For me, a pillow is the difference between a good nights sleep and an overnight disaster. I think my Exped pillow would have to be my favourite bit of camping gear… and I’ve got some pretty neat stuff! Over the past couple of years it has offered exceptional comfort with a somewhat negligable weight penalty time after time again.
I actually have two Exped Air Pillows. One is the straight “air pillow” and the other is the “comfortfoam air pillow”.
Exped Air Pillow
Packed Size: 12cm x 5.5cm
Cost: $60 AUD
Exped Comfortfoam Air Pillow
Packed size: 17cm x 10cm
Cost: $60 AUD
The air pillow is a super light, super small product which takes away any excuse to not bring a pillow on your tour. The comfortfoam pillow is slightly larger and bulkier, however offers a better simulation of your pillow that you’ve left at home. Once blown up, both pillows look the same. They are both identical in size and shape. If you touch the surface of the comfortfoam model you will realise it isn’t just a bit of air in a rubber casing; the speed at which the pillow responds to small amounts of movement is noticibly different. The comfortfoam model therefore dampens movement and does feel more stable when you’re sleeping on it. The comfortfoam air pillow is also insulated with pellets of high grade open cell polyurethane foam recylced from the production of other Exped mats. This feature will no doubt be beneficial in cooler conditions.
The “tricot polyester” material that Exped use for their air pillow has a really soft feel to it. It actually feels similar to some of the lightweight quick-dry towels available; most notably the MSR PackTowl Ultralite. I normally use a silk liner with my sleeping bag which has the option to run a hood over a pillow; something I do from time to time.
With either of the Exped models, the shape is a little higher on one side, a little lower on the other and is contoured in the middle. These higher and lower sides allow people who sleep on their back to have a bit more support by using the higher side closest to their neck, or for stomach sleepers the lower side closest to their neck to reduce any strain. This variation in shape makes it easy to find a comfortable position and is probably the main reason the pillow is so comfortable.
The operation is simple. There is an inflate valve and a deflate valve hidden under two covers. With one-and-a-bit breaths I can inflate the pillow to full capacity; minimal effort after a long ride. I just need to remember to close the deflate valve before I start inflating (yes, I do this often)! You can actually let out a small amount of air by lightly pushing the inflate valve. For me the pillow feels most comfortable with a bit of air missing. This softens the pillow up and simulates my home pillow slightly better! People who enjoy a hard pillow will be able to run a bit more air.
I haven’t had to repair mine at all, but they come with a little patch kit and some glue to ensure that you will not get yourself into any trouble!
It is quite impressive that this is my “favourite bit of camping gear” considering how simple this product is. But when a simple product like this makes my life easier, I have no doubt in awarding it with this title.
The shape of the pillow caters for all types of sleepers. The weight and packed size of this item is damn impressive. The polyester material that is used is nice on your skin. It is quick and easy to blow up. I haven’t had a single issue with either of my pillows. What more could I want?
Stop folding up your jumper into an awkward shape and get yourself an Exped pillow. A great nights sleep, guaranteed.