This is a gear review about the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow in 2024.
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is the only truly comfortable backpacking pillow that for some will be just as comfortable as your pillow at home. As a camping pillow, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow excels and has few rivals.
As a backpacking pillow, it is super comfortable but a bit heavy and bulky for some. The best use for the Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is as a basecamp pillow for trekking trips. Recently upgraded with a storage pocket that stays closed with the help of a cinch chord.
Overall, a great compromise between comfort, weight, and size.
How We Tested
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow in this review has been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has more than 30 years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. He also spent several years managing a hiking retail store and is regarded as an expert in this field. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow was supplied by the manufacturer. It was rigorously tested by the author on several backpacking and camping trips. Read the Review Policy for further details
In-Depth Review: Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch 2024
Weight Small: 7 oz / 210 grams
Weight Regular: 10 oz / 295 grams
Weight Large: 15 oz / 415 grams
> Available in small, medium and large
> Machine washable
> Uses partially recycled materials
> Made in the USA
> Needs regular fluffing
The outer cover of the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow uses 60% recycled polyester and is not only soft to the touch but feels nice against the skin. Even when I have a beard or stubble it is comfortable and doesn’t have any annoying rubbing feeling against the skin.
The inner material comprises upcycled foam which means it uses leftover foam from Therm-a-Rest mats and pads that they manufacture. And there is a light polyester insulation layer sandwiched in-between. This polyester layer provides a bridge between the lumpy foam offcuts and your face. And does it in a good way.
Overall, the material works well in this camping pillow.
Comfort and Support
If there is one word and one word only that sums up the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch it is comfortable. This pillow is seriously comfortable for use with a sleeping pad and sleeping bag or backpacking quilt. It is large enough to be comfortable, but that large size means it will not fit inside most sleeping bag hoods and should be used outside the hoods for maximum comfort. That is what I did when testing this pillow.
The outer fabric is soft enough to make it feel nice against the skin, and there is enough padding inside to provide a lush lofty feel overall. As mentioned above, for males with a beard or stubble, the outer fabric doesn’t produce that annoying rubbing sound that could keep you awake at night.
If you are fussy with how hard or soft you like your pillow it can be cinched tighter to make it taller and firmer. I found it best when it was not adjusted at all. When I cinched it tighter it seemed to feel firmer and better when I slept on my side. As a result, both side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers should find this pillow can be adjusted to suit you perfectly. While the pillow will not be as comfortable as your pillow at home it will be a winner when out on the trail or car camping.
Very fussy sleepers may feel the lumpy internal foam a little annoying, even though I could hardly notice it. The layer of soft insulation is sandwiched between the repurposed foam on the inside and the soft outer layer. If you want the largest, softest pillow then choose the large size which will be best for you.
There are three sizes in the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch range.
The small-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is nice and compact at 15 inches x 11 inches x 5 inches / 38 cm x 28 cm x 13 cm, and packs to about half that size when folded into the sleeve and cinched tight.
The regular-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is 18 inches x 13 inches x 6 inches / 46 cm x 33 cm x 15 cm which is my preferred option and packs to about half that size when folded into the sleeve and cinched tight.
The large-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is 22 inches x 15 inches x 7 inches / 56 cm x 38 cm x 18 cm and is perfect for fussy sleepers, car camping, or those that can accept the added bulk and weight of this size. It packs to about half that size when folded into the sleeve and cinched tight.
When packing the pillow it is simply folded into the sleeve. But a new upgrade from the older design is the addition of a cinch cord which keeps the pillow folded and compressed more easily.
Overall, these sizes are perfect for a camping pillow. The large pack size will not be suited to ultralight backpacking trips. When going for a shorter overnight trip they will work well but are best suited for car camping.
The small-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is nice and compact at 7 oz / 210 grams.
The regular-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is 10 oz / 295 grams.
The large-sized Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is 15 oz / 415 grams.
Overall, the weight of these makes them better suited for car camping trips, travel, short overnight backpacking trips
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow will not go flat like an inflatable pillow. As a result, you can use it and abuse it. It is machine washable and very difficult to destroy. Although the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch comes with a limited lifetime warranty I can’t see too many people getting in contact with customer service to make a warranty claim. Some people may find they snag the cinch cord on something or pull it too tight which may damage the cord. Also, with the cinch cord being elastic it will eventually lose some of its elasticity if pulled too tight over time.
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch can’t go flat like an inflatable pillow and there are no internal baffles that could break. This pillow is tough.
Ease of Use
It doesn’t get much easier than opening up the pillow from the flap it folds into, opening it out, fluffing it up a bit, and going to sleep. It is so simple to use. In fact, it is so easy that I can see many hikers using this pillow to rest in the middle of the day for that afternoon siesta during a hot sunny day. I did this a couple of times, all I had to do was remember to pack it close to the top of my backpack.
How to Care For Your Pillow
After a bit of use, there will be a bit of sweat and dirt on the pillow. Just put it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with mild soap or tech wash. Air dry and you are good to go.
Compared with similar camp and backpacking pillows the Therm-a-Rest is reasonably priced. There are some cheaper ones out there and some more expensive ones. Overall, good value for money.
Therm-a-Rest Vs the Rest
How does the Therm-a-Rest Pillow compare with all the other lightweight backpacking and camping pillows?
For ultralight backpackers, this pillow is too heavy and too bulky to be considered an option. Most lightweight hikers will think the same. An inflatable pillow will be a much better option for those wanting less weight and bulk.
For those on base camp trips or using porters to carry their gear it is a perfect option. Or those that go car camping. There are few other backpacking pillows that offer the same level of comfort at a budget price.
Overall, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is one of the most comfortable camping pillows on the market in 2024. The size and bulk make it best suited to camping trips, travel, basecamp trips, or short overnight backpacking trips. It could also be a good option for someone who wants comfort and doesn’t mind the extra weight. This pillow is super comfortable but some may not find it doesn’t loft up high enough and want more, even when it is cinched tight to provide max support and height. I found it perfect and super comfortable. It is my go-to camping pillow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Therm-a-Rest make a good camping pillow?
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch is a super comfortable and very compact camping pillow. While it is not as comfortable as your pillow at home it packs to a small size and can be used for camping, hiking trips, and backpacking trips.
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
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 to you.