ProView – Big Agnes Hazel SL 15 & Air Core Ultra
Good news for every outdoorswoman! The game has truly been changed. Big Agnes is taking sleeping comfort and technology to the next level with their new line of sleeping bags and pads. The Hazel SL 15* is a one-of-a-kind sleeping bag with so much thought and effort put into it, it makes you want to send thank you cards to Big Agnes for looking after the fairer sex so well. Pair that with the Air Core Ultra, which is rightly a step above other well-priced pads in terms of comfort, packability, and function, and you’ve got yourself an incredible night’s sleep ahead of you. I used this sleeping combo across the deserts of Utah and Colorado and have never slept comfier.
I am 5’4 so I got petite in both the sleeping bag and pad. The mummy style sleeping bag was long enough for me, but I felt like the body was a little tight. I move around a lot so I would have appreciated the extra 2 inches of width that the regular size bag has. The hood was super cozy and is adjustable with a simple pull tab to get that perfect fit. The petite sleeping pad was just long enough for me and was wide enough.
Big Agnes Hazel SL 15
Let me just say: this sleeping bag and pad combo rocks. The Hazel SL 15* (and the 25* option) is an incredible sleeping bag. It is the first bag to offer a way to cinch down the lower half of the bag to make it warmer and cozier as needed. You can also cinch down the end to make your bag shorter to kill dreaded open space around your feet on those extra cold nights.
It also comes with an ingenious way to convert its large storage bag (called REM Pad Sleeve in this application) into a place holder for your sleeping pad. No more rolling off your pad in the middle of the night! It’s amazing, you can toss and turn all you want and you stay square on top of your pad. The REM Pad Sleeve fits all Big Agnes sleeping pads. You attach the REM Pad Sleeve to the back of the sleeping bag using 6 clasps.
The clasps are a little tricky to get on at first go, presumably so they don’t come off easy during the night. Once you’ve got it on, slide your pad into the sleeve and there ya go! It’s fast and easy. The best part is, once you clasp the sleeve onto the bag it can be stuffed inside itself for a large storage option or you can stuff the whole thing into a small stuff sack for travel. No need to undo and redo the clasps!
They added a few loops in the inside of the bag for attaching a liner and a small zippered inside pocket to stash stuff in. The down Big Agnes uses is DownTek which is 30% less absorbent than regular down and dries 60% faster. The outer nylon is also treated with a water repellent coating, so even if you’re sleeping under the stars and a freak rain storm comes, you won’t lose all functionality of your bag.
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
The Air Core Ultra is the best pad I’ve come across compared to other brands at a great price. The regular pad weighs a mere 18oz. When packed up it is slightly larger than a Nalgene. Somehow, Big Agnes has taken this light and compact size and created an incredibly thick and comfy pad.
The air intake and outtake valves are worthy of praise, in their own right. The intake valve is one way so you can take a more lax approach to inflating it. Gone are the days of losing bits of air every time you take a breath. The outtake valve is simply an open hole that deflates the pad 95% in seconds.
Big Agnes included a repair kit with 3 patches and instructions. Something I find highly gratifying is the stuff sack is larger than necessary. I was able to roll up my pad and easily fit it in the stuff sack first try! That never happens. Big Agnes calls this pad a 35* but I was in low 30s temps without feeling the slightest chill from the cold ground.
Things I love about the Hazel SL 15
- Ability to adjust down the size of the bag for colder weather
- Silky smooth zipper operation
- REM pad sleeve feature is incredibly useful and functional
- Amazingly cozy
- Two sizes of stuff sacks
Things I love about the Air Core Ultra
- Incredibly small and light
- Intake valve is extremely efficient with no lost air
- Outtake valve allows pad to deflate almost instantly
- Ample sized stuff sack
Room for improvement
- The Hazel SL 15’s petite size is a little too snug for my comfort
The Final Word
I’ve said it once but I’ll happily say it again, this Big Agnes System is awesome! If I had ordered the regular size sleeping bag, I doubt I would have anything negative to say about this set up. There are so many good, functional ideas integrated into the Hazel SL it’s crazy no one thought of them before. The Air Core Ultra is an awesome sleeping pad that I was insanely comfortable on all night. Its lightweight and compact size means you won’t have to think twice about bringing it along on a backpacking trip to make all your friends jealous. Big Agnes has taken outdoor comfort to a new level.
About the Gear Tester
Mollie Bailey started climbing in 2011 in Sand Rock, Alabama. She quickly realized from those wonderful outings that an outdoor life was the one for her. She migrated to Colorado shortly after to pursue the outdoor lifestyle that’s overwhelmingly present in the West. She has been a Rock Climbing Guide since 2013; and loves to teach and share the world of climbing with everyone. You can find her on her days off with her two big dogs, chasing sunshine wherever possible, planning the next adventure. Follow along @adventurethrulens