The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite Review

This air mattress inflates to a huge comfy pad but packs down very small
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $130 List | $97.39 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, light, small packed size
Cons:  Not very warm, can feel boaty, expensive
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 23, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Packed Size - 15% 10

Our Verdict

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. It's an excellent option for your next car camping adventure or for floating in a reservoir.

Product Renamed

Big Agnes renamed this mat the Insulated Q-Core SLX, and there are some minor updates, which we detail below.

April 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Insulated Q-Core SLX vs. Q-Core SLX


Big Agnes tells us that the updated Insulated Q-Core SLX is essentially the same design as last year's pad — they've just changed the name and included an inflation sack. The previous model was also insulated; this year's model, however, has changed some of the internal organization of the insulation. The R-Value is 3.2. The model we tested, the "Petite" size, is no longer referred to as petite and is just denoted by its dimensions of 20" x 66". The latest model is shown below in green (first image) followed by the older model in yellow.


We're now linking to the latest version of the pad and expect it to perform similarly as the model we tested here.

Hands-On Review of the Q-Core SLX


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.

The Q-Core SLX inflates to a huge  thick sleeping pad that takes up a lot of space.
The Q-Core SLX inflates to a huge, thick sleeping pad that takes up a lot of space.

Warmth


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.

The Q Core SLX now has an R-value of 3.2; this is at the lower end of warmth, and we would hesitate to take this pad out in cold temperatures unless you're bringing a closed-cell foam pad like the Therm-a-RestZ Lite Sol. 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.

The Q-Core SLX is a comfortable choice for side sleepers. You will be three inches higher than your tentmate.
The Q-Core SLX is a comfortable choice for side sleepers. You will be three inches higher than your tentmate.

Comfort


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 an excellent 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.

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.

The Q-Core SLX inflates to a huge  thick sleeping pad that takes up a lot of space.
The Q-Core SLX inflates to a huge, thick sleeping pad that takes up a lot of space.

Durability


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 Q-Core SLX has I-beam stabilizers built into its construction for extra stability on this boat.
The Q-Core SLX has I-beam stabilizers built into its construction for extra stability on this boat.

Weight


This huge air mattress is surprisingly light compared to its inflated size. The 66-inch size, which we tested, is one of the lighter models in this review, pretty light compared to how big it gets. By our measurement, it weighs 16.6 ounces.

Packed Size


This one also packs down impressively small, coming in neck and neck with the smallest of the bunch.

The NeoAir XLite and the Q-Core SLX have about the same packed size.
The NeoAir XLite and the Q-Core SLX have about the same packed size.

Value


The Q Core SLX 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 few dollars to purchase the NeoAir XTherm instead; it will save you four ounces, and you'll have more space in your pack.

The Q-Core has an ample rectangular shape.
The Q-Core has an ample rectangular shape.

Conclusion


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.

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.

Jessica Haist