowboarder · CA
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Credit: Traci Walker
LOVE this! I am not reviewing women's sleeping pads being 5'8" and 180lbs. I went with the q core SL wide and X long after sleeping (poorly) on an older thermarest and vowing to get the best most comfortable sleeping pad ever or not sleep on the ground again. Honestly being in my 40's I thought maybe my backpacking days were just done. This has renewed my love for backcountry camping and I have slept on it well over 30 nights in the last 6 months. 11 nights in january, 16 nights in march and a few other trips… I slept on it last night too at around 9000ft. The Q core seems to regulate my body temperature and the dogs really like it too, so far no problems with them walking on it. I am a 3 season camper. I think I sleep better on Q core then in my very comfortable bed for at least several consecutive days at which time my bed seems to become more desirable. I find the baffles and the whole design to be very ergonomic even when I side sleep or sleep on my stomach. To me the well rested sleep far compensates the small amount of extra weight.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Big Agnes Q-Core SL
Credit: Big Agnes
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