best backpacking pillow
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Current products and technological innovations in the camping and backpacking industry are clearly making backpacking as seamless and comfortable as possible. From headlamps, two-door backpacking tents to backcountry bed-style sleeping bags, outdoor enthusiasts are assured of coziness, safety, and relaxation while on the adventurous trails. A growing trend in backpacking is the use of backpacking pillows for a comfortable sleeping experience.

While they are often overlooked as a luxury item, backpacking pillows can be the difference between a tremendous peaceful night’s sleep and uncomfortable sleep tossing all night. Most campers often rest their heads upon a pile of dirty clothes and waterproof gear, which can really be smelly and uncomfortable, let alone result in a sorely kinked spine.

Backpacking pillows offer pure sleeping bliss, ensuring you get up the next morning strong enough to carry on with your adventure. Besides, they don’t add much weight to your backpack as they are ultralight and tiny, plus they can easily be packed away. And with several backpacking pillows now available in the market, you can be sure to find one that fits your comfort needs. Below, we’ve explored the best backpacking pillows to guide you in the right direction.

Types of Backpacking Pillows

Backpacking pillows come in a wide range of options depending on the quality and luxury. Some are more luxurious with microfleece-lined insulated material, while others are your average inflatable plastic bubbles which are inexpensive. Below are the common types of backpacking pillows

Compressible Pillows

Compressible backpacking pillows are filled with different types of synthetic fibers or foams or a combination of both. While they are soft and very comfortable, promising a good night’s sleep, they are a bit bulky and can weigh down your backpack.

Inflatable

As the name implies, inflatable backpacking pillows use air. Some can auto inflate, while others you need to pump in air either using your breath or an inflation pump. You can also adjust the amount of air in the pillow for enhanced comfort. Inflatable pillows are lightweight and occupy minimal space since you can deflate them when packing. However, they can be quite stiff, making some noise when you move your head.

Hybrid

Hybrid camping pillows are a mix of compressible and inflatable designs. They often feature a fluff on the top to enhance comfort and an inflatable bottom to enhance support. They are also very comfortable but take up a little bit more space and have more weight.

Stuff Sacks

With stuff sack pillows, you use your clothing to inflate the pillow. Simply stuff your soft clean clothes inside the pillow and rest your head on it while sleeping. However, it is not highly recommended and can be uncomfortable if you stuff dump smelly clothes.

10 Best Backpacking Pillow Reviews in 2021

Best Overall Backpacking Pillow: Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking,...
  • Size: Large- 16 x 23 Inches
  • Weight: 12 ounce
  • Pillow Type: Compressible Pillow
  • Fabric Type: 100% Polyester 
  • Suitable For: Camping, Backpacking, Airplane and Road Trips

Our top pick is the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow which comes in four different sizes: large, medium, small, and X-large. The pillow employs a compact design with soft foam filling which can expand into a 4-inch thick pillow to support your head, neck, and back in tents, cars, planes, and other places you would like to get comfortable. It’s very comfortable thanks to the brushed polyester cover with the lofty urethane filling, making it soft against the skin for additional comfort and relaxation. 

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow features a drawstring and cord lock allowing it to roll over and stuff into itself. This dramatically minimizes on space and allows you to pack it into your backpack, suitcase, or even duffle without eating up much space.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is a true backpacking essential, especially if you’re seeking sleep, comfort, and relaxation while on your adventure. The small size is advisable to keep weight and bulk at a minimum for efficient backpacking trips.

Pros
  1. Very comfortable
  2. Reasonably priced
  3. Durable
  4. Made from recycled materials
  5. Different colors and case patterns to choose from
Cons
  1. A bit bulky and heavy
  2. It may not fit smaller backpacks.

Best Backpacking Pillow For Comfort: NEMO Fillo Backpacking Pillow

Nemo Fillo King (Midnight Gray)
  • Size: One Size- 15 x 11 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 15.2 Ounces
  • Pillow Type: Hybrid
  • Fabric Type: Microsuede or Jersey Fabric  
  • Suitable For: Backpacking, Camping, Car Camping, Road Trip, Airplane for Lumbar Support

If you’re looking for comfort while on the trails, the NEMO Fillo backpacking pillow is a top choice. The pillow features a Microsuede cover and a foam filling that offers unmatched comfort and support. The pillow is inflatable and can be set up with just a few breaths. The twist nozzle allows for release air for customized support.

Despite being a hybrid pillow offering support using trapped air, NEMO Fillo backpacking offers natural support thanks to the 6″ I-beam baffled air cell, ” eliminating the ‘balloon ‘feeling of inflatable pillows. In addition, the pillow integrates a more natural shape that cradles your head providing maximum comfort enhanced by an impressive cushy loft. Also, the outer polyester jersey soaks up drool and sweat, keeping your face dry and comfortable.

The pillow is small, lightweight, and compact enough to fit into your backpack. It also comes with an integrated stuff sack ensuring it doesn’t get lost in the depths of the sleeping bag or your pack. In essence, the NEMO Fillo backpacking offers a combination of comfort and support plus comes with a lifetime warranty.      

Pros
  1. Remarkably comfortable
  2. Customizable with solid support
  3. Removable foam layer
  4. Machine-washable case
  5. Integrated stuff sack
Cons
  1. Relatively hefty and bulky
  2. Slippery on the underside

Best Inflatable Pillow: Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow

Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow - ALUFT 2.0...
  • Size: 16 x 12 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 3.88 Ounces
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable Pillow
  • Fabric Type: 80% Fabric  
  • Suitable For: Ultralight Backpacking, Wilderness Camping, and Travelling

The Trekology Ultralight Inflatable pillow is one of the most lightweight and compact backpacking pillows, weighing only 3.88 ounces plus can fold down to an incredible 5 x 2 inches. This makes it ideal for longer backpacking trips. You can quickly inflate it with your breath and use it to support your head and lumbar. Deflate it back down in seconds and seamlessly pack it into your backpack or pocket.

The pillow adapts an innovative Dot and Latch Design with rubber anti-slipping dots to prevent slipping off the pillow while sleeping for enhanced sleeping comfort. Also, the pillow features a latch strap to prevent the pillow from moving around as you sleep. You’ll appreciate the improved ergonomic design with enhanced neck support for a sound night’s sleep.

The pillow is ideal for stomach, side, and back support, with the capability of offering superior neck and back support when traveling or at home. Besides, using the pillow is very easy, requiring approximately 5-8 breaths to be set-up. It also comes with a Quick Deflate feature which rapidly releases air when deflated after use. The ultra-light, ultra-compact air pillow comes with a storage bag for convenient transport. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for an inflatable air pillow.      

Pros
  1. Ultra-lightweight and compact- smaller than a soda can
  2. Offers sufficient back and lumbar support
  3. Relatively durable
  4. Easy to inflate and deflate
Cons
  1. May not provide the highest comfort standards.

Best Ultralight Backpacking Pillow: Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Pillow Grey/Green, Regular
  • Size: 4.4 x 3.2 x 2.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.82 Ounces
  • Pillow Type: Hybrid Pillow 
  • Fabric Type: 100% Polyester  
  • Suitable For: Wilderness Camping, Ultralight Backpacking, and Travelling

The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow provides an excellent balance between weight and comfort. This high-performance pillow features curved internal baffles to create contours that cradle your head comfortably. Additional comfort is provided by the scalloped bottom edges, which center the pillow around on your shoulders for extra support. The low-profile multi-function valve facilitates fine-tuning for comfort level customization.

The Aeros Premium pillow is constructed with brushed 50D polyester plush polyester knit, which is very soft, durable, and provides just the right warmth. It also has a thin layer of synthetic fill on top which provides for better comfort and breathability. Inflating and deflating the pillow is straightforward, thanks to the handy multi-functional, high-flow inflation valve with a second tab for deflating. 

In essence, the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow is super comfortable, lightweight, and compact to offer you a little luxury out there in the wilderness without necessarily having to carry extra backpack weight. You can choose from three different colors and two sizes-regular and deluxe.

Pros
  1. Incredibly comfortable
  2. Lightweight and compact
  3. Easy to inflate and deflate
  4. The comfort level can be customized.
  5. Comes with a stuff sack
  6. Choice of two sizes
Cons
  1. It can easily get punctured.
  2. Not the best for side sleepers
  3. The polyester material tends to get dirty quickly. However, you can use a washable pillowcase to maintain its cleanliness.

Best Backpacking Pillow For Back Sleepers: Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow, Red/Gray
  • Size: One Size- 15″ x 11″ x 4″
  • Weight: 1.95 Ounces
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable Pillow 
  • Fabric Type: 30D Top / 75D Bottom Polyester  
  • Suitable For: Ultralight Backpacking, Travelling, and Camping

The Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel pillow features an intriguing design encompassing a large X crisscrossing the middle allowing users to rest their heads comfortably. The pillow has been constructed with a combination of 30D and 75 D polyester, making it resistant to puncture, tear, and abrasion.

The pillow is highly compact and leverages a low profile with less loft at the center. It offers a winning combination of comfort, rugged and lightweight, and can pack down to a small size making it highly packable. The signature X-design keeps your head correctly oriented on the pillow while you are sleeping, ensuring full relaxation. It’s actually ideal if you’re a back sleeper to keep your head at one comfortable position the entire night.

The Klymit Pillow X can be inflated in just 1 or 2 breaths, allowing height and pressure customization. The pillow is overly supportive, ultralight, durable, and most importantly, incredibly comfortable. It comes with a stuff sack and includes a lifetime warranty.

Pros
  1. Feather-weight and highly packable
  2. Provides outstanding comfort
  3. Height and pressure can be adjusted.
  4. Ultralight and durable
Cons
  1. The pillow may not suitable to side sleepers

Best Backpacking Pillow On a Budget: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow Compressible Foam Pillows – Use...
  • Size: Small Size- 12 x 16 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 9 Ounces 
  • Pillow Type: Compressible Pillow  
  • Fabric Type: Memory Foam  
  • Suitable For: Backpacking, Travelling and Camping, Hammock Bed

The Wise Owl Outfitter Camping Pillow comes at a cheaper price but with desirable qualities. The pillow is constructed with memory foam providing maximum support combined with a soft micro-suede cover providing unparalleled comfort. The pillow can expand out to 5 inches thick, keeping your head cushioned the entire night.

The pillow features a drawstring closure to keep its size compressed down when packing in the included waterproof stuff sack. You’ll love the fact that the pillow is machine washable and can go in the dryer. This is especially helpful for excessive droolers and also to clean tough camping stains.

The Wise Owl Outfitter Camping Pillow comes in three sizes with five bold colors to choose from. It’s a great choice for the entire family, even a toddler. 

Pros
  1. Affordable and high quality
  2. Outstanding support and comfort
  3. Lightweight and compact
  4. Machine washable
Cons
  1. Doesn’t pack down very small

Best Backpacking Pillow For Side Sleepers: RikkiTikki Inflatable Camping Pillow

Inflatable Camping Pillow - Hiking Pillow Ultralight - Backpacking...
  • Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 4 in
  • Weight: 4 Ounces 
  • Pillow Type: Compressible Pillow  
  • Fabric Type: Light transparent TPU  
  • Suitable For: Lightweight Backpacking, Camping, Travelling

Designed specifically for side sleepers, the RikkiTikki Inflatable Camping pillow is compact and reliable. It’s spacious enough for a comfortable sleep, yet it weighs under 4 oz. The top fabric is soft, smooth, and cozy for comfortable sleep. Better yet, the top center is slightly inclined inwards to allow your head to stay in the center for full relaxation.

Using the pillow is very simple, thanks to the invisible valve, which lets you inflate it in 30 seconds and deflate it even faster. Besides, the pillow is highly portable and compressible, easily folding into a small tube the size of a Cola can. You’ll be amazed at how it’s convenient to carry around.

The RikkiTikki Inflatable Camping pillow is also versatile and can be used in different cases, including backpacking, traveling, camping, sporting, concerts, and airplanes. It’s great for the whole family and offers a lifetime guarantee. 

Pros
  1. Outstanding comfort
  2. An invisible valve allows for easy inflation and deflation.
  3. Plush, soft top fabric for added comfort
  4. Lifetime money-back guarantee
Cons
  1. It can be a bit stiff for some users.
  2. Air can easily leak out during extended use.

Best Backpacking Pillow For All Weather Conditions: Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Pillow

Cocoon AIR CORE Travel Pillow Ultralight 28X38 cm (Light Blue/Grey)
  • Size: 11.81 x 8.46 x 3.94 inches
  • Weight: 4.69 Ounces 
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable Pillow  
  • Fabric Type: Light transparent TPU  
  • Suitable For: Lightweight Backpacking, Camping

The Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Pillow is a super lightweight and compact design with an inflatable air core chamber lined with foam for extra support. It is constructed with ultralight ripstop nylon, which is soft, non-crinkly, but slippery. It’s a bit advanced and comes with a twist-lock valve, which facilitates faster inflation and deflation.

The pillow is ideal for different weather conditions since its two sides. The nylon side is comfortable and cool to sleep during warm nights, while the microfiber side is perfect for cold nights providing the needed warmth and coziness.

The Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Pillow has a wide surface area making it ideal for individuals who prefer big pillows. Better yet, it easily folds into a small compact size allowing for easy packaging.

Pros
  1. Soft microfiber surface for comfort
  2. Easy to use
  3. Double-sided machine-washable case
  4. Comfort can be adjusted using the valve with a twist cap mechanism.
  5. Large surface area
Cons
  1. Relatively bulky and heavy
  2. The nylon underside is slippery.
  3. Produces a wobbly feeling when not fully inflated

Best Down Backpacking Pillow: Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow, Versatile 2 Piece System for Camping,...
  • Size: 13 x 9 x 2.5″
  • Weight: 12.8 Ounces 
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable Pillow  
  • Fabric Type: 20d polyester ripstop (top) and 20d polyester taffeta (pillow insert fabric)  
  • Suitable For: Car Camping, Backpacking

The Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow comes with a unique design which makes it the best down backpacking pillow. The design incorporates two separate pillow components: a predominant sleeve that offers comfort and warmth and a synthetic-fill pillow inserted on the top. This innovative design gives the pillow a cozy, solid feel for enhanced relaxation. You can also choose to save space by leaving the pillow insert at home and stuffing your jacket or clean, dry clothes in the quilted topper to provide the needed volume.

The Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow is quilted topper offers a fine layer of comfort and warmth right where you rest your face. The product is shipped with a stuff sack which significantly compresses its overall size down to the relative volume allowing for hassle-free packing.

This pillow is ideal for stomach sleepers as well as individuals who prefer extra support around the neck region. It also employs an ergonomic shape for added comfort and is quite versatile, thanks to its 2 in 1 design. Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow  major downside is its relatively large thickness and the slippery side, which can be quite annoying at the middle of the night.

Pros
  1. Comes with a stuff sack for hassle-free packing
  2. It can be reduced further by leaving behind the inner pillow.
  3. Offers a comfortable down filling
Cons
  1. The nylon side is relatively slippery.
  2. The pillow may not be suitable for back and side sleepers.

Premium Backpacking Pillow: Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Inflatable Travel Pillow for Camping and...
  • Size: 15.35 x 11.02 x 3.94 inches
  • Weight: 4.9 Ounces 
  • Pillow Type: Inflatable Pillow  
  • Fabric Type: Polyester
  • Suitable For: Car Camping, Backpacking. Travelling, Aeroplanes

If you’re a minimalist backpacker, the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow will highly suit you. The pillow offers the right combination of weight and comfort. It features an ergonomic, precise, sharp design that offers generous support and unmatched comfort. The pillow is four inches thick when inflated and comes with an inflatable, baffled core which offers a solid feel. In addition, it features a non slip fabric that keeps the place while sleeping.   

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow is covered in a brushed polyester and filled with down insulation for relaxed sleeping. The pillow is exceptionally light, compact, and packs exceptionally small, allowing for hassle-free backpacking.

In essence, the Therm-a-Rest Air Head down Pillow is lightweight, offers excellent support, packs up small, easy to use, and very comfortable. However, it comes at a greater price compared to the models in the same range.

Pros

  1. Comfortable and lightweight
  2. Easily customizable by adjusting the air volume
  3. Compact and packs up small

Cons

  1. Really expensive

Factors To Consider When Buying a Backpacking Pillow

Weight and Size

For any backpacker, it’s crucial to keep minimizing weight for a better outdoor experience. Most backpacking pillows weigh between 3 ounces to 12 ounces. You can choose an ideal pillow depending on how much weight you can sustain as well as the weight of your other outdoor gear. A larger, heavier pillow can certainly offer unmatched comfort but can really weigh down your backpack. Make sure you go for a lightweight pillow that doesn’t compromise on comfort.

Compressibility

Compressibility is a vital factor in choosing backpacking pillows. Of course, you’ll want a pillow that easily fits into your backpack and occupies minimal space. You may want to consider a pillow with high compressibility since the pillow packs down into a relatively small package to fit your backpack seamlessly.

Comfort

Comfort should be everything you’re looking for in a backpacking pillow. After all, these pillows are meant to provide you comfort in the wilderness. Some pillows employ several features such as ergonomic shapes, contouring lines, plush fibers, and more for added comfort. You should definitely choose these as they guarantee comfort. Also, note that foam-filled pillows are softer and more comfortable compared to inflatable pillows, but they are quite bulky.

Durability

Like any product, you’ll want to consider a durable pillow to offer you value for money. Backpacking pillows, especially inflatable ones, are susceptible to damage by debris like twigs, pine needles on the trails. Even a tiny prick can significantly ruin your expensive pillow. Therefore, it’s important to consider durability when shopping for pillows. If you’re considering inflatable pillows, you may want to choose ones that are made with durable materials, such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Also, a little care could prolong the life of your backpacking pillow.

Sleeping Styles

Everyone has some sort of sleeping style. Choose a backpacking pillow that complements your sleeping style for enhanced comfort. Pillows with a bit more height to support the shoulders and neck are ideal for side sleepers, while softer, lower-profile pillows are best for back sleepers.

Washability

The outdoor trails are filled with dirt and grime, meaning that pillows certainly get dirty. Besides, sweat, hair oils, and drool dirtify pillows necessitating frequent cleaning. Some backpacking pillows are machine washable, while others have removable cases that can easily be machined-washed. Whatever your choice, make sure you work out a way of washing it after even adventure.

Final Verdict

A good night’s sleep is vital when you’re backpacking to be able to be on top form the next day to enjoy yourself on the trail. Backpacking pillows are essential to enhance comfort, ensuring you get quality sleep after taking challenging trails.

The best backpacking pillows are plush, lightweight, and compact enough to take up less space. These pillows are fairly recent developments in the world of backpacking and camping thus haven’t been widely adopted. Nonetheless, they are definitely worth especially if you’re mindful of getting the best possible night’s sleep outdoors. 

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