MontBell UL Pillow for Backcountry Hunting and Hiking


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Average Score: 4.3 out of 5.0

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I mentioned in an earlier post that the biggest hole I poked in my backcountry hunting set-up during our Cohutta, Georgia wilderness marathon hiking trip was my sleep system. The hospital pillow that I thought was such a great idea ended up leaving me tossing, turning, and thinking all sorts of bad words all night! I knew I had to fix my pillow situation before our monumental archery elk hunt coming up in September.

After a rather exhaustive search of websites where people know their stuff (namely backpackinglight), I arrived at the MontBell UL Pillow.

It is pretty large for a backpacking pillow and has a great stem valve that makes inflation a breeze. I have slightly above-average lung capacity and it takes me 3.5 – 4 full puffs to completely inflate. The key to MontBell’s design is the gussets that form a two-tier design for your head to nest in. On my side and laying on my back, the pillow was sturdy under my head, cushioned enough not to give me a headache, and extremely lightweight – 2.5 ounces including the stuff sack.

On nights where I won’t be wearing my Stoic Hadron puffy for added insulation, I’ll probably wrap the pillow for added cushion and comfort.

Here’s a picture of the MontBell UL Pillow compressed down into its stuff sack. No, I didn’t pick up this gem from Sam’s Club – just showing a credit card for size reference.

If you’re interested, the MontBell UL Pillow also has tabs that make it easy to connect to MontBell sleep pads. You can also modify most other pads (Big Agnes, etc.) to accept the tabs which keeps the pillow in place throughout the night. I probably won’t use them, but they are there for those who are interested.


I wouldn't want anything to be changed. Not too little, not too big. Lightweight for ultralight backpacking/hunting.


Quality material and even though you would really have to work hard to puncture it, they include a handy leak repair kit that conspicuously lives in the pillow's stuff sack. Only reason I don't rate it a 5 is because I haven't spend a ton of nights sleeping on it yet so I'll have a better idea of its durability at a later date. All initial indications, though, imply that this is a well-built product.


Twenty-eight bucks is a ton of money to pay for what is essentially an inflatable balloon, considering the only real difference between MontBell's UL and a 99 cents hospital pillow is the two internal gussets that form a cradle for your head.


Yes it's a lot of money, but people sometimes have a hard time spending $1,000+ on a mattress for their bed too. You live one-third of life sleeping so any expense to ensure a good night's sleep is money well spent. I've already talked one buddy into this pillow and I'm sure he won't be the last. Best option available.

Images courtesy of The Outdoor Smorgasbord

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