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Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow Review

This is my in-depth review of the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow.

I’ve tested this ultralight camp pillow extensively over the past several weeks in a variety of different settings, primarily on short backpacking trips here in the Pacific Northwest.

Although there’s a lot to love about the Air Head Lite Pillow for backpacking, it’s not the best option for survival or prepping (our main focus here at Survival World).

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

With that in mind, this review focuses on this camp pillow’s applications for backpacking (with just a brief mention of why it’s not particularly well suited for wilderness survival).  

Here’s what you need to know about the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow.

Quick Thoughts

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow in Stuff Sack

The very first thing I noticed about the Air Head Lite Pillow is just how lightweight and compact it is.

This air pillow is seriously ultralight and super compact. It’s in the running for the lightest backpacking pillow I’ve ever used.

The regular sized version (which I used) clocks in at just 2 ounces. The large sized version is just 2.8 ounces.

Both sizes pack down incredibly small – small enough to fit in your pocket. Or, throw in your backpack without worrying about them taking up hardly any room at all.

When fully inflated, the regular sized version is roughly 15.5 x 11 x 4 inches. Although large enough to be comfortable, this is still small enough to fit inside the hood of most sleeping bags.

Even better, the nonslip fabric helps keep the pillow snug inside your hood. Even the shape is specifically designed to lock the pillow into place at night.

Like most air pillows, you can customize the Air Head Lite’s firmness by inflating to your desired amount. You have a surprising amount of wiggle room here. The pillow is just as comfortable fully inflated as it is partially inflated. Personally, I prefer a bit of give in my pillow.

Perhaps, this camp pillow’s only negative is its durability.

Although it’s very well made (as are all Therm-a-Rest products, including our recently reviewed Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 32 Sleeping Bag), the Air Head Lite doesn’t strike me as bulletproof like the Snugpak Basecamp Air Pillow.

I do plan to put this Therm-a-Rest pillow through the ringer this summer, so I’ll update this review in a few months once I have a better understanding of the Air Head Lite’s long-term durability.  

Pros and Cons of the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow Next to 12oz Coke Can for Size

After using this ultralight Therm-a-Rest pillow on several wilderness outings, here is my opinion on its pros and cons for camping, backpacking, and survivalism.

What I Like About the Air Head Lite Pillow

A few of the things I like most about this camping pillow include:

  • Light – This air pillow weighs just 2 ounces.
  • Compact – The Air Head Lite packs down super small so it barely takes up any room in your backpack.
  • Comfortable – The pillow has a soft, no-slip exterior and a tailored shape to cradle your neck and shoulders.
  • Easy to Use – This air pillow takes just a few breaths to inflate. Packing back into the stuff sack is slightly more difficult, but still quite easy.
  • Large – At 15.5 x 11 x 4 inches, this pillow is large and spacious, especially when you consider it weighs just 2 ounces.

What I Dislike About the Air Head Lite Pillow

A few of the things I dislike about this camping pillow include:

  • Durability Issues – I personally haven’t experienced any durability issues with this pillow, but one of the most common complaints online is about issues with the nozzle breaking. I plan to use this pillow extensively this summer and will update my review accordingly.

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow Features and Specs

Here are the most important features and specs for this Therm-a-Rest air pillow:

Weight: 2 OuncesSize: 15.5 x 11 x 4 Inches
InflatableComes w/ Stuff Sack
No-Slip FabricShaped for Sleeping Bag Hood

Visit Thermarest.com to learn more about the Air Head Lite Pillow’s features and specifications.

My Experience with the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow in stuff sack near 12oz Coca-Cola can for size

After several early spring camping trips, I’m very pleased with the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow.

Not only is it lightweight and compact, but it’s incredibly well made. It barely takes up any room in your backpack, seems like it will last for years, and is comfortable to boot.

Of course, serious ultralight backpackers will ditch a pillow altogether and just use their backpack or jacket as a makeshift pillow.

But for all those that prefer a little extra comfort at night, the Air Head Lite is one of the lightest camp pillows on the market today.

It’s also extremely easy to inflate. It took me just four breaths. It holds air all night long, barely deflating at all. Although it’s a little tricky to stuff back into the stuff sack in the morning, doing so will only take a minute or two tops.

The Air Head Lite is one of the most comfortable camp pillows I’ve used. The fabric is soft and the pillow is shaped to cradle your neck and shoulders. This shape also helps the pillow stay put inside your sleeping bag hood.

Unlike other inflatable pillows I’ve used, the Air Head Lite is very quiet at night. It doesn’t make a crinkling sound when you move around.

So far, I’m very pleased with this Therm-a-Rest pillow for backpacking. As mentioned above, I do plan to update this review after taking the pillow on some longer outings.

Is the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow Right for You?

Air Head Lite w/ Snugpak Basecamp and Cocoon Camp Pillow
Air Head Lite w/ Snugpak Basecamp and Cocoon Camp Pillow

I highly recommend this Therm-a-Rest air pillow for backpacking.

If you’re looking for a super light, super compact backpacking pillow that’s also super comfortable, then this is it.

That said, since our focus here at Survival World is, well, survivalism, I have to say that this pillow isn’t the best option for survivalists or preppers.

Of course, it will do the job just fine. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and relatively durable. But I believe there are better survival pillows, especially in long-term survival situations.  

Not only that, but a pillow is far from a necessity for survival in the first place.

Alternatives to the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite with Snugpak Basecamp Pillow and Cocoon Camp Pillow All in Stuff Sacks for Size Comparison

I’ve tested out a lot of different camping pillows over the last several months.

In my opinion, the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow is one of the best, if not the best, pillows for backpacking.

For survival, however, I recommend the Snugpak Basecamp Ops Air Pillow.

It’s super lightweight and durable. It’s also among the most affordable camping pillows available.

With that said, there are few differences between air pillows if I’m being honest. The best option for you is really all up to personal preference.

I’ve also reviewed the Cocoon Camp Pillow, Nemo Fillo Pillow, and REI Camp Pillow if you want to check out some of my additional camping pillow reviews.  

So, What’s the Verdict?

side view of Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

The Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow is one of the best ultralight backpacking pillows available today.

I highly recommend it to all backpackers because of its lightweight, overall comfort, and ease of use. It’s well made with high-quality materials so it should hold up to all the wear and tear of backpacking.

Buy the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow from Amazon.

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