First, this pillow is big, nearly as big as a standard-sized bed pillow. Second, when fully inflated, the Cocoon Air-Core Ultralight is very firm and offers a ton of loft. It's the largest camping pillow we've ever seen, but it certainly is not the most comfortable. Overall, this product gets the job done, but we did find ourselves tolerating it during the night rather than enjoying it. The Air-Core is probably too large for most backpackers but could work for adventurists who like a larger pillow. Its primary use would be for car-camping and traveling. It's not the best pillow we've ever come across, but it's also not the worst.
Cocoon Air-Core Ultralight Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very large, appealing price, packs up small for its size, stays in place
Cons: Lacking in comfort, doesn't fit into a mummy hood, silky side is a little too slippery
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Cocoon, makes several sizes of the Air-Core. We decided to shake things up a little and take a look at its largest model, and our first response after inflating it was — "Wow." Weighing in below a half-pound, this pillow is not only lightweight, but it's also huge. When fully inflated, the Air-Core measures very close to the size of a standard bed pillow in length, width, and loft.
This is where the rubber meets the road — the Air-Core is not amazingly comfortable. However, its weight to size ratio is very impressive, as is its packed volume. It also offers very firm support and a ton of loft, all at a very reasonable price. That all said, its comfort level is decent at best.
Throughout our testing, we never could find a sweet spot. The Air-Core's bladder always seemed a little unforgiving. Regardless of the amount of air we placed inside, the pillow always pushed back on our heads more than it cradled them. Campers who prefer a very firm pillow will enjoy the Air-Core.
Hitting the scales a just one or two ounces heavier than pillows half its size makes the Aire-Core an amazing value in terms of weight vs size. Our hats off to the manufacturer for creating such a monster of a pillow that weighs relatively so little. The combination of a thin air bladder and lightweight denier and microfiber materials all this pillow to take up a ton of space without weighing things down.
Ease of Use
Scoring in the middle of the pack for ease of use, the Air-Core takes a little longer to pack and unpack. The sole reason for this is the sheer amount of air required to move through a small twist valve for inflation and deflation. Additionally, it requires hand-washing and air-drying and a literal laundry list of cleaning dos and don'ts.
One thing we love about this product is its twist-lock air valve. It allows users to adjust the pillow's air volume in micro-units. In our opinion, these types of valves are simply the best option for air control in camping pillows. Twist valves are also directly fused to the air bladder. They have no permanent connection to the exterior fabric, which allows the bladder to be removed for repair or replacement. This is a huge plus.
When comparing Air-Core's packed size to is deployed size, we can truly say campers can have their cake and eat it too. The metamorphosis this pillow makes from stuff sack to a pillow is very impressive and certainly causes us to stop and reflect on the manufacturer's name. While certainly not the smallest bundle when crammed into its stuff stack, the Air-Core definitely holds its own when compared against many other inflatables that are literally half its size.
As with most inflatable camping pillows, the Air-Core received a solid score for support. When fully inflated, it becomes one of the firmest pillows we've ever slept on. This is good on paper when simply considering a pillow's ability to provide untiring support. However, it doesn't necessarily translate to comfortable, cradling, receptive support. In our opinion, campers who love a firm pillow will enjoy this one. For the rest of sleepers, the Air-Core's unending support will be certainly noticed, but more tolerated than thoroughly enjoyed.
The numbers are very easy to figure. This pillow is worth every cent when sheer size, weight, packed volume, ease of use, and overall quality are considered. You simply can't get more pillow for your buck. Unfortunately, the numbers don't bode as well for the Air-Core's comfort. That being said, this pillow is comfortable enough, making it an overall great value.
Perfect for car-camping and travel, the Cocoon Air-Core Ultralight offers a ton of value for its price. It's well-built, and despite not being overly comfortable, it will get you through the night. Due to its size, this version is not our first recommendation for backpacking; however, it is available in smaller sizes that could serve adequately in the backcountry. Overall we feel this product is most likely best for back sleepers.
— Jason Wanlass