Gear Guide: Ultralight Inflatable Pillows

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Gear Guide: Ultralight Inflatable Pillows

Viewing 19 posts - 26 through 44 (of 44 total)
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    Andy Dixon


    If i recall correctly Hendrik recently did a comprehensive review of the pillow X on his site

    victoria maki
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern Minnesota

    I have a Exped Air Pillow in burganday and a down pillow by Western Mountaineering(Cloudrest down Pillow). I put the two together, the down pillow up top, in a light weight pillow case I made from an old zippered pillow case (cut it down on the opposite side of the zipper). I am a side sleeper and found this works perfectly. I have neck problems and need support. I also use the REI(tiny pillow) between my knees. I am very happy with this system.

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    I love my Big Sky DreamSleeper Deluxe inflatable pillow after 12 nights backpacking:
    I'm a rotisserie sleeper with big shoulders. Fully inflated, the DreamSleeper is perfect for me for both side sleeping and back sleeping, and easy to move out of the way for stomach sleeping. The pillow case is luxurious with slight padding that prevents that icky sleeping-on-plastic feeling. The brushed polyester-feeling cover is sticky enough to keep the pillow from sliding.

    Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl like the DreamSleeper, too:

    Without the padded pillow case Big Sky claims 1.4 oz, $24.95 (on sale now for $19.95)

    I always use mine with the pillow case, mine weighs 3.6 ounces (Big Sky says 4.1 oz), $34.95.

    Tip for inflatable pillow users: Warm air from your lungs will shrink on cold nights, causing a mushy pillow which you might mistake for a slow leak. Top it off with a few puffs just before you go to sleep.

    — Rex

    Ben Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Georgia


    I believe that the pillow that Ryan uses has 1.5oz of down. That is generally what I recommend for usage with an air pillow.

    Make sure to add the stuffsack pocket if you want to use it with an inflatable!


    – Ben Smith
    GooseFeet Gear

    Petter Dahle Blindheim


    Klymit Pillow X – 59 grams in stuffsack on my scale.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Both Sue and I love our Exped Synmat UL-7s. Since we have 2 of them it makes sense to take the Exped pillow-pump to blow them up. This means we are not inject moisture into the mat from our mouths, which on a long trip in cold weather can only be good. It also measn that the air put into the mats is cold rather than hot, so the mat does not go soft after a while. But since we have it, I also use it as a pillow – almost free.
    Yes, I do put a UL sort-of-buff over one side for my head. That gets washed at the end of the trip.


    Jim Milstein


    Locale: New Uraniborg CO

    I agree with Sara's comments, and the weight of my Pillow X is the same as Klymit's.

    Another virtue of the PX is the x-grooves, which are helpful when sleeping face down. The grooves can keep nostrils from being compressed. Breathing freely while sleeping is recommended by most health professionals and other living beings with lungs.

    Scott Chandler
    BPL Member


    Locale: Reno area

    The one point I feel most pillow manufacturers are missing is thickness for side sleepers. If you put your shoulder against a wall and measure the distance to your ear, it's likely in the realm of 7.5" – 8". Sure, your shoulder sinks into your air mattress, reducing this distance, but I still find none of the pillows thick enough. I've resorted to a special case and two inflatable pillows to make my backcountry nights very pleasant indeed. You can see the whole story here:

    Michael Ray
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    > I have finally resolved, after three years of experimentation, that a large sized (wide) Neoair Xlite with the end folded over and held in place with my belt is THE answer for me.

    Interesting idea. I don't have a belt but will experiment since I just moved from a small Neoair to a large, which is way too long for me. As a roly-poly side sleeper though the extra width should be great.

    > I'm waiting for someone to chime in about Mike Clelland's onion net full of zip-lock bags. I haven't actually met anyone whose tried that one yet!

    I attempted it but could never get either Walmart or Ziploc brand bags to hold air overnight.

    I had been using an Exped pillow pump. It was quite comfy and I was using it to fill up my Neoair but realized there was no major benefit since it has no traditional insulation to speak of. It was also 5.5 oz and has since split at the seams twice. Their repair glue worked great the first time but had hardened by the second time I needed it for the opposite side so it's still leaky. My young son uses it since it still has foam.

    In the spirit of ultralight, I now use a 2L Platypus so it's multi-purpose. I lay my bandana on top so I don't stick to it though I must say trying my son's fleece jacket this past trip was much nicer. I've used it empty and with some water but never totally full since it wouldn't cradle the head very well then. If it's really cold water, it would be uncomfortable for a while but I haven't had that issue yet.

    Carol Crooker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Desert Southwest, USA

    My favorite pillow is not on the list, the Big Sky DreamSleeper, $20, 1.4 oz. It cradles my head (it's lower in the center), is softer than other lightweight inflatable pillows I've tried, and is thick enough that I can use it back or side sleeping. Love it! I put my shoes under it and it is just the right height at the end (off the end) of my Neoair.

    For me, some type of pillow is a must. I find that the one thing that keeps me from sleeping is when I'm sleeping on my side and my head droops down. I've put shoes under a blown up Platypus, but need more height. I'm often wearing all my clothing, so I can't stuff extra clothes into a stuff sack. For me, the extra 1.4 oz is worth the great sleep I get.

    Greg Johnson


    Opinions on this piece of gear are all over the board, just like shopping for a mattress. The exped m and exped ul m I have utilized the past couple years. Very comfortable for me ie different heights on each side of the pillow for side vs. back sleep. I prefer the surface texture of the reg vs. the ul, but as mentioned earlier,after sliding a buff over it the wgts are the same. Rather feel the buff, as the the pillow surface.

    Jeffs Eleven
    BPL Member


    Locale: NePo

    Re: the clelland idea- has reusable ballons. Some of which are touted as "winter proof"

    Christopher Gilmore
    BPL Member


    Locale: Eureka

    So I ordered the sea to Summit large and the Exped UL large and neither of them worked well for me.

    However the Big Sky Dream Sleeper is still my go to pillow and my wife tried all of the ones I ordered in addition to the ones I already had and had me order a big sky for her too.


    Chris Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Berkshires

    I think a pillow is pretty important for a good night's sleep. As a separate item it fails my multiple use requirement. I go with Mike Clelland's suggestion of using a stuff sack with ziplock bags. I use about six, semi-inflated baggies in a cotton bag that at other times carries my long underwear. With a hat on my head is warm enough.

    Tolt R
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    A lot of these pillows look like great seats for an un-rigged packraft. Do any of these manufacturers brag about their product being strong enough to sit on? Are there any samples left to do destructive testing on?

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Regardless of manufacturer claim, I'm sure this would work well. I use my Thermarest (XS, folded in thirds) as a packraft seat with no issues.

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I am a slide sleeper.

    I have successfully used two 1-gallon ziploc bags (one inside the other) with a bandana on top for one-week trips. Don't know about their durability for longer trips. The thickness works well for me. It's not "stable" like the flatter pillows in the article, but I use it inside my sleeping bag, which pretty much keeps it in place, and I guess I don't move around much at night, since I haven't had any real issues with staying on top of it. 18 grams/.64 oz.

    For at least 20 years I have mainly used a 2-gallon REI water bag that I've had even longer than that. It has been used as a water bag and pillow on many week-long trips. More stable than the ziplocs and easier to fill and adjust. I also use it inside my bag. Extremely durable, never leaked. 117 grams/4.2 oz.

    Both the ziploc bags and the REI water bag are multipurpose. I use them for campsite water bags and to carry extra water when I need more than the 48 oz that my water bottles hold, in which case I carry them in the large outside pouch on the back of my G4 with my rain shell folded over it to prevent punctures by random branches and trail hazards.

    The REI bag is certainly more versatile and easier to use than the ziplocs, with its carry/hang handle and a pinch valve, but at a significant weight penalty over the ziplocs. On the other hand, it is probably lighter than the combination of a single-use pillow and anything else that will hold an extra 1-2 gallons of water.

    Obviously wouldn't even attempt either one as a packraft seat.

    Stefan Hoffman
    BPL Member


    Locale: High Desert

    I have had my Exped Air pillow (size med) for about 4 years, used it lots and loved it. I had no problems with it until recently. At some point, the baffles popped out of the middle of the pillow, like the welds gave way. Even still, the pillow held air as it always has.

    I emailed Exped, explained the issue, and they asked for two pictures; one with the pillow inflated, and one with the corner of the pillow cut off. The email responses were almost instant, like within 5 minutes. So i took the inflated picture, and then cut the corner off. The inside of the pillow is fascinating. It has the outer shell and an inner layer that feels like a condom, and the two layers had de-laminated.

    So i took the pictures, gave my info and a new pillow is on the way. That simple. Amazing service. According to the exped site, the UL version carries a 2 year warranty and the others are 5, but some retailers claim its lifetime.

    PS there is also an Exped Air Pillow XL now. 20.5 × 13.4 × 5.1 in, 3.7oz

    Michael M
    BPL Member


    The best and lightest pillow I’ve ever used backpacking was made from a thin, disposable grocery vegetable baggie I had with me which I filled with dry fir cones and covered with an extra shirt. It was sort of like a little bean bag pillow. Wonderful!

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