Submitted by Eric Daniel
Now, for the first time ever, as seen on TV, you too can experience the Far East secret to a good night's sleep...
Ok, I don't know about all of that, or its hypoallergenic qualities, or its chakra centering, aroma therapeutic, or healing benefits, but if you're looking for a good pillow, buckwheat hulls are hard to beat.
I've known about these pillows for a number of years, but my favorite pillow, 25+ years running, has been a feather filled pillow I picked up in an Army-Navy surplus store. Well, good as that feather pillow has been to me, it is an absolute albatross for taking to the field. It's heavy, it doesn't work worth a flip when wet, its difficult to clean, and it takes up a lot of space in my kit bag. Consequently, when in the field I have traditionally resorted to a wadded up poncho liner, gortex jacket, or even my BDUs to serve as a means of keeping my head out of the mud.
With this last trip to Iraq, though, I'd finally had enough. I was going to get me a real pillow (having my ole "favorite" shipped over was not an option.) The one I settled on was a small sized buckwheat hull filled pillow. Disregarding all of the metaphysical qualities listed, I opted for one of these simply as a trial and error experiment. What I ended up with, however, was a new traveling companion.
As you may or may not know, buckwheat hull pillows are filled with, well... buckwheat hulls. These "nutshells" don't compact like feathers, so the pillow breathes well, and they're very conductive thermally, so they don't get really hot when you sleep with them. Furthermore, they absorb moisture well, so they don't get slimy like poncho liners do when you sweat, which is nice for places like Iraq, and they absorb vibrations well, so they are nice to have when flying first class courtesy Military Airlift Command (yes yes, I know, MAC, SAC, and TAC are gone, but I do love the classic names.)
The pillow I got was a small "travel" sized one (12x16 inches or there about.) This was big enough to work, yet small enough to fit into my CVC bag or to wedge under my neck while riding in a C-130. For 8 months, I packed that sucker with me everywhere I went, only to have to throw it away when I rotated home (the navy Chief running the customs inspection station determined that the organic filler (which was grown and processed in the United States) was considered an agricultural product, and was not allowed back into the country. Next time I'll just ship it home in the CONEX.