I am a side sleeper, but I sometimes have a hard time staying asleep all night on backpacking trips because I don’t have a pillow to cradle my head and prevent me from rolling onto my back.
Lately, I’ve been bringing an inflatable Exped Air Pillow with me on backpacking trips and it’s really improved my sleep while helping to keep my snoring volume level down (especially important in shelters) because it keeps me on my side all night long. Weighing just 2.6 ounces, it’s a little luxury that makes a big difference in my comfort and has quickly gained a permanent place on my gear list.
This pillow is also cleverly designed. It has two separate values on the back for inflation and deflation which lay flat and don’t alter the height of the pillow. The surface fabric is quite comfortable on one’s face and doesn’t slip, and the front and rear sides of the pillow are at different heights: side sleepers (high position) and back/stomach (low position)
The Exped Air Pillow comes with a repair kit and stuff sack – both of which I promptly lost and discarded. I store the pillow deflated with my NeoAir Xlite and roll them both up into my bivy sack so I don’t need to carry 2 storage sacks. At night, the air pillow stays in position on my pad because it’s held in place by the mosquito netting on my pad, although the Air Pillow does come with side eyelets that one could use to couple the pillow to one’s sleeping pad.
I haven’t used the Air Pillow yet with a hooded sleeping bag, but I plan to this winter. I really hate sleeping in mummy bags because they force me to sleep on my back, so if the air pillow can let me use a mummy bag and still sleep on my side, I’ll be in heaven.
Exped has recently come out with an even lighter weight version of this pillow called the Exped Air Pillow UL, which weighs one ounce less but has the same design as the Exped Air Pillow.
Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased an Exped Air Pillow with his own funds.
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