At first sight, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible did not impress us. Taking it out of the box, it looks and feels like a lumpy mess. However, after several nights of pleasant sleep, we were reminded of the sage advice concerning book-cover judgment. We were won over by the comfort this pillow provides, as well as its simplicity and support. Comfort, however, often has drawbacks in weight and packed size, which is true for this pillow, but we loved sleeping on it. Its strong performance and low price make it a clear choice for our Best Buy Award.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great value, very comfortable, easy to use
Cons: Heavy, large packed size
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We selected the smallest version of the Therm-a-Rest for our review (it comes in four different sizes). It is a compressible pillow made of upcycled Therm-a-Rest mattress scraps, encased in a suede-like polyester shell. For the price, this soft, thick pillow packs a lot of pleasure into its price. Although the weight and packed size of this pillow do limit its uses, it delivers on car camping trips. We loved using this product and even took it along on a five-day canoeing trip where weight and packed size weren't major issues. Due to its heftier size and weight, though, this isn't an ideal pillow for multi-day hiking or backpacking trips.
The Therm-a-Rest is one of the most comfortable of all the pillows in this review and therefore received high scores in this metric. The pillow is large enough to tolerate a few turns in the night. It is also thick and soft. Incredibly soft. We loved how the outer shell felt against our cheeks. You just might let out an audible "Ahhh" when you lay down on this pillow after a long hike.
The Therm-a-Rest weighs in on our scale at 8.6 ounces, which doesn't scream extended backcountry use, when compared to other models we tested which weigh in much lighter. For walking from car to campsite, though, the weight is negligible. It also is a viable option for an in-flight snooze on a plane or for catching some shuteye while riding shotgun on a long road trip.
Ease of Use
This model does offer incredible simplicity. We like that the stuff sack is built into the design of the pillow. Just roll the pillow up, tuck it into the lip of the pillowcase, and pull the drawstring tight. It also fits snug in every mummy sleeping bag hood we tested it with and didn't move around much in our sleep. Furthermore, it can be machine washed and dried. Additionally, the nature of the pillow's exterior fabric gives the pillow some grip, keeping it in place.
One of this pillow's drawbacks is its packed size. Stuffed into its attached sack, the Therm-a-Rest has a volume of 2.6 liters, which is on the large end of the spectrum of models we tested. For many experienced backpackers, this pillow may simply be too big. However, car campers, hammock-enthusiasts, RV-ers and jet-setters shouldn't consider the scores in this metric too heavily.
The Therm-a-Rest compresses slowly after you lay your head down, but doesn't flatten. It's firm enough to provide decent support to side and back sleepers alike. However, it doesn't perform as well as models with an inflatable air chamber, which offer greater support and don't flatten at all throughout the night.
The Therm-a-Rest provides the best value of the pillows in this review, and it, therefore, earned our Best Buy Award. It's a great price for nighttime comfort and painless necks the following day.
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible is a great budget option that doesn't feel cheap. Sure, it's not the best for multi-day backpacking trips due to its weight and size, but it is great for shorter trips, such as car camping weekends and mid-day campsite hammock naps. It's also a great option for a travel pillow and would be a welcomed addition if you're trying to catch some sleep aboard a plane or in an airport. Its comfort is unrivaled in this review. Furthermore, our eco-hearts are glad to see such a fine product come from upcycled materials.
— Ross Robinson