Big Agnes Insulated Air Core REM Sleeping Pad Review
For nearly a year, I've been using a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core REM sleeping pad when camping. My previous pad--a 9-year-old one-inch thick self-inflating Therm-a-Rest pad--wasn't in terrible condition, but it was wearing out. The foam inside the pad was starting to deteriorate. The Insulated Air Core REM sleeping pad is a great replacement.
The Big Agnes pad is about the same size as my previous pad (20 × 72 inches), but is much thicker. 2-1/2 inches makes for a much more comfortable night's rest than the 1-inch pad did! Plus, it rolls up significantly smaller than the previous pad (about 4 × 10 inches versus 6 × 12 inches) and is a good bit lighter (1-1/2 pounds versus 2-1/2 pounds). This is not a self-inflating pad; it's an air mattress you need to blow up.
The pad also comes with a repair kit in its stuff sack. This is a nice touch, but I wonder if I'll ever need it. I never punctured my Therm-a-Rest, and the REM pad seems to be made of heavier material.
There are two versions of the REM pad: Air Core and Insulated Air Core. The Air Core pad is rated for down to 35 degrees, and the Insulated Air Core is rated for down to 15 degrees thanks to some PrimaLoft insulation. I don't dispute the 15 degree rating; I'd say it's pretty correct (for me, at least).
In colder sleep conditions I layer a Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest under me (as in the photo at the right). There's obviously a huge thickness difference--and therefore comfort difference--but the closed-cell pad is amazing at insulating on cold nights. I used the RidgeRest in combination with my old self-inflating pad, and I use it now with the Big Agnes pad. Between the two, it keeps me much warmer than either can alone.
I don't hesitate to recommend the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core REM sleep pad. It packs smaller and lighter than most self-inflating pads and being thicker, it's more comfortable, too. Add in the fact that it's priced similarly to most self-inflating pads and that it's a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice, and I think it's a winner!