Pillow Talk

Sleeping in a tent doesn’t mean you must be uncomfortable as the uninitiated might think. In fact, getting a good night’s sleep is not only perfectly achievable, it’s crucial to having a groovy trip. Well-rested campers are happy campers.

This little post is not about all of the ins-and-outs of satisfying tent sleep, however. Today’s focus is about resting your weary head after a busy day of exploring.

You silly camper you…

In the minivan days of Camp Granola, we had plenty of room to bring full-sized pillows on our car-based adventures. We really didn’t have to sweat the space they took up. But once we down-sized to Blubaru, we had to down-size the pillows as well.

Camp Life
Last known sighting of George's red pillow.

Enter the Thermarest compressible pillow. With REI dividend in hand as we were gearing up for a trip to Tugaloo State Park, we splurged on four of them to ease our space issues. Having done absolutely zero research on the matter, these simply seemed to fit our basic criteria on the fly. They were small but not microscopic. They squished even smaller for storage and transport. They were foam, not air-filled. (I hate patching holes in inflatable stuff…drives me batty.) So they seemed like the obvious choice for us.

That fateful decision was made way back in March so we’ve had a good nine months to prop our noggins on them since then. (Ok, with the exception of George’s which met an early demise at Cumberland Gap.) Honestly, for the last nine months, I’ve had nothing but disdain for this product.

It seemed to take a good bit of manipulation to get them fluffed in a way that was remotely comfortable. And when you rolled over or shifted you had to fuss with it again. Basically, they were limp and lame even when left for hours to expand. That’s why when we lost George’s we didn’t lament it much. It didn’t seem like much of a loss to lose something we thought sucked. And so we’ve muddled along with these pillows since we felt stuck with them. It was no small investment.

Fast forward to the present and upon our return from Skidaway Island after a ten-day trip, our gear was in much need of laundering. To save resources and wear-and-tear I only wash as absolutely necessary. And after a trip of that length, washing is generally in order. That’s when I realized I’d neglected to wash the pillows since we’d bought them. Oops…and ewww.

User error…

With a quick look at the tag for the proper care instructions, it was time for a big-old granola facepalm. Clearly in my rush to prepare for that trip way back in March, I simply ripped the paper tags off without reading them and threw the pillows in the car. Because how complicated can a pillow be right? Not exactly rocket science. Au contraire! Right there on the tag it says to give them a wash and tumble dry to fluff them up after their long, arduous, compressed journey into our lives. (I may have embellished that a bit.)

Pillow George
They're so fluffy!

Sometimes my own cluelessness amazes me. Sure enough, a run through the wash perked them up to epically fluffy proportions. Not kidding…it was like one of those little rubber toys the kids put in water and they grow to 200 times their size. The difference in these pillows was jaw-dropping. And now not only can I not wait to take them on another trip, I’m finally lamenting the loss of George’s. Drat!

(Side note: if any park ranger-types found George’s red pillow at the Wilderness Road campground, it would be great to have that back.)

Eating crow…

In summary, I take back all the unkind thoughts that coursed through my mind regarding the pillows. Can I tell you how relieved I am that I didn’t write a scathing review? But this is exactly why I like to really get to know something before I open my big mouth about it. And now I know when we replace George’s that we need to fluff before use.

At this point I feel comfortable endorsing these pillows. You can also shoot me a quick email if you have more specific questions. I’m always happy to share my thoughts.

So have you ever totally misjudged a product because you failed to read the instructions?

And now for your moment of green…

Gull Reflecting
I didn't have a shot of the crow I had to eat, so how about a gull?


  1. Yeah! We took four of those pillows on our trip out west this summer. One lost its fluffiness, but now I know how to make it perk back up!

    1. Well then my job here is done! Who knew I was providing such a public service? I’m surprised ti didn’t get purged in the downsizing though. That was epic!

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