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Sleeping Gear The Sleeping Gear forum is for the discussion of sleeping gear (bags, mats, quilts...).

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Old 12-07-2011, 05:30 AM
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Merlyn Merlyn is offline
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Backpack: Kelty Coyote
Shelter: Lightpath 3
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Denver, Co
Posts: 9
Big Agnes Pads: Insulated Air Core vs Dual Core

So - time to buy a sleeping pad.

I am looking at the Big Agnes pads (to compliment the B/A Encampment bag I am getting) and I am kinda torn between the Insulated Air Core (22oz, 15 degree) and the Dual Core (26 oz, 0 degree).

I don't *expect* to see temps under about 20 on my trip, and I sleep pretty warm, so either would work equally well insulation wise (or so I'd think)... so I guess the real question is: Is the Dual Core more comfortable than the IAC? Enough to justify an extra 4 oz and $25?

Also, if there's a better option, I'd love to hear about it.

For comparison purposes, I am 5'3"/235 (for the moment) and a stomach/side sleeper. I looked at the Exped pads, and from what I could find, they are A) 1" wider than the pad sleeve in my bag (which is 20X66) and an ounce heavier than the Dual Core.

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:57 PM
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Slosteppin Slosteppin is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Grand Traverse County, MI
Posts: 165
I bought a BA Insulated Aircore about four years ago. I used it one night and returned it the next day. I blew up the mat just before I went to bed for the night. An hour later I blew it up again, and an hour later once more. It just would not retain air.
A week later I bought a Thermorest Neoair from a local store. I've been using the Neoair since then. It is not rated for cold but I've used it at 20 F and slept very well. Some people say it is noisy but I don't hear a problem. Some people say it is too fragile but I haven't had any problems
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:49 AM
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Benwaller Benwaller is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Backpack: Camelbak RimRunner, Osprey Volt 60, Kelty Redwing 50
Sleeping Gear: Kelty LightYear Down 20 / ENO Doublenest Hammock
Shelter: Granite Gear White Lightnin' tarp
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Sonoma County, CA
Posts: 285

My wife and I have been using IAC's for a while now and have had no problems with them in terms of durability. I can't comment on the temperature issue as we don't play in the snow.

It is important to understand the inflation process. Do not blow the thing up with your breath - these mattresses contain insulation, which, if you inflate by mouth, will become wet enough to compromise that insulation in pretty short order. And you will not be getting that moisture out of the mat any time soon.

Use the Pumphouse, offered by BA (or make your own) which is a modified dry bag with a nozzle on the end of it that allows you to use atmospheric air to inflate the mattress. Or carry a small pump - depends on how much weight you're willing to carry - because using the Pumphouse (or similar) takes a while. It's not a self-inflating mattress.

The Encampment is a good bag for stout folks or folks who get claustophobic in a mummy (me) - it has a lot of room inside. But it is pretty heavy and it is bulky, though I see that you are running a Kelty Coyote so there should be enough room in the pack. You might consider the Lost Ranger, a decent quality down version if your budget permits. I actually own an Encampment but I don't take it on the trail - I use it for truck camping (base camp). In the weeds I use its down cousin the Lost Ranger.

The "trick" to using the IAC is to not over-inflate it. It just needs to be inflated to the point where your hips don't hit the ground when you sleep on your side. Over-inflate the thing and you will over-stress it and that will lead to early failure.

Walk well and prosper.

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Old 12-11-2011, 07:47 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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Shelter: Tarp
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: California
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I switched from Thermarest to Big Agnes IAC this season and have slept on it for two weeks so far, with no leakage problems. I worry about the condensation issue also, but have used the following procedure to minimize that: After getting up in the morning, I deflate it by rolling as tight as I can, then open the valve and put it in the sun while I eat, pack, etc. At the last minute of packing, I roll the mat again, hopefully pushing out water vapor, then close the valve and pack it. If I do a layover day I can do the same drill a few times during the day, which should rid the insides of all moisture other than atmospheric.

Doing it again when I get home before storing it is also a good idea. I wonder how effective this is? I've never heard of anyone else doing it.

As far as inflating it, I usually let it sit for a while to self inflate a bit, before blowing into it. I've noticed that my favorite inflation level is pretty low - in fact the mat looks flat and limp when no weight is on it, and it took me a while to get the hang of not over-inflating it and then having to let air out every night after going to bed!
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:03 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,825
I've used the IAC in low temps down to 10F, but mostly in areas that warm up enough in the day that the ground isn't so cold. I've used it quite a bit more in the low to mid-20s, which is probably where most people would put its comfort rating. A warm sleeper should be OK to 20F. (I'm a cold sleeper).
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:06 PM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 503
I've used ThermARest pads of various models for years and have never had a problem with them. With any inflatable do not flop onto it to avoid putting undue stress on the seams.

Good note on the use of mouth to inflate. There are several makes of light pumps available.

I also use the Luxury Light cot. It is not a whole lot heavier or bulkier than many full-length pads and doesn't need inflation. Very comfortable though it does take a few minutes to assemble. You can stuff insulatng material under the cot and sleep without crushing it.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:19 AM
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corey corey is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 5
I've been using a regular BA aircore mat for a while. In cold weather I take a 48" Ridgerest SOLite to put under it. I like a lighter mat for 3 season but nothing beats the R-values of closed cell foam.

For inflation I've been using the Microburst inflator. After 20 miles on the trail the last thing I want to do is blow up a mat. At 3.5 oz with batteries, it's a piece of vanity gear I consider worth the weight.
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