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Therm-a-Rest Compressible Review

For those who don't travel far from their vehicles to the campsite, this model is inexpensive and comfy
Therm-a-Rest Compressible
Photo: Therm-a-Rest
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $25 List | $23.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great value, very comfortable, easy to use
Cons:  Heavy, large packed size
Manufacturer:   Therm-a-rest
By Ross Robinson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 21, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Packed Size - 20% 5
  • Support - 20% 7

Our Verdict

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.

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Pros Great value, very comfortable, easy to useVery comfortable, great support, easy to adjust thickness, washable exteriorVery comfy, easy to adjust air volume, ergonomically shaped for back and side sleepersVery small packed size, lightweight, great supportLightweight, small packed size, easy to use
Cons Heavy, large packed sizeHeavy, not for extended backcountry tripsMore expensive, down is allergenic to some users, a little heavier than its inflatable peersNot super comfortableLess comfortable than other models, can be punctured, noisy
Bottom Line Serious comfort for folks who don't need to spend top dollar on a lightweight, packable modelThis pillow provides excellent comfort and is adjustable for all kinds of sleepers in most camp settingsThis model adds significant comfort, but at a weight penaltyThis is our favorite model for extended backpacking tripsYes, you can find something more comfortable, but you won't find many this lightweight and packable
Rating Categories Therm-a-Rest Compressible NEMO Fillo Air Head Down Pillow Sea to Summit Aeros Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow
Comfort (25%)
8
9
7
5
3
Weight (20%)
4
3
6
8
9
Ease Of Use (15%)
9
9
6
6
7
Packed Size (20%)
5
6
7
8
9
Support (20%)
7
9
9
8
7
Specs Therm-a-Rest... NEMO Fillo Air Head Down Pillow Sea to Summit Aeros Big Agnes AXL Air...
Type Compressible Hybrid: Compressible and Inflatable Hybrid: Compressible and Inflatable Inflatable Inflatable
Measured Weight (oz) 8.6 oz 9.0 oz 5.4 oz 3.1 oz 1.8 oz
Packed Volume (L) 2.6 L 1.4 L 0.6 L 0.4 L 0.3 L
Length 15.5 in 16 in 18 in 14 in 16 in
Width 9.5 in 9.5 in 12.5 in 8 in 10 in
Thickness 6.75 in 4.5 in 4 in High side: 5 in; Low side: 4 in 4 in
Stuff Sack included? Yes, built in with drawstring Integrated Stuff Sack. Velcro strap as well. Yes, with drawstring Yes, with drawstring Yes, with drawstring
Materials Outer: Polyester; Inner fill: Upcycled foam Polyester, microfiber / microsuede outer layer Partially recycled polyester, down, urethane Polyurethane bladder, Brushed 50D Polyester Knit Cover 4-Way stretch nylon w/ TPU coating

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.

Performance Comparison


Blake Stave enjoys a peanut butter burrito while relaxing in the...
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.
Photo: Jenna Rae Ammerman

Comfort


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 is soft, thick, and large. Comfortable? Oh yes.
The Therm-a-Rest is soft, thick, and large. Comfortable? Oh yes.
Photo: Jenna Rae Ammerman

Weight


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.


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.

Packed Size


Ross Robinson rolls up and packs this compressible pillow into its...
Ross Robinson rolls up and packs this compressible pillow into its built-in stuff sack in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Photo: Jenna Rae Ammerman

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.


Support


The thickness of this pillow provides sufficient support and great...
The thickness of this pillow provides sufficient support and great comfort.
Photo: Jenna Rae Ammerman

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.


Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Although this pillow appears lumpy, it doesn't feel lumpy under your...
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.
Photo: Jenna Rae Ammerman

Ross Robinson