I sleep on my side too (and have suffered from sciatica) but I must have enough padding of my own, so I have never needed one – but evidently lots of folks do. John Abela has helped out all such people who enjoy hiking with this DIY instructional on how to make your own inflatable knee pillow.
He has some other great tips on his website. One of the things which impresses me most is his long-term use reviews of various products. He seems to be able to make a pair of light trousers or a wool t-shirt last practically forever.
I am much tougher on my gear, alas! Still it is good to know which products have proven the most durable especially if you are tired of those review sites which pretty much praise everything to the skies (because they are indebted to the manufacturers), so that there is little to be gained from their recommendations.
I am often beset by such people wanting to give me ‘free stuff’ to praise, but which I can see at a glance is unfit for my purpose though it might suit someone else who is into car camping, for example. Where I typically use gear is off-trail (I hardly ever walk a trail) in a hunting, fishing exploratory mode so that I beat gear up pretty badly.
Over the years also I have found that most of the gear available does not suit as well as a piece you made yourself would which is why I have so many DIY things (even if they are not particularly elegant).
I am quite impressed by John’s knee pillow therefore: https://hikelighter.com/2017/11/04/knee-pillow-the-making-of/
He cuts his down from a Klymit Cush which cost about US12.
These pilows/seats weigh 82 grams and come in 29″ x 9″ x 1.5″ / 74 cm x 23 cm x 3.81 cm. I have been wondering about using one instead of their Air Beam Pad which seems to be discontinued as a pack frame.(We are both very impressed by their Ultralight Pillow by the way – and by their Pack Raft.)
Here is his interesting step-by-step Youtube about how it is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVPUQD0SB-0
The finished pillow weighs .86 ounce or 24.4 grams. Well done, John!
I think this project would be very good practice for someone who needs to repair a leaky seam or shorten an inflatable hiking mat, (ie one which use heat sealable matrial as most do) as I intend to do with my new Big Agnes AXL Air Mummy when I get around to buying it. Being vertically challenged it is 6” (150mm) longer than I need it to be; naturally I want to shed that ounce! (30 grams) I will have to cut a whole foot off Della’s – if we like them, as I’m sure we will! It might be good practice if you are thinking about a DIY Pack Raft – incidentally the materials to make the knee pillow from scratch could be purchased from the same folks.
PS: I have John’s kind permission to re-post his idea here.
Here is a review about knee pillows which you can purchase; many would not be suitable for hiking: https://completehomespa.com/best-knee-pillow-for-side-sleepers/
I am wondering how an empty wine bladder would go. Once upon a time when I drank like a proverbial fish I had a large output of such things; nowadays I would have to waste a gallon of wine to get one for myself! Della is more of a wine connoisseur – an empty bottle would not make much of a knee pillow! We usually decant our chosen tipple into a Platypus bottle – they now even make a special bottle for that purpose! Here is another idea: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-super-ultralight-pillow/
Incidentally, have you seen the (new) 250 ml cans of wine at Woolworths for A$3. A couple of these might be a good idea for a weekend hike. I always used to drink Bacardi 151 (as it was half the weight) which does not seem to exist any longer (in Australia at least). You would not think that the Ultralight Hiker going on the wagon would have had such an effect on Bacardi’s fortunes!