Cooler, sleeping bag, flashlight, water bottle, underwear… there are a lot of things on the packing list for any camping trip, but one thing that tends to slip through the cracks is a pillow. They might not feel like a necessity, but you’ll realize the minute you lie down for the night how much you’re going to miss not having the best camping pillow under your head.
But don’t start stuffing your king-size memory foam $200 pillow into your duffle just yet.
Camping pillows, which are lighter weight than normal pillows, more compact, and designed to weather the outdoors, were invented so you can bring the comforts of home with a good conscience. Check out our picks for the best camping pillows that you won’t feel guilty taking into the wilderness.
Our Top Picks: Best Camping Pillow
Short on time? Here’s the bottom line:
- Best Overall: Therm-A-Rest Compressible. This compressible pillow sets the standard for portable comfort, with tons of fun color and pattern options to suit any preference.
- Best Budget: Trekology Ultralight. Neck support, water-resistant fabric, reliable air valve, incredibly compact, and less than $20? This pillow is almost too good to be true.
- Best Inflatable: Sea to Summit Aeros Premium. With Sea to Summit’s high-flow air valve and the promise of the brand’s reliable quality, this inflatable pillow will ensure your head is in the clouds all night long.
- Best for Backpacking: Exped UL. When cutting weight and saving space is what matters, you’ll definitely want to check out this 1.7-ounce inflatable pillow!
- Best for Car Camping: Teton Sports. With the extra space in the car, you’ve got the room to bring a larger pillow for optimal comfort that you won’t feel guilty taking on the road.
- Best for Side Sleepers: Nemo Fillo. Side sleepers, rejoice! This hybrid pillow features a beveled air bladder and 3 inches of foam support to ensure a straight spine and a happy neck.
- Best for Hammock Camping: Wise Owl Camping Pillow. From the makers of some of the best camping hammocks on the market, introducing the softest foam pillow feels just like memory foam without the weight and bulk.
1. Therm-A-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
The best camping pillow overall
Brand: Therm-A-Rest | Type: Compressible | Weight: 7 Ounces | Material: Polyester | Price: 💰💰
After looking through dozens and dozens of camping pillows, the Therm-A-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow stood head and shoulders above the rest. This comfortable, plush pillow is one of the lightest compressible pillows available. It will squish down to be more compact without losing its shape or support. While backpackers may struggle with the extra ounces and size, any other camper will appreciate the luxurious feel, the wide range of color and pattern choices, and the soft material.
For the environmentally-conscious, consider this your eco-friendly pick. Therm-A-Rest is dedicated to making these amazing pillows out of upcycled material from their mattresses. Additionally, they are invested in clean operations and ethical business practices.
- Compresses down to take up minimal space when packed
- Affordable price for one of the most comfortable pillows you’ve ever laid your head on
- Three size options to suit your needs with tons of color and pattern choices to suit your preference
- Some reviewers felt this pillow wasn’t supportive enough
- A few reviewers mentioned issues with stitching over time
2. Trekology Ultralight Inflating Camping Pillow
The best camping pillow on a budget
Brand: Trekology | Type: Inflatable | Weight: 2.57 Ounces | Material: Polyester | Price: 💰
If you’re looking for quality and comfort that won’t break the bank, then look no further than Trekology’s Ultralight Inflating Camping Pillow. This baby weighs in at less than 3 ounces, folds down to just 5 x 2 inches, but still inflates up to a contoured, supportive pillow that will cradle your head all night long. The simple valve takes just a few breaths to inflate and securely closes so you won’t wake up to a flat pillow. The waterproof TPU fabric ensures your pillow will stand up to anything mother nature has up her sleeve.
- Super compact and lightweight, great for backpacking
- Comfortable, contoured design makes for a good night’s sleep
- Dual built-in valve inflates and easily deflates and holds air securely
- A few reviewers felt the valve was difficult to open in colder weather
- Some reviewers had issues with durability, though they appeared to have great experiences and swift replacements from customer service
3. Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow
The best inflatable camping pillow
Brand: Sea to Summit | Type: Inflatable | Weight: 3.7 Ounces | Material: Polyester | Price: 💰💰💰💰
If inflatable is what you’re looking for, and you’re willing to invest a little more for unmatched quality, Sea to Summit’s Aeros Premium is the one for you. This incredibly lightweight pillow uses Sea to Summit’s signature high-flow valve that makes inflation and deflation a breeze (no pun intended), and makes it easy to adjust inflation levels to suit your preference. The outer fabric is soft against the skin and features a thin synthetic fill layer for enhanced comfort and breathability.
- Incredibly comfortable with soft outer material
- Packs down compactly and weighs just 4 ounces
- Valve holds air reliably and won’t deflate overnight
- Much more expensive than other camping pillows
- The inner layer squeaks as you move, which some reviewers fund annoying
4. Exped Air Pillow UL
The best camping pillow for backpacking
Brand: Exped | Type: Inflatable | Weight: 1.7 Ounces | Material: Stretch Tricot Fabric | Price: 💰💰💰
When it comes to backpacking, every single ounce matters and every square inch of space in your bag is prime real estate. You have to carry all your supplies, gear, clothes, and shelter accommodations on your back (which means they all have to fit in a bag that you can carry on your back), and you have to do that for days. Shedding weight and saving space wherever you can is a must, so some backpackers might think it best to forgo the luxury of a pillow altogether.
But Exped’s Air Pillow UL proves you can have your cake and eat it, too! This incredible pillow weighs in at just 1.7 ounces, making it the best ultralight camping pillow on the market. And, it folds down smaller than pretty much any other inflatable pillow we’ve ever seen, all without sacrificing comfort. When it comes to lightweight camping pillows, you can’t go wrong.
- Soft external materials are gentle on the skin
- Contoured design cradles the head and supports the neck
- Weighs almost nothing and takes up negligible space in your pack
- Fairly expensive compared to other inflatable pillows
- Some reviewers had issues with receiving a different size than they ordered, though exchanges appeared to be fast and easy
5. TETON Sports Camp Pillow
The best car camping pillow
Brand: Teton | Type: Compressible | Weight: 9.6 Ounces | Material: Poly-Flannel | Price: 💰
There’s usually a little wiggle room when it comes to car camping and storage space. Some car campers choose to utilize this leeway and bring their normal pillow on such trips. However, if you’re still reticent to introduce your favorite investment to the great outdoors, take a look at the TETON Sports Camp Pillow. This medium-sized cushion is smaller than a standard pillow but larger than most other travel pillows, putting in that sweet spot when it comes to comfort vs. convenience.
The soft material is gentle against the skin and comforting to the touch, and the inner filling is squishy yet supportive to prevent cricked necks. As a bonus, both the pillow itself and the included pillow case are machine-washable, so you’re covered in case of any unexpected messes.
- Extra-soft material is comfortable to sleep on
- Washable pillow and case for easy cleaning after a trip
- Great balance of cushion and support for a good night’s sleep
- The 9.6-ounce weight is heavier than a backpacker or light camper is looking for
- Some reviewers complained that the pillow was smaller than they expected (the exact dimensions are 12 x 18 inches, which is smaller than a standard pillow)
6. Nemo Fillo Pillow
The best camping pillow for side sleepers
Brand: Nemo | Type: Hybrid | Weight: 9 Ounces | Material: Microsuede | Price: 💰💰💰
While we love all the camping pillows we’ve listed so far, if you’re a side sleeper, then you’re probably scouring the reviews to see if any of your brethren can speak for their success. But never fear, because the Nemo Fillo Pillow is here!
With over an inch of foam and a three-inch inflatable bladder, you can get that extra height you need to sleep comfortably on your side without sacrificing the comfort of foam. This dual design creates a more natural shape that conforms to your head without compressing down too much, so your spine remains straight, and you don’t wake up with back or neck pain.
- Soft pillow case is cooling and machine-washable
- Packs down to “the size of a potato” to take up minimal space
- I-beam baffled air bladder prevents bubbling for even support across the pillow surface
- At 9 ounces, this is one of the heavier travel pillows on our list
- A couple reviewers noted a distinct chemical smell upon delivery, and recommended airing the pillow out before use
7. Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow
The best pillow for hammock camping
Brand: Wise Owl | Type: Compressible | Weight: 9 Ounces | Material: Memory Foam | Price: 💰
Wise Owl Outfitters is known for their durable, long-lasting camping hammocks, so it makes sense that they’d also produce a top-notch hammock camping pillow! Reviewers and critics liken this compressible foam pillow to the feel of memory foam minus the bulk, making it arguably the best foam camping pillow there is. Though it weighs in at 9 ounces (one of the lighter weight compressible pillows out there, but still pretty hefty), this pillow rolls down into its included 9 x 6-inch stuff sack for compact storage.
- Balance of support and cushion for ultimate comfort
- Machine washable and dryable for easy cleaning after days in the wild
- Five inches of lightweight foam for memory-foam feel without the weight
- Some complaints that the pillow feels “lumpy”
- A few reviewers mentioned that the stuff sack is still reasonably large when compared to other compact travel pillows
What to Look for in the Best Camping Pillows
With so many different camping pillows to choose from, here are a few different things to keep in mind to help you make your decision.
There are three types of camping pillow:
- Compressible pillows are plush, using foam and other soft materials. They’re usually the most comfortable, but they can be pretty heavy and bulky.
- Inflatable pillows aren’t nearly as comfortable, but they’re much lighter weight, and they fold down very compact.
- Hybrid pillows combine an inflatable pillow with compressible components, bringing you the best of both worlds. They aren’t quite as comfortable as full compressible, but they cut some weight and bulk.
Whether you’re bringing a backpack, a duffle, or a full-on suitcase, you want a pillow that will squish down to take up as little space as possible.
Air pillows will fold down the smallest, making them better for backpackers and short-term trips where you’d rather not bring tons of luggage. Bulkier, more plush pillows will be more luxurious to sleep on but will take up more space, making them best for car camping where you have plenty of extra space.
For backpackers, every single ounce matters, so it makes sense to try and find the lightest weight pillow on the market. But keep in mind that quality of sleep can impact your energy levels and strength over the length of your trip. It might be worth investing a little extra weight for the benefit of a good night’s rest.
Do you like a soft, cloud-like pillow, or something firmer, with more support?
Some camping pillows are rectangular, while others are rounded or even contoured.
The whole point of bringing a pillow with you is to be able to sleep, so you want to make sure the pillow you pick is comfortable to you.
Air pillows are generally less expensive, more compact, and easier to travel with. Still, they aren’t always the most comfortable, and some people outright dislike them. Compressible pillows are the most comfy, but are bulkier and harder to bring with you.
For this guide on camping pillows, our team spent 3 hours researching the most popular options from over 10 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about seventy five user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each pillow. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 camping pillows on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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