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Hands-on Gear Review
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Review
Cons: Heavy, large packed size
Bottom line: For those who don't travel far from their vehicles to the campsite, this model is inexpensive and comfy.
At first sight, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible did not impress us. Taking it out of the box, it looks like a lumpy mess. As soon as we started using it, however, 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. It does have drawbacks in weight and packed size, yet, we loved sleeping on it. Its strong performance and low price made it a clear choice for our Best Buy Award.
If you plan on extended ventures into the backcountry and can afford to fork over extra dough, the Sea to Summit Aeros packs to a fraction of the size of the Therm-a-Rest. Be sure to also check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Nemo Fillo, which earned higher scores in support and packed size.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Pillows of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Therm-a-Rest confirmed that, aside from colors and patterns, there have been no updates to this pillow. The Compressible is available in eight colorways: Amethyst, Blue Floral, Cardinal, Clover, Denim, Furry Camo, Grey, and Mosaic.
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 $20 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 car camping trips.
The Therm-a-Rest was 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, we recommend you consider the 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 weighs in on our scale at 8.6 ounces, making it the fourth heaviest pillow in this review. If you're looking for the lightest model of the bunch, check out the Exped Air UL.
Ease of Use
This is a simple, easy to use pillow. We like that the stuff sack is built into the design of the pillow, similar to the Exped REM, which made 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 fit into 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). This will decompress the foam inside the pillow and increase its loft.
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, making this pillow second-to-last in our review. 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 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 provide 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 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.
— Ross Robinson
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