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REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Review

Supremely comfortable and very affordable, this model is a great option for enjoyable nights at the campground
REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam
Photo: REI Co-op
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $20 List | $19.95 at REI
Pros:  Inexpensive, very comfortable and supportive, easy setup
Cons:  Large packed size, not adjustable
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Jason Wanlass ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 16
  • Comfort - 25% 10
  • Weight - 20% 2
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Packed Size - 20% 2
  • Support - 20% 9

Our Verdict

It's a simple design — foam and fabric — resulting in pure comfort bliss at a very affordable price. The REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Pillow is a great, inexpensive choice for camping. Geared toward car camping trips, this large model brings exceptional comfort to the campground so you can leave your regular bedroom pillow clean at home. There's no inflation necessary with this model — just pull it out of your trunk and toss it in your tent. Although impressively comfortable, if you're looking for a backpacking-specific model, you'll be better served by a pillow with a lower weight and smaller packed size. For a car camping solution, though, this model excels for its comfort, support, and cash savings.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $19.95 at REICheck Price at REI
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$42.95 at REI
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$25 List$14.99 at Amazon
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Pros Inexpensive, very comfortable and supportive, easy setupVery comfortable, great support, easy to adjust thickness, washable exteriorVery small packed size, lightweight, great supportGreat value, very comfortable, easy to useInexpensive, comfortable, easy to use
Cons Large packed size, not adjustableHeavy and bulky, not for extended backcountry tripsNot super comfortableHeavy, large packed sizeHeavy, large packed volume, becomes lumpy after extended use
Bottom Line Supremely comfortable and very affordable, this model is a great option for enjoyable nights at the campgroundThis pillow will please the vast majority of campers due to its superb comfort, adjustable support, and washable external layerThis model increases nighttime head support and decent comfort at minimal weight and volumeFor those who don't travel far from their vehicles to the campsite, this model is inexpensive and comfyIf you need a simple and comfy pillow strictly for car camping, this is a solid and affordable choice
Rating Categories REI Co-op Trailbrea... NEMO Fillo Sea to Summit Aeros Therm-a-Rest Compre... TETON Sports XL
Comfort (25%)
10.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
2.0
3.0
8.0
4.0
2.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
Packed Size (20%)
2.0
6.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
Support (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs REI Co-op Trailbrea... NEMO Fillo Sea to Summit Aeros Therm-a-Rest Compre... TETON Sports XL
Type Stuffable Hybrid: Compressible and Inflatable Inflatable Compressible Compressible
Measured Weight (oz) 10.1 oz 9.0 oz 3.1 oz 8.6 oz 10.0 oz
Packed Volume (L) 6.3 L 1.4 L 0.4 L 2.6 L 4.5 L
Length 18 in 16 in 14 in 15.5 in 16 in
Width 14 in 9.5 in 8 in 9.5 in 9 in
Thickness 7 in 4.5 in High side: 5 in; Low side: 4 in 6.75 in 4 in
Stuff Sack included? Built in stuff pouch Integrated Stuff Sack. Velcro strap as well. Yes, with drawstring Yes, built in with drawstring Yes, with drawstring
Materials Polyester, foam Polyester, microfiber / microsuede outer layer, inflatable bladder Polyurethane bladder, Brushed 50D Polyester Knit Cover Outer: Polyester; Inner fill: Upcycled foam Fill: SuperLoft Elite 4-Channel Hollow Fiber; Inner Shell: P5 Poly Hi–Count; Outer Shell: 100% Brushed Flannel

Our Analysis and Test Results

This model consists of a polyester, dual-side use pillowcase over a pile of repurposed sleeping pad foam scraps. It boasts a large surface area of 18 inches long and 14 inches wide. Unsurpassed scores for comfort, support, and ease of use, sit in stark contrast to the bottom of the barrel scores for weight and packed size, making the Trailbreak a pillow ideal for car camping and RV adventures that don't have weight or packing restrictions. We enjoyed many nights settling into its supreme comfort and often woke up more refreshed when compared to using inflatables, hybrids, and other stuffable pillows.

Performance Comparison


The Trailreak's over-stuffed design results in a pillow that is...
The Trailreak's over-stuffed design results in a pillow that is continuously soft, spongy, supportive and comfortable. It's the closest thing to our bedroom pillows we've tested so far, and the price is very hard to beat.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

Comfort


Spend one night at camp burrowed into the Trailbreak and you'll immediately understand why we give it such high comfort scores. Its eco-friendly core consists of high-quality scrap foam, leftover from the manufacturing of sleeping pads — and REI didn't skimp. This pillow is literally right on the verge of being overstuffed, giving it the ability to softly cradle your head from sundown to sun up.


Often, the foam in compression pillows tends to move during the night, separating to either end of the pillow, leaving very little cushion for your head. However, the Trailbreak's fabric to foam ratio is nearly perfect, leaving no free space for the foam to shift, resulting in unified, consistent comfort. In fact, some of our testers woke up in the same position they fell asleep in. This pillow is quiet as a mouse, incredibly soft, and comes with two different fabrics for warmer or colder sleeping.

We liked the Trailbreak enough to try it along on a few backpacking...
We liked the Trailbreak enough to try it along on a few backpacking trips. For a quick overnight that requires a few miles to hike in, it's fine. Beyond that, though, and we recommend smaller, lighter pillows. Or, consider this your large luxury item.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

This model offers two face fabrics—one thinner, cooler side for warm nights, and one warmer and cozier fleece-like side for colder nights. The fleece side does pick up and hold onto more forest litter (twigs, dirt, lichen) if you drop it on the ground than other models, but we recommend keeping any model off the forest floor anyhow. We've tested some very comfortable pillows over the last several years, but this one stands out more than any other in this metric.

Weight


In many backcountry sports, ounces matter. This pillow is quite heavy in the backpacking, mountaineering, and climbing worlds. It is easily one of the heaviest pillows we've tested in the last 5 years. We feel it's simply too heavy for any backcountry sport where the weight of every gear piece is more critical. Some of our backpackers considered making this pillow their luxury item, but in the end, they couldn't justify the extra weight for longer, multi-day, or multi-week journeys on the trail. Yes, you can get away with it for a quick overnight, but we wouldn't recommend it for regular backpacking.


The Trailbreak is a cinch to use. Just unhook the toggle from the...
The Trailbreak is a cinch to use. Just unhook the toggle from the loop, unroll the pillow and watch it expand. We feel the stitching that holds the closing devices is weak and may give out over repeated use.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

Ease of Use


Unlock a simple toggle-loop fastener — this pillow does the rest. That's about the entire setup process for the Trailbreak. Once unfolded, the high-quality foam core quickly expands into a thick, large, comfy cradle for your head. Stowing the pillow takes a slight amount of elbow grease, but it's nearly as easy. Simply tuck one end of the pillow into its built-in pouch and reconnect the toggle into its loop.


This pillow doesn't like to be pushed around. Whether we chose to lay on the pillow's warm fleece side or cool silky side, its fabrics displayed an amazing amount of natural grip. Simply put: The Trailbreak stays in place and your head stays in place. Sleeping in the outdoors doesn't come easy or comfortable to everyone; however, we did experience longer stretches of sustained sleep using the Trailbreak, because it stays put and we didn't slip off the side. We also love that it's machine washable and dryable.

As for this model's long-term use, we feel the pillow's toggle-loop fastener is a bit weak. After consistent use, we feel the stitching on both sides of the fastener is prone to give out eventually. In our opinion, the pillow should have two fasteners instead of one to reduce stress in this area.

Elephant in the room: This pillow has the largest packed size of any...
Elephant in the room: This pillow has the largest packed size of any pillow we've tested in the last five years. It's longer and wider than an average loaf of bread.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

Packed Size


In the areas it excels, the Trailbreak does so with top scores. However, the downsides of the pillow come with some of our lowest scores — packed size being one of them. Even when rolled up tightly, this pillow is much larger than an average loaf of bread, resulting in the largest packed size of all camping pillows we've ever come across. Again, for adventurists who are weight and size-conscious, this isn't the pillow for you. The manufacturer claims it stores at 1/5 of its size. We simply could not achieve this dimension. Roughly speaking, this pillow stows at about 1/3 its size.


To save on space, we found that we could shove the Trailbreak into a compression bag and reduce its packed volume significantly.

The Trailbreak also received high marks for support. This pillow...
The Trailbreak also received high marks for support. This pillow simply feels amazing under our heads. Even after laying directly on it for hours, it still keeps is fluff.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

Support


We enjoyed relentless support from this pillow over several nights of rest in the woods. Its overstuffed design keeps the foam core from shifting during the night, resulting in consistent cushioning and comfort. Ideal for side and back sleepers, the Trailbreak supports the head with a substantive cushion that is equally soft and accommodating. We feel this pillow mimics our home pillows better than anything we've tested.


To create an even firmer pillow, simply leave the Trailbreak in its stowed position and sleep on it as is. Even at half its size, this pillow is still sufficiently large enough to accommodate most sleepers who simply need a very firm pillow.

Value


In terms of comfort, ease of use, and support, the Trailbreak offers far more than what its modest price may suggest. Sometimes simple is just better. The instant we felt this pillow with our hands, we wanted to lay our heads on it. It performs better than similar compressible pillows, it's made well, and it stays in place. All else aside, we feel this pillow's comfort, alone, is enough to justify its price.

Conclusion


Made for campgrounds in national, state, and regional parks that you can drive your vehicle to, this pillow is a must-have for sleepers who demand a good pillow to snuggle up to in the outdoors. Especially useful for anyone putting comfort above all else, this model might be the one to get your pickiest sleeper to be happy under the stars. Best of all, this comfort comes at a low price.

We loved laying on this pillow. Whether chilling in a hammock or...
We loved laying on this pillow. Whether chilling in a hammock or crashing in a tent after a long day on the trail, it provided excellent comfort and support.
Photo: Jason Wanlass

Jason Wanlass