Which Pillow is comfortable?

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    Ismail Faruqi


    Hi folks, I'm in the market for a new pillow. I found I kept waking in the night with my current setup: clothes stuffed in a stuffsack. I'm particularly looking for a pillow that wouldn't flat out while used, while staying firm attached on my pad. I'm using ZLite and Peak Elite AC combination.

    Any recommendations?


    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    The Montbell and Exped ones seem popular. Going to need some type of inflater to not flatten out during the night. The Nemo Fillo weighs too much, but is supremely comfortable in my experience. Are you a side sleeper? Toss and thrash around at night?

    Ismail Faruqi


    I am an occasional side sleeper, but I stay put while sleeping.

    edit: specifically, I don't know between a down pillow and an air pillow which is more comfortable. It seems I don't have enough clothes to fill my 8L silnylon stuffsack as a pillow.

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    I really like my Exped pillow pump.
    Its a bit heavy but I use it to inflate my Synmat .


    Talbot Hardman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    My wife and I both have the Exped air pillow. We haven't had any problem with them losing air during the night, and the only inflator required is your mouth. I think it is an especially good design for side sleepers.

    Good luck on the hunt.


    Michael Cheifetz
    BPL Member


    Locale: Israel

    Dunno what temps your thinking of…

    i usually take drybags (im…..cautious) and a 10~35 L drybag can just be rolled up with your spare cloths or whatnot and slept on. your dont have to pump it it just catches air inside.
    I know its not SUL and such – but as i said there are some things i really want to make sure stay dry and I get added benefit of a pillow

    have used the flexair a bit – and it was ok but im wary of using something fragile directly on the ground (short torso pad)


    Renais A
    BPL Member


    I bought an Exped pillow mostly for car camping, and was quite pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was, and how easy it is to use. It does not slide around much, and is suitable for both side, back and stomach sleeping. Inflating is just a matter of closing the valve, or, at most, a quick pump or two. For very light weight trips I'll leave the pillow at home, but for everything else, it comes with me. I use a stuff sack with clothes as an alternative, if really necessary, but it is no where near as comfortable. The Exped is also quite a tough cookie. I now feel comfortable using it during the day when I take a nap on the side of the trail with just a piece of ground cloth underneath. If you wanted to, it would not be hard to attach the pillow to most pads with a couple pieces of velcro or strapping, depending on the pad.

    Adam Klags
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northeast USA

    I have been using the nemo fillo:

    Ok, its heavy. I know. 10.8 oz. BUT… I am a very light sleeper. I used to hate sleeping in tents because of how uncomfortable the pillow/pad combos were, and it would prevent me from falling asleep. I got the fillo as a gift a few years ago, and I would never use anything else.

    YOU CAN MAKE A MUCH LIGHTER OPTION by just using your sleeping bag stuff sack, and putting your extra clothes/layers in there.

    BUT if you care about comfort, which it seems you do since you are asking about the most comfortable pillow, you might find it worth sacrificing weight for comfort here. I did, and I'm not sorry about it. The fillo and a neo air have allowed me to get a full night's sleep, and a good one at that, for the last few years. It has changed my entire attitude and way increased my fun level on longer trips. Also, I've never seen or used a pillow that stays put entirely. you'd have to buy a sleeping pad that was built to attach to a pillow, never seen one. Don't use that as selection criteria. Generally the pillow stays under your head, I've never had one "move" from under my head while sleeping. And I guarantee the fillo will not go flat. The best part is that you can adjust it by the amount of air you put in, and you can add more loft by attaching things to the stretchy cords underneath it. OR, you could create your own system for attaching it to your pad with those tabs and the shock cord provided.

    Mike M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    my wife and Ii have been using the lowly flexair for the last four years, very comfy (w/ the right inflation) and very (very) light''I don't see myself using another pillow backpacking (save winter where I'll spring for a down one)

    BPL Member


    The Nemo Equipment Fillo Pillow is the most comfortable pillow I have taken with me on a hike. Almost as heavy as my NeoAir though, so that could be an issue.

    Ismail Faruqi


    Thanks for the replies, it seems Nemo Fillo has good reputation here… but yes unfortunately it is in the heavier end of scale… :( btw any comment on down pillows? Maybe Goosefeet? Would they flattened out?

    nanook ofthenorth
    BPL Member


    Just got one of Bender's pillows, 1.5oz and seems comfy. A little loud though, seems these air pillows act a little like drums…

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    Down pillows. All flatten out. We by down for it's compressibility partially after all.

    Ben Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Georgia

    I use my stuffsack down pillow with a Kookabay UL pillow inside.

    Alternatively, you can use the stuffsack pillow with clothes inside – the down helps with smoothing out the bumps from your clothes or other equipment.

    Kohl Kinning


    I have many different pillows. I am extremely picky when it comes to what I lay my head on for 7 hours. I've tried both air pillows and down pillows and ended up selling every single one on the good old Gear Swap. I recently found what I believe to be the best pillow for side sleepers. You may cringe when I say this, but my backcountry pillow of choice is a Thermarest compressible pillow. After I brought it home I threw it in the washing machine (as per the instructions), and after put it in the dryer. When I took it out I was completely surprised. It came out so fluffy and firm and comfortable. It actually feels like a pillow I would use at my house, maybe even better. I am consistent side-sleeper by the way.

    James Castleberry


    I recently tried Cocoon UL Air Core and found it comfortable for the weight. Has a nice soft backing on one side. See Michael Lanza's review:

    Steve Hawkins


    Locale: Midwest

    Last few trips ive used a XL Kooka Bay pillow and couldn't be any happier. I found that a Buff will fit over it very nicely as kind of a pillow case.

    Pillow and Buff

    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    Now these observations come from a person who sleeps on his side and does flip sides a few times during the night. And I like a little bit of give to my pillow so it does not feel like my head is resting on a balloon and ready to slip off of it at any minute. I would use clothes in a stuff bag but I don't bring unneeded clothes and the extra ones I bring would not fill enough for a pillow.

    Thermarest compressible pillows – No- head bottoms out after awhile.

    Bender's – No – Even made him make me a very large one but my head would just slip all over it and really never felt comfortable.

    Montbell – No – Head just never fit right on the surfaces.

    Flexair – No – Like most air inflated pillows your head really never fits right. To get the height you have to fully inflate the thing which means your head can not sit on it correctly and then you have to let out air which reduces the height.

    Nemo – No – Just not thick enough for a side sleeper.

    Anything down – No – will not work because it ends up being about 1/2" thick when you lay your head on it.

    Cocoon Ultralight Air Core – ? – Hard to tell but it looks like it might be thick enough. Will test soon.

    Exped – ? – Looks like it might work also. Will test soon.

    Cesar Valdez


    Locale: Scandinavia

    I took a piece of foam out of an old beach mat and then sewed it inside of a small piece of nylon. It weighs 47g and is often a luxury I will take along. You can not only stuff clothing in a stuff sack, btw, you can also stuff natural materials. If you find a nice patch of dried grass/reeds/moss, it only takes you a few minutes to fill up a sack, and is more comfortable than you might think.

    There is also another great system of temporary pillows, but it requires the right location and timing. If you make camp in a very mossy area (plenty of that here in Sweden), and you also have to make a cat hole to take a dump, here is what you can do:

    1. Cut out a small rectangle of nice, soft, living moss. Don't use your knife in case there are rocks under it, you don't want to dull your blade. Just use a stick or your hand.
    2. Move the moss patch aside, dig up your cat hole, and then take a dump.
    3. Cover the dump with dirt/leaves/etc.
    4. Take the moss patch back to camp and use it as your pillow. You can put it in a stuff sack, plastic bag, or just put it under your sleeping mat/ground cover.
    5. The next day, after you break camp, go back to the spot where you took a dump and put the moss patch back.

    The moss patch should grow back. I have returned to the same spots to make camp and checked, and sure enough, it looked just the way it did before I cut out the moss patch. So don't cry hippies, it's all good. ;)

    kevperro .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Washington State

    I'm a flipper, roller, tosser and turner. I like lots of pillows at home stuffed in various spots. I've not tried them all and have no intention of doing so because I'm happy with the Exped. It is actually comfy and I'm able to sleep as comfortable as I'm going to get without multiple real pillows.

    Hamish McHamish
    BPL Member


    Locale: USA

    I am a belly/side sleeper and I have to have a decent pillow to sleep well. I tried the Kooka Bay and it wasn't that great. Now I'm using the Exped and it is excellent.

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    I also am a side sleeper and use multiple pillows when on a bed.

    Backpacking I've tried:
    – Fleece-lined stuffsack – worked well when I took too many clothes but not anymore
    – Flex-Air – Bought a case of the dual-chamber version but didn't love them and sold most of them in Gear Swap
    – Thermarest Lite-Seat – This worked okay when I let some of the air out and folded it in half and put rubber bands on the ends, but again it wasn't great

    I've got my eye on the Cocoon Hyperlite Pillow – I actually stopped at REI to pick one up but they were out of stock so I don't have it yet.

    I've switched to mostly hammocks while backpacking now and find that I really don't need a pillow at all. While I'm a side sleeper in a bed I find that I'm very comfortable on my back in a hammock without a pillow of any kind.

    scri bbles
    BPL Member


    Locale: Atlanta, GA

    My search ended with the Exped (regular, not the pump).

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Individual preference. I've liked a kids pool floatie (dual chamber) on top of shoe for height. Currently I use a Rainshield jacket in it's own stuffsack on top of my trail runners (front of shoe over toes) for height.

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