OUTDOORS

Best Backpacking Pillow: Keeping Comfortable On the Trail

Best Backpacking Pillow
Rita Warfield
Written by Rita Warfield

Going backpacking is generally not the place you expect to be the most comfortable, but you definitely should be. You should have all the tools you need to keep yourself comfortable and happy while you’re out and especially when you’re sleeping.

The best backpacking pillow will be one way to help you with the process. It’s will definitely make sleeping out in the wilderness just like sleeping in your own bed, except with the soft sounds of nature to enjoy while you rest. So don’t let anything keep you from a great time out on your camping trip.

The Things You’re Looking For

When you’re looking for a pillow you want something that will provide you with just the right amount of support and comfort while not taking up too much of the space you need for packing other things. A good quality pillow should last you a long time and keep you happy and sleeping well through the night.

Girl sleeping on pillow

So make sure that you take a look at each of these features and find out more about what they’re each going to do for you and your great experience. It definitely should be a great night that you’ll want to repeat all the time.

Size

One of the first things to think about when you’re choosing a pillow is the size. You want something that will be easy to carry along with you on a hiking or camping trip, which means it needs to be somewhat small. At the same time, you want it to be large enough that you’re comfortable using it consistently and over a longer period of time.

The size that fits the ideal balance between these two things is definitely up to you. So make sure that you look at the sizes of different pillows and figure out what will work well for your next night.

Material

What is your pillow made of? You want something comfortable and soft on the outside, even if it’s more firm on the inside. That’s because you want it to feel good against your skin when you’re lying down.

You also want the material to be water resistant or waterproof if possible (though that’s partially all about the pillow case you choose as well) and you want it to be anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.

If you have allergies you’ll want something that is allergy friendly and built to keep out dust and other pests. The specific material will entirely depend on your preference.

Fill

The material that is used to stuff your pillow is going to be extremely important. You want something that is just the right thickness to give you a soft or firm pillow.

pillow filling feathers

You also want something that is anti-bacterial and water resistant as much as possible. Some pillows are filled with feathers and down, however this might not be a great idea if it’s used outdoors.

On the other hand, some pillows are filled with foam or memory foam that helps them keep their shape better and also helps them support you for the entire night. The type of fill you prefer is entirely up to you, but should help you reach your desired firmness.

Picking Out Your Pillow

Premium Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Premium Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Dimensions: 4” x 10” x 15”

Weight: 36 oz.

Specific Features: Full-size pillow, made in the USA, foam filled

Best use: Travel, camping, everyday use, large amount of space available

The Premium Shredded Memory Foam Pillow made in the USA and priced right around $30. It comes with its own compressible stuff sack so you can easily compress it down into a small space and then store it in your pack (or on the outside of your pack) so it’s ready when you need it again.

The cover of the pillow is made with bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester blend to give you more natural temperature regulation and comfort. It’s also hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant because of this soft blend.

Inside the pillow is CertiPUR-US certified foam that’s made without harmful ingredients like CFC’s, PBDE’s, mercury, TCEP flame retardants or phthalates. It’s moderate weight to provide a firmer surface while also preparing you for a longer trip. Machine washable and dryable, with this pillow you’re getting something that feels just like the one that you’d want to have in your own home for every night.

Check the price on Amazon

Klymit Pillow X Travel Pillow

Klymit Pillow X Travel Pillow

Dimensions: 15” x 11” x 4”

Weight: 1.95 oz.

Specific Features: Three colors available, inflated with air, limited lifetime warranty

Best use: Small space available, lightweight needed

TheKlymit Pillow X Travel Pillow is available in three different colors so you can easily choose your favorite and it comes in a unique style as well. Instead of a plain rectangle or square pillow, or even a round pillow, this one has a rectangular outside with an ‘X’ through the center to give you a better level of comfort and an easier way to stay centered.

The ‘X’ helps your head stay right where it should be so you don’t slide off. It’s also inflated with air in no time at all.

Lightweight, this pillow is a moderate to large size and has a limited lifetime warranty to go along with it. That’s because it’s made with 30D and 75D polyester to keep it more durable and sturdy from anything that you’re lying on. Lightweight, this is a pillow you’ll be able to easily slim down to pack away and get it into the pack with all of your other belongings.

Check the price on Amazon

Camping Pillow/Inflatable Air Pillow

Camping Pillow-Inflatable Air Pillow

Dimensions: 20” x 12”

Weight: 10.5 oz.

Specific Features: Curved surface, seven color options, foam interior

Best use: Low price, large size

The Camping Pillow Inflatable Air Pillow is inexpensive at less than $20, and it comes in so many colors you’re always free to find one that you love. Seven different color options and a plus foam inside mean that you’re able to use a soft surface.

It’s also cradled to make sure there is space for your head without keeping your neck too low or too high.

This makes sure you’re feeling better when it comes time to head back out in the morning.

Easy to inflate and deflate, this pillow is large in size when you’re using it, but small enough to pack away when you’re not. It inflates on its own as well, just by opening the safety lock air valve. If you want a little extra firmness you can get that by blowing a little more air into the valve. It’s moisture resistant and slip resistant as well as being durable when you’re lying on less than desirable ground cover.

Check the price on Amazon

EXPED Ultralight Air Pillow

EXPED Ultralight Air Pillow

Dimensions: 7” x 4” x 2”

Weight: 15.7 oz.

Specific Features: Lightweight, 2 size options, inflated with air

Best use: Lightweight needed, small packing size needed

The EXPED Ultralight Air Pillow comes in a pale yellow and two different sizes. When you want to inflate it all you need to do is open the valve and blow it up. When you’re ready to head out in the morning you can deflate it with the same valve and a short amount of time.

It’s lightweight because it’s filled up with air and yet it has the exact level of firmness that you want for the night. That’s because you get to blow it up as much (or as little) as you want.

Easy and small to carry when deflated, this pillow is inexpensive and gives you a slight wedge of space that lets your head get just enough support while keeping your neck loose, the way you want it to be. You’ll be able to get just enough height for the pillow and also stay comfortable when the ground underneath you has a few too many rocks and lumps.

Check the price on Amazon

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Dimensions: 16.5” x 27” (XL)

Weight: 9.6 oz.

Specific Features: Foam filling, 4 size options, 9 color options

Best For: Larger space available, lightweight needs

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow has 9 color options and 4 size options so you can pick whatever works out best for you and your sleeping needs. If you need something super small to make packing easier you’ll want a smaller one while you can easily get a large pillow if you’re interested in something that gives you more freedom to move around.

It’s made with polyester on the outside that makes it soft to rest your head on but it has urethane foam on the inside that gives you enough support for a night of sleep.

Made in the United States, this pillow can be compressed down to pack into your bag when you need it but also puffed back out when you’re ready to go to sleep. It packs easily into its own bag to make it simple to carry and once you fluff it up through washing and drying you’ll definitely be impressed with the way that it feels while you’re sleeping.

As long as you don’t try sleeping on it immediately after you get it (without fluffing) you’re going to be impressed with the way it works.

Check the price on Amazon

Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow

Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow

Dimensions: Regular & large

Weight: 4 oz. +

Specific Features: 20D laminated polyester, 2 size options, 2 color options

Best use: Lightweight, small space available

The Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow has a unique shape that definitely makes it a great choice for your night of sleep. With two colors and two sizes as well, you’ll love choosing your favorites and what works out best for you.

Made with 20D laminated polyester, this is a reasonably durable pillow when you’re sleeping on rough terrain and it features a contour that fits to your neck and head.

That’s not all, however, because it’s also thick enough to give you plenty of comfort while you’re sleeping and can be used directly inside your sleeping bag to keep it still through the night.

You get to inflate the pillow to the exact fill that you really want and then you have enough support throughout the night without the trouble of leaking air. What’s even more important is that this pillow is lightweight when you’re carrying it along with you and that it’s small when you deflate it and pack it away in your bag for transportation. You can lay just right to keep the pillow around your shoulders and under your head and neck.

Check the price on Amazon

Nemo Fillo

Nemo Fillo

Dimensions: 6” x 7” x 7”

Weight: 0.6 lbs.

Specific Features: Microsuede material, memory foam fill, 4 color options, works for side sleepers

Best use: Moderate price, sturdy surface

The Nemo Fillo is a top choice when it comes to a travel pillow because it comes in at a low price and still offers four different colors that are really capable of offering you the options you’re looking for. With 3” thickness to provide you the right amount of fill and comfort, you won’t really notice the rocks or the lumps on the ground under you.

You also won’t have a problem with the size of the sack it fits in either, because it’s just the size of a russet potato when packed down.

Lightweight, this pillow is easily washable and made with polyester microsuede and jersey to provide you with a soft surface for your skin. With just the right amount of fill to work for those who sleep on their back or stomach and even those who sleep on their side will be comfortable with this. Not only that but it’s filled with memory foam that ensures you have a great surface that stays just the way you want it every night.

Check the price on Amazon

TETON Sports Camp Pillow

TETON Sports Camp Pillow

Dimensions: 12” x 18”

Weight: 0.8 lbs.

Specific Features: 4 color options, matching sleeping bags available, limited lifetime warranty

Best use: Moderate price, smaller space available

The TETON Sports Camp Pillow is one of the least expensive ones you’ll find anywhere and you’re going to love it because it has plenty of great features. It’s lightweight to make it easy to carry around with you in any backpack and for any length of time and it’s a great size when you’re ready to use at night. When you’re not using it you can compress it down to a smaller size and store it in the included stuff sack with a drawstring top.

With a limited lifetime warranty you’re getting a washable pillowcase that comes right with the pillow. It’s made with 100% brushed flannel that’s designed to be comfortable to use over the long term and that makes sure your skin is right on a soft surface. The pillow itself has a thick loft that’s enough to keep your head up where you want it to be.

If you’re looking for a matching sleeping bag you can find one in each of the four different colors that this comes in.

Check the price on Amazon

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Dimensions: 4.5” x 13” x 9”

Weight: 6.4 oz.

Specific Features: 30D ripstop polyester, down fill, small size

Best use: Moderate price, moderate terrain

The Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow is made with 30D polyester ripstop insert to make sure it’s going to stand up to whatever might happen in the wilderness around you. The inside is a polyester taffeta fill with 600 fill DriDown, to give you plenty of softness and just the right amount of loft to go with it.

It is lightweight and has a synthetic pillow insert within a down top but if you’re short on space and weight you can easily leave the insert and just use the pillow top for a little bit of loft and support while you’re sleeping out on the trail.

Available in four different color accents, this pillow has a quilted style that looks great and fits great inside your sleeping bag to keep you more comfortable while you’re sleeping for the night. It fits easily into a small stuff sack when you’re not using it so there’s never any problem with storage spaces. You’ll also be able to fluff it up whenever you’re ready and compress it back down just as fast.

Ideally sized, you’re also able to wash this pillow directly in your machine without any problems and then just let it dry out and you’ll be ready to use it again.

Check the price on Amazon

Finishing Things Out

If you’re not sure what type of pillow you want for your next camping trip definitely check out the features that we’ve talked about and then make sure that you look at the examples. There are plenty of them around here and elsewhere.

Young man lying on camping bed near lake

So what do you like best about a pillow for your camping or hiking trip? Do you think it’s best to have a soft pillow or a small one? Or something in between?

No matter what you’re thinking, we want to know about it and we want to know what pillows are your favorite for camping as well. Let us know what you think and help others figure out what they should be looking for?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rita Warfield
Rita Warfield

Fully passionate about the outdoors and totally committed to a life of exploration and learning, Rita is the perfect guide when it comes to choosing the right gear for your adventures. She gathered years of practical experience in testing her survival skills and knowledge in a wide range of difficult situations but she is also a passionate mountain climber. Even more, Rita loves hunting, she knows her way around a weapon, and she doesn’t back off in a difficult situation.

  • Mark Williams

    I use the Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow and it works perfect for me! I moved to hammock camping after I woke up sore after a night on the ground one too many times. One of the things that always bothered me about hammock sleeping with a pillow is that it always seemed to find it’s way out from under my head in the night. I solved this problem by adding a bit of Velcro tape to the pillow and hammock to keep it in one place.

    • Rita Warfield

      That is great idea! I should try that next time I do hammock camping. Glad Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow worked best for you! I still prefer to sleep on the ground though. thank you for sharing!

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