The pillow; A primary suspect and often one of certain demise when it comes to cutting pack weight. Luckily, there are options that minimize the compromise between better sleep and minimal weight. I bring you one of the best.
Made right here in the USA, the Thermarest Compressible pillow is filled using upcycled cores from the urethane foam found in some of my favorite sleeping pads like the 2015 Prolite. The outside of the pillow is a soft brushed polyester, and has a sleeve sewn in that allows the pillow to fold into itself, packing down to a workable size. The pillow comes in 4 sizes, a variety of styles, and the medium reviewed here weighs 9 oz, is about 5 inches thick and 18 inches wide, and is available now, retailing for $23.
What I liked
The one place I always splurge in pack weight has always been my pillow. I’ve found that a good, functional pillow is the single largest determining factor in how I sleep. If my pillow isn’t comfortable, I simply do not sleep well, and wake up in a worse condition than when I laid down. Luckily, the Compressible Pillow is the most satisfying I’ve ever tested. The urethane foam fluffs up thick, and slowly melts to the shape of my head as I sleep, creating a deep, warm, and custom molded cradle around my head. This helps to align my spine, without being too tall or too short, which takes pressure off my hips and shoulders, distributing my weight perfectly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it comes in various thicknesses and sizes, which allows the user to choose the size that fits their sleep style the best. My sleep style is something of that of a seizing hippo, tossing and turning with reckless abandon through the night and this pillow provided me with support in every creative position I’ve come up with. The foam is soft, the fabric is inviting, and the design as a whole rivals that of the feather filled goodness of home.
While 9 oz isn’t going to make the UL pack lists, it’s certainly lighter than some of the other luxury pillows on the market, and it packs down to a manageable size as well. The fact that it compresses down as far as it does is impressive (about 5 inches by 12 inches). While neither stat is impressive, the comfort per ounce far surpasses anything else I’ve found.
$23 bucks and the fact that it uses upcycled materials that would otherwise be thrown out makes it doubly economical. An exceptional value.
What I didn’t like
It takes up considerably more pack space than any inflatable or even down pillow that I’ve tested. When pack size is a major concern, this could be a sticking point for many users. It packs round, and takes up about as much space as a 1 liter bottle. The odd shape makes it even more inefficient to pack, as it cannot be packed flat or into the gaps of packed tents or sleeping bags like many pillows.
Nine ounces, while not totally atrocious in my eyes, will certainly make many ultra light packers scoff.
Sleep is precious and irreplaceable. After a long, difficult day of hauling heavy packs up steep mountains the last thing I want is a terrible night’s sleep. This is why I always donate extra pack weight to my sleeping system. I want to wake up refreshed and ready to haul my home away from home to another far away peak. Shaving 4 ounces off my pack weight will not overcome the drag caused several hours of lost or poor quality sleep. The Thermarest compressible pillow manages to provide, by far, the best nights rights I have ever experienced, at a minimal weight penalty. The soft urethane foam molds to my sleeping position, and does an excellent job of not only keeping my face warm but also alleviates pain normally felt through my repeatedly abused hips and shoulders. I’ve never slept better, and because of that simply cannot leave this pillow at home.
The highest of Recommendations
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