GooseFeet Gear Stuff Sack Down Pillow Case & Large Exped “UL” Air Pillow

P1000455I am one of those hikers that carries a pillow when backpacking. A pillow is a must in order for me to get the best nights sleep possible, so I am comfortable with taking a weight penalty in order to make this happen. In the past I have tried a number of different pillows, as well as pillow cases, and while they all pretty much worked out one way or another, they weren’t perfect for one reason or another. To be fair though, I have come to the conclusion that the only way I will get that perfect pillow like the one at home is to actually carry the one from home, but this just ain’t going to happen! Not only is it too heavy, but it is also way too bulky…

A while back I had the privilege of hiking with Ben from GooseFeet Gear and got to check out his pillow set-up, which I found to be quite interesting. What drew me to it the most I think is that the pillow was so big. One of the problems I had with other pillow set-ups was that they were a little narrow, and at times I found that my head would tend to slip off of one of the sides. The pillow that Ben was using was wider though, so I knew that I would have to check it out.

Ben’s pillow was actually made up of 2 parts: the inside was the Exped “UL” Air Pillow (in a size large) and the outside was his own Stuff Sack Down Pillow Case.

P1000463

The Exped pillow I ordered from REI came in before the pillow case I had ordered from Ben. After getting the Exped pillow in, my mind started turning. The one thing that I knew I needed was a way to secure the pillow to the air pad in order to keep it in place (similar to the Monkey Pillow Case from Wallace Hunter). I noticed that the Exped pillow actually has a loop on each side of the pillow that I could easily attach a piece of shock cord to, which could be used to hold the pillow in place. So I messaged Ben and asked him if he could install a grommet in the closed end of the pillow case. He informed me that he didn’t have any grommets on hand so instead he put a single, small loop on the closed end.

As I mentioned in my down pants post, I love ordering items from GooseFeet Gear for the simple fact that I can choose exactly what I want the product to be. For the pillow case, I was able to choose what sort of material I wanted (gray 10D), the size (which was custom to fit the Exped pillow) and the amount of down inside the pillow top (1 oz).

When the pillow case from Ben arrived I found that the loop actually works quite well (better than the grommet would have worked I believe). I simply tied off a piece of 1/16″ shock cord to one of the loops on the Exped pillow, then attached a mitten hook to the other end of the shock cord. Now I can just slide the pillow into the stuff sack pillow case with the end that has the shock cord attached facing out. I cinch up the pillow case, which holds the pillow inside the pillow case, and then hook the mitten hook to the loop on the closed end of the pillow case. Then I just slip the pillow over my air pad, with the shock cord under the air pad. So far, this has worked out quite well.

So, what are my thoughts on it so far?

The Exped pillow is more comfortable than other air pillows I have used simply due to its size. The larger width does indeed increase the amount of comfort for me. As well, the pillow provides enough support (thickness) to properly support my head and neck.

The GooseFeet Gear pillow case has also been a great choice. The 10D material has a nice hand to it, so it is comfortable to me next-to-skin. And the down does a great job at dampening the feel of laying my head on an air pillow by lofting up around my head and neck and actually replicating the feel of a real pillow. As a bonus, the down will also help keep my neck and face warm in the colder seasons. I am not sure if this will be a downfall during the warmer months though…

And of course I have to talk about the weights. After all, I am a bit of a gram counter, and despite the fact that I am willing to take the hit of a weight penalty on a specialized item such as a pillow, it does need to be as light as possible. In my opinion though, this set-up offers a great weight/comfort ratio, and I deem it worthy to be placed in my pack… So, how about the weights then:

  • GooseFeet Gear Stuff Sack Down Pillow: 1.6 oz
  • Large Exped “UL” Air Pillow (No stuff sack): 2 oz
  • Shock Cord w/ Mitten Hook: 0.1 oz

When I put all the components of this pillow set-up on my scale, it fluctuates between 3.6 & 3.7 oz. For a more definite number, it sits pretty firmly at 104 grams.

So, do you use a pillow, and if so, what do you use?

~Stick~

Disclaimer: I paid the full price for both, the Exped pillow ($55) and the GooseFeet Gear pillow case ($41). I am not affiliated with any of the companies listed in this post. This post reflects my own thoughts and expectations of this particular pillow set-up. I am not getting anything in return for writing this post, other than the fact that I can share this information with my readers… so thank you for reading!

 

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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25 Responses to GooseFeet Gear Stuff Sack Down Pillow Case & Large Exped “UL” Air Pillow

  1. lizz22ee says:

    They no longer have the option for the stuffsack on the website, what size of pillow did you buy?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Liz,

      It is there. There are drop down boxes for different options. Click on the one for pillow sizes and choose “Exped UL Large.”

      ~Stick~

      Like

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  7. Mike says:

    I havein the past looked high and low for a comfortable pillow. Spent a lot of money before I found one. The problem is that it is bulky and heavy. So I guess I’m still looking. Slick how do you think this would work with a flexpillow?
    Also I’ll take a spare shirt and slip it over my pad and slid a pillow between the shirt and pad. That solved the problem of the pillow sliding around and sence I carry an extra shirt there is no extra weight.
    Mike

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Mike,

      This pillowcase should work just fine with the Flex Air pillow. The reason I went with the Exped pillow is because it is a little bigger and has a dip in the middle which will cradle my head a little better.

      I also did the same trick with pulling the shirt over my air pad and cramming my FlexAir pillow up inside it. This works great actually, but I don’t always have an extra shirt, and when I use my XLite, since it’s a large pad, it stretches the shirt too much.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. milligan308 says:

    just ordered (online) a “Chad Poindexter” pollow system from Ben @GFG. I have been struggling for over a year now to get a decent night sleep, thank god for coffee or I would have snapped a long time ago. Ben email me back and looks like I may have it very soon. I have a TAR NeoAir Xlite Large and what sold me on this system is the use of the bungee to hold the pillow to the mattress.
    I can’t wait to see it. 😀 You get to do all the hard work and we get the benefits, Thanks Chad.

    Like

    • The bungee worked on x lite but didn’t seem to work as well on prolite. More testing ie camps lol needed 🙂
      When I use sleeping bag I put pillow in hood. That works but takes up bag hood space. But my balaclava sorts that out 🙂

      Like

    • Stick says:

      I agree Tony, the shock cord works well on the XLite, likely because of the baffle design. There are notches that the shock cord and bury itself in, whereas the ProLite pads are smooth along the side. Which is a bummer since I have picked up the small ProLite 3 and really like using it… For now though, I will continue to use it though as I have enjoyed this pillow system more than any other…

      ~Stick~

      Like

  9. Jeremy says:

    Hey Stick,

    Now that we are in the “heat” of summer and you’ve had a chance to use this setup a few times, I’m wondering how this pillow is still working out for you? Is the down in the case too hot against your face on these warm summer nights? Are you happy with the 1 oz of down that you went with or would you get more if you did it all over again? Also, how is the shock cord working for you? My pad has vertical baffles, not horizontal ones, so I’m wondering how well it would stay in place for me? I ordered a Monkey Pillow after your review and found that even with two elastic straps my pillow still likes to slide off my pad. So, I’m hesitant to pay $50 for this case if it isn’t going to secure my pillow any better. I’m toying with the idea of a DIY sleeve that slides over the top of my pad holding the pillow in place (kind of like the t-shirt idea). Just let me know your thoughts on this pillow setup after a few more trips of use. Thanks!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jeremy,

      The few times I have used it in warmer weather, I have still been just as happy with it. What I enjoy about it the most is that it can be made stationary, it has the needed height so I don’t get a cramp in my neck, and it is large enough that I don’t feel like I am balancing on it. As far as warmth, the 10D material is soft and a bit silky feeling, so it has a cool feeling to it anyway. As far as the down, it does make the pillow warmer than one that is uninsulated, but the amount in my pillow is minimal. Just enough to take away that feeling of laying directly on an air pillow, so it is not so bad.

      I will admit though, I have found that the shock cord works best with my NeoAir. On my ProLite pads and my Exped pads, the smooth sides just doesn’t seem to want to hold as well. The shock cord seems to slide along the edges easier. I could tighten up the shock cord, but I don’t want to tear it from the pillow either.

      In the case of using those type of pads, I would say that the DIY sleeve that you are talking about would be a good option.

      Hope this helps some, and good luck with your project!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  10. Andrew says:

    Brilliant..
    Just what I’ve been searching for. I wonder how the Stuff Sack Down Pillow Case would work with one or more of the Antigravitygear Ultralight Air Pillows instead of the Exped pillow?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Andrew,

      The GFG stuff sack pillow will also accommodate the Flex Air UL Pillows too. However, I find that the baffled design of the large Exped pillow is more comfy for me. I know that the Flex Air UL Pillows used to be offered with a baffle design as well, but they are super hard to find now.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. AlanR says:

    Hi Stick.
    I used an Exped UL 7 and Exped air pillow. I tried a couple of different bags,filling and cords. When i find something that works for me i will let you know.

    Like

  12. Roger M says:

    Stick,

    I had ordered almost the same pillow about a week before this article. Few differences being a little more down and 100w fleece on the face. I emailed Ben and had him add the loop at the last minute. The pillow just arrived today and it is perfect! Thanks for the loop idea!

    Roger

    Like

  13. AlanR says:

    Hi Stick,
    Tried this as i said i would and it didn’t work too well. I found that as i tossed and turned during the night my shoulders moved the pillow around until eventually it slipped off the top of the mat.
    I didn’t want to over tighten the attaching cord just in case it started to cut through the mat.
    A sticky retainer of some kind is needed or something similar in my case to keep the pillow from moving.
    Easier still, “why don’t manufacturers design in either, a separate chamber that can be inflated as a pillow or add a flap of mat material that clothes could be stuffed into. It’s simple really.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Alan,

      Sorry to hear that the set-up didn’t work for you. Just curious, did you use the same set-up that I am using?

      Also, what sort of air pad are you using? In my video I was using my ProLite 4 as an example, but since it has straight sides, the same thing would likely have happened with this pad too. The horizontal baffles on my NeoAir though do a great job at giving the cord a resting place, which holds it in place.

      Anyway, sorry to hear this didn’t work for you…

      ~Stick~

      Like

  14. Dale says:

    I like the glove hook idea, and will incorporate it into my pillow system to keep my pillow stationary.
    I made a pillow out of heat seal-able fabric. I fold my down jacket up and put it into a stuff sack then slip the pillow in and inflate it to desired firmness. Jacket and stuff sack I have with me anyway so just add the pillow @ 1 oz. I may add a nicer pillow case fabric to 1 inside half of the stuff sack. (Under general use nylon is on exterior of stuff sack then when used as a pillow – inverted stuff sack to give nice fabric against face.
    -Dale

    Like

  15. Four-o says:

    Snoring Cub from AHE does the trick for me at 1.1oz and 5×9. I thinks it lofts up about 2.5-3 in.

    Like

  16. AlanR says:

    Pillows are one of items of backpacking gear i can never get perfect. This goes a long way down that road to a good nights sleep. Ordering one from the US with the tax, import duty and shipping would not be a good investment but i’m sure i can come up with something similar. Thanks.

    Like

  17. Mark Rulli says:

    Stick,

    You “forced” me to order the same pillow system you Have :), Not 10 minutes after reading your blog I e-mailed Ben and he is making me the very same stuff sack. I am leaving in two weeks for a short hike and he will have it to me in time…………..that’s what I call REAL customer service!!!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Mark,

      That is great, congrats on your new pillow set-up, I hope that you like it as much as I do! As far as his customer service, I agree, I have had great experiences with dealing with Ben.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

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