By: Blonde Two
The only person I have ever met who can lay her head down on a roll mat (I suspect she doesn’t even need one of those) and fall comfortably asleep, is Little-Miss-Blonde.
In the days when she shared a tent with Blonde One and I we were both amazed and envious of this uncanny ability. Most of us however are not as flexible in our approach to sleep as Little-Miss-Blonde and require some kind of camping pillow to improve our under-canvas-slumber-experiences. We Blondes have obviously tried and tested many solutions to the camp pillow problem whilst out wild camping on Dartmoor. A recent Twitter conversation had us and a few other avid wild campers wondering why camping mat manufacturers like Thermarest don’t make their inflatable mats with built in pillows. We are still waiting to hear the answer to our query but in the meantime, here is our version of the pillow menu (apparently these do exist in posh hotels). Should you be planning a wild camp this weekend (or any other weekend) here are our 5 tried and tested wild camping pillows.
1. The Pillow
Sounds crazy I know but it is possible to take your own pillow with you wild camping. This is only however possible if you are camping right next to your car (which is not really the done thing) or if you are prepared to leave your spare clothes, your dinner and your sleeping bag at home (I know, I do have big pillows!)
2. The Dry Bag
Now granted a dry bag makes a pretty poor wild camping pillow on its own but fill it with your favourite down jacket, your spare fleece and your merino socks and you have the makings of a reasonable neck raising device. The dry bag pillow however, comes with warnings. Don’t be tempted to use an underwired bra as part of your pillow stuffing, those wires are dangerous and the only sensible place for your slightly damp underwired bra is at the bottom of your sleeping bag. The other thing you need to be aware of with a dry bag pillow is the Comfort:Cold ratio. This scientific rule states that the colder you are during the night, the more you will need to remove lovely soft things from your pillow and wear them. One little tip, by the way (and it wasn’t my idea) a Buff or similar neck scarf makes a great dry bag pillow case.
3. The Rucksack
I have found many rucksacks that are comfortable on my back, but none, as yet, that are comfortable when used as a pillow. A rucksack, however, does add a bit of height to your head area, especially if you leave it stuffed with pain au chocolat or cheese sandwiches (this also protects your important food items from foxes). If you can wiggle your rucksack under your sleeping mat you might find that it gives you a bit of head-solace but do this with care as a sleeping on a punctured sleeping mat is approximately 986 times worse than sleeping without a pillow.
4. The Tussock
Dartmoor, as I am sure I have mentioned many times before, is full of tussocks. The tussock pillow is not for the beginner or wild camping faint-hearted. First you need to find a tussock that isn’t, a) In the middle of one of Dartmoor’s many bogs, b) Entirely and closely surrounded by other tussocks and c) Growing on a cow deposit. Once you have done this, putting up a tent so that the tussock is in perfect head-caressing position requires high-level tent pitching skills because you have also to take into account the slope, the stones and the avoidance of appearing like a tent-pitching amateur.
5. The Pillow System
This is my favourite and most used wild camping pillow and actually isn’t a pillow at all, I just call it that to make me feel better (sleep is a lot about psychology!) To build a pillow system you take any of your kit that you won’t actually be wearing in bed and layer it underneath your sleeping mat until you feel that your head is going to be sufficiently off the ground to ensure that you think you are at home in bed. If you have any wet layers (and are desperate enough for a pillow) you can start with these against the ground sheet and then build your way up to more comfortable items (back to the cheese sandwiches!) There are a few things that don’t really work within a pillow system (learnt through Blonde experience) anything plastic will slide and cause pillow subsidence, anything cylindrical like stoves or water bottles just won’t stack sensibly and crisps really are quite rubbish (especially if you are trying to eat them).
Sleep tight and don’t let those foxes bite!