We selected the smallest version of the Compressible 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. At $25 MSRP, 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.
Blake Stave enjoys a peanut butter burrito while relaxing in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. The Therm-a-Rest can double as a back rest, or even lumbar support in its packed form.
The Therm-a-Rest is the most comfortable of all the pillows in this review, and therefore received the highest score 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.
Stomach sleepers, however, might find it a little too thick. In that case, consider the flat Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow. The TETON Sports 12 x 18 is another inexpensive model that scored just below the Compressible in this metric.
The Therm-a-Rest is soft, thick, and large. Comfortable? Oh yes.
The Therm-a-Rest weighs in on our scale at 8.6 ounces, which doesn't scream backcountry use. For walking from car to campsite, though, the weight is negligible. For comparison, our favorite backpacking model, the Sea to Summit Aeros, weighs 3.1 ounces.
Ease of Use
This model does scream simplicity. We like that the stuff sack is built into the design of the pillow, similar to the Exped REM, which makes packing and unpacking a breeze (and no lost stuff sacks!). 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. The TETON Sports 12 x 18 proved simple and easy to use for similar reasons.
Upon receiving this pillow, send it on a trip through the washer and dryer (set to tumble dry) to help decompress the foam inside the pillow and increase its loft.
Ross Robinson rolls up and packs this compressible pillow into its built-in stuff sack in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
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. If packed size is a primary concern for you (but you still want a little comfort), the Sea to Summit Aeros is our Top Pick for Backpacking. Car campers, however, shouldn't consider the scores in this metric too heavily.
The thickness of this pillow provides sufficient support and great comfort.
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. Models with an inflatable air chamber offer greater support and don't flatten at all throughout the night. The REM and Aeros granted the most support of all contenders.
We loved using this product for car camping 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 provides the best value of the pillows in this review, and it, therefore, earned our Best Buy Award. Twenty-five bucks is 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. Its comfort is unrivaled in this review. Furthermore, our eco-hearts are glad to see such a fine product come from upcycled materials.
Although this pillow appears lumpy, it doesn't feel lumpy under your head. Our Best Buy winner was one of our favorites and definitely one of the easiest on our wallet.