Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Design Salt UltraLight AirCore Pillow > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

TEST SERIES By Theresa Lawrence

INITIAL REPORT - May 07, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - September 17, 2012


NAME: Theresa Lawrence
EMAIL: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.



Images courtesy of Design Salt
Manufacturer: Design Salt
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Made in: China
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$ 25.96
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Measured Weight: 3.74 oz (106 g)
Size: 13 x 17 in (33 x 43 cm)
Color Tested: wasabi/ gray (also available in light blue/ grey)


The Cocoon Ultralight Air-core Travel Pillow features an inflatable air core made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). A premium synthetic fill surrounds the air core, which is then encapsulated by a shell consisting of two different sides one of soft polyester microfiber and the other microfiber polyamid nylon. The same nylon material makes up the stuff sack included. There is a reinforced twist air valve enbedded into one corner for inflation/ deflation. Washing instructions specify hand wash in lukewarm water, no bleach, no tumble dry and no iron.


The pillow arrived packaged in its cute little stuff sack the size of a baseball. I was impressed by the size and how light it was. It weighed in similar to the manufacturer's specifications. I liked the color, look and feel right away and on closer inspection, the construction looked well made with clean seams. In its deflated state I could feel the air core and synthetic fill inside, which appears durable. The microfiber side of the pillow felt soft and cozy, while the nylon side felt smooth and slippery to the touch. My first reaction was that I wanted my face against its soft, cozy side, but I think this side is likely intended as a non-slip side against a sleeping bag or liner, as the nylon side looks like it would likely slide around on these surfaces. Something I will be observing in the future. The valve looks sturdy and well secured in one corner of the pillow and easily swivels on its twist threads.


Aside from washing instructions on a tag sewn on to the pillow, there are no instructions on how to use the pillow. Likely because there's no need to state the obvious. It might be nice to see information about repairing the pillow or what to do if it leaks. Having said this, self-repair doesn't appear to be an option. In which case, some warranty/ longevity information would be useful, then at least I would know how long it was expected to last and whether or not I had a defected pillow or just an expected wear and tear issue.


The pillow was easy to pull out of the stuff sack and in 3 and a half breaths I had it blown up to the maxium. Setting it up for use proved quick and easy. The air valve was easy to use and sealed nicely. It also doesn't appear to be in the way. At its fullest air capacity it measured 15 3/4 in (40 cm) x 12 in (31 cm) and about 4.5 in (11.5 cm) thick. The fully inflated pillow has 4 linear baffles with the 2 middle ones larger than the outer ones. On my first try, I found the pillow hard as expected, but upon deflating it a bit I found a happy medium providing both comfort and support. At this point I'd say it looks like it will do a fine job as a pillow. As a side-sleeper, my cheek is in direct contact with the pillow and I find the cozy microfiber side much more comfortable on my face than the nylon. Not only that, but the nylon side against my ear creates a rather loud inner-ear noise whenever my head makes the slightest move, which is not the case with the microfiber which mutes the noice. Also, the nylon made my hair static, which started to move around my face, which was rather annoying. However, I fear if I keep the nylon side on the bottom, it just might run away from me. I'm looking forward to testing this in the field to see how all this plays out.


Overall, the pillow as a package is cute and appealing and appears supportive and comfortable. But I have some reservations that it might not stay put using the soft and cozy side (my preference) and used in reverse it might cause some annoying static hair and noise. Time will tell, I'm looking forward to a good night sleep in the backcountry.

My sincere thanks to Design Salt and for allowing me to test this little pillow. Check back in a couple months to see how the little pillow is doing.



Location and conditions
Over the past 4 months I have packed this little pillow around with me on all my overnight climbing, backpacking and kayaking trips. All said and done I slept a total of 16 nights with the Cocoon Ultralight Air-core pillow in the same 4-season tent, with the same -7 C (19 F) down sleeping bag and Thermarest mat. On these trips I encountered temperatures ranging from 0 - 30 C (32 - 86 F) and elevations up to 2500 m (8200 ft). We were fortunate on these trips to have great weather, dry for the most part, but also high-force winds were encountered as well as two nights of short, but fierce thunder showers. Most of these trips took place in the South Canadian Rockies: Banff National Park, Bugaboo Provincial Park and Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, as well as Glacier National Park in Montana and the Gulf Islands on Vancouver Island.


Certainly the Cocoon Ultralight Air-core Travel Pillow has stood up to the field testing. No leaks to date, the twist valve still swivels easily and seals completely. The air sac is fully intact as are all the materials.
All sweatered up
All tucked in to the hood

As far as comfort, I had mixed feelings throughout the test period from really comfortable to annoying and frustrating. What seemed to affect my mood so to speak was whether or not I had tucked the pillow into the hood of my sleeping bag. The hood being the only thing that keeps the pillow in place under my head. Otherwise I was chasing it all night and it didn't seem to matter which material side was on the bottom (slippery nylon or microfiber fleece). The amount of air inside also didn't appear to have an effect on this, unless it was really deflated, which of course was no longer a useful pillow. So, once in place in the hood, it couldn't move and the pillow proved to be very adequate in offering a and comfortable support. The microfiber side was definitely the more comfortable side against my face. The pillow with its insulation was never cold and kept my head warm all night. I found placing my light fleece sweater around it as a pillowcase made it that much more comfortable and kept the pillow cleaner. The concern I had originally about noise didn't prove to be a concern at all, nor the static effect on my hair with the nylon side since I always slept with the microfiber to my face or with my fleece sweater as a pillow cover.

The pillow took up very little space in my pack and with its light weight I didn't notice I was packing anything extra. I found I was even able to pack the pillow in my sleeping bag stuff sack, without noticing any gain in volume. This was handy as my pillow, liner and sleeping bag were always together in one stuff sack so I new I hadn't forgotten any sleeping comforts.


Overall I am happy with how the Cocoon Ultralight Air-core Travel Pillow performed in the field. The pillow is not without limitations. I found I must always keep it in my sleeping bag hood to secure it in place. With this in mind I plan to continue using it and do consider it a valuable addition to my backpacking gear.
All packed up

- Light and small for easy packing
- Appealing look, feel and colour
- Comfortable and soft microfiber side
- Premium synthetic fill insulation keeps the pillow and my head warm
- Durable
- Easy inflation/ deflation

- Doesn't stay put if not tucked into the hood of my sleeping bag

Great thanks to Design Salt and for allowing me to test this useful little pillow.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Design Salt gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Design Salt UltraLight AirCore Pillow > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson