Forclaz Inflatable Hiking Pillow
The closest to home bed pillow I could ever find: silent, soft, adjustable. Not the lightest or most compact trekking/camping pillow out there, but well worth carrying around for a good and restoring night.
- Super comfortable
- Liner can be used with clothes
- Not the lightest or most compact
A few words on sleeping comfort and camping pillows
Different people have different needs, but everyone can benefit from a good night of sleep to restore energy when we’re backpacking, camping or trekking.
Sleeping comfort is relative too, and depends on so many factors. When I’m really tired, anything goes: just laying anywhere that’s relatively dry and warm and I can sleep fine. But having a good pillow can make a huge difference.
Pillows are simple items, but they must have some basic characteristics:
- Decent head support and smooth surface
- Stay in place (more tricky than it seems)
- Be silent
- Be adjustable
The Forclaz Trek Pillow
Forclaz is a sub-brand from the big sporting goods French company, much like their Quechua and others sold exclusively by Decathlon, which has a reputation for offering decent stuff at competitive prices. I used Quechua to classify it here but Forclaz and Quechua seem like two different brands with their own line of products. In any case, the carrying bag says “Decathlon Forclaz” just in case someone decides to do a search or go take a look.
Some people love them, others despise their stuff. I tend to favor small specialty producers who really live the outdoor lifestyle, but I try to stay open minded and curious. Throughout the years I’ve found a few gems among Decathlon’s line of outdoor products, stuff that’s actually very well designed and decently made, oftentimes surpassing cottage competitors.
This is the case of the Forclaz Trek Pillow. I acknowledge that pillow preference is very personal, but it’s hard to fault a product that checks all the boxes with such high marks.
It’s basically an inflatable bladder pillow with a soft Lyocell fabric liner. I admit having no idea what Lyocell is, but it’s incredibly soft and smooth to the touch which turns the Trek Pillow very close to the ones I use to sleep at home.
It’s a huge departure from most other camping pillows which are more like those inflatable TPU travel pillows sold in airport stores and such. It’s regular-sized (14.2x9.8x2.8") but rectangle-shaped and being adjustable, it’s more than enough to support my head whether sleeping on a pad on the ground, in my hammock or even in a hostel bed.
It stays in place much better than my other inflatable pillows, and is much more silent too, which makes a huge difference. I credit that to the padded Lyocell liner and the rectangular shape. Once I find the best pressure/firmness for whatever I’m doing (reading, resting, sleeping, etc.), it just works and well.
The one-way valve makes it easy to inflate, and just a couple of deep breath puffs is all it takes to get it to the desired firmness. Pressing the button in the middle of the valve allows for fine-tuning (deflating) without even lifting the head from the pillow. Which actually makes it easier to find the sweet spot.
Weight is 180g (6oz.) with the provided carrying bag, and volume is 0.7L. It’s considerably heavier than most other ultralight PU inflatable pillows, and packs larger too when deflated (about the size of two Sea To Summit Aeros or other similar). But it’s only 100g more for a significant dose of comfort.
The Lyocell liner has a soft and thin padding on one side and weights 76g (2.7oz.). This padding adds to the silence and comfort. It can be removed and used alone with a bunch of clothes inside, if weight and space are a real concern in a trip.
I’ve used it like that a couple of times, and tried the TPU bladder alone too which in all honesty has a nice smooth texture on its own and provides a decent level of comfort.
But the bladder + liner is the best combination really, and I find it well worth carrying a few grams more for the comfort, functionality, and convenience. The valve system of the Trek Pillow beats most other in my humble opinion, and the result is a very restoring sleep every time.
I’ve found the Lyocell liner also dries up pretty quick, which is a bonus in case it gets wet for some reason, or needs to be washed mid-trip. I use a lavender washer and the scent stays for a few trips, gives a nice clean and calming sensation (especially when I’m tired and dirty).
Finally, durability is good too. It has a two-year warranty but so far after a couple of years and lots of use both the bladder, the valve and the Lyocell liner are looking and working like new.
Like most outdoor enthusiasts, I’ve used everything from wood logs to a bunch of clothes (or even grass) stuffed into a liner or a shirt, to the new crop of ultralight inflatable pillows. Some weight in the 50-60g (2oz.) range and pack really small when deflated.
Many are decently soft and durable, and more than enough for supporting our head, though some get hot especially during summer and inflatable camping pillows can be really noisy.
The Forclaz Trek Pillow performs really well in cold and hot weather thanks to the Lyocell liner. Admittedly, it’s possible to concoct a pillow case or improvise a cotton or other soft fabric liner for any pillow, or even use a t-shirt to wrap around a noisy and scratchy TPU camping pillow, and dramatically improve comfort.
But the padded liner, functional valve system and overall quality of the Trek Pillow are a great convenience, especially for the price.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $21