EXO SCUF Ergonomic Support Pillow Review – Scuf’s Got Your Back
EXO SCUFQ1 2020
Gamer Lean isn't just a fancy name for blending Promethazine with your favorite flavor of G-Fuel. It's a real posture we've all done at least once in our lives with controllers in hand. That tensing up you get when you're about to close out a clutch match in The Crucible, fingers gripping and clenching onto your Xbox controller, your back arching forward as if getting a few inches closer to the screen will increase your perception time. What you don't realize in the heat of the moment is that even those brief moments of hype-fueled slouching is putting an unnecessary strain on your body. That's where Scuf Gaming, makers of the Vantage 2 controller I reviewed last year, come in. Their new EXO SCUF pillow is a travel-ready solution meant to provide a real difference to your gameplay.
The EXO SCUF pillow, at least the version that Scuf Gaming gave the general press at CES 2020, comes in a polyester carrying bag roughly the size of your typical inflatable airline pillow. If the thought of having to inflate this gaming pillow yourself is already getting you out of breath, I'm sure it could be used as an emergency pillow for taking a quick nap without even having to take it out of the package.
When you do want to use and inflate the EXO SCUF, there's a zippered picket along the inside edge that reveals the hidden PVC inflation valve, complete with outer so it doesn't get triggered accidentally. The one-way air valve is quick to inflate via lung power and only took about thirty seconds on average to the EXO SCUF out of its travel bag and inflate before I was ready to game on it. Deflating the gamer pillow is a similarly simple action: simply press down the button in the center of the air valve to deflate.
Unfortunately, because of where the valve is positioned on the EXO SCUF, deflating the gamer pillow down to its smallest size can be a bit difficult. As the unit deflates, the two wings have a tendency to fold in on one another and block the valve. I found that it takes a two-handed solution to fully deflate the EXO SCUF: one to keep the air release valve triggered and another to compress and push the air out (although you could probably squeeze it between your knees or put something heavy like your Xbox on it to do the trick). Once fully deflated, the EXO SCUF rolls up easily into a football-sized package that makes for easy transport in your carry-on luggage or gear bag if heading out to a tournament.
Although the zippered compartment keeps the air valve tucked away from being accidentally triggered, there isn't enough padding on the inner pocket to make it completely unnoticeable. When I held the EXO SCUF close to my center of gravity, I could feel the telltale edges of the PVC valve sticking out. If you aren't one to play close to your chest, chances are you probably won't even notice the valve.
The EXO SCUF's fabric lining was surprisingly more durable and comfortable than any of the pillows I've stolen off the couch to keep my arms propped up for lengthy review sessions. Both the top and bottom sides of the EXO SCUF are coated with a grey microfiber fabric that's soft to the touch. If you're not one to play in your favorite eSports team's jacket every time you pick up a controller, having something a soft solution to keep your forearms elevated can be a nice treat. There won't be any rug burn or scrapes from getting too excited while you're gaming with the EXO SCUF ergonomic gaming pillow.
All around the sides of the EXO SCUF is a cordura fabric that helps keep the inner PVC pouch from accidentally getting punctured if you happen to have keys sticking out of your pocket. It's obviously more abrasive than the microfiber fabric on top but chances are you're not going to be rubbing up against the EXO SCUF (unless you game shirtless, in which case I won't judge you). All around the outer sides of the EXO SCUF is an integrated MOLLE, or Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, system. The options for what you can attach to the MOLLE loops are limitless: two sticks of Pocky, an entire Slim Jim, Apple Pencil, USB cable, you name it! It's a rather silly addition to the EXO SCUF but it's I can appreciate the Scuf Gaming team doing something more than just a flat black wrap around the sides. The front of the EXO SCUF is emblazoned with the product logo, just in case you wanted to be front and center during your streams and showing off your full gaming setup.
In what I certainly consider to be an intentional design choice, the shape of the EXO SCUF ergonomic gaming pillow matches that of their various gaming controllers such as the Scuf Vantage 2. The two outer wings on the EXO SCUF are meant to represent the controller grips and contour nicely to the user's waist but I have one major concern with the product: they're too wide. I'm unable to use the EXO SCUF as intended in my gaming chair in the home office because the width sticks out too far. There's a small amount of flexibility in squishing the sides inwards but I suspect that will have an adverse effect on how long this gaming pillow will be able to retain its shape in the long run. My solution? Simply flip the EXO SCUF around. The front of the ergonomic gaming pillow still has a slight curve to match the body's curves and there's enough room to prop your elbows up when holding a controller. You won't get the full forearm support but it will still help with keeping that gamer lean under control.
When used the traditional way, the EXO SCUF elevates and supports your forearms into a relaxed position while keeping them close to your center of gravity. The height of the pillow helps to keep your body from slouching forward and causing that gamer lean and strain along your lower back. Even after fifteen minutes of gaming both with and without the EXO SCUF, I can feel the difference. Fifteen minutes of being hunched forward over my controller always leaves me feeling like I need to call a chiropractor; with the gaming pillow, there's none of that (and even my shoulders feel more at ease). You'll still need a good chair of back support to keep your upper body upright but the EXO SCUF performs exactly as it should in order to keep your body from leaning too far forward.
All jokes aside, the EXO SCUF was a big surprise from Corsair's media briefing and I am grateful to get my hands (and arms) on one. I'm certainly guilty of the infamous gamer lean and having support there to keep my posture in check has done wonders for my back. If you're serious about searching for a solution to keep gaming in comfort, the EXO SCUF is one of my top recommendations.
The EXO SCUF is a comfortable solution to tackling that gamer lean all console players are guilty of. It's perfect for travel and now a regular part of my JRPG review grinds.
- Ergonomic aid that effectively helps to limit slouching and poor gaming posture
- Collapses down into a small pouch for travel
- Microfiber lining is gentle on the skin and easy to clean off if you spill Cheeto dust on top
- MOLLE weaving keeps USB cables and Twizzlers at arms length
- Good air capacity without leakage (like all air mattresses, it will stretch and expand the first couple of uses)
- Outer wings don't fold in or expand to accommodate for body sizes or chairs
- Zipper pocket for the air valve could use more padding to reduce discomfort
- Cordura side wrap can be irritating against bare skin
- Difficult to fully deflate