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Pillow dilemma
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Pillow and clothing / sleeping system dilemma on 04/20/2013 10:43:38 MDT Print View

For me, a pillow is a must--preferably something made of down. Air pillows tend to be bouncy, and stuffing clothes in a stuff sack means that you aren't wearing them to bed--also it doesn't match the comfort of down.

At present, I use a WM Cloudrest at 128 g = 4.51 oz. The pillow has an included stuff sack and drawcord--I'm wondering if removing it would get it down to around 4.00 oz. However, I was thinking of refining my clothing system to include a down vest or jacket (something, say, less than 8 oz) instead of the microfleece exp weight baselayer I now use as my midlayer. I could wear the down midlayer around camp or when hiking in freezing conditions, and then stuff into a stuff sack at night to produce a great pillow.

I suppose the question comes 'down' to (no pun intended) the following: Will removing 4 oz (or more) from my body to use as a pillow be offset by a corresponding increase in the weight of down I'll need to have in my sleeping bag to compensate? In other words, what is the ratio of clothing weight utilized as a pillow to the ratio of sleeping bag weight needed for insulation. Is it something like a 1:1 ratio or a 2:1 ratio. If the former, then it would seem that one doesn't benefit in the least by utilizing one's clothing as a pillow, since every oz you are using for that purpose is going to require an additional oz in your sleeping bag/quilt.

There ought to be a scientific way to determine this ratio, and get this figured out!

Edited by dgposton on 04/20/2013 10:44:58 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
the perennial pillow question on 04/20/2013 10:52:14 MDT Print View

There seem to be a lot of pillow threads, and a lot of more experienced folks than I still seem to regard this question as an issue of fundamental importance.

Before you go all high tech, try out Mike Clelland's brilliant UL solution. Put many (like 5-8) quart size ziplock bags filled with a little air in a stuff sack. For extra luxury you can use a fleece lined one, or else wrap an item of clothing around the sack for a nice "headfeel". Brilliantly enough this seems to solve the air-pillow weirdness - at least for me. Almost weightless, volume-less when packed, and costs almost nothing. Also multi-use.

Edited by millonas on 04/20/2013 10:55:03 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
mix on 04/20/2013 12:05:44 MDT Print View

If you use down as the pillow top and some very light solid foam as the bottom, you can get a very good mix, I'm experimenting with that right now.

I found a very stiff but light piece of foam that's about 1.5" thick, take out a lof of the material via holes to drop the weight to about 1oz, then use a thinner softer foam, then a down pillow, the down does not have to be that thick to do the job.

I haven't finished this yet or tested it, but the total weight should be around 4oz, give or take, and give a much higher lift that does not compress as a down pillow will always do.

A super thin cover to hold it all together and you're set.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: mix on 04/20/2013 12:12:25 MDT Print View

Sounds interesting. For me, being a back sleeper, I don't need much lift if at all.

Any ideas on techniques to attach your down pillow to your pad? I tried sewing velcro attachments, but I stopped midway because I was putting holes in my pillow and it was near impossible to get it to sew right.

I was thinking of picking up these velcro strips from zpacks. Do you think they would adhere both to my pad and to the slick nylon fabric of my pillow?

They are virtually weightless.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
sew pouch? on 04/20/2013 13:35:36 MDT Print View

If you sew a pouch with built in attachment points, which is very easy to do/sew, using say, 1.1 oz/yd, or .9oz yd from diygearsupply, cheap too, you could just use cord to wrap around the mattress. Very hard to sew an existing pillow, though I guess you can sort of cinch the top/bottom together and sew on a loop of 1/2" material or strapping to use as connectors.

I'm starting to suspect that for UL, where you, as correctly noted in this thread, don't have extra bulky clothing to stuff into a stuff sack, or you can't count on it being unused that night, and, given that air pillows just suck (as far as my sleeping style is concerned anyway, or if you move around at all at night), and that down compresses too far to be an actual side sleeping support unless you make the thing so big it's far heavier and bigger than makes sense, mixing media is the best way to go, with a touch of creativity added in.

I sleep on my side, so it's hard to get that pillow height without a fleece jacket or whatever to use as a pillow. Fleece is certainly the best material I've ever used to make pillows, specifically because it's both soft and essentially non compressible, it's just very bulky and heavy, relatively speaking. But I should now that I think on it re-weigh a fleece jacket and oppose it to an alternate pillow setup plus a light puffy jacket, wonder how close they come.

I was lucky and got a cheap goosefoot down pillow that the guy who runs the company sold one day as seconds on gear swap, but very small, with a built in pocket to stuff something in, I shoved some light, compressible, 1" thick egg crate type foam into it, packing stuff, and realized, oh, I see, you only need the top part to be down, the rest doesn't matter, it just has to raise your head. I can't see trusting zip lock bags, sorry, while interesting, that strikes me as just a 'throw away your gear every few trips and pretend that you are not creating a consistent waste stream into the real environment that we all live in' type of approach to UL, that's an approach I want to remove myself from as much as possible, my gear is already just fine, plenty light enough. As for using inflated platys/evernews, one mistake and ho water holder, that's not smart in my opinion, trip when getting up, whatever, pop, no water container. Now, putting your hiking shoes under your mattress.. .that's something that should work reasonably well if you have some padding over it.

Edited by hhope on 04/20/2013 13:50:15 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: sew pouch? on 04/20/2013 19:34:23 MDT Print View

"I can't see trusting zip lock bags, sorry, while interesting, that strikes me as just a 'throw away your gear every few trips and pretend that you are not creating a consistent waste stream ....yada yada yada"

Well, have to say, spoken like a person who never tired it.

Let's be clear - if minimum care is taken, and the double seal zip locks are used the "raw ingredients" of this solution will last essentially forever. I have ziplocks I have reused every trip for the past 7 years. What in the name of God would make you think of throwing perfectly good ziplocks out? In an analogous situation Mike C. says somewhere he has used the same trash compactor bag liner for 3-4 years - looking forward to seeing how long mine lasts. At some point I'm sure I will be patching it with duct tape out of sentimentality if it lasts long enough to get elevated to that level.

While I always have liked the idea of using shoes for bulk under the head, many of us ultra-lighters don't have the pad real estate. I neither have a "mattress" nor do I have a pad long enough to cover under my head. I don't see why a bunch of inflatable plastic zip-locks is worse for anyone's karma than a big honkin' - and let's face it, plastic - air bag mattress.

Edited by millonas on 04/20/2013 20:01:28 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
nice to hear on 04/20/2013 20:10:35 MDT Print View

Mark, the care you are taking with this stuff, which sounds like the care I would take, is very unusual. I never throw out ziplocks either if I can help it, but your use of them is impressive, highly unusual I'd say. You're right to note that it's the use of the item, not the item itself, that determines things.

It's nice to see someone not treat stuff as disposable. Most ziplocks though now sold won't hold up that long, maybe the heavy duty freezer bags from original ziplock company will though, I know the seal on cheaper store brand ones I've bought aren't that durable.

I'd stock up on the good ones if I were you, the quality might start dropping one day, I've been seeing the new ziplock ones that totally suck and are not durable at all, so put away a box of known good ones I'd suggest, as you note, correctly, that's no more or less wasteful than a prolite air mattress or whatever.

Personally UL/SUL doesn't interest me much, but you can always learn from the techniques in general I find. I am surprised more people don't use shoes though, I don't see much else you can create height with that you are already carrying, though if they were wet, that would not be fun I guess.

Edited by hhope on 04/20/2013 20:15:18 MDT.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
My pillow solution on 04/20/2013 22:42:36 MDT Print View

p7I have been meaning to whip up a pillow for a while. Just finished it in about an hour. It is made of 8D and 850 down, 3 baffled chambers made with nanoseeum mesh. Exactly 2oz of down fill, 19x13" 4.5" loft. Weight is 2.3oz. It has a pouch to put an air pillow or clothing in. I am going to make another one to go over my Montbell UL pillow seen in the picture. I'll post this in MYOG as well.

Edited by KalebC on 04/21/2013 18:42:42 MDT.

Chad "Stick" Poindexter
(Stick) - F

Locale: Wet & Humid Southeast....
GooseFeet Gear stuff sack pillowcase & Exped air pillow on 04/20/2013 23:03:05 MDT Print View

I just posted about my most recent pillow set up on my blog a few days ago. Mine is very similar to KC's...

I am using the GooseFeet Gear down stuff sack pillow with 1 oz of 850+ fill down in the pillow top. For the inside I am using the large Exped UL air pillow. The total weight is 3.6 oz and it is the best pillow set-up I have been using.


I have a piece of shock cord attached to the pillow and the pillow case that holds the pillow in place on top of my XLite. Check it out here:

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: GooseFeet Gear stuff sack pillowcase & Exped air pillow on 04/21/2013 07:37:30 MDT Print View

Oh my goodness chad, I just shouted with glee at your set up!!!

I have the UL pillow and its fine, but I'm not terribly impressed. Nothing - and I mean nothing - I have used has been more than just meh...

But that seems perfect! It fixes the problems I have with the exped pillow (slippery, crunchy...doesn't feel great on my face) yet uses the best parts of that pillow (good head support, lightweight, even fill...)

Anyway, I checked out goosefeet's website and I'm not sure what model that is...did you special order it? Please share......

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Exped on 04/21/2013 08:12:06 MDT Print View

I find the exped to be excellent, but have to say that I like the notion of using a bunch of ziplocs in a stuff sack. As they age they could be rotated into other uses.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: GooseFeet Gear stuff sack pillowcase & Exped air pillow on 04/21/2013 08:43:22 MDT Print View

I use the Cocoon UL pillow that has an air bladder with synthetic fill around it, ending up much like the Exped/down combo.

I have a Mont Bell pillow that definitely needs a cover of some sort. The thing squirts out from under my head, even when tucked in the hood of a mummy bag.

pillow on 04/21/2013 10:50:53 MDT Print View

ziplock bags make a horrible pillow.
UL sandwich bags, leak air out badly in a matter of minutes
Heavier freezer bags,leak as well, and are heavy. Several of them weigh several oz, and are still a bad pillow.

4 oz of down, provides more insulation than 24 oz of non-down clothing. Clothing is a poor insulator.

"Saving" your clothing to use as sleeping insulation routinely wont save you weight if you are bringing a pillow due to it. Just use if for a pillow and bring warm enough sleeping insulation. On the exceptionally cold nights where you need everything, put your shoes under sleep pad to incline head, and do without pillow.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/21/2013 10:54:58 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: pillow on 04/21/2013 11:43:35 MDT Print View

I use my arm...

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Adhering your pillow to your pad on 04/21/2013 12:30:27 MDT Print View

Just ran across this solution. Looks great for the Montbell pillows, but any idea how I might attach my down pillow to the tape via elastic or shockcord? Will the Tenacious tape stick to the nylon on my Cloudrest, or not? I could use a pillow case like HikeBikeDale and then sew the elastic cord to the corners of the pillow case, but that would add extra weight.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Adhering your pillow to your pad on 04/21/2013 12:38:31 MDT Print View

I purchased the HikerBikeDale solution and use it with my Exped Air Pillow. It solves two things, secure attachment to the pad and soft next to skin feel for very minimal weight. I love it so far.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
HikeBikeDale pillow case on 04/21/2013 13:01:27 MDT Print View

How much does it weigh?

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: HikeBikeDale pillow case on 04/21/2013 13:34:16 MDT Print View

just under 1.6oz for the small.

Chad "Stick" Poindexter
(Stick) - F

Locale: Wet & Humid Southeast....
Re: Re: GooseFeet Gear stuff sack pillowcase & Exped air pillow on 04/21/2013 13:39:54 MDT Print View

Jennifer, on the GF pillow page, under the first drop down box click yes to add the stuff sack pocket. As far as size, I would suggest calling, or emailing, whichever you prefer, and letting him know which size exped pillow you have and ask him to make it to fit that size.

Also, I agree with Randy. I have a prototype of one of Wallaces Monkey pillow cases, and they are just as light and also pretty nice. The monkey pillow case I have though is not big enough to fit the large exped pillow in, but he now makes them in different sizes too.

Ben Smith
(goosefeet) - MLife

Locale: Georgia
Re: Re: Re: GooseFeet Gear stuff sack pillowcase & Exped air pillow on 04/21/2013 16:50:26 MDT Print View

Just a quick FYI...

The size "Large" should fit the Exped Medium pillow.

The newly added size "Exped UL Large" will fit the Exped Large pillow, as well as the Montbell pillow (loosely).

Send me an email if you need a custom sized pillow, and I can accommodate that with minimal custom charges.

- Ben