SEA TO SUMMIT - AEROS PILLOW
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - August 05, 2014
LONG TERM REPORT - February 03, 2015
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season backpacker and year round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: www.seatosummit.com
MSRP: Not Listed
The Aeros is available in two sizes and one color scheme, green and gray. I am testing the Regular size Aeros.
Listed Weight: 2.8 oz (78 g)
Measured Weight: 2.9 oz (82 g) without stuff sack weight of 0.14 oz (4 g)
Listed Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 5 in (35.5 x 25.4 x 12.7 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 13.5 x 9.5 x 4.5 in (34.3 x 24.1 x 11.4 cm)
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Listed Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.5 x 5.5 in (42 x 29 x 14 cm)
-Brushed 50D polyester knit
-Synthetic fill between pillow case and TPU bladder to increase comfort and wick perspiration
-Curved internal baffles create contours to cradle the head
-Scalloped bottom edges centers pillow around shoulders for back or side sleeping
-Multi-functional valve inflate pillow with a couple of breaths
The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow arrived in its stuff sack attached to a small display hang tag. The hang tag shows an image of the pillow fully inflated along with much of the information listed above. I am surprised that a pillow of any substance can fit into such a small stuff sack.
When removed from the stuff sack the Aeros looks more pillow-like. Even though it's deflated and flat the shape and contours suggest a pillow. One side is gray with more of a felt feel. The other side is green and feels slick. While both sides feel good to the touch the gray side being slightly plush is definitely the sleep side. Not to mention the valve on the green side. The multi-function valve is different from any I have seen before and is really neat, more on the valve later. The stuff sack has a draw string and push lock closure as well as a small handle that runs the length of the sack.
Both the stuff sack and pillow look to be made of quality material and construction. I have to nitpick to find one tiny flaw, a loose string on the pillow. This will be easily remedied with a snip of the scissors and quick singe of the lighter.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The Aeros is pretty self-explanatory. While the multi-function valve is totally new to me and unusual, part of its beauty is its simplicity. Just one valve with two pull tabs. One tab labeled inflate and to other deflate. All there is to do is just pull the appropriate tab and breathe in or squeeze out air.
Cleaning instructions are found on a label inside the stuff sack; hand wash, do not iron, do not dry clean and do not tumble dry.
TRYING IT OUT
The inflate portion of the mulit-function valve opens with a slight tug. I am able to fully inflate the Aeros with three deep breathes. No need to rush closing the valve, it's one way. A small membrane inside the valve prevents air from escaping once I remove my mouth. The Aeros has a nice firm to squishy balance. The fabric is very soft to the touch. Lying down on the couch the Aeros is comfortable and supplies support whether on my back, side or stomach.
A quick catnap dreaming of my next trip and then it's time to pack away the Aeros. Again a slight tug this time to the deflate tab and the air rushes out. There is no hiss or whining as the air is released, just a quick, low whoosh sound. I close the tab and roll the pillow up. However it's a little too big to fit in the stuff sack. I pull the deflate tab again and this time leave it open. I roll the left side toward the valve then the right and squeeze the remaining air out. I close the valve and roll the pillow toward the valve and then close it. The Aeros now easily slips into the stuff sack. Again I am impressed with how small it packs down.
I don't mind leaving the comforts of home behind when backpacking. I enjoy it, but the one thing I refuse to do without is a pillow. I always bring along that one creature comfort. And the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow is comfy. I like that I can have my comfort and at minimal "cost". The Aeros is light weight and packs small. Silly enough I also really like something as simple as the valve. It's quick, easy and doesn't make any disruptive sounds. This is nice when packing up in the morning and trying to be respectful of the later rising mates.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Wheeler Pond, Vermont - Two nights at Harstel-Martens cabin on plywood bunks at 1400 ft (420 m), 55 F (13 C) and breezy and 60 F (15.5 C) and humid. Two day hikes for total of 7.5 mi (12 km) on muddy and/or rocky trail with lots of bugs.
Appalachian Trail, Hanover, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) from 530 to 1,240 ft (161 to 380 m), 75 to 50 F (24 to 10 C) sunny and calm. Late evening start for one night at Velvet Rocks shelter with an early morning hike home.
Appalachian Trail, Lyme to Hanover, New Hampshire - 18 mi (29 km) from 860 to 2300 ft (260 to 700 m), 60 to 40 F (15 to 4 C) sunny during the day and windy at night. Nice section of trail through marsh, pasture, and two mountains for one and half days and one night in a hammock.
Appalachian Trail, North Woodstock to Orford, New Hampshire - 18 mi (29 km) from 900 to 4450 ft (270 to 1350 m), 65 to 35 F (18 to 2 C) amazing, clear autumn weather. Great section with big mountain views and dense forest for one and a half days and one night in a tarp-tent.
Mt Cardigan - Alexandria, New Hampshire - two nights in a single wall free standing two person tent.
Day one gave us a high of 12, low -2 F (-11, -19 C) with 6 in (15 cm) of fresh snow, winds around 25 mph (40 kph) with gust of 35 mph (56 kph).
Day two saw a high of 17, low 5 F (-8, -15 C) and clear with winds around 20 mph (32 kph), gust of 30 mph (48 kph). Two days of hiking totaling about 8 mi (13 km) from 1400 to 2250 ft (427 to 680 m) on broken and unbroken snow covered trails.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During this stage of testing I have used the Aeros pillow for five nights. Sleeping conditions varied slightly on each outing. On all outings the Aeros teamed up with a Big Agnes Air Core pad. The Aeros provided comfortable support for my head and neck on all nights except one.
Accommodation on the first outing was a fully enclosed cabin with raised platform plywood bunks. On the second outing, remove one of the walls of the cabin and the raised bunks and things were the same. In the three sided shelter again I bedded down on a hard wooded surface. Under these minimal conditions I had a restful sleep using the Aeros.
Outing number three I slept in a hammock for my second time ever. My first time in a hammock wasn't very comfortable and didn't use a pillow. So this time around I thought I'd try again with the Aeros. When fully inflated the Aeros in combination with the curve of the hammock raised my head too high. Once I removed about half of the air it made it more comfortable. However after falling asleep and shifting around I awoke to find the Aero gone. I was shocked, feeling around I found it down around midwaist level. I repositioned it only to have this happen again. At that point I gave up and slept through the night. Being a newbie to hammocking I still need to work out the details. Although I have discovered a pillow isn't very necessary.
My final outing I slept on the ground in a tarp-tent. Here the Aeros performed just as great as it had on the first two outings. The Aeros stayed in place, never sliding around on my sleeping pad or bag. The Aeros is compatible while sleeping on my back, side, stomach or any combination in between. Throughout the night the fabric feels nice against my face. When rolling to or from my back and side I can notice and appreciate the scalloped edge and baffles. It's like my head is in an egg in a carton (I have weird dreams when I sleep outside).
My stay at the Velvet Rocks trail shelter coincided with the passing of many Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. I arrived after several people where bedded down. And departed before many where awake. The shelter was almost at capacity. Trying to have good shelter etiquette I didn't want to interrupt anyone's sleep. The multi-functional valve allowed me to inflate and deflate the pillow quickly without making any disturbing sounds. Nor does it make any noise while changing sleeping positions. Now if I could get my Air Core to follow the Aeros' polite example.
On my final outing I used the pillow in conjunction with a 0 F (-18 C) Polarguard filled sleeping bag atop a Big Agnes Air Core pad which was atop a Thermarest Z-Lite closed cell foam pad. I didn't think I would need the Aeros under all the padded from the insulation of a heavy fleece hat and fluff of the hood of mummy bag.
I tried to go without it at first. I was worried the Aeros would slip out of position. I further thought being zipped and cinched so tight into the mummy bag it would be cumbersome to reposition it. I felt a little too flat and not 100% comfortable. So I blew up the Aeros and the difference was very apparent. Sleeping with the Aeros made a big difference and didn't slip from under my head either night.
I discovered two minor issues I didn't fully realize being new to winter camping. First lesson, I discovered the deflate valve froze shut overnight with my saliva from inflating the Aeros. After defrosting the valve with the precious warmth in my sleeping bag comes lesson two. Stuffing such a small pillow into such a wee sack with gloves on is almost impossible. Without gloves it becomes almost as hard with quickly numbing fingers. Again I learned to do this inside the sleeping bag making the whole process easy.
The Aeros pillow remains in great condition in both function and appearance. The Aeros helped make two very frigid nights much more comfortable.
From late summer through midwinter the Aeros pillow has been the cherry on top of a good night's sleep. It satisfies many of my likes in backpacking gear. The Aeros pillows works very well with all my sleep-systems (non-suspended ones). It's very functional, comfortable, lightweight, compact and easy to use. The only thing it is not compatible with to me is hammocking. The one mishap while hammocking seems mute since I didn't even need a pillow. Other than that I honestly can say it's been the perfect pillow. The Aeros will be going on all my future non-hammocking backpack trips.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
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This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Sea to Summit for making me part of this test series.
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Read more gear reviews by Michael Pearl