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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Cocoon Travel Pillow - Aircore Ultralight

Just because you're sleeping on the dirt doesn't mean you have to be uncomfortable.

by: Will Rochfort

Cocoon Air-Core Pillow Ultralight (Courtesy Photo)
Cocoon Air-Core Pillow Ultralight (Courtesy Photo)

One Size
3.7 oz
I like packing light, but I don’t like to skimp when it comes to my sleeping arrangements.  I have a good friend who can fall asleep on a granite slab without an ounce of cushion, but I need a few more creature comforts to get a good night’s sleep.  Chief among those is a pillow, and the Cocoon Aircore Ultralight Travel Pillow’s favorable comfort-to-weight ratio means it will always have a spot in my pack.

Construction is pretty simple:  Essentially, it’s a bag inside of a nylon liner with synthetic fill.  You can inflate the bag with just a couple breaths, and there’s plenty of flexibility in the bag to vary level of firmness.  Granted, it’s no oversized down-pillow with 1500 count Egyptian sheets, but a half-inflated air core does a good job of cradling your melon, and blowing it up to full strength will satisfy those who prefer to sleep on something more akin to a boulder. 

The synthetic fill adds a padded cushion between the pillowcase and air-filled core so it doesn’t feel like you’re lying on an inflated grocery bag.  One side of the pillow is covered with a soft microfiber, and the other side is nylon.  Unfortunately this means the pillow is prone to sliding around if you prefer the softer side.  I just stuffed it inside of my mummy sleeping bag hood, and it wasn’t a problem. 

I’m a side sleeper, and after breaking both of my clavicles and one shoulder (in three different accidents), I have pretty specific wants when it comes to camp pillows.  I have tried cramming jackets inside of ditty bags and using compressible pillows, but neither was able to provide enough support for a decent night’s sleep.  I tried the Aircore Ultralight on a recent winter trip to Mt. Whitney, and I was able to comfortably lie in bed for twelve hours, save the occasional answer to Mother Nature.  I could quickly deflate the pillow to a comfortable level while stargazing on my back, and then re-inflate it when it was time to actually roll over and pass out.  It even served suitably as a car trip pillow, which certainly made the five-hour car ride significantly more pleasurable.

Like all inflatable backcountry toys, you’ll want to treat this pillow carefully to avoid any unwanted punctures.  It’s not designed for field fixes either, although a knife and some ingenuity might allow you to get to the inflatable bag for impromptu repairs.

Bonus: The pillow also shrinks down to about the size of a tennis ball.  Just be sure to fold it as snugly as possible, as the stuff sack is an extremely precise fit.

Bottom Line: For you stalwarts who watch their weight, please continue to wrap your spare socks around your Nalgene as a cushion for your dome.  I’ll sacrifice the 3.7 ounces for comfort and chalk it up as a win.

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Aug 24, 2013

I just used this in the Tetons for 6 days (and on the airplane for two), and I love it. It's most comfortable minimally inflated, but then it's a dream. I especially like the microfleece side -- that's the side I used up, and it was great. packs very small and I had no trouble getting into that little stuff sack every time -- the valve goes last.

Mar 20, 2011

had one of these. there was a problem with the inflation tube - manufacture was aware of the problem - and they have a tendancy to puncture easily. it was not worth the money

Jan 21, 2011

Are you kidding me. Exped Air Pillow is much better.

Jan 21, 2011

Are you kidding me. Exped Air Pillow is much better.

Jan 21, 2011

Are you kidding me. Exped Air Pillow is much better.

Jan 21, 2011

Are you kidding me. Exped Air Pillow is much better.

Nov 19, 2010

I use an inflatable travel pillow that is the same shape as this, but it packs flat, cost me only $8 at my local drugstore and actually weighs about 2 oz.

Dave Too
Nov 19, 2010


Nov 18, 2010



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