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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow > Owner Review by Michael Mosack

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
By Michael Mosack
November 18, 2009


NAME: Michael Mosack
EMAIL: mosack at earthlink dot net
AGE: 45
LOCATION: San Diego, California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 236 lb (107.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing solo and group trips, with and without kids. I do day trips, weekenders and week long trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons, from summer desert trips to Spring/Winter camping in Michigan and Canada to tropical backpacking in the Philippines and rely on my backpacking equipment constantly. I tent, car and RV camp. I prefer to go as light as possible and am always trying new items. Quality and reliability of items I carry are paramount to me over price and weight.


Therm-a-Rest pillow

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website:
Listed Weight: 7 oz (198 g)
Measured Weight: 7 oz (198 g)
Listed Dimensions: 12 in by 16 in (30 cm by 41 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 12 in by 16 in (30 cm by 41 cm)
Fabric: Brushed polyester
Fill Material: Urethane Foam
Other details: The pillow color I purchased is called "Desert", (also listed as "Orange" on the manufacturer's website). The other color options available include, Denim, Green, Mossy Oak Breakup, Advantage Max 4HD.

There are three sizes (small, medium and large) of this pillow available, of which I purchased the small pillow.
Reverse side shown


The pillow is listed as being made of brushed polyester. It appears that only one side of the pillow cover (in this case the softer orange colored side) is brushed polyester while the opposite (gray colored) side is not brushed, giving it a distinctly smoother feel. The pillow loft is urethane foam, which is sealed within the pillow cover and is loosely filled, not a solid chunk of molded foam. The cover material feels soft to the skin, yet does not slide when used against a sleeping bag. The pillow feels soft against my face with a supportive loft and does not seem to transfer ambient temperatures to my skin. If it is cold outside, the pillow remains a comfortable, almost neutral temperature. A drawstring goes around the width of the pillow about a quarter of the way down and becomes part of the lip of a sewn pocket for stuffing the pillow when packing. The cord itself, is routed through a sewn channel and exits through a standard type plastic cord lock. To pack the pillow, I just tightly roll up the pillow, thereby compressing it as I roll it towards and into the pocket. Pulling the drawstring will further compress the packed pillow and the cord lock will help ensure the pillow does not open up until it is released.


This has been the only pillow I've used during 450 nights in the field spread out over the past 18 months. I work in Afghanistan, traveling with military combat units and find myself using this constantly. Field conditions I've experienced while using this pillow include, hot dry summer night time temperatures over 120 F (+49 C), to winter temperatures below 20 F (-7 C). I have used this from 330 feet (101 m) to over 7,000 feet (2100 m) above sea level. I have also used this pillow at altitude while traveling by jet airplane, during international flights of more than 3 hours in duration. I found that this pillow was very comfortable throughout.

Packing and storing this pillow is easy as it compresses nicely. I just rolled the pillow up tightly and tucked it into the convenient pocket that is sewn in as part of the product and then pulled the drawstring to cinch it up and hold it tight. Generally, I do not keep my pillow compressed unless I am actually packing it, but the longest I have left my pillow stored compressed was for a month. When I then opened it up for use, I found that initially, the pillow was very flat, but within 5 minutes and a quick shake, it had regained its loftiness and was quite comfortable and ready to use. The loft of this pillow feels as if it is quite substantial and thick. There is no removable pillow case and the outer material is soft, comfortable and non-slippery. This pillow does not slide around or out from under my head or off of my sleeping bag during the night.
Size comparison to soda can
Compressed and stored size

I have machine washed my pillow 18-20 times. I machine wash and tumble dry on low heat for maximum loft. The instructions on the pillow, state that you can wash and tumble dry to regain any loss of loft that the pillow may have after extended use. I have also hand washed my pillow in warm water and biodegradable soap and a lot of rinsing to get the soap out. To dry, I have hung my pillow in full sun and found that in desert temperatures over 100 F (56 C), my pillow was dry in approximately one hour.

I have used this pillow in the following locations...
Afghanistan, to include Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Helmand Province and many remote areas in between; California, to include San Diego, Ocotillo Wells Vehicle Recreation Area, Anza-Borrego State Park and Laguna Mountains; Grand Canyon area of Havasupai Campgrounds and trail; Traveling from Michigan to California, Bangkok, Thailand and Maldives Islands of Male and Helengeli. I have also used this while traveling by airplane to the international locations.


Overall, I like this pillow very much. I have found that its size is very convenient for traveling, when used as a lumbar pad while driving or sitting for long durations, on backpacking trips as a standard pillow I've found this to provide me a soft yet supportive feel under my head as I sleep. The brushed polyester material maintains a soft feel and ensures that the pillow does not slide out from under my head, even when used with my sleeping bag. The pillow does not seem to be affected by temperatures as it does not feel cold to the skin and breaths well. It packs up small and does not take up very much space in or attached to my pack. It is easy to clean and is well made. Despite 18 months of hard use, many wash and dry cycles in machines, my pillow shows no real wear and no evidence of even a broken stitch.


The ease of this pillow to use and clean
The compressibility and loftiness
The soft feel and that it is not slippery under my head or when used with my sleeping bag


The cord lock seems unnecessary to me and it is hard, having occasionally been pressed against my head during the night.


Mike Mosack

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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