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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Design Salt UltraLight AirCore Pillow > Test Report by Erin Foudy

COCOON Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow
Test Series By Erin Foudy
Initial Report - May 4th, 2012
Long Term Report - September 16th, 2012

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Tester Info:
Name: Erin Foudy
Age: 31
Gender: Female
Height: 5'11'' (1.8 m)
Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
Email address: erinfoudyATyahooDOTcom
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona, USA

Backpacking Background:
I started backpacking while working for the National Park service ten years ago.  I have been a backcountry ranger/law enforcement ranger and served on search and rescue crews.  I typically take two or more camping trips a month, year round.  I appreciate light weight, but am not obsessed by it.  I often carry a 30 lb (14 kg) pack and stay out from three to nine days at a time.  I also enjoy day trips with only water on my back.  I take trips to Colorado and Montana in the summertime and enjoy the outdoors there as well.

Initial Report

Product Information and Specifications:

Manufacturer: Design Salt
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Available Sizes: One size
Listed Size: 13 x 17 in (33 X 43 cm)
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Actual Weight: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Available Colors: Light blue/ grey and wasabi/ grey
Color Tested: Wasabi/ grey
MSRP: Not listed

The COCOON Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow (hereafter referred to as the pillow) is a lightweight, inflatable pillow that packs down into a very small nylon stuff sack.  The shell of the pillow is a soft gray microfiber on one side, and a wasabi green nylon material on the other.  The pillow has a tag sewn into the side seam that lists the size, pillow filling, and shell materials on one side, and the care instructions on the other.  In one corner of the pillow is a black plastic twist valve for inflating the pillow by mouth.  The setup for inflating the pillow is very similar to that of an inflatable sleeping pad; twist the valve open, inflate, and then twist the valve closed.  The COCOON website states that the inside of the pillow is made up of an ultralight, inflatable air core that is surrounded by a soft, synthetic fill. 

Initial Impressions:
Upon receiving the pillow in the mail I was shocked at how small and lightweight the package was.  The pillow came rolled and stuffed inside the stuff sack with an information card attached.  Once I pulled the pillow from the stuff sack and unrolled it I was concerned that getting the pillow back inside the small stuff sack was going to be a challenge.  I immediately folded the pillow in half and rolled it up tightly to see if I could in fact re-stuff it.  To my surprise, the pillow went easily back into the stuff sack and packed down to about the size of a can of soda.  In trying out the pillow, it easily inflated as I blew air in to the pillow, and using the twist valve, was easily adjustable for fine-tuning to my comfort level.  When I laid my head on the pillow, it was very comfortable and did not collapse at all under my weight.  With the pillow still inflated, I squeezed it a bit to see how sturdy it felt, the pillow held up fine but felt thin, like if I squeezed much harder it might pop.  I typically like a firm pillow so I am a bit concerned that if the pillow is inflated fully that I will have to be more careful with it so that it doesn't burst.  When deflating the pillow I had no problems; I opened the twist valve and compressed the pillow till all the air was gone, then closed the valve once more.  Other than my concern over the stability of the pillow I found no other problems there appeared to be no defects and everything seemed to be in good working order.      

The COCOON Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow is an ultralight pillow that packs up into a very small stuff sack.  In the past I have always loaded up a stuff sack with a jacket or clothes for a pillow, however, this pillow will provide me with more comfort without adding much weight or bulk to my pack.  Seems like a no-brainer.

1.  Having an actual pillow while camping or backpacking
2.  Extremely light weight
3.  Packs up small

1.  The walls of the inflatable air core feel thin when I squeeze the pillow while inflated

Long Term Report

Field Conditions:
Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona.  Elevation ranging from 9,600 ft to 12,643 ft (2,926 m to 3,854 m) on top of Mt. Humphreys.  Temperatures ranged from 32 F to 65 F (0 C to 18 C).   This trip was a 3-day, and 2-night trip backpacking excursion.

Mount Baldy Wilderness, northeastern Arizona.  The elevation ranged from 9,394 ft to 11,414 ft (2,863 m to 3,479 m) near the top of Mount Baldy (non tribal members are not allowed to summit).  Temperatures ranged from the mid 40s F to the mid 70s F (10 C to 21 C).  I hiked 17 mi (27 km) during a 2-day, 1-night trip.

Coronado National Forest, Wilderness of Rocks from the summit of Mt. Lemon.  Elevation ranging from 7,280 ft to 9,080 ft (2,219 m to 2,768 m).  Temperatures ranged from the mid 40s F to the mid 80s F (10 C to 27 C).  I hiked 9.5 mi (15 km) during a 2-day, 1-night trip.

Coronado National Forest, Mt. Lemon during two separate 2-day, 1-night car camping trips.  Elevation around 8,000 ft (2,438 m).  Temperatures ranged from the 40s F to the mid 80s F (10 C to 27 C). 

Performance in the Field:
I have absolutely no complaints about the COCOON Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow.  This travel pillow is extremely lightweight, compact, and adds a level of comfort that had been lacking in my previous backpacking experiences.  Before receiving this pillow, like many backpackers I know, I would pack clothes into a stuff sack, or use a hydration bladder in place of a pillow at night.  These options get the job done but after enjoying the comfort of the COCOON pillow I don't foresee myself going back.  Why would I when the pillow allows me a better nights rest without taking up hardly any room in my pack and adds no noticeable weight?  I just wish I had known about this pillow sooner.  As a side sleeper I prefer a firm pillow and with the COCOON travel pillow being inflatable it allowed me to achieve the perfect level of comfort I desired while sleeping.  I had no problems inflating the pillow using the twist valve and had no issues with air leaking out of the pillow over night.  When it was time to pack up and move on, the pillow was simple to deflate, rollup, and stuff back into its provided sack.  I had some initial concerns about the sturdiness of the pillow when I first received it but after several trips I feel very confident that it will continue to hold up.  My confidence in the pillow increased even more when I was showing it to a friend and while it was still inflated my 1-year-old got a hold of it.  Granted he is not very big, he weighs about 30 lbs (14 kg), but I saw him put much of his weight on the pillow, leaning on it while it was sitting on our coffee table.  The pillow held up to the pressure and has continued to hold up over two car camping trips and one backpacking trip since then.  The only issue, if you can call it that, I have noticed is that the pillow can slide around a bit under my head if I have the nylon material facing the ground and the microfiber side facing up.  I like the feel of the soft microfiber better against my face while sleeping, however, the nylon is slippery and whether the nylon is against my sleeping bag, air mattress, or the floor of the tent it tends to slide around.  This really hasn't been too much of a problem, I just sleep with the nylon side of the pillow facing up and the issue is solved.

The COCOON Ultralight Air-Core Travel Pillow has been a wonderful and much appreciated addition to my backpacking sleep gear.  The pillow is a well designed,  easy to use, ultra lightweight, and compact alternative to my previous stuff sack full of clothes pillow.  The pillow has proven to be sturdy and reliable, and has been added to my "must have" list of items for backpacking, car camping, and general traveling.

1.  Having an actual pillow while camping or backpacking
2.  Extremely light weight
3.  Packs up small
4.  Sturdy

1.  Nylon side of the pillow slides around a bit under my head if it's the side facing the ground.

This concludes my Long-Term Test Report and this test series.  Sincere thanks to Design Salt and for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of Design Salt gear
Read more gear reviews by Erin Foudy

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