September 02, 2020 2 min read

Since the founding of HEST, we’ve been thinking a lot about sleep. When we’re immersed deep in a product concept we find that it can quickly become omnipresent. Ideas come to you when you’re eating breakfast, late at night when you’re on the verge of a deep sleep, or in the middle of the trail going 30 mph downhill on a mountain bike. 

The idea for the pillow actually came to us from our customers. With our concept launch of the Sleep System, we were asked a number of times for a pillow. The Sleep System is wonderful and changes the experience of sleeping outside, but a pillow is still required for proper body alignment and deep sleep. Most of the people we talked to were taking their home pillows on camping trips, but they didn’t like that they always ended up dirty or taking up precious car space during transport.  

We started developing the pillow almost a year ago- October, 2019. We started the pillow development process with a brainstorm and then building prototypes to explore different ideas.

Our initial designs included air chambers to add thickness without adding bulk during travel. We spent a lot of time working through the custom bladder and testing different types of valves. 

Through prototyping, we found the air chamber wasn’t performing the way we wanted. It did the job of creating volume and the deflating for transportation, but the air chamber was loud during sleeping, the thickness was inconsistent and the air moved around as the tester moved their head at night. Ultimately we nixed this idea and focused on other design elements.

We also tested fill to learn more about the performance in the prototypes. We always wanted to use our enhanced memory foam from the sleep system, since it performs across the wide range of temperatures experienced in the outdoors. First we tested ergonomically sculpted memory foam slabs, but those ended up being bad nights of sleep... limited support and loft. When that proved uncomfortable we started cutting up the foam and mixing it with other fibers for testing. As we continued prototyping, the range of variables narrowed and we settled on the current mix of foam and polyester to create the comfort, loft and alignment for different sleeping positions.

During the prototyping, we discovered the benefits of the “dog bone” shape. Testers liked how it rested in their necks, aligning with the head and spine. We also discovered the integrated stowage solution we are using on the final pillow. We loved how there wasn’t a separate stuff sack, and the patterning and use of materials allows the pillow to stow into itself.

In total we made around 30 prototypes of pillows before we settled on the Pillow you see today. We’re pretty excited about where we ended up and we hope you agree! 

Sleep well.