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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Big Sky Dream Sleeper Pillow > Test Report by Dawn Larsen

Big Sky DreamSleeper Deluxe Pillow
Test Report

Initial Report  25 February 2011
Field Report 23 May 2011
Long Term Report 26 July 2011

Name: Dawn Larsen
Age: 50
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 4" (163 cm)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Email address: vicioushillbilly AT yahoo DOT com
Florence, South Carolina USA

Backpacking Background:
I used to backpack in college a zillion years ago and just in the last few years have backpacked some private trails in Tennessee, Missouri and most recently South Carolina. I have been an avid car-camper for twelve years and I have kayak/canoe camped for five years, both in South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. I use a lot of the same equipment for both. I hike hilly/rocky trails especially in Missouri (my home state) and Arkansas. I live in South Carolina and am busy checking out the terrain here with my seventeen year-old son.


pillow

Product Information

Manufacturer: Big Sky
Year of Manufacture: n/a
Manufacturer's Website:  www.bigskyinternational.com  (the only information about this pillow is at this link bigskyinternational.com/productcare.htm)
MSRP: $34.95
Listed Weight: 4.1 oz (127.5 g)
Listed UltraLight Weight (without pillow cover): 1.9 oz. (53 g)
Measured Weight: 3.25 oz (92 g)
Measured UltraLight Weight:  1.25 oz (35 g)
Measured dimensions flat as a pillow:  18.75 x 10.25 in (476 x 260 mm)
Measured dimensions in the stuff sack: 7.5 x 7 in (191 x 178 mm)
Pillow insulation:  PrimaLoftTM ECO

Initial Report
25 February 2011

Product Description
This pillow came to me packed in its own attached stuff sack along with an invoice and instructions.  Along with PrimaLoftTM ECO insulation, the pillow contains a removable inflatable bladder with a twist valve for adjustment.  There are two zippers on either end of the pillow allowing easy access to the bladder.  The instructions say that the pillow cover is a synthetic fabric "that wicks moisture on hot nights" and is "removable for quick and easy cleaning."  The pillow cover can be machine washed and dried according to the website. The color is a light beige/off white. According to the instructions, the pillow is made from recycled materials. (Hooray!  I'm always for the recycled materials!)

in sack unstuffed  
zipper
Observations
I pulled the pillow (and bladder) out of its attached stuff sack.  The bladder was shipped outside the pillow cover, but inside the stuff sack.  Because of the two zippers on either side of the pillow cover, I was able to easily insert the bladder.  On one side of the pillow there is an opening for the twist valve for adjustment (see picture below).  The pillow inflated easily. The instructions suggest that I should inflate the pillow, then "while your head is laying on the pillow slowly twist open the valve to slowly release air until the optimum comfort is reached, then close the valve for good night's sleep."   I tried it and it works.  It feels weird, however, because my head is resting on a bladder filled with air instead of foam, down, etc.  It feels bouncy.  

bladder  valve

I am anxious to try it out over night to test for air leakage, comfort, moisture wicking, and ease of cleaning. I'm anxious to try it on the ground, in a cot and in my sleeping hammock, as well as on an airplane.

Summary
This is an interesting product.  It is a very creative design.  I hope it is comfortable because it folds up to such a small size.  I wish the cover was a little more aesthetically pleasing, however.

What I Like
It compacts so well.
It is made from recycled materials.

What I don't like
The color is really ugly.


Field Report
23 May 2011


Field Conditions
I have used this pillow on three camping trips and a two hour plane trip.  Two camping trips were in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the Myrtle Beach State Park and the third was on private land near Myrtle Beach.  On two trips the weather was clear and mild, mid-70s (24 C) during the day and mid 50s F (13 C) at night.   The last trip was cold with daytime temperatures of 45 F (7 C) and night temperature of low 30s F (0 C), as well as very rainy and windy. I slept with it in a hammock twice and in a tent on a cot once.  

Observations
This pillow feels like it is full of air.  The first time I used it was on a plane.  I really liked that it packed up into my briefcase.  It was kind of weird to pull it out and blow it up.  The lady next to me probably thought I was a terrorist.  I blew it up and adjusted it like the directions said:  blow it up, lay on it, and then release air from the valve to adjust for comfort.  I don't think it filled in the crack between my head and the window/wall of the plane as well as a foam pillow, but it worked.  I am flying this week and will have to take it again to see if the convenience of its small packed size outweighs the small lack of comfort.  

When I slept on it in a tent, I thought it was really uncomfortable. My head kept bouncing around when I moved.  Because the pillow was between two hard surfaces (my head and the taut canvas of the cot), I felt like I was sleeping on an air mattress.  I didn't like it.  It was very cold (freezing and below) the night I used it in the tent.  Though the pillow case is padded a very little, the air inside the bladder was cold.  I felt like it was leaching the heat out of my head when the air inside the pillow cooled.  Maybe more padding would help.  I will be interested to see how it feels temperature-wise when I use it on hot, humid nights in Missouri and Arkansas.  

Sleeping in a hammock was not as bad.  Actually, I liked it for that because I could almost deflate it and it was more comfortable than the foam pillow that I usually use.  The hammock's angle almost makes a pillow unnecessary.  So when I use a foam one, it puts my head at a sharp angle.  I also think because the hammock material could give, it didn't feel so much like I was sleeping on air.  

Before I had a chance to use the pillow, a company rep contacted me and asked what I liked and didn't like about the pillow. I mentioned that I really thought it was ugly.  I do. Beige is a drab color and it shows dirt.  I told him I thought that brightening up the pillow possibly with patterned fabric might make it more attractive to women.  I wonder also if interchangeable pillowcases, like a flannel or more padded one for winter camping, might be a good idea.  

I still really like that it is made from recycled materials.  Good on ya!!!

Summary

For me, a pillow is ABSOLUTELY necessary when backpacking/camping.  I will give up food space for a good pillow. A stuff sack filled with clothes doesn't cut it for me.   I'm not sure that this one works for backpacking or any time I would have to sleep on a hard surface.  However, I think I like it for sleeping in my hammock.  I have a pillow that I really like, but it doesn't compress well enough to take everywhere.  I was hoping this would solve that problem.  So, comfort or convenience????  I need to "sleep on it."  Get it?!!!  OK... I need to test it more.

What I like
It packs well.
It works well with a sleeping hammock.
It's made from recycled materials.

What I don't like
The color is really ugly.
It's really bouncy when sleeping on a hard surface.


Long Term Report
26 July 2011


Field Conditions
I took the pillow on two camping trips in Missouri, one airplane ride, and one overnight house visit on this test period. On both camping trips, the weather was very hot and dry with temperatures averaging 100 degrees F (38 C) during the day and in the upper 70s F (25 C) at night. I slept in my hammock both times.  

Observations
On both camping trips, it was incredibly HOT so I don't know if I was uncomfortable because of that or because I was uncomfortable.  Though the pillow is very easy to adjust, I do know that I had to fuss with it several times on both trips.  I couldn't get the right amount of air adjusted in order to be comfortable.  However, the valve holds air very well.  It did not leak at all during the night.  The air in the pillow became hot because I was hot and so was the temperature.  It seemed hotter to me than a foam pillow would have been.  

The cover washed well in the washer.  I washed it twice.  

I used it this time at a friend's house when I slept in a bed.  I didn't really like it much.  It felt like I was sleeping on a balloon because my head bounced around all night. In a bed I prefer a bigger pillow.

I really like this pillow best for plane travel.  I like it because it compresses to such a small size that is easily packable.  Also, it fills in the cracks between my head and the plane window/wall.  People look at me funny when I take it out and blow it up.  As well, the sound of me blowing it up draws attention.  I guess I could blow it up before I get on the plane, but the whole point is that I can carry it in my briefcase or bag.

I also like that the pillow has zippers on both ends.  Sometimes in packing, the inside would get turned around and I would have to reach in to adjust it.  Two zippers made it easier.

I also still have problems with the cover material being so ugly/bland.  I feel like I'm blowing up a piece of medical equipment...weird, I know.  

Summary
I think I will continue to use this pillow for plane travel.  I doubt that I will use it for hammock sleeping.  I know I will not use it to sleep on a hard or firm surface.  

What I liked
It compresses well.
It packs well.
It is made from recycled materials.

What I didn't like
It is too bouncy on a firm surface.
The color is ugly.

This concludes my long term report.  Many thanks to Big Sky and BackpackGearTest.org for providing the DreamSleeper Deluxe pillow for testing.




Read more reviews of Big Sky International gear
Read more gear reviews by Dawn Larsen

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Big Sky Dream Sleeper Pillow > Test Report by Dawn Larsen



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