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Sea to Summit Aeros UL Inflatable Pillow review

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

Dorothy Parker
Blissful gives Sea to Summit’s UL pillow the highest rating, five Anitas (gotta have it).
This bit of luxury for my head was one of my best choices for the Arizona Trail.

what’s a luxury item?

On a thru-hike, the goal is to complete the hike, which usually means hiking all day, nearly every day for miles on end. While I am becoming less enamored with speed and “crushing miles,” that reality remains if you want to actually get anywhere.

Which is why it’s imperative that your “base weight” – the cumulative pounds of all your gear minus food, fuel, water and what you’re wearing – be as light as possible so you can move with ease and lessen the chances of injuries. And that means purchasing high tech ultralight gear that’s oftentimes, very expensive.

Most backpackers speak of the big three items – pack, tent and sleeping system – since they account for the bulk and heft on your back, and cost the most. As well, these items tend to constitute your survival. If you have shelter that keeps you dry and warm, and a means to carry it, you should be ok.

All the other items are important and selected carefully, as well as changed out over the years, things like head lamps, chargers, wallets and rain gear. What often doesn’t get discussed in detail are luxury items. What extra things will you take to make the hike not just a grinding march to the finish but a pleasurable journey through nature?

btw, you can see my revised gear list here

I take very little in this regard, but have now settled on adding an inflatable pillow to my gear list. And why, you might ask, when I could simply roll up extra clothes and stuff them in a stuff sack under my head? First of all, there aren’t always any extra clothes for that. I have tried laying my head on my food bag (the food itself is inside an odor proof resealable bag) But, as you can imagine, the size changes over time and most of the food feels hard and crunchy!

I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore, and sleep is paramount on a thru-hike after so much physical activity. On this latest trek, I needed to change out my mattress when my blow-up blew out from a spiky bit of grass. I found to my delight that a closed-foam pad actually worked better for me.

That being said, I wasn’t ready to give up a blow-up pillow, which somehow was spared being spiked…

Sea to Summit Aeros is the most comfortable backpacking pillow I’ve used and it compresses to the size of a pack of ramen noodles.

What makes this pillow so great?

Sea to Summit designed a pillow with baffles, a kind of curved and contoured air bladder that when filled, fits your head perfectly whether you’re a back or side sleeper like me. Unlike my mattress, the pillow makes no sound as I move and adjust during the night. Shaped like a fat C, it cradles my neck whether I’m writing the blog or fast asleep.

The polyester itself is soft, though I did add a washable pillow case for one more layer of joy. I don’t know if this aspect is really necessary, but it certainly made life easier – there’s a multi-function mini-valve that closes off when filling the pillow and holds the air in place. Open the valve completely, and all the air comes out. I found this made it easier to fine tune the filling, though I usually tuned to solid brick.

I did not end up using the ‘pillow lock’ to hold it inside the hood of my warmest sleeping bag. It’s a set of self-adhesive hook and loop patches. I actually found the pillow case itself kept things in place as I slept. And what’s more, this is an ultralight pillow that weighs just slightly over two ounces. A lot of comfort bang for the extra “weight,” I’d say.

The mini multi-function valve may not be a necessity, but it sure made inflating and deflating the pillow easy as well as adjusting the hardness.


In a nutshell, I love this pillow and, if you’re over 50 and want to sleep well at night, I highly recommend picking one up (with that smashing bright purple cade!) for your next outing. Your neck will thank me!

Blissful gives Sea to Summit’s UL pillow the highest rating, five Anitas (gotta have it).

Specs at a glance (regular size)

  • Material: 20 Denier soft stretch-knit polyester, contoured laminated TPU bladder, RF welded
  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.2 x 4.7 in (36 x 26 x 12 cm)
  • Packed Size: 2 x 2.8 in (5.5 x 7.5 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1 oz (60g)
  • Machine washable: case – yes; pillow – hand wash only
  • Inflation: multi-function mini-valve
  • Securable: with pillow-lock system


alison young was given the pillow and case for testing by Sea to Summit

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