The Big Agnes Q Core SLX is a massive boat of an air mattress that packs down surprisingly small! It is decently light compared to many of the other models we tested, weighing in at just over a pound. We were eager to try this product that is reminiscent of a pool toy and had mixed feelings about it in the end. It is comfortable and an excellent choice for side sleepers, but is not incredibly warm.
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Comfortable, light, small packed size
Cons: Not very warm, can feel boaty, expensive
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We feel like we're on a big floating raft in the ocean on this colossal sleeping pad. The Q Core SLX is super thick, and you'll find yourself floating above your tent mates.
Big Agnes says the Q Core SLX is insulated with WRM high-loft synthetic insulation. Based on the pack size of this pad, we don't think there is much in there. You can feel a small layer of it when it is deflated, but based on our experience sleeping on this pad, it doesn't feel like it is very insulated. We prefer the NeoAir XLite's space blanket type insulation, which seems to create a much warmer barrier between the cold ground and your sleeping body.
The Q Core SLX is not "R-Value" rated, but Big Agnes estimates it will keep you warm up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. We would hesitate to take this pad out in temperatures that low unless you're bringing a closed cell foam pad like the Therm-a-RestZ Lite Sol and we would not recommend using it in a winter camping setting. There is a lot of cold air moving around under your body in this super thick model, with only a thin layer of insulation to protect you from the ground.
We had high hopes in this category for the Q Core SLX, though we've learned that thicker doesn't always mean better. It is a super cushy pad that is 4.5 inches thick. If you are a side sleeper, this could be a great choice for you because it's so thick your shoulders won't touch the ground. The Q Core SLX does have I-Beam construction for stability, which we noticed; however, it takes some getting used to the boaty-ness of this pad. We do like that the outer chambers are bigger and give you a cradled feeling, keeping you in the middle of the pad.
We experienced a similar feature while testing the REI AirRail, our most comfortable pad. The pad's materials are quite slippery, so if you're camped on a hill, you may find yourself at the bottom of it quickly. This model also has a one-way inflation valve that makes it easy to adjust how much air you want to keep you comfortable. It also has a gaping valve to deflate it very quickly. These valves are significant, and if they're on top when you're sleeping, you may have the indent of them on your face in the morning.
Big Agnes has used "Aviation grade TPU lamination technology" as a coating on the ripstop material, claiming it is 25% more durable than the previous model. The material has a similar "hand" or feel as the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated, though the Plus Insulated has two separate chambers. In the case of a puncture, it will still keep you off the ground.
This huge air mattress is surprisingly light compared to its inflated size. In fact, the 66-inch size, which we tested, is the second lightest model in this review. By our measurement, it weighs 16.6 ounces. The NeoAir XLite is our sveltest model at 12 ounces, and the heaviest is the hulking REI Trekker.
This one also packs down impressively small, again coming in neck and neck with the XLite. The next smallest package is the Therm-a-Rest Prolite - Women's.
We would recommend this pad for all your summer base camping and backpacking needs. We would hesitate to stretch the Q Core SLX's use into the colder seasons unless you pair it with a foam pad for better insulation. If you're a side sleeper, this could be the answer to your shoulder woes as it will keep those shoulders off the ground. It is a cushy, comfortable pad that is light and won't weigh you down on extended backpacking trips.
The Q Core SLX retails for $140, which is a decent value for a high-quality pad. If you're planning on spending a lot of time backpacking, we'd recommend dropping the extra $20 to purchase the NeoAir XTherm instead; it will save you four ounces, and you'll have more space in your pack.
This large and cushy sleeping pad packs down super small and is a decent lightweight choice for backpacking and camping. It will cradle you and rock you like you're on a boat, floating high above your tent-mate. We would use it as a summer backpacking pad, but not into the cold seasons unless we had a closed cell foam pad to provide additional insulation.
— Jessica Haist