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Hands-on Gear Review
Sea to Summit Aeros Review
Cons: Not super comfortable
The Sea to Summit Aeros pillow earned our Top Pick for Backpacking. It was the highest scoring pillow according to our metrics, scoring very well in several categories. We loved its minimal weight and packed size, as well as the support it provided our head, neck, and spine. It is our pillow of choice for extended backpacking trips. That said, in comparison to the other pillows in this review, its comfort was clearly inferior, and it was more of a hassle to use. This pillow is excellent for specific purposes - like backpacking - but not for all-around use. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Nemo Fillo, however, is great for short backpacking trips and for car camping. If these sound more like your needs, then we highly recommend the comfortable and supportive Fillo!
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
For this review, we tested the regular size of the Sea to Summit Aeros, an inflatable pillow that costs a little over $40. We were excited to find an inflatable pillow that offered a decent amount of comfort, in addition to its small packed volume and light weight. We also liked that the thickness of the pillow was simple and easy to adjust, allowing us to hone in on our ideal thickness. Although the Aeros' comfort did pale in comparison to the compressible pillows in this review, our Top Pick for Backpacking is a worthy addition to your pack on multi-day backcountry ventures.
The Aeros was significantly more comfortable than the other inflatable pillow in this review, the Exped Air UL. This is mostly accomplished thanks to its soft outer polyester cover and greater thickness. Additionally, one side of the Aeros is elevated an inch higher than the other side, giving you a couple options to help fit your ideal thickness. Despite these features, it was still less comfortable than the NEMO Fillo and all of the compressible models we tested. While the Aeros' contouring did help cradle our heads, there was still a noticeable wobble to the pillow. This is also one of the smallest pillows we tested, so it doesn't offer any extra real estate for your head. It wasn't unbearable, but comfort is not where this pillow excelled.
If you are a side sleeper, try sleeping on the thicker side of the pillow for maximum comfort. Back sleepers, try the opposite.
Weight, or lack thereof, is an area where the Sea to Summit pillow performed very well. Weighing only 3.1 ounces on our scale, this pillow was the second-lightest in this review. Although it was 1.4 ounces heavier than the Exped Air UL, we would still prefer to take the Sea to Summit on extended trips because it's so much more comfortable and easy to use.
Ease of Use
Again, the Sea to Summit was the easier inflatable pillow in this review to operate. It only takes 3 large breaths to fully inflate it. If you want to let out some air, simply adjust by pushing the small button inside the inflation valve to slowly release air. We found this easy to do without risking all the air escaping. It easily fit inside the hood of any sleeping bag we put it in, too. Packing the pillow back into the stuff sack was also a breeze, unlike the difficulty of squeezing the Nemo Fillo into its intended sack. Being on the small and slightly wobbly side, though, this pillow did work its way out from underneath our heads occasionally in the night. It cannot be machine washed or dried either. Also, as with all inflatables, blowing it up and adjusting until it fit our comfort level was more work than simply unpacking a synthetic fill pillow like the Therm-a-rest Compressible.
Our Top Pick for Backpacking packs away to a small cylinder. Taking up only 0.4 liters of space, it is easy to justify bringing it along. Here again, the Aeros was second best only to the Exped Air UL.
The Sea to Summit provided the firmest support of all pillows in this review. If you like firm pillows, fill this one up on three breaths and it will stay that way until sunrise.
We found that the best application for this pillow would be for backpacking trips lasting several days or longer. We could also imagine bringing this pillow along while traveling, as it doesn't take up much space and could be handy on long car or plane rides.
Although the Aeros is great for longer backpacking trips, if you want a little more overall comfort and don't mind a few extra ounces, we highly recommend picking up the Nemo Fillo instead.
If you take long trips into the backcountry and long for some lightweight comfort, this pillow has good value, costing $43. For its small packed size and weight, it provides significantly more comfort than your dirty fleece jacket likely would.
Overall, we were impressed with the Sea to Summit Aeros. For backpackers, using this pillow is a definite upgrade from a mound of clothes from your pack. Its packed size and light weight make it almost unnoticeable in your pack. However, what you will notice is a lack of neck discomfort/pain the following day. While we don't recommend this pillow for primarily car campers, we do strongly recommend it for backpackers, and even travelers, who want an actual pillow without the extra baggage.
The Aeros Premium is available in two sizes, regular (featured in this review) and large.
Aeros Ultralight Pillow
Aeros Traveller Pillow
Aeros Premium Deluxe Pillow
— Ross Robinson
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