This is a gear review about the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow in 2023.
If you are looking for an ultralight backpacking pillow that packs up small and strong enough for a weekend camping trip or multi-month thru-hike then this could be for you. I have been using this pillow for the last couple of months and here is my in-depth review.
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In-Depth Review: Therm-A-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow 2023
Weight Regular: 2 oz / 58 grams
Weight Large: 2.8 oz / 80 grams
> Machine washable
> Very small packed size
> Soft to the touch and Comfortable
> Not as comfortable as your pillow at home but good for an ultralight pillow.
I used the Therm-a-Rest Airhead Lite Pillow for a couple of months of testing to see just how good it would be as an ultralight backpacking pillow. It is ultralight and perfect for the ultralight hiker wanting a comfortable pillow with minimal weight and pack size.
While it may not be as comfortable as your pillow at home that is not why you would want a pillow like this. But the compromise in size, comfort, and durability makes it worth it.
Overall, if you are an ultralight hiker and are looking for an ultralight pillow then consider the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow as the best on the market in 2023.
The Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow uses polyester soft stretch knit fabric that is soft to the touch. The nonslip fabric keeps the pillow nicely in the hood of your sleeping bag. But during my testing, I found the pillow was better suited to be used outside the sleeping hood and on the base of the sleeping pad. As mentioned earlier it does quite a good job of staying in place and is relatively non-slip.
Comfort and Support
Firstly, let’s make it clear that the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is an ultralight pillow and will not be as comfortable as your pillow at home. With 4 inches / 10 cm of height, there is more than enough support to keep you comfortable at night.
When the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is matched with an ultralight sleeping pad and sleeping bag or backpacking quilt it forms a good partnership for a good night’s sleep. And a good overall sleep system for those that want to carry the least amount of weight, but with the most amount of comfort.
The outer soft stretch knit fabric is soft enough to make it feel nice against the skin but lacks the soft velvety feel of some other lightweight backpacking pillows.
For males with a beard or stubble, the outer fabric is good and there is only a very minimal rubbing sound.
The pillow fits nicely into the hood of sleeping bags and all but the fussiest sleeper will find it comfortable. Side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers should find this pillow to be very good.
If anything could be improved it would be the outer material that touches your skin. While it feels good against your skin there are some other ultralight pillows that have a much more plush and soft feeling fabric but still keep the same weight. Having said that, this is the go-to ultralight pillow that I use right now.
There are two sizes in the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow range.
The regular-sized Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is 15.5 inches x 11 inches x 4 inches / 39 cm x 28 cm x 10 cm which is my preferred option. It packs into a small stuff sack that is small enough to fit in your pocket.
The large-sized Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is 18 inches x 12.5 inches x 4 inches / 46 cm x 32 cm x 10 cm. It packs into a very small stuff sack.
The regular-sized Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is 2 oz / 58 grams.
The large-sized Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is 2.8 oz / 80 grams.
Overall, the weight of these makes these pillows best suited to ultralight hikers and backpackers who want the lightest pillow that is also comfortable.
The Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is an inflatable pillow that is durable enough for hundreds of nights of use without issue. But as it is inflatable there is always the possibility of getting a hole. Most of these issues will be related to user error or trying to use it outside in areas with spikey plants or packing it inside your pack near sharp objects that may rub against the stuff sack. I suggest packing it inside your sleeping bag would be a good idea.
Some hikers may try to sit on this when it is inflated which is a sure way to cause damage. If you use this product as a pillow then it is more than durable enough to last for hundreds of nights of use and abuse.
The Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow comes with a limited lifetime warranty which is good to know if you do have any issues. Also, I can confirm that the customer service department is one of the best in the business.
Ease of Use
Simply remove the pillow from the stuff sack and with two or three breaths it will be inflated. When first using the pillow you will want to play around with the amount of air inside the pillow to determine what pressure gives the best feel for you. Once you have got that dialed in you are good to go. The valve and mouthpiece work well and are simple too.
How to Care For Your Pillow
After a bit of use, there will be a bit of sweat and dirt on the pillow. Simply hand wash the pillow with mild soap or tech wash to clean the pillow. Air dry before storing.
Compared with similar camp and backpacking pillows the Therm-a-rest Airhead Lite Pillow is reasonably priced and sits in the middle of the range compared to other lightweight backpacking pillows. Some cheaper pillows exist and there are also some more expensive ones. Overall, decent value for money.
Therm-a-rest Airhead Lite Pillow Vs the Rest
How does the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow compare with all the other ultralight and lightweight backpacking pillows?
For ultralight backpackers, this is one of the best on the market in 2023. There are only a couple of other pillows that can compete for weight, comfort, and pack size such as those from Nemo and Sea to Summit. For anyone expecting a pillow as comfortable as your one at home you may be disappointed but there are others out there that may be more suitable. Be sure to check out how it compares with other ultralight backpacking pillows.
Overall, the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite Pillow is one of the best ultralight backpacking and hiking pillows for 2023. A combination of lightweight, small pack size and good comfort make it a good choice for those who consider these features to be of the utmost importance. While the outer fabric is nice and soft to the tough it could be softer. Maybe that is why some other lightweight pillows are heavier as the outer material adds quite a lot to the weight. Having said that it is a big improvement on previous models and pillows from many years ago that were not so comfortable. I like this pillow so much it is my current ultralight pillow that I use for hiking and backpacking trips. A winner.
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Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to ultralight backpacking pillows the Therm-a-rest Air Head Lite is one of the best on the market. It is not only lightweight but comfortable, and durable, and packs up to a very small size. Perfect for backpacking.
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The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.