Big Agnes Rapide SL Review

I tested the Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated sleeping pad and this is my verdict.

September 21, 2023
If you purchase a product from one of our links below, we may earn a percentage from one of our affiliate partners. This does not impact how we review products. Read more about our review process and affiliate partners.

The Rapide SL Insulated pad is lightweight, comfortable, and perfect for three seasons. With I-Beam construction, the pad provides multi-directional support for stability and comfort. Featuring PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation, it has an R Value of 4.2. Easy to inflate and deflate, it's the perfect choice for its packability for any adventure.

Product Overview

Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated

Price: $149.95 to $299.95

Compare Prices at 4 Stores

big agnes rapide sl insulated
Pros

✅ Quilted top provides a cushioned pillowy sleeping surface

✅ Small pack size

✅ Lightweight

Cons

❌ Heavier inflation sack

❌ Not easily repairable

KEY SPECS

  • Size: 20” x 72” (multiple sizes available)
  • Weight: 19 oz
  • R Value: 4.2
  • Packed Size: 4.5” x 8”
  • Thickness: 4.25”
  • Material: Nylon double rip-stop fabric
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation
  • Valve: Quick-deflation valve
  • One-way inflation valve with micro air-pressure adjust button

When choosing a sleeping pad, there are only a few factors to consider: How comfortable do you want to be? What season(s) will you be camping in? How much weight do you want to carry?

The good news is, as the outdoor industry continues to incorporate lightweight materials into their backpacking product designs, you do not have to completely sacrifice comfort as you shave ounces off your pack weight. In fact, you might be able to add comfort while shaving ounces off your pack weight! The Rapide SL maximizes comfort while minimizing weight which is exactly what I need.

To see reviews on other ultralight sleeping pads, see our post on the best sleeping pads.


Performance Test Results

How We Tested:

Recently tested during the summer for 492 miles on the Colorado Trail. Conditions were moderate temperatures, with lows in the high 30s overnight at higher elevations, and as warm as the low 90s during the day. In addition, the same pad has been used extensively in Arizona, under more extreme conditions with higher temperatures and rougher terrain.

WEIGHT

When compared to entry-level sleeping pads, which can weigh over 5 lbs., the Rapide SL weighs in at only 19 ounces, shaving pounds off your loadout. In addition, the small, pack size of 4.5” x 8” takes up very little room in your pack. Combined with the Big Agnes Anvil Horn sleeping bag, an additional Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL closed cell pad for an additional 2.0 R Value and pad protection, and the Sea to Summit Aeros pillow, this is one of the most comfortable sleep systems I have ever slept on in the backcountry.

COMFORT

The quilted Rapide SL is a side sleeper's dream! If you are a side sleeper like me, you will immediately appreciate the thickness of this pad. The high-volume valve allows for efficient and easy inflation, super-fast deflation, and micro adjustments which can be made while you are laying on the pad to soften or firm up the feel for personalized comfort. This is the key to a successful night’s sleep – personalize your level of comfort.

Find the exact firmness you need to keep your hip and shoulder from resting on the hard ground and ensure a comfortable night of deep sleep. If you are a back or stomach sleeper, you too will appreciate the added comfort of a thicker sleeping pad, without having to sacrifice extra weight.

big agnes rapide sl close up features

The thickness of Rapide SL pad immediately appeals to side sleepers like me.

WARMTH

R Value is an outdoor industry standard that requires every pad to be thoroughly tested and then rated based on insulating performance from 1 to 5. The higher the number, the warmer the pad. With a 4.2 R Value, the insulated Rapide SL pad could be used in all 4 seasons, however, additional protection might be warranted when sleeping directly on snow and ice.

This is where a thinner, closed cell pad like the Z-Lite SOL that I use, or Big Agnes’s TwisterCane BioFoam pad can be placed underneath. This adds an additional 2.0 R Value with the SOL or 1.7 R Value with the TwisterCane while providing extra protection between the ground and the inflatable pad. If you are a cold sleeper, this method might provide the extra warmth you need.

While this added protection does require carrying additional weight (both the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL and the Big Agnes TwisterCane weigh in at 14 oz), it might be worth the added weight to ensure a warm night and protect against rugged terrain.

If you do use a closed cell pad as an underlayment, be sure to inspect the pad thoroughly. These pads are usually strapped to the outside of a backpack, where thorns, stickers, pine needles, and other sharp objects can easily attach themselves. Be sure no sharp objects are embedded before lying your inflatable pad on top.

big agnes rapide sl close up features

With a 4.2 R Value, it’s suitable for all seasons, but additional protection may be needed when resting on snow and ice.

DESIGN & FEATURES

For those who spend time in the backcountry, you know it’s nearly impossible to find a perfectly flat camp spot every night. With the 4.25” thick side walls and a 3.5” center, the Rapide SL design helps to keep you centered on the pad, so those long nights of waking up every hour to reposition yourself are over!

In addition to the noticeable cradling effect of the unique design, Big Agnes offers the Big Agnes System – a Flex Pad Sleeve on the bottom of many sleeping bag models, like a fitted sheet, that locks the sleeping pad to your sleeping bag. Not only does the pad design help to keep you centered on the pad but the pad itself is locked onto your sleeping bag so you cannot slide off. The result is an incredibly comfortable sleep system with much less tossing and turning throughout the night.

big agnes rapide sl close up features

Less tossing and turning during the night is possible thanks to Rapid SL’s design for a comfortable sleep.


Shop here

Breven Clark photo

About Breven Clark

Breven has completed the 800 mile Arizona Trail and the 500 mile Colorado trail along with dozens of difficult, multi-day adventures throughout Arizona. In addition to supporting fellow long-distance hikers on the AZT, Breven spends most of his free time backpacking the Superstition Wilderness. His adventures are featured on his YouTube channel, MoonJuice Hikes.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Stoveless Backpacking Meals
  • 650-Calorie Fuel
  • No Cooking
  • No Cleaning