4:16 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I see a lot of ads for backpacking pillows.  I am the first to say that, if you want to carry it, who am i to judge.  I've always just stuffed my clothes into a stuff-sack and been happy with that. 

Any one else do the same?

There may be medical reasons for a special pillow I guess but I can't justify the space/weight/cost. 

6:14 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I got me a Thermarest pillow a couple of years ago. I'm more bugged by the bulk than the weight, though I do manage to further squash it by half after it's gone into it's self-storage flap.

But I sleep on my side and without a moderately high pillow I'll have a stiff neck. My problem with the extra-clothes-in-a-stuff-sack was never having enough extra clothes! The pants, socks, and base layer I wore that day get hung up or spread out to dry, and I wear the fleece to bed over the spare base layers (cold sleeper, possibly with an inadequate sleeping bag).

This leaves me with rain gear and windshirt to make a pillow. Not exactly cushy stuff. Even if I have the Nanopuff (and don't need it for sleeping), well, one of the selling points is how extremely small it packs. All that in a stuff sack and I feel like I'm using a pair of gloves as a pillow.

I really should look at inflatable pillows, though. I bet they're much better nowadays than the semi-deflated beach-balls I expect them to be.

6:44 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I'd second the clothes in the stuff sack idea.  I try to wrap extra folded clothes in my down puffy before I stuff the clothing in the sack for comfort. I'll usually try to fold it in a manner that spreads the clothes evenly throughout the stuff sack.  Works well for me, especially with the down puffy.

6:49 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I tried one of the 'backpacking pillows' but it didn't work very well. Too hard and too high. Not worth the extra bulk for me, but maybe okay for someone else.

However, I tore the nerves coming from my neck to my shoulder a few years ago. I started to fall on a climbing wall, and instead of letting the rope catch me, I caught myself with one hand. 

Since then, I've only found one pillow (old, worn-out down) that stops my neck from hurting in the morning. I actually left it behind at the Nordegg hostel a couple of weeks ago and had to get a volunteer to drop it off in Edmonton for me. I was all ready to do the 6 hour drive there and back to get it if necessary but fortunately someone was headed my way.

I do better when I'm backpacking if I just fold and refold my fleece sweater. 

7:12 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I have a dry sack for my non worn clothes.  After I've put on my camp attire I puff it up with extra air. It deflates over night but it is enough to get me to sleep.

8:04 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I use my 3 liter Camelbak as a pillow, it blows up nicely even with water in it.

8:14 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I stuff a hoodie and other clothes into my sleeping bag stuff sack and good to go. 

8:18 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I usually use my boots or a stuff sack with clothes in it. Even at home I normally forgo a pillow, preferring the semi-prone position with my arm under my head.

10:46 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Have to agree with Peter1955 on this one:

"I tried one of the 'backpacking pillows' but it didn't work very well. Too hard and too high. Not worth the extra bulk for me, but maybe okay for someone else."

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible I used to own was more trouble than it was worth. I'm a side sleeper, and it would make me crane my neck uncomfortably because of how much loft it had. If that wasn't enough, it took up a lot of room in my pack, and it wasn't lightweight.

I now use a Therm-a-Rest lite seat, believe it or not. The trick is to fold it in half, and leave the valve open so it has some give to it.

Next trip out, I'm going to give the 'ol "Stuff Sack Pillow" a shot. Finally picked up some pliable, soft UL sil-ny ditty sacks. First thing I thought when I opened the package? Might actually have a stuff sack comfortable enough to make a pillow out of! 

12:44 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I used to always roll up a fleece jacket and sleep on that as a pillow. Got a crushable pillow filled with foam blocks that is decent, as a gift. I still use one or the other.

Sleeping with my head on a stuff sack would be too sweaty for me unless I put something over it - maybe put the sack inside a spare wool base layer t shirt.

9:11 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I use a Cocoon band inflatable pillow that come in at 5.5 oz, and normally pack it in the same stuff sack as my sleeping bag. For me, the extra weight is not an issue compared to the comfort of having it.  The version I have has some insulation which does tend clump up, but it's easy to break up.  

4:07 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Up to this point I've only used a stuff sack with a jacket or clothes in it, but it I almost always have a sore neck. I tend to alternate between sleeping on my back, my side, and my stomach, and there's no real way to keep a crick from my neck without a pillow.  I haven't gotten one for backpacking yet, but I've thought about just making a small feather one myself. 

8:11 a.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I don't use a pillow much myself; I get by with clothes in a bag like others. However when my wife comes along a pillow is an essential item.

Here is a full-size feather pillow brought from home on a Mt Rogers trip from last year:



8:18 a.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm glad you brought this up Sage. I'm also glad to discover I'm not the only one who thinks a camp pillow is a bit much.

2:40 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I started backpacking with a dedicated pillow, but I now have layers which I bring along that stuff into their own little pillow pocket. I'll wrap additional layers as necessary.

Though it doesn't offer much support, I can personally recommend the Western Mountaineering Cloud Rest pillow. It's pure luxury, and packs up to the size of a pop can.

3:33 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Backpacking pillows are too small. I like a down jacket or a life jacket on a boat trip for a pillow.  Some kind of clothes and a stuff sack work pretty well.

4:34 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm thinking about moving to an inflatable pillow. I tried one of the compressible pack pillows before, but they never fluff up enough to be much good. I always ended up putting other stuff under the pillow.

I don't understand why others find it to be "a bit much"...sleep is extremely important, and if a pillow keeps you comfortable and helps you rest better for the next day of hiking, who cares.

6:22 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I agree climb. There are two things that contribute so greatly to my enjoyment in the backcountry that the weights don't matter to me- my sleep system and food. That includes bringing a pillow, a foam filled and inflatable MEC pillow. Packs the size of a nalgene and weighs I'd guess half a pound but I will not camp without it!

12:41 a.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Just picked up a compressible down pillow from Therm-a-Rest for my girlfriend. Fifty bucks may be steep, but it's ten times more comfortable than any one her or I have used at home or in a hotel. Got it with sone merchandise credit from an REI return. Being down, also crazy light and packs down small, too. Shelter and sleep are two things I don't compromise on.

6:03 a.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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This is what I use.  They are very light and easily hide in your pack.  I never fully inflate it.


9:57 a.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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I have tried the clothes in a stuff sack before and never did like it.  I use a down pillow that weighs 3.5 ounces and that includes a piece of shock cord, The shock cord  connects to the ridgeline of my hammock so the pillow doesn't fall out when I get out. It works great for me

2:08 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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My first ever backpacking trip was to Mount Langley a few weeks ago.  I followed the advice of my experienced friends.  I tried a stuff sack with my clothes.  I tried my down jacket.   I tried a combination of everything in my pack except the cookware.    I was miserable and did not have a good nights sleep.

My second trip was a week ago to Mount Whitney.  This time, I purchased a pillow from Amazon Prime.  I bought a Cocoon Ultralight.  I'll write my review soon but what an awesome pillow.   About 2/3rd full of air and I was sleeping extremely comfortably.  It weighs about 2 oz and I just rolled it up into my sleeping bag.  

I highly encourage a ultralight pillow.  My buddy had a exped which he raved about too.  I think the trick is not to over fill them (much like the sleeping pad).


6:30 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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when car camping, we bring pillows from home. when backpacking, it's the clothes in the stuff sack routine. both do the job.

3:11 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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9:54 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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By the time I get to where I am calling home for the evening I am so wiped out that I could use a slab of granite as a pillow and have no problem sleeping whatsoever.

Hey if it makes your trip better for you then go for it.

April 22, 2018
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