Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra ($100)

Table of Contents

Air pad

1 lb. 6 oz.

3.25 in.


Impressive warmth and plush 3.25-inch padding for just $100.

Relatively heavy; vertical baffles are not the most comfortable design.

It’s possible to spend as much as 200 dollars (or more) for a mattress however, for backpackers with a tight budget or those who just go out for a couple of times per year the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra can do the job at a fraction of the price. In addition to the price it doesn’t have a amount that screams “budget” regarding the Air Core it comes with the generous 3.25 inches of cushioning (including 3.5 inch. tall outer chambers that keep your from drifting off to the side) and a competitive R-value of 4.5 and an 8-inch x 4 inch packed size (for an example for comparison, it’s worth noting that the Nemo Tensor above compresses to 3.5 in. x 9.5 inches.). In addition to a two-way valve that has separate openings to allow for inflation and deflation and a simple micro-adjustment system the Big Agnes also comes with an air pump bag for simple installation.

For those who don’t care about their sleep and backpackers who are recreational, or campers who have few options to compare this Air Core Ultra is fully suitable for all three seasons. However, at 1 pound 6.8 ounces in weight, the Air Core Ultra is very light. Most are agreeing that vertical baffles don’t feel as comfortable as boxed or horizontal baffles such as those with these models: the NeoAir XLite below and Ether Light above. Overall, it’s an impressive pad that costs only $100, and side sleepers are particularly enthused by the soft 3.25-inch thickness. For backpacking in warm weather, Big Agnes also makes the Air Core Ultra (non-insulated) with a non-insulated design that comes with an R-value of 1.4 and costs only $70.