Sleep is important to me, and especially when I am on the trail. After a long day (or even a short day) of trekking up and down and through the mountains, proper rest is much appreciated and more importantly needed. However, in order for me to get a good night’s sleep, there are certain things that I require. Namely, a comfortable (enough) bed to lie in. For myself, this includes a plush and comfortable air pad, a warm and cozy down sleeping bag (or quilt) and of course an adequate place to rest my head…that is pillow.
I am a side sleeper. I begin the night by lying on my back but as I begin to drift off, I assume the fetal position, that is, on my side. And for me, being a side sleeper demands a certain amount (height) of pillow. I have tried those things such as putting extra clothes in a stuff sack, putting my boots under my head or using my backpack but these things have not worked for me. I have found that I need a pillow, a real pillow. So, I have come to the conclusion that a pillow will make its way into my pack whenever I head out on the trail. Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t find the lightest on that works though…
As I have mentioned above, pillow height is the real factor that I need when I look for a pillow. When I lay on my side my head needs to rest pretty close to level with the rest of my body in order for me to be comfortable. I have found that “filled” pillows (whether it be down or synthetic) simply won’t cut it for me. Sure, they work at home, but my house pillows are a bit larger than my backpacking pillows. They are filled with enough “fill” to provide vertical support.
So, I narrowed my search down to air pillows. The air will allow a set amount of loft to remain present even when I lay my head down on the pillow. Granted these types of pillows are not necessarily the most plush pillows, but they do provide the support that I need. As long as this need is fulfilled, I can tolerate less than the desired amount of comfort and make it work for me.
So,I have been very happy with my Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow. The pillow offered my needed amount of vertical support, and it was pretty comfortable and light to boot. So, I thought that I was all set…
Then I came across these Flex Air Ultralight pillows over on Antigravity Gear. Two things immediately drew my attention.
- Price: $7.99 for 3!
- Weight: Listed at 0.9 oz!
I was placing an order from AGG at the time and upon seeing these felt that I would be a fool not to give them a try too. Worse case scenario, I would not like them and would be out $8 (although they would still make great loaner pillows). Or, on the other hand, I would hardly miss the dough and like them, have 2 on back-up, and even better, drop 2+ oz off of my current pillow weight!
Well, I won’t keep you in suspense, I do like them!
Once I received them and put them on my scales I found that the pillow with the straw weighs in at 0.9 oz (26 grams), so the listed weight was right on the money! Score…and bye bye extra weight! Also, for you gram weenies, the pillow without the straw weighed in at 0.8 oz, or 24 grams. (According to the Jolly Green Giant, these pillows can be inflated without the straw, and deflated with a simple stick. So, the straw can be left behind… 🙂 )
Constructions is simple. The pillow appears to simply be a piece of material folded in half and then heat sealed around the 3 unsealed edges, and the valve is in one corner. The exterior is a “soft and durable non-woven poly exterior” which is not uncomfortable when in direct contact with my skin (although it isn’t my pillow at home either). The straw is a common straw, nothing special.
So far I have got to say that I am happy with this pillow. I have only used it on three nights so far, and based on this use so far I do not see why it will not last for a number of nights more. Regardless, at the price point for 1 (~ $2) I cannot complain too much anyway.
I will continue to carry a straw to inflate/deflate the pillow, but as I mentioned in my video, I will get a nice neon colored straw so that it will be easier to spot while on the trail. And thanks to the Green Giant’s advice, I should be ok even if I were to lose the straw.
As far as durability, I will pay close attention to both the seams and the valve as I believe that these would be the weak points on the pillow (not that I find them to be weak at this point though). However, due to the simplicity of the pillow, the only other actual remaining factor is the material that pillow is made of. As long as I keep sharp objects away from it though I believe that this will not prove to be a problem. (Of course though, this is only speculation at this point).
When deflating the pillow I have not been able to get every bit of the air out. Don’t get me wrong, I can get about 99% of the air out, but just not all of it. The reason I bring this up is because this could be a problem if packed the wrong way. If the pillow is rolled up too tight with air remaining in the pillow and pressure is applied, the pillow could presumably pop just as a balloon under pressure. I am not sure how much pressure would be required to achieve this, but with enough it will definitely happen. To counter this, when I pack the pillow I only fold the pillow once and place the pillow in the pack. This should prevent too much pressure being put upon the entire pillow at once. So far it has worked.
In the end, I am definitely happy with my decision to get these pillows. They are very inexpensive and in respect to actual weights, they have saved an enormous amount of weight (about 70% of my previous pillow weight). But more importantly, they have provided me with a supportive as well as comfortable place to lay my head at night and has resulted in a great nights rest. For this I am most happy!