November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers
Display Avatars Sort By:
Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers on 02/04/2014 23:50:04 MST Print View


I've been through a bunch of pillows. I'm a side sleeper who requires a pillow with more loft than most offer. The pillow with the greatest loft I've found (almost 6 inches) is the Thermarest Compressible pillow at around 8oz.

I'm wondering if there's anything out there which offers similar loft at a lower weight. Have any other side sleepers found a magic ultralight, high loft pillow?



PS: I have not yet tried the famous Mike C. approach of using partially inflated zip lock bags in a stuff sack.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
make something? on 02/05/2014 00:22:24 MST Print View

You could maybe combine a lighter less lofty pillow and somehow attach it to some sort of inflatable. Or make a small, padded pillow case you can put an inflatable into our stuff with clothes, etc.

Edit: yeah, like the ziploc method you mentioned at the end. But one side of the stuff sack can have a layer of synthetic insulation or something for added softness/comfort.

You could also shove stuff under your sleeping pad right at the head to elevate that section as well.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 02/05/2014 00:25:13 MST.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers on 02/05/2014 00:25:41 MST Print View

Have you tried the Exped Air Pillow in size Large? I find it quite comfortable for side sleeping. It has about 5 inches, but since it's a sealed air pillow, you can use all 5 of those inches without it collapsing over time.

Pillows are as important to me for sleeping comfort as sleeping pads are, and I find this pillow to be very comfortable and well designed.

Maybe you've tried it though...

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Pillow on 02/05/2014 05:50:11 MST Print View

I use my Ortlieb 4L waterbag as a pillow. Fill it with 3-3,5L of water or air or a combination of the 2 (just water is usually too cold) and wrap it in a fleece or some other garment. It's a very comfortable pillow. And because you already need to take something with you to carry water the pillow doesn't weigh anything extra ;-)

Mike Whitesell
(madgoat) - F

Locale: Ohio
not a fan of exped on 02/05/2014 07:00:05 MST Print View

I have used the exped air pillow (size small) for a while now, but I get annoyed with the curved section and the thicker section. The thicker section would nest perfectly under my neck when I am laying on my, except for the curved cutout section which pushes against my shoulders and moves the thicker section more under the back of my head instead of supporting my neck. It works fine when sleeping on my side though, since my shoulder fits nicely into the curved cutout section.

I have been considering replacing my exped with a Snoring Cub pillow from Arrowhead Equipment.

3oz, 3 inches of climashield loft, 5" x 9"

They also make a Snoring Bear pillow that is 8" x 12", 5 inches of climashield loft, and weighs 5oz.

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
Pillow Loft ?? on 02/05/2014 07:17:49 MST Print View

So what does 5" of Loft mean ?
How thick is it when you lay your head on it ?

edit: I bought a pack of these to try this summer on the CDT in
New Mexico. I haven't actually used one yet so we'll see how I like them.
I don't expect them to be all that durable, seeing as they come
in a 3-pack, but how cheap can ya get. 6.99 for a 3 pak.
They come with a little straw that you stick through a flap to inflate.
Then pull the straw out. To deflate stick the straw back in a press
to squeeze the air out. Less than 1 oz. is pretty light too.


Edited by Larry_Swearingen on 02/05/2014 07:54:28 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
My perfect pillow!! on 02/05/2014 07:43:51 MST Print View

It ain't cheap, but it have found pillow nirvana with a large exped UL inflatable pillow stuffed in a GooseFeet down pillow case. Sticks Blog has a nice piece on it, and Ben was awesome to work with making the pillow case. It has a cord so I can attach it to my weight only 3.5 oz for the combo and is uber tall (great for side sleeping!)...and soft to boot.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Lofty pillows on 02/05/2014 07:54:13 MST Print View

Kevin S.
Big Agnes Q-core air pillow on 02/05/2014 07:57:10 MST Print View

I too sleep best with my head comfortably elevated. I am currently using a big agnes Q- core pillow. I like the design because it keeps my head from rolling around as some air pillows. I hated the way it felt though. So I cut down an old light pillow case and sewed to fit. I left a small opening to get the pillow out, or to stuff a shirt in there as well - weighs 3.6 ounces w/case.

Edited by kstephens on 02/05/2014 08:14:18 MST.

(JRinGeorgia) - F
loft or height? on 02/05/2014 08:11:23 MST Print View

You say you want a pillow with high loft -- by definition, loft means it will compress with weight on it, so the height will be diminished. I am a toss-and-turner mostly side sleeper and tried the Thermarest, which lofts up nice and high as you mentioned, but then compresses to nothing with my head on it. I've tried to actually minimize loft and maximize height by using a large Monkey Pillow case, putting a large FlexAir pillow (inflatable) inside, and then stuffing my down puffy inside on top of the FlexAir. Gives height and some "cushiness" but doesn't collapse.

Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Useful comments... on 02/05/2014 10:04:00 MST Print View

Thanks for all the great responses:

@AndE--I have not tried combinations yet. I have put stuff under the pad (rain gear), but it didn't help at least in combination with the specific pillow I was using. Some put their shoes under the pad, but I don't see how that could be comfortable. Maybe worth revisiting.

@Derek--I've tried the medium exped, perhaps the large would be better for me.

@Mark--I use smaller 1L bottles. I guess I could try several of them, but it sounds finicky.

@Mike--Thought about the snoring bear pillow, but have yet to try it. Does anyone have experience with this one?

@Larry--good point. I'm interested in the height of the pillow with my head on it. The Thermarest Compressible pillow retains much of its height even with my head on it.

@Jennifer--not sure I'm ready to shell out so much cash, but if nothing else works....

@K C--I saw this thread. If I were only so handy :)

@Kevin--the Q-core is 3" tall, probably not enough for a side sleeper. Glad it works for you though :)

@J R--I typically sleep with most of my clothes on including my down jacket.

(tahiti) - F
Thermarest on 02/05/2014 11:00:47 MST Print View

I also have the thermarest pillow, a bit heavy at 8 oz, but it sure is comfortable. I might have to try the flex air pillow that Larry posted.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Exped UL on 02/05/2014 12:36:02 MST Print View

I'm with Jen on this. Exped UL (L) Air Pillow with an OR Echo Ubertube over it. Echo Ubertube goes on my head and neck if it gets too cold. Same function, just now providing warmth AND comfort. Multipurpose everything.

The shape and tune-ability of this pillow is what makes it so awesome. I start out on my side and end up on my stomach normally. I love the height of it for side sleeping. It's pretty much the most perfect pillow I've been able to find.

The large pillow is 2.0oz....the Echo Ubertube is 0.7oz ....2.7oz is awesome for a multipurpose pillow setup if you ask me.



Edited by f8less on 02/05/2014 12:38:33 MST.

Brandon M

Locale: DC
Re: Exped UL on 02/05/2014 17:14:23 MST Print View

I've been using the same combo as Kenneth (inside out Echo Ubertube and Exped UL), and overall it's worked fairly well as a side sleeper. I couldn't stand the feeling of the pillow by itself, so some sort of cover was a must. I just wish I had some way to keep it in place through the night as I'm a pretty active sleeper.

Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
ziploc bags in a stuff sack (clelland method) as a pillow on 02/06/2014 10:22:35 MST Print View

So, I tried this, and found that the bags didn't hold air very well over several hours. They were hefty brand bags.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Exped UL on 02/06/2014 10:58:35 MST Print View

+1 - best backpacking pillow I've tried. I don't normally use a cover, but maybe I'll try something like the Ubertube.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers on 02/06/2014 19:39:58 MST Print View

I currently use the Cocoon camp/hood pillow . It is relatively heavy at 3.52 oz, but worth it to me. I tried the Exped UL large and the Montbell comfort system pillow and others, but they were all either too thin or had the different height baffle thing, which I find uncomfortable. The Cocoon has fleece on one side which is comfy against your skin but I usually put that side down because it prevents the pillow from sliding around on my UL7 pad. You could maybe save some weight by cutting the cover off, I don't know.

Edited by sdparks on 02/06/2014 19:44:07 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers on 02/06/2014 21:20:09 MST Print View

I'm a "not small" side sleeper (how's that for a euphemism?) ... I like a lot of pillow loft.

I organize all my incidentals in a 4x6x12 (inches) zip bag containing smaller stuff sacks ... that provides a 4" high base ... weight I'd be carrying regardless.

I have a Kookabay air pillow, inflates to 2 inches ... 1.3 oz

Don't care for the "feel" of the kookabay so I made a sleeve of 1.1oz nylon with a 4x5 inch pocket in the center of one side. The pocket holds a 4x5x1 inch open cell foam pad ... 1.1 oz.

Kookabay goes inside the sleeve, sleeve is held onto the zip bag by two strings.

4+2+1 inch provides a pillow 7 inches high and the open cell foam is just large enough to catch the two big pressure points (cheekbone and ear)

Sleeping nirvana!

Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: Another pillow thread--high loft pillows for side sleepers on 02/06/2014 22:56:03 MST Print View

Hi Stephen,

Roughly how high is the pillow?



Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Useful comments... on 02/07/2014 01:48:13 MST Print View

I find the Large Exped Air Pillow a lot more comfortable than the Medium size, for what it's worth.