Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
What do you use for a pillow?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
What do you use for a pillow? on 09/07/2011 21:18:42 MDT Print View

I'm a recent convert to concept of ultralight, and I love the idea of wearing your warmer clothing to bed and using a lighter weight sleeping bag. But this leaves me with an issue of what to use for a pillow? I have traditionally used a fleece or the like stuffed into my sleeping bag cover, and I use my waterproof jacket to provide ground insulation for my lower legs (I use a 3/4 length mat). So now I no longer have surplus soft items to use as a pillow.

I'm sure I'm not the only one to come across this issue. Ideas?

Justin C
(paintballr4life) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
re: pillow on 09/08/2011 08:02:35 MDT Print View

I've tried all kinds of pillows: clothes in a stuff sack, down pillow, inflatable pillows, etc. I took a Thermarest compressible one time and fell in love with it but not with the weight or bulk of it. It weighed 7 ounces so I cut it in half and the had the sides sewn shut, so I now have two pillows basically. I take one of the pillows with me and it is very comfy. It only weighs 3.5 oz now.

. ..
Re: What do you use for a pillow? on 09/08/2011 08:28:23 MDT Print View

Boxed wine bladder. The plastic bag in the box with the nozzle is indestructible, will never leak, and weighs about 2 oz. It makes a perfect pillow or camp seat, and of course, the best part is you get 4L of wine! Granted, if odors are a concern you should probably rinse it out at home but you can simply hold the nozzle open and inflate the bag with or without the wine in it. If you don't believe me, buy a box, slam the entire contents, then get in a boxing match with the inflated bag. I guarantee the bag will outlast you.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Disposables on 09/08/2011 09:01:54 MDT Print View

I've also tried them all. The best and lightest of the manufactured ones are those disposables that BPL used to sell. You can still get the single-chambered ones from medical supply houses. I bought a case of them and I need to replace them every eighth use or so. Mostly I use them to rest my arm on when I'm sleeping on my side or under my knees when I'm on my back.

I liked the dual-chambered ones for my head so much that when they were discontinued, I had the fine folks at Kooka Bay make me a permanent one. Complete with valve, it still weighs just over one ounce (can't remember exactly).

Also consider a mesh veggie/ fruit bag filled with semi-inflated Ziplock as described here and in his book by Mike Cleland. It's a great option because you'll always seem to find some second use for the bags when you're on the trail. I often grab one to put my little camera in during a rainstorm, for example.


Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
What do you use for a pillow? on 09/08/2011 09:04:35 MDT Print View

>Boxed wine bladder.

Great idea. An empty 2 or 3 liter Platy or Evernew water container also works well.


Josh Platt
(EasternBox) - F

Locale: Southeast
quixote on 09/08/2011 09:04:38 MDT Print View

I just received a quixote down pillow. So for it is my favorite that I have tried. I am extremely picky about pillows. If I could get away with not committing UL sin, I would take the one from my bed at home...haha.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: What do you use for a pillow? on 09/08/2011 09:44:34 MDT Print View

Definitely not these!

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: What do you use for a pillow? on 09/08/2011 09:58:01 MDT Print View

How about a full platy or other collapsible water bottle wrapped in a jacket or shirt etc?

People use water beds, why not a water pillow?

It could be dual use, less gear to carry and in really cold weather a way to keep your water from freezing since your head is one of the parts of the body that gives up heat the fastest.

Party On,


Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
What do you use for a pillow on 09/08/2011 10:53:20 MDT Print View

I use a small Kookabay pillow at 1.3 oz. I lay it on my pack or just on the edge of my NeoAir pad. My wife does the same but puts hers inside a Katabatic down hood so she as a down pillow.

I like the idea of dual use of a 1 L or 2 L platypus bladder as a dual use idea. A 1 L bladder weighs less than 1 oz.

Rodney OndaRock
(RodneyOndaRock) - F

Locale: Southern California
here's my multi use ghetto pillow on 09/08/2011 15:27:16 MDT Print View

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"What do you use for a pillow?" on 09/08/2011 15:30:07 MDT Print View

Hey Doug - How about those bears?

I use a GG Pillowsack with a jacket in it....

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Thermarest Lite Seat on 09/08/2011 15:30:16 MDT Print View

Thermarest Lite seat.

Not the lightest thing out there, but it doubles as a camp seat. I fold it in half and adjust the inflation to my liking.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Pillow on 09/08/2011 19:27:20 MDT Print View

Most nights wearing all my clothes to bed isn't required so I can make a pillow with what isn't needed. If it's a really cold night, I usually stuff a platypus bladder in a stuff sack to offset the missing clothes. I can usually still spare my rain gear on cold nights to supplement by pillow.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Pillow on 09/08/2011 19:28:28 MDT Print View

Usually all my clothes aren't needed at night, so I can form a reasonable pillow in a stuff sack. If it's a really cold night I make up for the missing clothes by stuffing a 1L platypus in there with my rain gear.I normally never wear rain gear to bed.

Edited by dandydan on 09/08/2011 19:29:00 MDT.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Thanks on 09/09/2011 08:20:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for the ideas. I normally carry a bladder anyway for dry campsites, or for hot days with long distances between water sources, so I can use that.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pillow on 09/09/2011 10:02:43 MDT Print View

The Cocoon Ultralight Air Core pillow works for me. The make a Hyperlight model that is lighter yet, but doesn't have the microfleece panel of the Ultralight, which find very comfortable. This is also an excellent hammock pillow.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Water bladder on 09/10/2011 13:05:36 MDT Print View

I'll second the idea of using your water bladder as dual use. Heard the idea on this site and tried it for the first time this last weekend on a three day trip in the sierras.

Worked great! It was nice to be able to adjust the firmness. One thing that you do need though is some kind of material between your face and the bladder, the water can sometimes be a little too cold when you first go to sleep.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
side sleeper on 09/22/2011 08:03:02 MDT Print View

i am a side sleeper and need a large, comfortable pillow solution. i started carrying a thermarest 12x16 that weighs 7 ounces. the foam expands real nice before bed, but at 2am is flatter than Kansas. i then swapped out the pillow for a thermarest pillow case which weighs 2.3 ounces and stuff that with clothes - it doesn't go flat at 2am, but it is much harder.

my current solution is to take the pillow and pillow case and shove the pillow and clothes into the pillow case making a firm base with fluffy head area. it goes flat around 4am.

a down pillow is in my sights.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Rain gear on 09/22/2011 10:07:24 MDT Print View

I put my rainsuit inside a cheap nylon drybag from Wal Mart. The bag traps some air and if protects my rainsuit from any sharp stuff on the ground. This system works well becaause its big enough that I can put the "pillow" on the ground not on top of my sleeping pad. This basically extends the length of my (3/4 lenght) sleeping bag. This frees up other clothers like my primaloft jacket so I can actually wear them if its cold.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
backpack on 09/22/2011 10:15:56 MDT Print View

I just tuck my backpack under my neoair. Gives the little bit of lift needed, but the neoair still keeps it soft and comfortable. Leaves me sleepin' like a baby!