There are many luxury items in the backpacking world. Some more outrageous then the rest. I always thought that a pillow was a luxury item that I could spare. That was until I read some gear discussions about long distance hikers, and how they always take a pillow. It got me curious, so I decided to find the perfect pillow. My girlfriend owns a Big Agnes Sleeping Giant pillow that is amazing. But the thing is bulky and weighs 8.5 ounces. At the shop we sell the Nemo Fillow which is on par with the Big Agnes pillow, but the Nemo weighs 11 ounces. That is why I was excited to see Nemo release the Fillo Elite. The comfort of a camp pillow, with out the weight and bulk commonly found in other models.
Initial Thoughts- The Nemo Fillo Elite is a air chamber pillow that is covered in a cotton/polyester fabric on the top and a nylon bottom. The chamber stretches slightly, providing the user with a more normal pillow feel. The pillow is 10"x 14" and a plush 3" high. On the bottom of the pillow an integrated stuff sack packs the pillow down to a scant 3"x4" package that disappears in the pack. Currently the Fillo Elite comes in two colors; grey or a purple. Unfortunately the purple was out of stock when I ordered mine. Overall the pack weight and size of the pillow is incomparable to most backcountry pillow options on the market.
Use in the Field- Just because I have not owned a camp pillow, doesn't mean I haven't tried them. I have experimented with the Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, a stuffed Nano Puff Jacket and Big Sky DreamSleeper. Both the Big Sky and the Nemo Fillow Elite have similar designs. But the Big Sky weighs an additional 1.9oz and does not come with an integrated stuff sack. The Nemo pillow allows you to control the firmness of the pillow with the amount of air pressure. It fits well inside a mummy style sleeping bag. I did find that when using it on my Big Agnes Q-Core SL pad the pillow has a tendency to walk. It was only a minor amount, but still notable. The Fillo Elite easily packs into the integrated stuff sack which I love. I hate having multiple stuff sacks that disappear when you are trying to pack you pack in the morning. The valve of the pillow does not release air when pressure is applied. This makes it easy to inflate and seal, without losing much air from the chamber. The soft cotton/polyester fabric is comfortable to lay on and provides slight insulation. Although the pillow is not insulated, when used with a hat the heat loss is unnoticed. After using the pillow a hand full of times I was disappointed to find out that it has a small leak. The leak is slow, only noticeable halfway through the night. I was hoping that the internal air bladder might be removable, but it appears to be sewed into the fabric case. My current solution is to just inflate the pillow in the middle of the night. Not too pleased about this, considering the pillow has only been used inside the tent, on top of an air mattress.
Final Thoughts- There are many pillow options on the market. There are very few that find the sweet spot between ultralight, comfortable and useable. The Nemo Fillow Elite is here to change that. The comfort, mixed with the ultralight build, create the ultimate backpacking pillow. 2.5 ounces is a small price to pay for a comfortable nights sleep in the backcountry. The recent development of the air loss is concerning, but I would still recommend the pillow. I assume this air loss has something to do with the valve connection. If you are looking for the perfect balance between comfort, weight and usability then the Nemo Fillo Elite is a good option. Find out more about the Fillo Elite and other Nemo products at their website.
*This product was purchased for testing.