As a person with sleep issues in the most comfortable of conditions, being a backpacker has always meant coming to terms with the fact that I would sacrifice restful sleep in exchange for the fresh air, the unfettered sunrise and the alarm clock of birds rousting for their breakfast. I had tried closed cell pads, self inflating mattresses (full and partial torso) and combinations of the two with little practical effectiveness. The mattresses were heavy, the pads were space-eaters and neither provided much semblance of comfort. The question in my head was what product gave greater depth than the self inflating option and yet offered the weight efficiency of closed cell foam without needing its own zip code in my pack. The answer that was suggested to me was the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Mummy Pad.
The pad sports an average weight for the full length size of 21 ounces and packs down to the size of about half that of my Alps Mountaineering full length self inflating mattress. Inflation is on the user for this one, but in less than 5 minutes, you should be able to puff your way to 2.5 inches of cushiony goodness. I was very impressed with the comfort overnight as I experienced no pressure spots on my pelvis, shoulders or elbows. Normally one who needs to reposition frequently, I was very peaceful and relatively unmoving on the Agnes overnight. No issues with cold either as it sports an R-value of 4.1. Some owners have expressed concern with reducing the R-value by using your breath to inflate the mattress and thus introducing moisture to the insulation. Because of this, some have created billows-type inflation devices that use ambient air to inflate. I have not experienced this but the coldest temperatures I used the mattress in have been ~25 degree lows. At sub-fifteen degree temperatures, I can understand the concern.
Pros for the pad are its weight, pack footprint and significant comfort over closed-cell foam or self-inflating options. Cons would be the cost compared to foam pads ($65-$85 for the Agnes), need to be inflated by human effort and the difficulty pulling moisture from the insulation once it is introduced. A great splurge add for any packer who values their rest and has tired of strapping on a 4”x22” roll onto their pack exterior.