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Hands-on Gear Review
Sierra Designs DriDown PilloW Review
Cons: Little support, gets warm quickly
Bottom line: This model is soft, small, and best for stomach sleepers who prefer flat pillows.
Our stoke was pretty high to test out the DriDown. A night's rest atop 600 fill duck down has a certain ring to it. This pillow did prove soft, and it is the lightest and smallest of the compressible pillows. This pillow has two parts: an inner shell stuffed with polyester, and an outer shell made of ripstop material and filled with 600 fill duck down. It gets points for versatility with the option to make it lighter and smaller by leaving the inner pillow at home and filling the outer shell with extra clothes. In this scenario, you still get the softness of the duck down topper, but save a bit on weight and packed size. That said, unfortunately, it quickly heated up, flattened out, and sometimes slid out from under our heads in our sleep. We liked the DriDown pillow, but were left wanting more.
For a higher performing and less expensive compressible model, consider our Best Buy Award winner, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible. Our favorite model, the Nemo Fillo, felt better against our testers' cheeks throughout the night without flattening out.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Pillows of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Sierra Designs DriDown is a compressible pillow with some great features, accompanied by a few drawbacks. Costing $33 MSRP, it's comprised of a polyester pillow and an outer shell with a duck down topper. The down filling helps reduce the weight of this pillow and provides a very soft pillow top. So soft, in fact, that the pillow flattens out over the course of the night, giving little support. It also heats up quickly, making it less useful in the summertime. For sleepers who prefer a thin pillow, though, this could be a great choice.
This camping pillow feels soft and smooth against the face. However, it is quite small and became rather warm a few moments after laying our heads on it. Back sleepers will likely not mind the extra warmth as much as side and stomach sleepers. For more comfort, consider the Therm-a-Rest or TETON Sports 12 x 18, which are more affordable, too.
The DriDown, weighing 5.8 ounces on our scale, was the fourth lightest pillow in our review, and the lightest of the compressible pillows. If weight is your only concern in selecting a cranium cushion, check out the Exped Air UL.
To reduce the weight, and packed size, of this pillow, pack only the outer shell and leave the inner pillow at home. Once at your campsite, stuff the shell with extra clothes, and you'll still have a duck down pillow top.
Ease of Use
The Sierra Designs pillow is simple to remove from and insert in its stuff sack and fits easily inside the hood of a mummy sack. However, it did slide around underneath us in our sleep. That, combined with its small size, caused us to occasionally lose this pillow from under our heads at night. Furthermore, the ripstop material of the outer shell began to show marks from our oily, dirty faces after a few nights. It is also difficult to effectively clean, as the manufacturer does not advise using warm water, washing machines, or soap. However, it did dry quickly in our tests. The REI Co-op Backpacker is easier to use overall, being simpler to clean, doesn't move around much in a mummy hood, and stuffs into itself for easy packing.
Of the compressible pillows in this review, the DriDown pillow had the smallest packed size. Measuring 2.1 L in its stuff sack, its volume was larger than the Exped REM, NEMO Fillo (our Editors' Choice winner), Sea to Summit Aeros (our Top Pick for Backpacking), and Exped Air UL.
This pillow provided the least support of all contenders in this review. Throughout the course of the night, the Sierra Designs pillow flattens out to be quite thin. If you like a thinner pillow, however, you may love this model. For more support, though, consider the hybrid Exped REM.
The DriDown is suitable for sleepers who prefer a soft, thin pillow. Used with the inner pillow, it is best used for car camping or backpacking ventures lasting only a few days. However, if you remove the inner pillow and stuff the outer shell with clothes already in your pack, it can be justified to take along on longer trips. In this way, the Sierra Designs pillow is actually quite versatile.
The Sierra Designs model, priced at $33, is a moderate value. Its versatility, low weight, and small packed size make it suitable for more than just car camping. Yet, it might only satisfy specific sleepers in terms of comfort.
With its highly-touted duck down filling, we expected the Sierra Designs DriDown to be a real luxury item. However, it fell to the middle of the pack in nearly every scoring metric. Although we liked this pillow, it simply didn't perform as well as the other products included in this review.
— Ross Robinson
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