Big Agnes SLX Tent Floor Review
Cons: Not warm, slippery material
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Our Analysis and Test Results
When you shop for a camping mattress, it is important to identify your needs. Will you be car camping or hiking in to sleep? What are the nighttime temps where you intend to go? Is versatility most important, or do you want a good night's sleep to rival your mattress at home? The most comfortable options use foam for cushioning and warmth, but the bulk can make them less versatile. Big Agnes' SLX Tent Floor has limits to its warmth, but is one of the most comfortable air mattresses we have tested, is big enough for two people, and rolls into a package that is smaller than many one-person mats.
The SLX Tent Floor air mattress inflates up to 3.5 inches thick across the pad and 4.5 inches on the outside, which keeps you from rolling off the edges in your sleep. It also makes the functional space on the mattress a bit smaller. This mattress tapers, with a width of 50 inches at one end and 40 inches at the bottom. This is narrower than some of the other two-person mattresses in our review, but it does fit many two-person tents perfectly, filling the entire space and making a cushioned floor in your nylon camping home. It makes a cozy enclosure for two, or for one person who likes a lot of room to spread out.
Using only air for cushioning, we expected the SLX Tent Floor to be bouncy. The design, however, incorporates staggered closures in the chambers, as opposed to the typical continuous air chambers, resulting in significantly less bounce than other air mattresses. We also found it was comfortable at full inflation, allowing for full use of those 3.5 inches to protect from pokey parts of the ground.
While the nylon material on the outside is somewhat slippery, we didn't find the mattress to be exceptionally loud when shifting around in the night. You will want to make sure your tent is on flat ground, however, or you (and your tent buddy) may slide into the corner.
Ease of Use
The SLX Camp Floor uses a two-valve system for easy inflation and deflation. Inflate the mattress by attaching the included inflation sack to the inflation valve, fill it with air, and then roll up the sack, pushing air into the chambers. Our testers appreciated that the inflation sack is made of upcycled materials but found it to be relatively heavy-duty, and because of its weight, was not as easy to fill with air as some other, lighter-weight inflation bags. Because of the size of this mattress, that meant that it took more time to get the mat fully inflated.
However, the inflation valve allows for micro-adjustments to get exactly the right degree of air, and the dedicated deflation valve means that deflation is a breeze. Folding the mattress into quarters and rolling it up for storage was a piece of cake.
With an R-value of 3.2, this mattress is not intended for cold nights. A higher R-value means better insulation from the ground and the air above the ground. We could see the Primaloft Silver insulation inside the air chambers, and it works well to reflect body heat in warmer weather. Once the temperature dropped below 40 degrees, however, we were not warm. Additionally, the cold air caused the pressure in the mattress to go down, meaning we felt the ground below. This was remedied by adding air in the middle of the night but didn't allow for uninterrupted sleep.
If you camp out in spring and fall or in the higher mountains in summer, night temperatures can dip dramatically, which you should keep in mind if you like to sleep warm.
The SLX Tent Floor is super easy to use and much more comfortable than the average air mattress. It also rolls up into a very small package, especially considering its inflated size. Weighing only 2.69 pounds, this means it could easily be carried on a couple's backpacking trips, especially if one person carries the tent and the other carries the sleeping mat.
If you only want one mattress for a variety of adventures, this will not be the cushiest option, but it will be a welcome comfort for treks into the backcountry.
If you don't have a lot of room to store your gear, or if you travel in a smaller vehicle, you may place a premium on the packed size of your gear. While not as important as comfort or warmth in our metrics, it is a factor to be considered, especially if you have a lot of people to stash mattresses for. The SLX Tent Floor provides a lot of real estate of padded comfort while rolling up into a pretty small package. If you want greater comfort or camp in colder temperatures, a larger packed size will be the trade-off.
By no means the least expensive double mattress in our review, it is one of the most comfortable air mattresses that we have slept on. With an impressively small packed size and light weight, it offers a lot of versatility, especially considering the size. If you plan to hike away from your car to camp, and you camp mostly in warmer temperatures, this is a plush option that will provide a good value.
We have yet to meet an air mattress that can compete with foam in the comfort category, but the unique design of the SLX Tent Floor removes a lot of the bounce that is typical with air inflation. It is not exceptionally warm, but it packs up small, is easy to use, and sleeps two.
— Laurel Hunter
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