Klymit Pillow X Review: Is It a Good Ultralight Backpacking Pillow?
I don’t love the Klymit Pillow X, but I see why others do.
A creative take on the classic inflatable pillow, the Klymit X is designed to cradle the neck and head when sleeping on your back.
What it lacks in comfort and versatility, it makes up for in material durability and light weight. If you only ever sleep on your back and you’re looking for a comparatively cheap inflatable pillow, the Klymit X is an okay choice.
To put it to the test, we took the Klymit X on three separate camping adventures and used it just as man intended, for sleep. We measured it for comfort, durability, slipperiness and overall quality.
If you’d like to read more about how the Klymit X compared to the other backpacking pillows we tested, check out our article on the best backpacking pillows.
|Klymit Pillow X (This Product)||
|1.95 oz.||30D Top/75D Bottom Polyester||2 breaths|
|Top Pick & Best Value: Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case||
|Best Inflatable: Cocoon Hyperlight Air-Core Pillow||
|2.4 oz.||Polyester fill with nylon shell||3 breaths|
|Honorable Mention: Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light (Regular)||
|2 oz.||Polyester||2 breaths|
|Honorable Mention: Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium (Regular)||
|2.8 oz.||Polyester||2 breaths|
What We Like
The Klymit X is lightweight, small enough to fit in the hood of a sleeping bag and fairly adjustable in terms of how much it’s inflated.
As the old saying goes, “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain” in the world of backpacking. Weighing only 1.95 oz, the Klymit X is the second lightest backpacking pillow we tested. By comparison, the Exped Air Pillow Ultralight weighs 1.6 oz at double the price point.
The Klymit X inflates in sections, meaning that one triangle can stay more inflated than the others. It’s not a perfect system, since the sections are only divided by stitching and still share the same inflation valve. Still, it helps when finding that perfect elevated sweet spot for your neck and head. If you sleep on your back and don’t mind a crinkly fabric, this sleep experience can be okay.
The top of the pillow is made of 30-denier polyester while the bottom is made out of 75-denier, making for high durability but moderate slipperiness when sleeping. With all the concerns I had with this pillow, I never once feared that the fabric would tear or snag. I’m pretty sure you could sleep on a cactus and this thing would never pop. You probably shouldn’t try that though.
In my opinion, a backpacking pillow shouldn’t inflate to monstrous size. The Klymit X is only as big as it needs to be and nothing more. (15″ x 11″ x 4″)
Though the X design is intended to secure your head in place, the pillow definitely slipped out from under me in the middle of the night. However, the Klymit X’s size makes it easy to combat slipping — simply tuck it in the inside of your sleeping bag hood. Voila!
What We Don’t Like
The klymit X is designed to cradle your head, which is great in theory, but what if you want to sleep on your side or your stomach? Overall, it’s not a very comfortable fabric and the design greatly limits versatility.
The Klymit X doesn’t notably work well for side or tummy sleepers, or for use on planes, trains or automobiles.
However, Klymit does acknowledge the product is durable enough to use as a seat cushion. This seemed like a bold statement so, of course, we gave it a try. Sure enough, one impressive redeemable quality is that the Klymit X can be used as a cushion, (at least for my 115 lbs self). This may be of interest for say the hunting and fishing community who spends a lot of time sitting outdoors. Note that it is more comfortable to use sitting on the ground than on a chair.
Unless you sleep on your back, where the X can cradle your head as intended, the design is mostly pointless. The fabric is not particularly soft or comfortable but if you’re dog tired after a full day of backpacking, will you really be that picky? Even if you aren’t picky, the polyester material is fairly crinkly. If you’re a light sleeper, the noise could wake you up.
It’s 2017. I say it’s time we did away with these finicky screw valves in inflatable products. I’ve found that the threads on similar twist-style valves always wear down over time, resulting in leakage and a shorter lifespan for an otherwise extremely durable product. I haven’t owned the Klymit X long enough to have problems, but am hesitant to take it on very long trips.
The Klymit X is best used for a midday nap in the park on your lunch break. Keep it in your purse or briefcase where it’s always accessible. I like using the Klymit X as a seat cushion during picnics. This may seem silly, but that’s frankly all I trust this pillow to do. The material is too crinkly for me to appreciate while camping. The valve is too poorly made for me to trust it on thru-hikes. It’s not the cheapest or the lightest pillow on the market.
As a piece of gear, the Klymit X performs fairly for ultralight backpackers who sleep on their back and appreciate a good deal. It also won’t pop if you’re a hunter or fisher looking for a seat cushion to accompany you in the stand or boat.
Comparatively, the Klymit X is one of the cheapest inflatable pillows on the market. The value is high if it fits your needs. Although I don’t love this pillow, it served its intended purpose and never popped, even though the inflation valve does seem cheaply made.
How the Klymit Pillow X Performed in Our Testing
What better way to test a camp pillow than to take it camping! We took the Klymit X on three separate camping adventures and used it just as man intended, for sleep. This was part of our testing to find the best backpacking pillow available. You can find our complete results here.
Obviously, you want to know how the Klymit X fairs during backpacking. We set out to determine just that with a three day hiking trip through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. This is where we really got annoyed with the crinkly and slippery fabric.
What a treat it was to road trip through Texas with these bearded hoodlums (pictured below) in the super luxurious, extra massive Dynamax DX3. Less luxurious was using the Klymit X (along with the Cocoon Hyperlight) as my pillow, seat cushion and mid-drive nap support. This is where we discovered its lack of versatility.
We’re all willing to tolerate slight discomfort in the backcountry. At some level, we accept that imperfect sleep is a small price to pay when exploring the great outdoors. We especially tend to deny gear-caused discomfort when said gear costs a pretty penny.
But bring that gear home to the luxury of a Tempurpedic bed and you’ve entered a zero-tolerance zone for discomfort. I replaced all four of my perfectly luxurious home pillows with one Klymit X. By doing so, I was able to quickly, precisely and someewhat brutally identify everything wrong with it as a pillow (which we understand isn’t exactly fair but it serves as a nice comparison. Take my ruthlessness with a grain of salt).
- Weight: 1.95 oz.
- Material: 30 D Top/75D Bottom Polyester
- Inflation: Two breaths
The Bottom Line
I’m hard pressed to recommend the Klymit X for anything other than cheap, ultralight backpacking. If you’re car camping or just using this for weekends, I don’t believe the ounce-for-ounce difference makes up for the lack of comfort. If you sleep on your side or even your stomach (like I do when I’m backpacking), the X design doesn’t work well.
The Klymit Pillow X satisfies a very specific need — one for an ultralight backpacker who doesn’t want to put up the money for a 1.6 oz Exped Air Pillow UL or add an extra half ounce to their pack by going with our favorites, the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case and Cocoon Hyperlight Air-Core Pillow.