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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Big Sky Dream Sleeper Pillow > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

Big Sky DreamSleeper Deluxe Pillow
Test Series by Ralph Ditton
Initial Report: 25th February, 2011
Field Report: 17th May, 2011
Long Term Report: 19th July, 2011

                             DreamSleeper Pillow
                                                                           DreamSleeper Pillow
Initial Report
Personal Information

Name Ralph Ditton
Age 59
Gender Male
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 74 kg (163 lb)
Email rdassettsAToptusnetDOTcomDOTau
Location Perth, Western Australia. Australia

Backpacking Background
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail, Darling Scarp and Cape to Cape Track. I lead walks for my bushwalking club and they consist of day walks and overnighters. My pack weight for multi day trips including food and water, tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.

Product Information
Big Sky International
Year of Manufacturer
Bladder - Transparent plastic
Pillow cover - Riverstone/beige
Pillow cover - cotton soft synthetic fabric
Interior of pillow - PrimaLoft ECO
Twist valve
Listed weight
117 g (4.1 oz) incl. bladder and stuff sack
Measured weight
Bladder 54 g (1.9 oz)
Pillow/stuff sack 68 g (2.4 oz)
Total 122 g (4.3 g)

Product Description
The pillow arrived inside its stuff sack which measures 190 mm x 190 mm square (7.5 in x 7.5 in). The stuff sack is stitched to the pillow cover so that it cannot be mislaid.

                                   stuff sack
                                                                    Stuff sack

The stuff
sack is closed by a zipper that runs the length of one side.
See photo below.

                            zipper on stuff sack
                                                                        zipper on stuff sack
Pillow Cover
On the opposite end of the pillow from the stuff sack is another similar zipper that allows access to the bladder. It only runs for 160 mm (6.3 in).
The dimensions of the pillow (flat) are 480 mm x 290 mm (19 in x 11.4 in).
Inflated, the height is 120 mm (4.7 in).

In one corner, at the stuff sack end, there is a sewn hole to allow the twist valve to poke through. It can just be seen in the top photo at the top right hand corner.

The interior of the pillow cover has a lining of Primaloft ECO. It is stitched along all of the internal seams of the pillow case.

                            Primaloft ECO
                                                                              Primaloft ECO

Pillow Bladder
The pillow bladder is made out of a plastic type material which goes cloudy when inflated  by mouth. I guess that is the condensation from my breath.
In one corner is the twist valve mounted in a solid plastic housing. The valve has five openings on the top.
Inflation is very easy. Just blow.
It takes me just on ten puffs to fully inflate the pillow.
Deflation is also easy. Just push on the pillow to release the air after opening up the twist valve.

Internally, there are two partial walls that join the top and bottom surfaces of the pillow together.
When inflated, these walls give the shape to the pillow that is the ergonomic design that is supposed to stop my head from rolling off the pillow. It should cradle my head.
The walls are 70 mm (2.7 in) high. They are lower than the fully inflated pillow of 120 mm (4.7 in). By being vertically challenged, these two walls pull the top and bottom panels of the pillow inwards, creating a hollow as seen in the photo below.

                            Inflated bladder
                                                                                   Inflated bladder

Initial Impression
What I received matched what was listed on the website, so no surprise there.
I was struck by how nice the pillow felt in my fingers. As I am a manual worker, the skin on my fingers take on a sandpaper effect. That means that fine fabrics catch on my scaly skin. This did not happen with this pillow cover.
Plus it feels nice and soft when inflated and deflated.

As the proud owner of a number of inflatable pillows I had to give this pillow an initial test for noise.
Some pillows make an irritating noise every time I move my head on the pillow which makes going to sleep all that more difficult.
How did this one go?
It made a soft crinkly sound right into my ear every time I moved my head. The sensation was a bit like being on a water bed.
My side of my face was cradled nicely in the middle of the pillow. I am a side sleeper.

To examine the bladder, I have pulled it in and out of the pillow case a number of times.
I found it a bit tricky to make sure that the bladder did not get twisted or skew whiff. It certainly became obvious that I got it wrong when I inflated the bladder. It went all lumpy at one end.

One area of concern that I have already is the collection of moisture from my breath inside the bladder.
I left the twist valve open overnight and there was still evidence of my moisture on the inside of the bladder.
Having said that, I must also take into account our current weather. The temperature has ranged from 38 C (100 F) during the afternoon to a low of 26 C (79 F) during the night with the Relative Humidity ranging from 60% to 96%. (Source: Bureau of Meteorology).

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on how well the bladder dries out.

Things I Like
  • Small and compact
  • Lightweight
  • Lovely soft feel
Things I dislike
  • Moisture retention inside bladder
  • Crinkly noise in my ear when laying on it

Field Report
My first outing was in the Wellington Dam National Park and I spent two nights there.
The night time temperatures averaged 22 C (72 F).
The elevation of the campsite sits at 60 m (197 ft) above sea level and was on the banks of the Collie River.

                                                         Collie River
                                                                                            Collie River at campsite

The first night I placed a full stuff sack behind the pillow so that the pillow did not touch the walls of the tent and to stop it from moving off my sleeping mat during the night and dropping down onto the tent floor, some  4 cm (1.5 in).

I found that the pillow was not quite high enough when I lay on my side. My head did not have any elevation. I do like my head to be slightly raised.
Anyway, I persevered with it for the first night.

The pillow stayed in place and did not end up on the tent floor but it did make a bit of noise when I tossed and turned trying to get to sleep.
I find that on any first night out camping I always have a bit of difficulty in getting to sleep due to the environment and a strange sleeping set up. Not my usual domestic set up.
Anyway, sleep I did, eventually.

The following night I jacked up the pillow by placing a jumper under it. This gave me an elevated head and I was very comfortable with this arrangement.
The stuff sack was still in place also.
The picture below does not show the jumper under the pillow as it is hidden.

My next trip was to my usual camping ground on the Coastal Plain Trail. The campsite sits at an elevation of 80 metres (263 ft) on top of a sand dune with vegetation that includes trees.
Temperatures during the night ranged from 13 C down to 7 C (55 F - 45 F).
I slept in a tent and this time I did not pack anything under the pillow, but I did pack a full stuff sack behind the pillow to ensure that it did not slip off my sleeping pad and rest against the tent wall.
The tent has a single wall at both ends and there was condensation on the inside, hence the reason for keeping the pillow away from the end wall.

How did I sleep on it this time?
Extremely well. I only woke up once during the night. I did not notice if the pillow was noisy from moving my head as I had partaken of some wine beforehand. I went to bed around 11 pm and rose at 7.30 am as the sun was brightly shining through the tent wall making any further sleep/rest impossible. I had a lazy day coming up, so there was no need for an early rise.
The pillow was comfortable and I did not notice any cold spots on my lower head/jaw area. I sleep with a beanie on so as to retain body warmth.

When I went to bed, the pillow was reasonably firm. However, in the morning, a slight amount of air must have escaped as the pillow was a bit softer, but not enough that required me to add extra air for comfort.
                                              pillow in single wall tent
                                                                  Pillow in single end wall tent

Upon returning home, I hung the pillow on the clothes line with the cap/valve unscrewed to allow for any moisture from my breath to evaporate.
So far the pillow shows no signs of sweat stains from my head. I am notorious for soaking my pillows with perspiration from my head on warm nights. I put it down to the beanie that is absorbing the sweat.

Long Term Report

In this phase I have used the pillow on four occasions. It was all in the Melaleuca Nature Reserve adjacent to Gnangara. The terrain is only 80 metres (263 ft) above sea level and approximately 40 km (25 mi) from the coast.

We are currently experiencing a very warm winter so the overnight temperatures have only got down to 8 C (46 F). I still wear a beanie to bed to help prevent loosing heat from my scalp.
I persevered with just using the pillow on its own without jacking it up by placing clothing under it.

I am a side sleeper and I found that the pillow was a tad on the low side for me, even allowing for the slight deflation after inflating it to achieve a comfortable fit for the head. I do not like my pillows to be over inflated as my head tends to slip off due to the rounding that can occur.
Having said that, I did adjust after a while to the lower pillow height and slept quite comfortably.

The internal chambers are still intact and the pillow cover is still in good order. There is no discoloration from perspiration from my head. The nights have not been hot enough for my body to perspire.

When I laid on the pillow I did not notice any undue crinkling noise unlike another brand that I blow up with a straw. That was most appreciative on my behalf and my camping mate who was a good 4 metres (13 ft) away. He did complain in the past about the use of my other brand of pillow. The crinkling noise annoyed him.

Upon my return home, I leave the valve open so as to dry out the interior of the bladder. There was slight condensation from my breath from inflating it by mouth. By leaving the valve open it appears to work in drying out the interior.
I also hang it out on one of our clothes line. This one is inside the garage out of direct sunlight.

All in all I am moderately happy with the pillow. I am used to a slightly higher pillow at home so the lower pillow took a bit of getting used to.
Now that the testing phase is over, I will continue to use this pillow but I will jack it up by placing clothing under it.
For packing purposes in my backpack it is brilliant. It takes up very little room and the weight is negligible.

Thank you Big Sky for allowing me to test this product.

Read more reviews of Big Sky International gear
Read more gear reviews by Ralph Ditton

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Big Sky Dream Sleeper Pillow > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

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