Going Soft: Adding A Pillow To Our Bike Touring Gear
We’ve taken another step towards the ‘pampered’ end of bike touring.
The catalyst came from a recent restless night in our tent. We packed lightly for a weekend trip but then didn’t have enough clothes to shove under our heads to make a good enough pillow.
It got us thinking about how nice a pillow would be, so when we received a gift certificate for the local camping store, we headed straight for the pillow section.
Here’s how we picked out the Thermarest Pillow over other options:
- Compressible, Not Inflatable – We didn’t want a pillow that required inflating every night or that was prone to leaks and punctures. Also, we didn’t like the feel of the inflatable pillows. They were too hard and not like our pillows at home.
- Washable – Everything gets dirty on a bike tour. We wanted a pillow we could throw in the washing machine once in a while to get out the road grime.
- Lightweight – Although we certainly aren’t ultralight cyclists, we don’t like things to be any heavier than necessary if we can help it.
- Reasonably Priced – There are some beautiful down-filled pillows available but they cost over $50 and that was too much for our tastes.
After laying our heads on several pillows in the shop, the Thermarest Pillow passed the test better than the other options so we picked out a medium sized one and took it home. Here are the specs:
Weight: 9 ounces (about 255 grams)
Expanded Size: 18 x 14 inches
Packed Size: About 1/5 of its open size
Machine Washable: Yes
Filling: Left-over foam from making Thermarest sleeping mats
Like most purchases, as soon as we got it home we wondered if we’d made the right choice. The pillow didn’t seem to inflate as much as the store demo version we tried and it had a funny smell.
Happily, after a few minutes we could see the pillow had visibly expanded to the size we expected and it was very comfortable. It still had a slightly odd smell though, so we threw it in the wash. The cleaning did the trick. After hanging to dry for a few hours, it was smell-free and ready for a trial run.
With no camping trips planned for another few weeks, we decided the ultimate test would be to try it at home. Would it be as comfortable as our normal pillows? We both agree that the answer is definitely yes. In fact, it was so good that for several days we only slept on the Thermarest pillow!
We were also pleased to discover that it stuffs into its built-in pocket easily and quickly, making it relatively compact to carry. This may be a luxury, and a few extra grams compared to arranging clothes under our heads at night, but we think it’s a luxury we’re going to really appreciate on future bike tours.
*A month after buying our first Thermarest pillow, we loved it so much that we had to get a second one for Andrew, who prefers it even at home!
This review is based on Thermarest pillows that we bought with our own money. We were not paid or bribed to give this review and it reflects our honest opinion of the products concerned.