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Exped REM Review
Cons: Lacks comfort, noisy, not the most durable construction
Bottom line: This pillow is a great option for top-notch support when camping and on short backpacking trips.
The specs on the REM compelled us to include this Exped model in our 2017 review. For a hybrid pillow, it's lightweight and features a great valve system for easy inflating and deflating. Upon receiving the pillow, we were also impressed with its maximum thickness, which was greater than any other model reviewed. Its comfort, though, is only average, and despite its low weight, it takes up considerable room in a pack.
We like the REM, but the performance of other models nudged this one from the winner's circle. The other hybrid pillow reviewed, the Nemo Fillo, is more comfortable and packs smaller, although it weighs over three ounces more. For less weight and a slight drop in comfort, check out the Sea to Summit Aeros, our Top Pick for Backpacking.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Exped REM is a lightweight and supportive hybrid pillow with a price tag of $45. The pillowcase is made of a soft tricot fabric stuffed with a layer of Recycled Extracted Modules (hence the name, REM), which are pellets of foam from the Exped insulated mats. Inside the pillowcase is a removable, inflatable air chamber.
The REM offers average comfort among the contenders reviewed. We like the versatile ability to adjust its thickness by tweaking the inflation, which makes it possible for side, back, and stomach sleepers to find their ideal comfort level. A few drawbacks limit this model's comfort score, though. Despite a large surface area, our heads wobbled and slid off the pillow when not centered. The fabric is soft, but we prefer the micro-suede on the Nemo Fillo for next-to-skin comfort. It's also pretty loud, crinkling under our head movements. Lastly, the chunks of recycled foam create a lumpy surface. This isn't super noticeable until you compare it side-by-side with the Fillo, which has a single piece of foam and offers greater comfort overall.
After the two purely inflatable models, the REM is next lightest pillow, weighing 5.6 oz on our scale. This is impressive for a hybrid model, weighing 3.4 oz less than the other hybrid, the Nemo Fillo. The pillowcase and foam layer weigh 4.3 oz on their own, and the inflatable air chamber weighs 1.3 oz. Some users might use these pieces separately to drop weight, but comfort and support are higher when used in tandem. If you want a lightweight pillow for weeklong or more treks, check out the Exped Air UL or the Sea to Summit Aeros, our favorite model for backpacking.
When using the pillowcase without the air chamber, fold it in half and tuck it into the sleeve to increase loft and comfort. Using the inflatable air chamber on its own is a risky affair, as the plastic shell is thin and easy to puncture.
Ease of Use
This pillow is simple, and we like that. It takes less than 15 seconds to unroll the REM and inflate it with two to three breaths. The inflation valve is user-friendly. To adjust to the desired thickness, push on the green, rubber toggle inside the valve to let out a stream of air. At full inflation, this pillow is oversized for the average mummy sleeping bag hoods. Packing this model up is also quick and easy. It's easier to tuck a pillow into a sleeve than to wrestle it into a stuff sack, although the tradeoff is a less compressed pillow in its packed state. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible features a similar sleeve to tuck in the rolled-up pillow.
The internal air chamber is easy to remove, which is necessary to wash the pillowcase. Furthermore, this product has a grommet on each end of the pillow, which allows the user to secure it in place on a sleeping pad with a thin cord.
The REM deflates and rolls up into its built-in sleeve to get packed away. We measured its packed volume to be two liters, smaller than the Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow that has a higher weight.
Use a compression sack to chop this model's packed size in half.
The REM provides incredible support. Fully inflated, this pillow provides a firm six inches of loft, more than any other model reviewed. Being adjustable, all types of sleepers can find a thickness that suits them. For a softer pillow, check out the Therm-a-Rest Compressible.
This pillow is versatile with a below-average weight and an adjustable thickness. We enjoyed taking it car camping, on multi-day backpacking trips, and even for a few naps while traveling. Due to its high loft, side-sleepers will appreciate this model the most.
This is the second-most expensive model reviewed. It costs $45, which is $5 more than our favorite, the Nemo Fillo. It also feels more delicate than the Fillo, and probably won't last as long. If support is your number one priority, it's worth it. But for many users, there is likely a less expensive option that will serve you just as well.
The Exped REM is a solid camping pillow for a wide range of uses. It performs on par or above the average set by other models. The air chamber provides plenty of support, and sleepers of all kinds can adjust the loft to their likeness with the well-designed inflation valve. We doubt many users will be disappointed with this model's performance, but also acknowledge that there are a few less expensive and better options available.
— Ross Robinson
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