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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Design Salt UltraLight AirCore Pillow > Test Report by Edwin Morse

DESIGN SALT ULTRALIGHT AIRCORE PILLOW
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 07, 2012

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 74
LOCATION: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)
TORSO 18 in (46 cm)
CHEST 35 in (89 cm)
WAIST 36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one- and two-week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Now my pack weighs between 22 and 32 lb (10 and 15 kg). I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Design Salt
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: .at
MSRP: NA
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Measured Weight: 3.8 oz (108 g) in the stuff sack
Listed dimensions: 33 x 43 cm (13 x 16.9 in)
Measured dimensions: 31.1 x 40.6 cm (12.25 x 16 in)
Other details:The Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow came tightly rolled in a green silk stuff sack.
Available colors are light blue / grey and wasabi / grey.
Since the pillow I received is green and grey I assume Cocoon would call it wasabi / grey

The pillow is a shiny green on one side, described as microfiber polyamid nylon. The other side is a soft grey polyester microfiber. There is an information tag near the corner on one short side of the pillow. The tag gives the domensions, weight and material including "Filling: synthetic". The other side provides washing instructions.

On the opposite corner of the pillow from the tag is a twist type air valve, which works very well. This valve is similar to the one on my Therm-A-Rest air mattress. It took about three and a half breaths to blow up the pillow - much less than my air mattress. When blown up I find the pillow just thick enough for sleeping on my side. I already found that I prefer to blow the pillow up hard then adjust, if needed, when I lie down.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first thought was "What is this little thing?" It came in a very small package with the Cocoon Expedition Liner. When packed in the stuff sack the Travel Pillow is slightly bigger than the 8 oz (237 ml) water bottle in which I often carry alcohol for my stove. Here is a picture showing the comparison.
comparing size
size comparison

It is much smaller, and lighter, than a Nalgene water bottle.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There is a tag near the corner opposite the valve. On one side there are washing instructions:
Hand wash in
lukewarm water
no bleach, no tumble dry,
don't iron
Here is a picture showing the instruction side of the tag.
care tag
care tag

There are four symbols along the bottom. The first is a hand in a pan of water. I might interpret this meaning I should hand wash. I have no idea what the other three symbols might mean but all three have an X.
The reverse side of the tag has measurements of the pillow, as shown below.
measurement tag
measurement tag

TRYING IT OUT

The Cocoon Pillow arrived just after I finished packing for a planned three-day hike. I opened my pack and stuffed the pillow in with my quilt.

I have been using extra clothes in a stuff sack as a pillow for several years. That has never been a satisfactory arrangement. When the nights are cold I might wear nearly all the clothes I packed. For one and two-night hikes in warm weather I don't pack enough clothes for a decent pillow.

The weather for this planned hike was predicted to be warm with scattered showers. When we found a place to camp I set up my tent then blew up the air mattress and the pillow. After spreading the silk liner and the quilt over the mattress my bed was ready. I checked the weather report again on the cell phone. Now it was predicting scattered thunder storms starting about midnight. I woke to rolling thunder about every two hours. With the Cocoon Travel Pillow I went back to sleep quickly each time.

I didn't even take the pillow out of the stuff sack until I had my tent set up in camp that night. When I put my head down on the blown up pillow the wasabi green surface felt slippery, very much like my silnylon stuff sacks, although it was more comfortable than a lumpy sack of clothes. A few hours later I got back in bed after a quick run outside. I accidentally turned the pillow over so the grey side was up.
soft side
blown up

OH MY, what soft comfort! The grey side fabric is very soft on my face.

SUMMARY

Now I have to wonder why I waited so long to use a pillow for backpacking. I can say I'm trying to cut down on the weight I carry. On the other hand my body is getting a little older and I need my night-time comfort. One night of trying to sleep through frequent thunderstorms convinced me that Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow is worth a little added weight.

What I like:
Light weight,
Easy to pack,
Night time comfort.

Not so good:
Nothing yet,
I will think of something eventually.

This concludes my Initial Report.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

There is no field report This is a two report series.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've used the pillow in two different hammocks (Bear Mountain Bridge hammock by Jacks 'R' Better and my Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock), two different tents (Tarptent Double Rainbow and "The One" tent by Gossamer Gear) and five different trail shelters. This use occurred during five overnight hikes, a four-night hike in Lower Michigan and a twelve-day hike on Isle Royale.

I completed an overnight hike on May 16-17, 2012 in the Pere Marquette State Forest, near the village of Fife Lake, Michigan. I used the pillow in my small "The One" tent by Gossamer Gear on this hike.

I completed another overnight hike June 4-5, 2012 Pere Marquette State Forest, south of the village of Williamsburg, Michigan. I used the pillow in my roomy Tarptent Double Rainbow.

I did another overnight hike June 16-17, 2012 in the Pere Marquette State Forest starting south of Williamsburg, Michigan. This time I used the pillow in my Warbonnet Black Bird Hammock.

I finished another overnight hike June 18-19, 2012, in the Pere Marquette State Forest, starting about 10 mi (16 km) south of Traverse City, Michigan. I used the pillow in my Tarptent Double Rainbow.

I completed an overnight hike on June 23-24, 2012 in the Manistee National Forest southwest of Traverse City, Michigan. I used the pillow in my Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock under my tarp, both by Jacks 'R' Better.
The above overnight hikes ranged from 4 to 11 mi (6 to 17 km) each day. The temperature ranged from 24 to 88 F (-4 to 30 C). The terrain was mostly flat to rolling with some hills each day. The forest ranged from oak and maple to stands of red or white pine. All the above hikes, except June 18-19, 2012, were on different sections of the North Country Trail.

I started a four-day hike on July 4, 2012 about six miles (10 km) east of the village of Vanderbilt, Michigan. The terrain is hilly with a constantly changing forest with areas of white pine, Jack pine and through cedar swamps and stands of hard maple in some higher areas. The weather ranged from a sunny high of 92 F (33 C) to a low of 54 F (12 C) during a pounding rain and lightning storm. My daily distances were from about 8 mi (13 km) to 22 mi (35 km) on the four-night hike. Here is a picture of my campsite the first night. I used my Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock for shelter on this hike. I also used the pillow every night in the hammock.
hammock camp McLavey Lake
camp at McLavey Lake

Here is a picture of the pillow in my hammock a few days later.
pillow in Hammock
pillow in hammock

I learned during the last hike that when I use the pillow in a hammock I only want about half as much air in the pillow as when I have it nearly hard in a tent or shelter. The pillow works just as well whether I use it in a tent, in a shelter or in a hammock. I did find one frustrating (for me) aspect of using the pillow in either of my hammocks. When I get in either hammock I sit down in the center. When I sit down the pillow and anything else loose slides to where I'm sitting. No matter how I arrange things the same happens when I get in or out.
Using the pillow in a hammock has its challenges. When I sit up to get in or out, the gear in my hammock slides to the center, including the pillow. I have to deliberately move the pillow out and away from under me before I lie down and position it each time. This isn't the fault of the pillow, but it is a complication (or frustration for me) of using the pillow in the hammock.
It might be nice if the pillow had a shock cord clip so I could keep it secure on one end of the hammock. Perhaps a small piece of hook-and-loop tape on both pillow and hammock could solve this miner problem.

The longest hike I did during the long term period was 12 days and 105 miles (169 KM) of backpacking on Isle Royale National Park which is located in western Lake Superior but still in the state of Michigan. The weather varied from bright and sunny to heavy clouds and hard driving rain. The temperature ranged from a low one morning of 44 F (7 C) to 76 F (24 C) the sunny morning I boarded the Ranger III ferry for the ride back to Houghton, Michigan.
I got set up early the third afternoon so I was able to get a picture of my bed in the little tent.
pillow in tent at South Lake Desor
pillow in tent

Five days later I was able to get a picture at another campsite of my tent with pillow and bedding visible inside.
open tent at Todd Harbor
set for night

I used the pillow in my "The One" tent about half the time and in trail shelters the rest of my nights while on Isle Royale. My daily distances ranged from a low of six mi (10 km) to a high of 15 mi (24 km) while on the island.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

When I use the pillow in a hammock I blow it up then let about half the air out. This is the same method I use with my air mattress, which is why I do it this way. I blow the pillow up as hard as I reasonably can. Then I lie down and open the valve to let out a little air out. I continue until the pillow is soft and comfortable.
This is just my preference because it works for me.

The Cocoon Ultra light Pillow adds to my nighttime comfort whether I'm using a hammock, a tent or a trail shelter. Some of the pictures I've taken show the green side of the pillow, which is silky and slippery. I found it easy to slide off the pillow when I slept on it the first few times with the silky green side up. To me the big advantage of the green side is that it is slippery. When I'm ready to pack the pillow I open the valve and squeeze the air out, fold it in half lengthwise with the green side out, then roll it as tight as I can. With the slippery side out it is relatively easy to work the pillow into the small stuff sack. Now I always sleep on the soft grey side. In my opinion the grey microfiber side just feels better, it is soft on my face when I sleep on my side and I don't slide off the pillow.

Where ever I have used the pillow it has added greatly to my night time comfort. The added comfort more than makes up for the small extra weight.

SUMMARY

It is a keeper! The Cocoon Ultra Light Air-Core Travel Pillow has a permanent place in the backpack with my sleeping gear. It has added too much to my sleeping comfort to go back to clothes in a slippery and sweaty stuff sack. All my thoughts about the pillow are to the good. The more I use the pillow the more I think it is a well designed and engineered piece of backpacking equipment.

I do have the frustration when using a hammock that the pillow moves to the center when I get in or out. It might be nice if the pillow had a shock cord clip so I could keep it secure on one end of the hammock. I just looked at the pillow to see if I could use the care tag to hook a light shock cord. Unfortunately, this would have me lying on the valve. So a separate cord clip might be attached near the center of any edge. It is also possible that a small piece of hook-and-loop tape could be used on both the pillow and hammock to keep the hammock in place.

Just to be picking at nits, I would make just one suggestion and not about the pillow itself. I would like to see a strap across the bottom of the stuff sack. That would make it much easier to get the pillow out of the stuff sack. It would be even better if the stuff sack could be attached to the pillow. Several times I laid something over the little stuff sack at night and had a hard time finding it in the morning.

This concludes my Long Term Report.
I would like thank Design Salt and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to use and test the Cocoon Ultralight Aircore Pillow.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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