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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Accessories > Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pillow > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pillow
By Raymond Estrella

December 03, 2013


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 53
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 213 lb (96.60 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs Inc. Pillow in a package
Web site:
Product: NeoAir Pillow
MSRP: US $39.95
Year manufactured/received: 2013
Size: Medium
Weight listed: 3.1 oz (90 g)
Actual weight: 2.8 oz (80 g)
Color: Burnt Orange
Dimensions listed: 11 x 15 in (28 x 38 cm) Verified accurate
Actual packed size: diameter 2.3 x 3.2 in (58 x 81 mm)
Thickness, fully inflated: 2.5 in (7.5 cm)

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The NeoAir Pillow is a big pillow in a small package. Light weight and a miniscule packed size makes this a dream. Well, it can be dreamed onů As a side sleeper I do wish it were a bit higher when fully inflated. Please read on for the details.

Product Description

Inflated pillow

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pillow (hereafter referred to as the pillow) is an inflatable pillow aimed directly at the lightweight crowd, which I count myself as a part of. My model is the larger of the two NeoAir pillows that Therm-a-Rest makes.Folded pillow

The pillow is made of a ribbed weave 75 denier polyester fabric. It has a polyurethane coating on the inner surface and has a cloth like feel to the outer surface. It does not come across as too plastic-y feeling.

Mouth power inflates the pillow by way of the nylon valve at the middle of the left side. It takes me just two good breaths to inflate it. It can be inflated full and hard, or, as I like to do, be left a little deflated to make it softer.

There appear to be eight channels or cells running vertically. I really can't tell if it is using an air beam technology or a modified Core Matrix Technology so there could be more channels inside.

Therm-a-Rest says that it may be used along with its Down Pillow to make it warmer for winter slumbering. As I don't have one I am not sure how it would attach to keep them as one unit, but it does sound like a good idea to me.

Rolled up and stuff sack

Finally the pillow comes with a tiny little stuff sack 0.2 oz (5 g) for storage. I roll it and use a rubber band though.

Field Data

In Tarptent Sublite

Over the course of the late spring, summer, and early fall I used the NeoAir Pillow about thirteen nights. All use was in the State of Minnesota including numerous backpacking trips to the Halstad/Hendrum areas on the Red and the Wild Rice Rivers on my side of the state (west), plus trips to Itasca State Park, Chippewa National Forest and Paul Bunyan State Forest. Temps encountered ran from lows of 22 F to highs of 80 F (-6 to 27 C) in conditions that ranged from sunny to lots lot of rain, some hail, and even snow on the one trip.

It has been used in three different shelters, with three different pads, and with three different sleep systems. In the picture above it is paired with NeoAir XLite pad in summer on Waboose Lake. In the colder late spring picture below it is paired with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All-Season and the company's 2013 Alpine Down Blanket.

In Tarptent Stratospire


I am a major pillow user. I have a very hard time sleeping without a pillow. In my teens I even resorted to putting my boots in my sleeping bag's stuff sack and using that as a pillow. By my early 20's I decided that a true pillow was worth the weight and carried many types over the years.

As I have progressed to lighter weight and lower volume packs I have turned to the inflatable pillow, carrying one model for about four years now. As a huge fan of the NeoAir line of sleeping pads (see my many reviews here) I was excited to see Therm-a-Rest come out with the NeoAir Pillow too.

I love how tiny it packs down. Sometimes I will roll it up and put a rubber band around it and other times I just fold it and place it with my sleeping clothes (lightweight base layers). I have never used the little stuff sack that comes with it.

While most of my use was in warmer temps with quilts I also used it twice in fall after the temps started dropping here. I used it with a Therm-a-Rest Haven, which is a weird, cool, hybrid sleeping bag, quilt-ish, sleep system thingy. (Watch for a review with better description/explanation here soon.) I used it at a low of 32 F one night and then 22 F (0 & -6 C) on another. I was OK at the freezing temps but did feel cold on my face where it touched for the colder night. Here is a picture of the sleep system ready for bedtime. This time it has a NeoAir XTherm under it.

Cold trip     Hey, matching bag

My only problem with the pillow is its height. As a side-sleeper I like a bit thicker pillow. I would love to see the NeoAir offered in a thicker version. As mine is called a Medium, maybe a Large could be a future option? I would be all over it if Therm-a-Rest did. I may try their down pillow with it this winter to see if it will give it more thickness and keep my face warm in our frigid winters. If so I shall surely write about it here so keep an eye out next spring.

I leave with a picture of it on a trip with my children to Halverson Lake in the Paul Bunyan State Forest. My son has confiscated it from me and is using it with a 2012 Alpine Down Blanket and a Regular XTherm his year-round pad.

IMAGE 8     In tarptent Hogback

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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