Best Backpacking Pillow 2020

For a cozy camping excursion, the best sleep system should comprise a comfortable sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a comfy pillow that closely imitates your bed at home. While many people think that pillows are not that big of a deal, they can make a huge difference between sleeping comfortably the entire night or waking up to terrible neck pain.  Don’t worry, we have got you covered! 

If you are looking for a camping pillow that not only guarantees a comfortable sleep but is also ultralight to carry around without any hassle, then you are at the right place. 

Below, our review features 13 of the best pillows on the market. We have tested a range of pillows that includes compressible, light, hybrid, and inflatable head cushions. Get ready to read our favorite recommendations that’ll improve your night’s sleep — wherever you lay your head. 

Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Camping Pillow

Inflatability:

Choose for yourself- self-inflation (you would have to blow up on your own) or, for the lazy people out there, you can get yourself an auto inflate (open a valve and let the pillow expand). You can regulate the amount of air for comfortability; however, they can be uncomfortable if you move your head too much. One of the main pros of inflatable pillows is that they are ultralight and super minimalist. The only drawback is, they can offer minimal cushioning and can be a little stiff too.

Compressibility:

All of these pillows are filled with different foams and synthetic fibers or the combination of both. Needless to say, they provide the utmost comfort but can be a little too heavy to carry around. If you are seeking comfort then you should get yourself a compressible pillow with down feathers. They are the softest, most compressible, and ultralight.

Hybrid Design:

A hybrid pillow guarantees you a comfortable sleep all night- no matter where you are sleeping. It’s a combination of the inflatable and compressible designs. A hybrid pillow has the fluff on the top to make it comfy for your head and an inflatable bottom to increase support. However, it guarantees comfort only at the expense of a reasonable amount of space and weight.

Weight:

Better not add anything more than 3 ounces to your backpack! After all, it is just a luxury item. Save up some space for other essentials.

Size and Shape:

Are you looking for a camping pillow for side sleepers? Or a backpacking pillow for stomach sleepers? This will help you find out how much support you need to keep your backbone aligned. Side sleepers commonly prefer pillows with a bit more height to support the neck and shoulder, while back sleepers might prefer softer, lower-profile pillows. Backpacking pillows are smaller, so you should go for one that is more contoured shaped than a square. This will actually keep your head on the pillow all night.

Lift:

Consider the height of the pillow for how you usually sleep. Backpacking pillows with inflatable bladders provide the choice to modify the level of support. A pillow of this variation will cost you more, but it may be worth it if you are susceptible to neck pain. Remember to consider the thickness of the outer material and whether you can improve its padding.

Comfort:

Always go for the pillow that is made of soft clothing. Remember that a washable cloth cover is going to let your skin breathe and not leave it like a sweaty mess when you wake up. Just like that, it’s also important to get a camping pillow that shields your head and face from the cold night air. Whatever you go for, make sure you don’t compromise on your comfort!

Top 13 Picks For The Best Backpacking And Camping Pillows

1) Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips, Amethyst

Check Therm-a-Rest Compressible on Amazon

Pros Cons
Extremely comfy Relatively bulkier than the rest
Affordable Provides less support
Durable material
Appealing pillowcase patterns

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 7 oz
  • Pillow Type: Compressible foam

Unique Characteristic:

Extremely Comfortable/Soft

Bottom Line:

Our preferred backpacking pillow overall continues to be the Nemo Fillo for nailing nighttime coziness and adaptability. Our reviewers love its hybrid design, which is a great compromise for folks who want the comfort of a compressible pillow yet the adjustability of an inflatable. It also packs down small for its size and deluxe feel.

This one qualifies as one of the coziest pillows in the market. It actually contains the power to bring your house to you, no matter where you are. Good thing is, it is more compact and easily washable.  We encourage you to go for this for your next camping/traveling/backpacking excursions. It is available in different sizes-small, medium, large, and extra-large.  No matter what your need is, we recommend you to opt for one that is small in size and can be easily carried.

2) ZPacks Medium-Plus Dry Bag Pillow

Medium-Plus Pillow

Check Zpacks Medium Plus on Zpacks

Pros Cons
Ultralight Inside is slippery
Compact- easy to carry and store Needs puffy jacket or additional clothing
Water-resistant Less supportive than others
Soft and warm

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 1.8oz
  • Pillow Type: Stuff sack

Unique Characteristic:

Best Ultralight Camping/Backpacking Pillow 

Bottom Line:

The ZPacks Dry Bag Pillow is a tremendous option for camping trips because it keeps weight to a minimum. One of the great things about this pillow is, it is not only comfy and warm but also comes with a  water-resistant stuff sack. The texture of the fleece is extremely soft for the skin. It is available in different sizes- medium and medium-plus sizes. Go for the medium-plus for a wider coverage!

3) Nemo Equipment Fillo Pillow

Nemo Fillo Pillow

Check Nemo Equipment Fillow on Amazon

Pros Cons
Comfortable- soft and warm Very bulky
Easy to adjust the thickness Slippery underside
Machine wash friendly Not suitable for extended backcountry trips
Cushy

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 9 oz
  • Pillow Type: Foam/ air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Ideal For Short Backpacking Trips

Bottom Line: 

The Fillo is a rectangular hybrid pillow that’s a breeze to use. For its price, a lot of thought and design process went into making this product. It consists of a baffled inflating sack on the bottom, with a layer of memory foam on top, held snugly in place by a mesh net. Encasing all this is an outer shell made of polyester and microsuede, which also has a built-in stuff sack. It is an all-around pillow, well suited for a variety of situations. It’s great for car and weekend camping, as well as short backpacking trips.

The Nemo Fillo is best known for its plush foam topper that offers remarkable support. It consists of high-quality materials such as the removable micro-suede cover, durable air bladder, and sturdy valve. On the downside, with its 9 oz, it is one of the heaviest pillows we reviewed. Rest assured, it works wonders in car camping, traveling, and short backpacking trips. 

4) Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Inflatable Travel Pillow for Camping and Travel, Midnight Print, Large -12.5 x 18

Check Therm-a-Rest Air Head on Amazon

Pros Cons
Machine wash friendly Little heavier than the other air pillows 
Very easy to adjust the air volume Quite expensive
Amazing weight to comfort ratio  Down is allergic to some users
Cushy

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 5.4 oz
  • Pillow Type: Air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Durable Air Pillow With A Cushy Foam Layer

Bottom Line: 

A perfect blend of down softness and air cushion! This makes it to our top 4 on the list because of the super comfortability it offers. Its air bladder consists of thicker texture/fabric than most of the inflatables we reviewed, and a dense layer of open-cell foam over the bladder gives the Air Head a warmer and softer feel. When it is not filled to its size, the internal baffling makes the Air Head feel less unstable than other air pillows. The removable polyester cover is durable enough to withstand regular washing. The Air Head Down’s differentiator is a wider internal air bladder, a sturdy topping of soft down enclosed by a very quiet polyester quilted outside. Its twist-top air valve makes inflating and deflating a breeze, and effortlessly accommodates even the minutest air alterations. A non-slip bottom material always keeps the pillow in place and an ergonomic shape makes it suitable for side sleepers as well as the back sleepers. The only downsides are based on weight and the price. A thicker bladder bumps up the pillow’s ounces, and the addition of down makes it a little heavy on the pocket.

If you are after a cozy pillow for your next casual backpacking trip then this one is the right pick for you! 

5) Sea to Summit Aeros Premium

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Check Sea to Summit Aeros on Amazon

Pros Cons
Provides greater/firmer support to the head and neck Minimally insulated
Ultralight Can be too firm for some people
Compact
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 2.7 oz
  • Pillow Type: Air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Ultralight Air Pillow With A Soft Exterior

Bottom Line:

Of all the Sea to Summit Aeros pillows, the Aeros Premium Pillow is our top pick. This pillow offers a great balance of quality features that make it comfy and ultralight. It is known to provide great satisfaction to side sleepers, so if you are one of them, this is the one for you. One of the remarkable things about this pillow is that it comes with a high-flow valve that makes it easy to purge air quickly. The Aero Premium comes with a thin layer of synthetic fill on top which allows for better breathability.

This camping pillow comes with a lot of changeable support with this Sea to Summit contender. Some inflatable pillows feel like a blown-up ziplock baggie, but this one stands apart from those models with its soft polyester cover, baffled air chamber, and ergonomic shape for mummy sleeping bag hoods. It is our pillow of choice for extended backpacking trips. One of our reviewers has been using this pillow on all their countryside excursions (on dirt and snow) for three years now and hasn’t experienced any issues in durability, either.

All in all, it provides great support with a soft exterior to rest your head on.

6) Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow Check Sea to Summit Aeros Down on Amazon

Pros Cons
Ultralight Very expensive
Down pillow top The top fabric of the pillow is wobbly
Compact Can be too firm for some people
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 2.5 oz
  • Pillow Type: Air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Ultralight Air Pillow Filled With A Layer Of Cushy Down Feathers

Bottom Line: 

The Aeros Down is a recent venture on the firm’s existing Aeros pillow, providing a quilted, down-filled pillow top. While at first a little skeptical, we discovered the down cushion to add great comfortability. It actually takes the edge off the reverse pressure that comes from most inflatable pillows. All in all, the only reservation we still have centers on its heavy price; however, campers searching to reduce weight without compromising on their comfort will probably be happy to ante up the extra cash.

This backpacking model increases nighttime head support and decent comfort at minimal weight and volume. The Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow is an ultralight backpacking pillow that is more padded and cozier than the other ultralight pillows. It comes with a thin layer of down cushioning on top, which offers some extra comfort and warmth. The good news is, it has an excellent valve system which allows for easy micro-adjustments. All in all, it is the best option among the most comfortable choices for the ultralight pillows.

7) Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow Check Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff on REI

Pros Cons
Ultralight Needs puffy jacket or additional clothing
Water-resistant Slippery underside
Compact
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 1.7 oz
  • Pillow Type: Stuff sack

Unique Characteristic:

Waterproof, Ultralight And Multi-Purpose 

Bottom Line:

A cozy pillow at night and by day the place to stash your gear to keep it dry and compartmentalized, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack is available in different sizes that are so easy to carry and store even at the smallest of the places. The HMG Stuff Sack Pillow comes with a zipper closure on the backside and is rectangular in shape. This pillow is extremely compact and offers a ton of comfort while you carry it around with you. However, it requires a puffy coat to make it fluffy for extra support and cushion. One of the great things about this pillow is, it comes with a water-resistant stuff sack. Thereby, we recommend this for ultralight backpacking adventures.

8) Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow

Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow Check Big Agnes AXL on Amazon

Pros Cons
Extremely lightweight The exterior is a little wobbly
Small packed size  Can be punctured
Compact
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 1.8 oz
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable

Unique Characteristic:

Best For Ultralight Backpacking

Bottom Line:

Flexible, four-way stretch nylon material offers the Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow some cushion, making it a little comfier than other ultralight camping pillows we have reviewed. Comprises a thin bladder filled with air, resulting in remarkable marks for weight and compact size, but extremely lower scores for comfortability. This one is well-structured and provides high-quality materials, but it will never be as comfortable as pillows that include padding and softer fabrics. To conclude, it is ideal for people mainly interested in the weight and packed size. 

Comfortability is not one of its strongest features, but the AXL Air Pillow is not necessarily trying to be the best in this metric. Its entire design focuses on minimizing weight and packed size. This camping pillow’s use of stretch nylon does bump up its comfort rating a bit over similar inflatable pillows we have reviewed. The outside material is softer and more pliable, allowing it to stretch and mold under the weight of our heads. This offers a great touch, but it is still no match for more plush pillows we have reviewed earlier. 

9) Nemo Fillo Elite Ultralight Pillow

Nemo Fillo Elite Pillow Check Nemo Fillo Elite on Amazon

Pros Cons
Machine wash friendly Air bladder looks fragile
Lightweight Slippery underside
Compact Minimally insulated
Integrated stuff sack

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 3 oz
  • Pillow Type: Air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Ultralight Backpacking With A Changeable Case For Easy Washing

Bottom Line:

Are you ready to make a fashion statement with this classic hybrid Nemo Fillo Elite rectangular pillow that comes with a pajama grey-stripe cotton/polyester jersey material. It comes complete with its own stuff sack about the size of a tennis ball, so you can shove it in a pocket if need be. It has a compressible top layer and an inflatable bottom side, which increases support. The Nemo Fillo Elite Ultralight Pillow is an ideal choice for backpackers who want to buy a lightweight pillow that is machine wash friendly. With a light layer of synthetic insulation on top and a soft cotton case, the Fillo Elite is more comfortable than most ultralight air pillows. This one is well-crafted with integrated stuff sacks that are hard to lose, changeable pillowcases for easy cleaning, and high-quality valves.

10) REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Pillow

REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Pillow

Check REI CO-OP Trailbreak on REI

Pros Cons
Very affordable Bulkiest option than the rest
Soft and warm
Compact
Good height and coverage

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 10 oz
  • Pillow Type: Compressible foam

Unique Characteristic:

Comfortable Foam Pillow For Countryside Camping

Bottom Line:

Our number 10 pick is a great option for camping excursions when weight is not a concern. For portability, we recommend the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow, because it’s lighter and compact. This one is ideal for camping, long front country trips, and air travel, the pillow compresses to 1/5 of its size and packs into its own pocket for easy storage in your backpack or wherever you want to store it. Effortless carrying! One of the unique things about this Trailbreaker is, the pillow expands to full size nearly instantly when unpacked; no inflation required. What is interesting to note here is, it is built with leftover bits of the high-quality foam we use in our self-inflating sleep pads—thus keeping those scraps out of landfill.

If weight and bulk are less of a concern and you prefer a more supportive pillow, the Trail Break is an excellent option for you!

11) Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow

Cocoon New Ultralight Air-Core Pillow

Check Cocoon Air Core on Amazon

Pros Cons
Double-sided machine washable case Slightly heavier than the rest
Very stable for the head Silky side is a little too wobbly
Compact Doesn’t fit into a mummy hood
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 6.7 oz
  • Pillow Type: Air pillow

Unique Characteristic:

Best For Camping With A Warm And Cool Side

Bottom Line:

The Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow is exceptional because its two sides are meant to be used in different conditions. The nylon side is comfy and cool to sleep on during warm nights, while its microfiber side is warm and cozy on chill nights. Weighing in below a half-pound, this pillow is not only lightweight, but it’s also huge. When fully inflated, the Air-Core measures very close to the size of a standard bed pillow in length, width, and loft. People who are looking for a lot of loft then this is the right pick for you! 

12) Rumpl Stuffable Fleece

Rumpl Stuffable Fleece Pillowcase Check Rumpl Stuffable Fleece on Amazon

Pros Cons
Two-sided pattern offers different material options Wider for tighter mummy bag hoods
Lightweight Comfortability is restricted to customer’s ability to stuff evenly
Compact
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 3.5 oz
  • Pillow Type: Stuffable

Unique Characteristic:

Ultralight And Packable

Bottom Line: 

With great balance between size, weight, and comfort, this is our pick at number 12! This pillow is the one we use at home except for the stuffing it uses. Simply unzip the side, fill with soft goods (shirts or other clothing), and then enjoy a good night’s rest on a comfortable cushion for your cranium. Rumpl is a great option for car camping, backpacking, or even general traveling. It’s ideal for the adventurist who wants something that’s less than 5 oz but is turned off by the notion of sleeping on air-filled pillows.

The quality and level of stuffing are completely dictated by whatever the user has on hand. In most cases, we didn’t think this was a big deal. However, it could be an issue for warm weather backpackers who may not have a lot of extra clothing or layers in their packs, as well as backpackers who sleep in all the clothes they packed for warmth. 

The Rumpl’s wide range of stuffing options makes this pillow a great option for side, belly, and back sleepers. We loved the different textures of its dual-sided design. One side is silky, rip-stop nylon, and the other side is a quilted fleece top. We also like its generous footprint and feel the pillow’s overall design, fabric, and texture give it an “it” factor that just says comfort.

13) Klymit Luxe

Klymit Luxe Pillow

Check Klymit Luxe on Amazon

Pros Cons
Relatively larger but lightweight Bulky for lightweight campers
Quilted top Silky outer material is quite wobbly
Compact and adjustable
Easy to carry and store

Key Features:

  • Weight (Small): 6.4 oz
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable

Unique Characteristic:

Bigger And Comfortable

Bottom Line:

The unique Klymit Luxe is an altered rectangular backpacking pillow that’s quite big and lightweight. Consists of an inflatable rubber/denier fabric bladder covered by a removable, quilted polyester sleeve. Nearly the size of a standard bed pillow, the Luxe’s bladder stretches and gives with every movement, and its self-centering X design aims to secure your head and keep it from falling off at night.

Dyed in the wool ultralight campers will think that this sizable and comfy Klymit Luxe is bulky. However, at just 6.4 ounces, this inflatable pillow’s expansive surface area doesn’t equate to high weight. The great news is, it is very easily packed. Such a mixture would naturally work best for overnights in the countryside, but the length of this pillow makes it unsuited with most mummy sleeping bag hoods. The amazing pillow is a suitable match for rectangular, hoodless sleeping bags, and quilts. 

Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Backpacking Pillow

All outdoor ventures are more pleasant when you’re refreshed and well-rested. Having a good night’s sleep while camping can be hard but if you have a good pillow by your side then it can make all the difference you are looking for. When you are purchasing a camping pillow then you should keep in mind what type of camping you will be using it for, what fabrics it’s made of, and how heavy it is. If you are carrying everything in your car then a bulky pillow would not hurt, however, a backpacking adventure requires a lightweight pillow. 

Some things to keep in mind before purchasing are how ultralight you want your camping pillow to be if it needs to be water-resistant, and its price obviously.

  • Material

The materials used for both the outside and inside of the backpacking or camping pillow will decide how comfy it is to lay your head-on. Inflatable pillows are a great option for camping since they can be packed into a small bag for effortless and easy transportation. Inflatable camping pillows have to be durable to keep it away from any kind of punctures or leaks of any sort. Inflatable pillows have an extremely cozy exterior, or come with their own pillowcase to make them comfy and soft.

It obviously makes sense to go for a camping pillow that is water-resistant if you will be camping or backpacking in wet/humid weather. Keeping a wet pillow in a backpack means it is still going to be wet when you take it out again for sleeping. So, keep that in mind! If the weather gets hot where you are camping then buying a pillow with a functioning ventilation system is going to offer a great sleep while keeping you comfortable all night long.

  • Space-Efficiency

Be mindful of the weight you carry whenever you are going out for your camping or backpacking trip. Buying a good camping pillow that is lightweight and compact will be wonderful for both campers and backpackers. Inflatable pillows are usually the most space-efficient since they can be deflated and rolled up tightly into a small bag. Several of these pillows come with their carrying case, often even built into the pillow. If your campsite is in the proximity of your car, you should give more attention to comfort than weight or space efficiency. 

  • Water-resistance

Camping or backpacking is occasionally a damp affair. If you experience wet weather then it is not unusual for everything in the tent to feel extremely damp, even if it was not in direct contact with water. Preferably, getting a camping pillow that is water-resistant is always a plus! It wicks all the moisture away from your head and guarantees a comfortable and refreshing sleep all night long.

  • Pillow Loft

Backpacking or camping pillows are available in various lofts or heights. The loft determines how supportive and relaxed a pillow will feel for various sleepers. Many people prefer a high loft while others sleep comfortably on a low-loft pillow. The good news is, most inflatable pillows can be adjusted to whichever loft you prefer by either adding or removing air. Side-sleepers will feel most comfortable with a medium-to-high-loft pillow. Back-sleepers generally have the same preference. Low loft pillows may be the best choice for stomach sleepers.

  • Cleaning

Without any argument on this, camping is a messy affair for the most part. Opting for a camping pillow that can be easily washed is extremely important. The great thing is, they are a lot of pillows that are machine wash friendly while many inflatable pillows can be wiped dirt-free. Other camping pillows come with cases that are removable and can easily be dumped into your washing machine once you come home after your tiring journey. However, down pillows need a little professional cleaning. It is always advisable to follow the manufacturer’s washing directions.

  • Price

Camping or backpacking pillows are on average between $15 and $30, with some of them going up to $50. In the $15 series of the price spectrum, pillows tend to be either polyester-filled with a polyester cloth casing, or a plain inflatable pillow. In the $20-$25 range, there are several choices of materials and features, such as cloth-covered inflatables, self-inflating valves, a variety of foam fillings, and more natural fibers. In addition to these, in the $25 and up range, the camping or backpacking pillows provide more complex structures and natural components, such as a layer of foam over an inflatable section, bamboo covers, memory foam, and removable covers for effective and easy cleaning. Whatever your range is, make sure to never compromise on your comfort. With our review above, we hope we resolved your dilemma regarding the numerous camping pillow options available on the market. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What is the best backpacking pillow?

The best backpacking pillow is one that’s lightweight, compact, and easy to set up. It doesn’t take up a lot of room in your pack but is still comfortable and supportive.

What do backpackers use for pillows?

Backpackers use a range of products for pillows, but many have started turning specifically to backpacking pillows in recent years. These items are usually inflatable and can pack down to the size of a baseball in order to save space in a pack.

How do you pack a pillow for camping?

Many backpacking pillows are designed with packability in mind, meaning they come with bags, straps, and clips to reduce their size without much effort on the part of the backpacker. When packing a pillow for camping, you’ll want it to be easily accessible to you, so I recommend placing it near the top of your pack.

Conclusion

We hope that our review of the best backpacking pillows helps you find out the perfect pillow tailored to your needs. We want to make your next camping experience a breeze! Good luck and make sure to invest smartly in the pillow that you deserve.

Thanks for reading and happy backpacking!

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This