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Let's talk Pillows

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Let's talk Pillows

Postby alc101ma » Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:25 pm

I'd like to look into buying a dedicated pillow for next year's adventures. When I first started backpacking I'd use what's probably the most common solution... wadded up clothing. I've since really dialed in my clothing and now never have enough extra material to make a pillow. I've resorted to using my pack but it really doesn't lay flat and it's quite uncomfortable with pressure points and my head rolling to one side constantly. I don't ever really expect to sleep fabulous while camping but by the 3rd day of hard hiking and little sleep I really feel my energy levels getting low.

This year has been all about adding back some comforts and fun items - frying pan, trout gear, bug net, etc. - and I'm ready to add a dedicated pillow. I'm considering either one of the very small/compact inflatables (Sea to Summit / Exped / Cocoon) or a compressible foam or foam/inflatable hybrid (Therm-a-Rest / Nemo).

I have a mummy bag so my head slipping off one of the inflatables should be less of a concern as the hood should hold it in place. At home I'm a side sleeper but in the backcountry I pretty much have to rotate through everything to spread the pressure and joint pain around. I'm leaning towards going for a bit of luxury with the Therm-a-rest but I have read mixed reviews about it providing enough support for a side sleeping position.

Anyone have any feedback on the Therm-a-rest or just some advice to find a better pillow solution?

- Alan
Hiking and camping in the Bay Area and up the Pacific coast. Backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Catching backcountry trout. I write articles, stories, guides, and how to's for exploring the outdoors. http://www.loveto.camp



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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby maverick » Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:21 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby WarrenFork » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:54 pm

Almost every post in that old thread recounts making pillows out of extra clothes. I'm with the OP. I've lightened my pack to the point where I don't have enough extra gear for a decent pillow.

At the same time, shelter and sleeping comfort are the two areas where I stop counting grams with the usual rigor. I carry a Hilleberg tent and a full-length inflatable Exped sleeping pad. I've tried both the Exped inflatable pillow and the Sea to Summit Aeros and I've settled on the latter. It's a little heavier than the Exped but quite a bit more comfortable, with a wedge-shaped profile that makes it easier to dial in the amount of support that works best for me.

I borrowed a Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow once on a car camping trip and it was by far the most comfortable pillow I've used away from home. I'm a side sleeper too and it was actually so voluminous that it provided the support I required for a good night's sleep. It was heavy though and would have taken up a lot more room in my pack than the Aeros. It only costs around half as much as the Aeros so it would probably be worth trying out. If you decide it's too big or bulky you can still get your money's worth using it for weekend trips and car camping.

As a quilt user I solve the pillow-sliding-off-the-pad problem by attaching it directly to the pad with adhesive Cuben patches from Z-Packs. The patches on the back of the pillow contain mini mitten hooks that clip into patches with loops that are affixed to the pad. The set-up is virtually weightless and the adhesive hasn't failed yet.
Last edited by WarrenFork on Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby rlown » Sat Sep 05, 2015 6:16 pm

I don't see the need for a separate pillow if you have to carry a fleece jacket anyway. Maybe you don't carry such a fleece?
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby freestone » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:42 pm

As a mummy bag user, I have yet to discover a good pillow solution. Yeah, I have stuffed the jacket into the bag routine, and have the Exped pillow that everyone raves about, but what I really wish for is a pad that is UL and integrates a head and neck support. I think quilters have a better chance at traditional pillow comfort because the mummy bag design traps the arms that prevents assistance in pillow placement and fluff. This is one of the reasons why a quilt is on my wish list.
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:16 pm

On one trip, I found one of those partially deflated "happy birthday" mylar balloons and used it as a pillow for two days before it completely deflated. I wonder if you bought one, and had it only partially inflated, that it could be used? Just tie it to the top of your pack. Or maybe find a large tougher balloon that you blow up.

My "pillow" I use now starts out with my backpack. If I need more height, then I put shoes under the pack. Then a small stuff bag with clothing, including anything else such as the tent stuff sack. You could even use a bag filled with leaves or duff. Then I slip my fleece shirt over it all so that my "pillow" is soft and cuddly. If it gets cold the fleece shirt goes on me and I have to put up with a less cuddly pillow.
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Sep 06, 2015 3:49 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:My "pillow" I use now starts out with my backpack. If I need more height, then I put shoes under the pack. Then a small stuff bag with clothing, including anything else such as the tent stuff sack. You could even use a bag filled with leaves or duff. Then I slip my fleece shirt over it all so that my "pillow" is soft and cuddly. If it gets cold the fleece shirt goes on me and I have to put up with a less cuddly pillow.

This is very similar to my set up. I also have one of those little inflatable pillows and it is nice (just began using it this season), but I still shim it with the whole "stack" which can include my backpack, or possibly my rucksack/fishing gear, and/or sometimes the tent rainfly if there is no threat of rain during the night.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby markskor » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:43 am

Similar to above - works well!
MontBell inflatable pillow (2.4 oz) - http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=1124290
night-time, goes inside my fleece or down vest (plush!) and rests atop sleeping bag stuff sack.
Stuffsack stuffed with Waterproof shell, rain pants (if carried), and whatever extra clothes available, but as I seldom carry any extra clothes - one hiking shirt, one fleece, 1 down vest, and waterproof shell...extra socks and wicking undershorts are my only duplicates.
BTW, my MB pillow (always lives with sleeping bag/same sack while hiking) also serves as my life-preserver when out fishing on my Klymit LWD...multitasking.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby freestone » Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:47 pm

Looks like the Montebell pillow attaches to their pad and I think new Exped pillow also attach to the pad as well. Maybe the profile is not enough to be comfortable when attached?
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby Brien » Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:57 pm

I really like the Cocoon. Lightweight, compacts well and has two sides, one soft microfiber and the other nylon. My only beef is after I hand washed it I could never quite seem to get the inner bladder in position again.
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:06 pm

I've always kept it simple. My pad has a stuff sack which I stuff my down jacket into and that's my pillow.
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Re: Let's talk Pillows

Postby sparky » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:34 pm

my down jacket in a stuff sack is plush! couldn't ask for anything more really except maybe a pillow from home!
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