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Hands-on Gear Review
Big Agnes Sleeping Giant Memory Foam Review
Cons: Expensive to buy both parts of the system.
Bottom line: A good option for those who already own a sleeping pad but want an upgrade in warmth and softness for car camping.
The Big Agnes Sleeping Giant is a mattress pad cover that is meant to pair with any normal sleeping pad. For this test, we chose to pair it with our Big Agnes QCore SLX backpacking sleeping pad. Much like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream, it is an adaptable car camping mattress that is made up a backpacking mattress with a piece of memory foam on top, and inside a soft, durable cover. The Sleeping Giant definitely adds warmth and a plush softness to what was already a pretty comfortable, albeit simple, sleeping pad, turning it into a far more luxurious car camping mattress. While the versatility of this adaptable system is evident and is without doubt the Sleeping Giant's strongest suit, the downside is that buying the sleeping pad plus cover as they are separately sold makes this the most expensive single person sleeping pad in our review.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Big Agnes Sleeping Giant is one of two single-person, adaptable inflatable mattress combinations that we tested in this review. The most obvious difference between it and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream is that it is merely a cover for a sleeping pad that you already own (or purchase separately), whereas the NeoAir Dream is purchased as one complete unit. The memory foam in the Sleeping Giant is an upgrade over that in the NeoAir Dream, and it is held in place within the cover by mesh netting, eliminating the bunching effect of the loose foam in the other pad. Unfortunately, this means that it is not as easy to wash. The face fabric on the Sleeping Giant is slippery nylon material that feels soft against the skin, but is perhaps not quite as decadent as the velvety plush of the NeoAir Dream. That said, the QCore SLX sleeping pad that we paired our Sleeping Giant with was thicker and more comfortable than the NeoAir mattress in the NeoAir Dream. Considering all the various attributes of the two mattresses, this one would probably be the preferable choice only if you already owned a Big Agnes sleeping pad, due to the much higher cost and slightly lower overall rating.
We gave this mattress 8 out of a possible 10 points for comfort, the same as the NeoAir Dream. This mattress is the narrowest of all the choices in this review due to the fact that it has to pair with a smaller sleeping pad. While the memory foam certainly adds to the insulation of our air mattress, we have to admit that it didn't seem to contribute immensely to the comfort level of an already very thick and supportive QCore SLX mattress underneath. Truly, the QCore SLX deserves much of the credit for how comfy our setup was, we found it to be thicker and more supportive than the NeoAir mattress contained within the NeoAir Dream, and it did a brilliant job of displacing the air to long vertically oriented baffles on the edge of the mattress, where it didn't effect the pressure points on our sleeping body. Overall, only the Exped Megamat 10 and Duo were decidedly more comfortable than this setup.
Ease of Use
There is no doubt that the Sleeping Giant is simple and easy to use, but it certainly takes more work than the NeoAir Dream, mostly because you need to set up both parts of mattress.
In order to inflate the mattress, you must have access to the inflation valves of your air mattress. For our QCore SLX, this meant they are on the top of the pad, and we had to have the pad outside of the Sleeping Giant cover to access them. So, first we inflated our QCore, which done manually took us around 34 breaths, and then we would need to unzip the side of the Sleeping Giant and insert the mattress into it, then zip it closed.
To deflate, simply unzip the side of the Sleeping Giant to gain access to the deflate valve, pop it open, and the air pours out. It is possible to roll up the Sleeping Giant cover with a deflated air mattress in it, or not, depending on your preference. Regardless, the cover easily rolls up and fastens with a simple buckle. Due to the ease of deflating a QCore SLX, this whole system of packing up is easier than with a self-inflating mattress such as the REI Camp Bed 3.5 or Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP, but of course it could end up more difficult depending on the type of sleeping pad you choose to pair it with. Give it 8 out of 10 points.
The Sleeping Giant system combines to offer an R-value of 5.0. This number represents the combined insulation of all the parts, with a higher number meaning that it does a better job of preventing heat, or cold, transfer through the materials. Truly, the added insulation of this memory foam cover is one of the great benefits, and makes the simple QCore sleeping pad usable during the winter. However, the 5.0 value is a shade lower than all of the other single-person mattresses in this review, although still much better than the 1.0 value of the three air beds. It also greatly improves on the 15 degree Farenheit rating of the QCore SLX. We gave it 6 out of 10 points for warmth.
Versatility is truly where the Sleeping Giant shines. After all, what can be more versatile than a do-anything backpacking sleeping pad paired with a warmer, softer, more comfortable memory foam cover for car camping comfort? The adaptability of this pad is what makes it a worthwhile purchase. While it isn't possible to purchase the Sleeping Giant as one unit like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream, the bonus to that situation is that you have stuff sacks for both component pads, and don't have to go searching for a new one to buy should you decide to use the parts separately. Each of these parts are small (extremely small when talking about the packed size of the QCore SLX), and thus very easy to find a place for them amongst all the other gear in the car or truck. While versatility is certainly not the most important assessment criteria in this review, it is the single reason that you would choose the Sleeping Giant over any other pad. Call it 10 out of 10.
The Sleeping Giant mattress cover by itself rolls up into a single tube shaped roll, like many of the other mattresses. It doesn't have a separate stuff sack, but includes a protective cover sewn into the end of it that wraps around your completed roll and affixes the whole enchilada nicely with a buckle strap. Cinch straps wrap around either end of the roll to ensure it stays as one neat little package. Of course, this system is actually two mattresses packed up, but the QCore SLX that we used packs into a very small little stuff sack. The size of both combined was roughly in the middle of the products we tested here, so we gave it 6 out of 10.
The Sleeping Giant is a memory foam sleeping pad cover that is meant to go over the top of a sleeping pad that you already own. It adds some comfort and quite a bit of warmth to an already existing pad. It would work great to extend your three season pad into a four season one, or for added comfort for car camping, either in a tent or a vehicle. Although it is relatively light, you would not want to carry this large cover with you into the backcountry. Without already owning a sleeping pad for backpacking, there is no situation where you would buy this pad cover.
The size Wide and Long Sleeping Giant cover that we purchased costs $120 retail. If you already own a backpacking sleeping pad to pair it with, then this is a relatively good value, adding warmth and comfort for less money than a brand new, dedicated car camping mattress like many in this review. However, the size Wide and Long QCore SLX that we paired it with also cost us $220. Buying both parts of this system is far more expensive than any other single person pad in the review, and since it is not the highest performing pad, would not present great value. Of course, you could always pair it with a less expensive sleeping pad as well.
The Big Agnes Sleeping Giant is a sleeping pad cover combined with memory foam that enhances the comfort and warmth of a regular sleeping pad. This is an adaptable system, much like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream, that allows you to have car camping luxury with a sleeping pad you already own. Since you must purchase the two parts separately, it really only makes sense to buy the Sleeping Giant if you already own a backpacking style sleeping pad. If you don't, we would recommend you look at some of the other options in this review, such as our Editors' Choice Award-winning Exped Megamat 10.
Other Versions and Accessories
Big Agnes Saddleback Bedroll
— Andy Wellman
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