Big Agnes Hinman

Big Agnes Hinman

Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Hinman
$70, 2 lbs. 4 oz. (20x72x1.5)
Sizes: five sizes from 20x48x1.5 ins. ($60) to 25x78x2.5 ins. ($90) and a double air mat, 50x78x.25 ($200).
bigagnes.com

Camp in winter or on snow almost anytime of year, and what’s between you and the frozen ground will loom just as important in keeping you warm as your bag. Three cold, clear January nights sleeping under the stars (sans tent) outside a yurt (my family was inside) in Idaho’s Boise Mountains left me impressed with this insulated air mat designed for winter camping, with a rating of -5° F.

With nighttime low temperatures ranging from the teens to 21° F, I slept in the Big Agnes McAlpin SL down bag (rated 5° F), two of those nights with a regular-length Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol foam pad under the Hinman, and one night without that additional insulation. I spent one night directly on snow and the other two on the yurt’s cold, partly ice- and snow-covered deck. I slept soundly and warm every night—but that bag would have been as comfortable as an emergency bivy sack without good insulation beneath me. Even when sleeping on only the Hinman, I could not feel the frozen yurt deck underneath it. A high-density foam core gives this air mat ample insulation and cushion. The mat’s polyester exterior appears to be very durable. On the downside, it’s quite bulky, roughly the dimensions of an original Therm-A-Rest air mattress.

Another favorite winter air mattress, the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir All Season, is about half the weight and less than half the bulk of the Hinman, but also more than twice the price. Looking for an ultralight air mattress for three-season camping? See my review of the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite air mattress and Z Lite Sol foam pad and my review of the Exped SynMat UL 7 air mattress. I also never sleep outside without my Cocoon Ultralight AirCore Pillow.

See also my related Pro Tips articles “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu. See more reviews of backpacking gear I like by clicking on the “backpacking gear reviews” tag in the tag cloud in the left sidebar.

—Michael Lanza