Thermarest Compressible Pillow-Frivolous Yet Oh So Wonderful 

By Sarah Shaffer

I’ve taken at least one backpacking trip in the summer for the last 23 years. Over the years I have used my clothes as a pillow. My favorite pillow is my down jacket tied into a pillow ball.

The pillow fully “puffed” up. It is pretty wonderful for sleeping when fully “puffed.”

Sometimes, if I am feeling luxurious, I will add clothes to the inside of my down jacket to “beef” up the pillow ball. 

This is, as you’ve guessed, not comfortable. My pillow ball always has a soft section, a hard section and a lumpy section. I have a hard enough time falling asleep while in the woods: A  lumpy pillow doesn’t help. I decided this year to splurge on a camping/backpacking pillow. 

The pillow in its compressed state. Ready to pack into your backpack and hit the trail.

I bought a Thermarest Compressible Pillow, and I’ve taken it with me three times now. The small size is about all I could sway myself into carrying in a backpack. I made the mistake of first ordering the medium size, which I quickly returned as it was way too large to take backpacking unless you strapped it to the outside of your pack. As many backpackers may know, the space inside your pack is premium real estate that only the most coveted of items get to rent out for the duration of your trip. A large pillow meant no cooking utensils. That wouldn’t work. The nifty thing about this pillow is that it’s the size of a water bottle once cinched up. The handy size weighs 7 ounces. 

It has a soft fleece-like exterior, and the material is quiet, so you don’t hear any rubbing sounds while tossing and turning at night.

The price for the product is a reasonable $25-$35 dollars on the Thermarest website. I believe I got mine off Amazon for $18 for the smallest size. It was also the least exciting color, so they must have bumped the price down because of that.

A tip for you if you decide to purchase this pillow. Take it out of its “compressed” state an hour or two before you decide to go to sleep. The upcycled foam inside increases in volume after a couple of hours, making it more of a full pillow. 

The most enjoyable part of the pillow is the pure comfort I get when resting my head on it after a physically enduring day on the trail. I do think it helps me drift off to sleep a bit faster. It makes the cut for taking premium pack real estate for those shorter backpacking trips.

NOTE: WenOut received nothing from the manufacturer for my review.


About The Author

Executive Director

Sarah is fortunate to have her dream job as the Executive Director for WenatcheeOutdoors.org. Her interests include people, nature, wildlife and getting her sweat on outside. Alpine rock climbing, mountain biking, nordic skiing are her outdoor passions. When she is being domestic, she enjoys gardening, baking, utilitarian sewing and home remodel projects. Sarah is the mother of one, which keeps her busy and happy on a daily basis. Activities she would like to pursue that would be new to her are skate skiing, kayaking and backcountry skiing.

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