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Old 01-09-07, 10:33 PM   #1
BigBlueToe
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Anyone Bring a Pillow?

This is the bane of my touring existence. I love sleeping with a pillow, but I don't have room to bring my favorite. I have gotten by with stuffing my sleeping bag stuff sack with all the spare clothes I had, then putting a towel or folded fleece vest over that. It's not that comfortable, when I toss and turn in my sleep I destroy the careful arrangement and wake up with a sore neck, plus, it takes pretty much all of my clothes to fill up that bag! I bought a backpackers pillow once, but it was so small and compressible that when I put my big head on it it squashed down to the thickness of an envelope!

I'm thinking about using a smaller bag than my sleeping bag stuff sack, so it won't take as many clothes to make a suitably thick pillow. Hmm.

I'm wondering about inflatable pillows. Does anyone have any good reports on one? I saw Thermarest pillows advertised, but it didn't appear that they are inflatable. If they're compressible enough to squish down to fit in my panniers, they're probably too compressible to hold my head up where I want it. I thought a self-inflating Thermarest pillow, like their mattresses, would be a good thing.

Anyone have any tips? Recommendations?

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-07, 11:06 PM   #2
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I'm an experienced backpacker but not tourer, yet...

I too, enjoy a pillow. I've purchased a travel pillow from REI, that has it's own drawstring and packs down small. By itself, it isn't very much pillow but when used in conjunction with a stuff sack full of clothes, it's quite comfortable.
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Old 01-09-07, 11:08 PM   #3
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Didn't I tell you about my two best inflatable pillows in another thread?

I got the square one (which can also be used as a seat outside the tent if you want) from Canadian Tire for about $5.00. It has lasted me a LONG time.

I got the neck pillow (which is also handy for flights, train travel, etc.) from Walmart for about $5.00 and it has lasted me even longer than the square one.
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Old 01-09-07, 11:59 PM   #4
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For backpacking, I always bring my down jacket. Great at night, if it's not raining, then when it's time for bed, I stuff it into a pillow case and have a down pillow. I can stuff the jacket in with my sleeping bag. I haven't tried it for bike touring because I generally don't tour when it's that cold at night. I feel your pain though. I am pushing 50 and wake up with a sore neck even when I have a good pillow. I have tried the inflatable ones and they work pretty well. Don't inflate too much and place it in a shirt or jacket or pillow case which doesn't take much room.
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Old 01-10-07, 12:10 AM   #5
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My biggest problem is getting a straight neck. I've tried all the camping/backpacking options, too. Inflatable, self-inflating, compressible with pocket for clothes. Apart from the thickness issue for the pillow, there is also the size... all of them are too small to sleep on, and too big in volume even when rolled, deflated or scrunched in the pannier.

I keep going back to using the bulkiest clothes stuffed into one of my Sea-to-Summit drybags that are of softer material than other dry bags, and enclosing it in the polarfleece jacket I invariably have with me.

Large clothing helps to reduce the lumpiness of the "pillow", the bag is wide enough and for a while the seal is air tight enough to give added "softness" with the trapped air, and the jacket gets away from the clammy surface. The shape is good, too, because it tends to "hollow" in the middle, I can wrap my arm around the back, and it has enough thickness to satisfy my neck.

In fact, I am contemplating making a stand-alone pillowslip from polarfleece -- the bulk is certainly less than the other options I've tried, and I have the clothing and bag anyway.

For non-bike travel, we've picked up mini pillows (about half normal size) along with matching pillowslips from ... you guessed it... Walmart. They are a tad too big to carry on bikes, however.
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Old 01-10-07, 12:31 AM   #6
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One of my panniers has nothing in it other than clothes. I cover it with a little fleece throw and voila, a large, substantial pillow that stays put.
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Old 01-10-07, 12:43 AM   #7
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Oh I should add that I use my sarong with my inflatable pillows. Folded up, it gives some extra height (I don't like sleeping flat), and some extra comfort. The inflatable pillows all by themselves can be a little hard.
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Old 01-10-07, 08:43 AM   #8
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A CamelBak makes a good inflatable pillow. Wrap it in some extra clothes, or fleece jacket and inflate the bladder to the desired firmness. Lock the valve so the air doesn't leak out. It's easy to add or subtract air. Just empty the water out beforehand. Works like a champ. If the backpack part of the CamelBak is uncomfortable, then remove the bladder and wrap it in extra clothes. I don't bother.
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Old 01-10-07, 03:01 PM   #9
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I've got a small poly-filled pillow that usually gets crammed in the edge of my packs somewhere. It's not much but I'm not picky so it works. It's actually moves around a lot to fill empty space in whichever bag, usually the food pocket or handlebar bag when perishables are low and other stuff is rattling around.
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Old 01-10-07, 04:33 PM   #10
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Well, of course, this is the revenge for the lycroyd. If you weren't all wearing clothes that looked like they were the product of a pre-schooler with a paintset, you would have something to roll up and sleep on at night. Most people can't sleep simply beause they caught glimpse of a cyclist in that get-up (present company excluded, of course). You all can't sleep cause that get-up won't roll up either.
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Old 01-10-07, 04:36 PM   #11
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Where's the smilie on the end of that Peter...

I would say most of the contributors here wear on and off the bike more than just lycra, and certainly wouldn't be seen dead doing a day hike in such. And, sadly for you, I have to report that I rarely sleep in it (sadly for you because now you have to imagine what I do sleep in )
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Old 01-10-07, 04:57 PM   #12
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Smile intended. I wasn't imagining they were sleeping in the lycra, I assumed they were rolling it up for apparently insuficient neck support. I'm just jealous: I have a wound on my right leg that scares me, so I don't wear shorts any more. I like a pretty scar like the next guy, and have quite a few of those. This is more in the squirrels fall out of trees range.
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Old 01-10-07, 10:33 PM   #13
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If you want to reduce bulk, you could try to fashion a pillow out of a fleece jacket in-camp instead of carrying extra fleece with you. I find fleece extremely bulky, annoyingly bulky, so I try to minimize it as much as possible for tours. I haven't done it, but, seems to me if you are using a sleeping bag, putting all this in the hood of the sleeping bag and using the arms to keep the stuffing bundled in the body of the fleece might work. Like aroundoz's down jacket idea, it will depend on when you are touring; you might not be carrying fleece that time of year.
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Old 01-10-07, 10:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
I have gotten by with stuffing my sleeping bag stuff sack with all the spare clothes I had, then putting a towel or folded fleece vest over that....
Nighttime comfort on a tour is not an unimportant concern!

I add inside the stuff sack a small cylindrical inflatable "airline neck pillow" mentioned by others - gives the stuff sack the added bulk for size comfort, & doesn't get flattened during the night like the clothes sack otherwise does.
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Old 01-11-07, 04:06 AM   #15
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The natural curve of my Hennessy Hammock makes pillows obsolete. So comfortable!!! More so than my bed.
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Old 01-11-07, 05:55 AM   #16
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i myself don't use much of a pillow: i just throw my shirt in a heap and sleep on that, however,
my girlfriend swears by her inflatable, ancient, square pillow. i think it's probably the same thing as Machka's
(albeit probably a decade older (or more)).
she puts it in her fleece for some softness to lie on.
for our next BIG tour patagonia / tierra del fuego we hope we can use one of our msr dromedary bags for her.
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Old 01-11-07, 02:54 PM   #17
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I think a pillow is important. I have two, a down pillow from MEC which is lovely but a tad too small to give the required lift, and a new one, a Thermarest pillow (small) that rolls up to about the size of a one litre bottle.

I also picked up one of these MEC stuff sacs with a fleece side inside . I needed a stuff sack to better organise my stuff in my panniers, and I think it will be good.

The Thermarest is a very good size. I think I would recommend the bigger one however, if you weren't too worried about pack size.
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Old 01-23-07, 01:12 PM   #18
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The best solution I've found that's not just dead weight (during the day) is a WXtex Pneumo 15-liter Stuff Sack.

(1) It makes a great good-sized adjustable (valve like a Thermarest) pillow (just top it with a fleece).
(2) It's a compression sack so you can put your clothes in, squash the air out, making room in the panniers.
(3) It's completely waterproof (dry clothes ).
(4) In emergencies, it can be used a buoyancy aid.

It took 2 on my Pacific Coast trip last year & they're well worth it.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:20 PM   #19
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I have the same pillow issue, without a good pillow, I can't sleep very well.

My latest is so for the best, not as good as home but close enough. I use a Big Agnes inflatable pillow with one of the larger (Relatively speaking) pack-pillows on top. I modified a normal cotton pillow case to fit them in snugly, so they don't slid away from each other in the night. I also use the Big Agnes inflatable sleeping pad and together it is the best camp sleeping that I have had. For both inflatables it is best not to over fill them with air, less is better.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:23 PM   #20
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The other alternative if you use a BOB trailer, with it's BIG yellow bag is to just bring your favorite pillow along. It will fit in that bag and if you sleep well, the weight is worth it.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:35 PM   #21
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I don't have much bike touring experience, but I concocted a pillow for traveling and kayak touring. I bought a cheap memory foam pillow with a cover and cut it in half. To minimize its size, I roll it up and stuff it in a mini compression bag (about 7"x3" compressed). I personally really enjoy memory foam pillows, especially the way in which they're shaped to cradle your head.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:54 PM   #22
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I take a compressable down pillow when I am backpacking. My current favorite is made by Western Mountaineering. The shell is made of sleeping back cloth and does not pick up dirt and it compresses into a small bundle. 5 oz. total weight.

Last edited by Allen; 01-24-07 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 01-27-07, 05:00 AM   #23
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I've been using these Eagle Creek packing cubes to pack my clothing. They fit perfectly inside my pannier and they are the perfect height (when stuffed) to use as a pillow.

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