Review: Sierra Designs Animas Pillow || Comfortable 2.1-oz inflatable for $25

A protoype of the Sierra Designs Animas Pillow, which nests nicely in the hood of a mummy bag.

Last summer I used a prototype of the new Sierra Designs Animas Pillow ($25, 2.1 oz) for about 30 nights. It was a similar experience to when I first used a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (instead of foam): it’s hard to imagine reverting back to my old approach, which included sleeping on my:

  • Soft-sided water bottles (full or inflated) and spare clothing, inside of a stuff sack;
  • Shelter, when cowboy camping; and,
  • Food sack, in areas where I deemed it safe, YMMV.

A wide, fast, and easy to use inflation/deflation valve

Review: Sierra Designs Animas Pillow

My sole criticism of the Animal Pillow is its $25 price. That seems expensive to me, although it turns out that REI doesn’t sell a single pillow for less than this amount. Otherwise, I thought the Animas was just about perfect:

1. Texture

The 20d polyester face fabric is brushed and slightly stretchy, making it comfortably soft. It’s not quite silky, but it’s far from being stiff and plastic-feeling. It’s comfortable next-to-skin, and I never hesitated to sleep directly on it.

Equally important, it’s not slippery, so it tends to stay in place. The underside has silicone branding to help with that.

2. Easy inflate and deflate

With the wide pressure-sealed valve, the Animas can be inflated with two breaths and deflated in seconds by puncturing the seal with a finger.

In 30 nights of use, I never had a leak or hole.

3. Lightweight

The Animas specs at 2.1 oz, which I think is a good balance of weight, performance, and value. It could be lighter, but it’d have to be smaller or it’d have to made of lighter fabrics that are less comfortable, more expensive, and less durable.

4. Sized right

Depending on the topography of my campsite and my sleeping bag, I tried placing the Animas between my bag and pad, under my pad, and inside the hood of my bag (as seen in the first photo). I preferred this last setup most, because the curvature of the hood kept it in place best. Thankfully, the Animas is narrow enough (15 inches wide) that it nestled well into this spot.

Prototype vs production

Only minor changes were made to my prototype Animas before it went into production. The production colors are blue/gray, rather than red/purple-ish gray. And they changed the branding, thankfully with no spelling errors. Mine reads, “Don’t let a soar neck ruin your fun.” Oh, the joys of working with Asia.

Oden interrupts my photo-taking on the front porch, because apparently cats are too entitled to lay on concrete or door mats.

Questions about the Animas? Leave a comment.

Buy now: Sierra Designs Animas Pillow

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Additional disclosure. I formerly worked with Sierra Designs as a product consultant and brand ambassador, but was not involved in the development of this product.

Posted in on March 14, 2018


  1. Joe on March 14, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Sounds exactly like my experience with the Sea to Summit pillow. Seemed stupidly self-indulgent until I tried it.

    Hell, now l I’d sooner give up my Neolite pad (thanks for that tip, Andrew!) for a 3/8″ ensolite pad than my air pillow for a bag of food under my head.

    Reckon SD just jumped on the train after everyone remarked what a nice train it was, but if their pillow is good, good on ’em.

    I love their cagoule, which I consider innovative. To a great extent, it’s a copycat business.

    Some things are worth their weight. For me, an air pillow, of whatever reliable brand, is 2 ounces well worth carrying.

    The value of a good night’s sleep is often underestimated, I reckon.

    Not by me, though. Sleeping well ranks right up there with beer as one of my favorite things.

    I’m growing quite fond of Oden too, though. 🙂

  2. Hunter G Hall on March 14, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Yeah, I have the Z-Packs pillow stuff sack, but eventually cracked and got the S2S UL pillow. Never looked back.

  3. Sean on March 14, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    This design actually looks really similar to the exped air pillow. Same basic design with a neck notch cut out & everything. Two valves. I really, really like it, and over the years it’s paid for itself but yeesh. Expensive. Probably one of the biggest “ripoff” markups I’ve paid, but it’s also helped the most.

    Exped is 50 bucks or so though so SD wins out at 25 dollars. I’ll suggest this product now instead of anything else basically on price range.

    Protip: This makes an *awesome* pillow if you’re hammock camping and you need just a little extra. It insulates your head well, is comfy, and generally is the last bit of hammock luxury to really let me sleep well.

    The trick is to only inflate it about 1/3 of the way, maybe 1/2 way. You have to play with it. It’ll snug into the curve of the hammock and when you lay your head down on it, the “fill” will be perfect. You can tell there’s a pillow there but it doesn’t push your head forward/down.

  4. Russell J on March 15, 2018 at 7:25 am

    I finally bought a dedicated backpacking pillow (Exped) about four years ago and it made a world of difference. Although I still struggle to get a good night’s sleep outdoors, it’s no longer due to trying to use a stuffsack of clothes or – even worse – air-filled water bladders as a pillow.

    The older I get, the more I find these types of things moving from the luxury column to the necessity column.

    In other words, you’re getting old and soft like me. 🙂

  5. David on March 15, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I read the entire article calling it the animal pillow. The picture of your cat didn’t help. I had to google – Animas Mountain Trail :$

  6. Douche Packer on March 16, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Curious if your cat is declawed? I dont even let mine in the room when I have an inflatable mat out lol

    • Andrew Skurka on March 16, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      My cat’s food costs $12 per pound. You think that’s the type of cat that is declawed?

      He’s an old man, and was also in the midst of a sun siesta when I took that photo. I wouldn’t have trusted him near my inflatable gear a few years ago, or after he poops (when, oddly, he is most energetic).

  7. Joe on March 19, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Huh. I figured he was a kitten. Looks like a little guy.

    I really enjoy seeing him in your posts, anyway. I’m a dog man, but love cats too.

    And $12 a pound chow?!

    Dang! Lobster and filet mignon?

    When I grow up I want to be your cat!

    • Andrew Skurka on March 21, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      He’s not a big guy (weighs in at about 9 lb) but makes up for it in attitude.

  8. Joe on March 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    My Sally-girl would love that little rascal. She’s a German Shorthair Pointer.

    She loves everyone. All species.

    I reckon she does about 30 miles on my average daily 8 mile trail run.

    She once brought me an unharmed baby rabbit, in her mouth, and watched approvingly as I released it.

    She just wanted to show it to me.

    Oden might not love Sally, though. Prolly wouldn’t.

    You can train a good dog to do near ’bout anything if you know how, and make ’em trust you first, but you can’t even train a cat to go to the door when he needs to poop. Cats don’t get trained.

    They train.

    I was raised to despise cats, but fortunately I’m teachable. My wife taught me that cats are cool. They just gone be cats.

    She and the cat are both gone now. I sure miss both of them.

  9. Mike on April 24, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I am literally on my 5th different packing pillow. I own and have tried, in order: Thermarest Stuff Sack Pillow (stuffed with clothes and a downjacket), Sea to Summit Aeros, Thermarest Compressible Pillow, and the Nemo Fillo. Every, single trip with any of these pillows, I woke up every hour or so because my ear or neck hurt (if I was sleeping on my side) or my face hurt (if I was sleeping on my stomach). I wish I was a back sleeper, that might solve a lot. Finally my girlfriend bought me the Malouf Travel Pillow. I don’t care how much it weighs or how much space it takes up because it allows me a good night’s sleep. I sacrifice weight and space elsewhere if need be. How is this pillow in this review different from the Sea to Summit Aeros? I realize it has a soft surface material, but once my head is laid down and pressure is applied, it seems like it’s just going to be slightly less harder than rock. Or am I just not the target market and a complete princess?

    • Andrew Skurka on April 25, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Never heard of Malouf, thanks for that. I don’t think I would ever spend more than $50 on a pillow, but they do look really nice.

      The SD Animas Pillow is probably similar to STS Aeros (which I have not used). They are similarly sized, use similar fabrics, and are both inflated with air.

      With air pads and pillows, I have found that partial inflation is best. If it’s inflated fully, the pad/pillow is really hard, and therefore not very comfortable. But if it’s inflated partially, then it still has some give.

      • Mike on April 27, 2018 at 9:34 am

        Thanks for the reply! Seems like I’ve tried partially inflating the Aeros but to no avail. I’ll try again. And I didn’t think about the fact that I usually fully inflate my neoair x-lite and it’s just fine and I love it. Seems like the an inflatable pad (at least mine) is stretchier and has more give when fully inflated when compared to pillow. Thanks for the awesome website, advice, designs, and engaging with your readership!

    • Rick on November 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      @ Mike – Did you go foam or gel on the Malouf? What’s the weight? I’m with you that a pillow is a necessity… weight be damned.

  10. Chris Monypenny on June 22, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Can you sit on it?! Can’t seem to find anyone who has commented about using this as a seat too. I want a pillow that can take my weight 85kg as a seat.

  11. David Bélanger on March 9, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Do you have any thoughts on stuff sack pillows (ex: Zpacks or Hyperlite Mountain Gear)?

    Being made of dyneema fabric with microfleece on one side, they manage to weight less than 2oz and they feel more like a regular pillow. They are also dual purpose as they double as waterproof stuff sack. The main caveat I see is if you do not carry any additional clothes (ex: puffy jacket) or maybe if you are a side sleeper.

    I used to sleep on the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow (2.8oz), which is decently comfortable, but I now mostly use a HMG small stuff sack pillow (1.16oz). Living in Quebec there are few occasions where I do not carry some sort of insulating layer or rain gear to stuff if with. It is also significantly more comfortable than the “stuff sack with a Buff” option!

    • Andrew Skurka on March 9, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Non-inflatable pillows all share the same drawback, as you pointed out: you need things to fill them. If you’re wearing all or most of your clothes, sleeping inside your shelter, and don’t want to sleep on your food, what does that leave you? So I think the extra marginal weight of a dedicated pillow is worth it.

  12. Boyan on November 28, 2022 at 8:28 pm

    Trekology UL pillow looks very similar and is under $17 on Amazon. Listed at 3.9oz but I think that includes the pointless stuff sack. Have been using it for a few years and it is great. Also has a strap to keep it in place of you prefer it outside the bag.

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