First Impressions – Therm-a-Rest Down Pillow

I can hear it now. “You’re writing a post about a pillow, really?”

Well…sure…why not? Most folks I know like a good pillow, even when camping. When I take the family car camping the one thing everybody makes sure they have along is a pillow…and it’s usually the one they use every night. Even if a cot is hard or an air mattress partially deflates, if you have a good pillow you can be at least partially comfortable.

Even off on a backpacking trip, whether it’s by myself or with one of our girls, a pillow goes along for the ride. I’m fairly picky about my pillow. The pillow I use here at home is the same one I’ve been using for years. It’s a foam pillow with just the right balance between softness and firmness…for me. I’ve tried others, some pretty expensive and some very cheap, but I always come back to the same one.

I’m equally picky about my backpacking pillow and to top it off, weight and bulk come into play. Some folks can do pretty well with their spare clothes stuffed into a stuff sack or a jacket stuffed into one of its sleeves. I’ve never had much luck with that myself. I’ve tried synthetic filled ‘camp pillows’ and various inflatable pillows but so far nothing has really tripped my trigger. Synthetic pillows are often too hard even with half the stuffing or more taken out. With inflatable pillows, the air doesn’t stay where it needs to be and I end up feeling like there is no pillow at all under my head but my ears are boxed in.
I received my REI dividend in the mail a few weeks back and have been trying to decide what to spend it on. I was looking at stoves one night and was about ready to pull the trigger on one when ConnieLou says “Don’t you have a dozen or so stoves already?” Well, yeah, but one can never have enough stoves to play with. I was just about to shut down my computer when I noticed my air pillow sitting on top of my pack and I found my inspiration. I popped back into the REI website and clicked my way to the camp pillows page and scrolled around a bit. I wasn’t really seeing much that I was interested in when ConnieLou says “What about this Therm-a-Rest down pillow?”


“What down pillow?” Apparently I’d missed that one. So I gave it a look. Specs were OK…5.6 ounces and filled with 650-fill goose down. Even at 14 inches by 19 inches, being filled with down it compresses so it won’t take up too much pack space. Reviews were mostly good too. For $49 for the medium I figured I might as well give it a try so I placed my order. With my REI dividend and free shipping for delivery to the closest REI store, located about 5 minutes from my office…way too close for safety…I paid about $10 out of pocket. It finally came in last week so I made the trip over to the REI store to pick it up and by some miracle I made it out of the store without picking up anything else.

We spent a couple of nights in our hammocks in the back yard this weekend so I had a chance to give it a fairly good test drive. So what are my first impressions? Long and short, I like it. The firmness can be adjusted with a drawstring and I was able to adjust it so that I got just a little support and didn’t feel like my head was flat against my hammock. The shell material feels pretty good against my neck and the back of my head and it doesn’t slide around all over the place. When the drawstring is let out all the way it compressed almost flat in the bottom of my pack. For someone that wants more support, the back of the pillow is made so that a Therm-a-Rest inflatable pillow or some clothes can be inserted.

Pillow - Front

Pillow - Back

That said, if I absolutely had to come up with something to complain about, as a hammock camper, it would be the lack of a loop on one of the long sides of the pillow that could be used to attach a piece of shock cord connecting the pillow to the end of my hammock to keep it in place when I’m getting in and out of the hammock. Fortunately, that’s not that big of a deal and is something I can add myself if I want to.

Have I finally found the perfect pillow? Time will tell, but for now, I like it.

This entry was posted in Backpack Pillow, Backpacking, Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Therm-a-Rest Down Pillow. Bookmark the permalink.

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