It can be difficult to sleep comfortably when camping and backpacking, but it doesn’t have to be.
To set yourself up for camp sleeping success, you should be using the correct sleeping bag, pillow, and sleeping pad. After using spare jackets as makeshift pillows, I am personally well aware of the benefits a pillow can offer. What you need is a pillow that allows you to rest your head in comfort.
No matter what kind of outdoor adventure you need a pillow for (or even if you just want a pillow for car or airplane rides), all of the pillows in this buyers guide are designed to maximize your comfort, no matter your situation.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Best Camping Pillows
What Do You Look for in the Best Camping Pillows?
Before deciding on your perfect camping pillow for sleeping, you need to consider a few factors first:
Price – Don’t be fooled by thinking that high prices automatically mean high quality. We need to make sure that the pillow represents value for money. However, all of budgets are different, and we can’t recommend trying to save when it comes to something as important as a good night’s sleep.
If you have the funds and you value a comfortable sleep, then it can be worth getting the premium option. If not, there are more affordable options, like the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow.
Weight – If you’re backpacking or hiking, then you’ll want a lightweight, packable camping pillow, like the Sea to Summit Aeros. On the other hand, if you’re planning on car camping or a road trip, then the weight of the pillow won’t matter, although you may as well just take your normal pillow.
Comfort – Camping pillows are made in different ways. Some memory foam, down feathers, or synthetic fill inside, while others are inflatable, and some combine both memory foam and air. Pillows also come in different shapes and sizes to be suited for back sleepers, side sleepers, or stomach sleepers.
1. Nemo Fillo Pillow
The Nemo Fillo is our pick for the overall best camp pillow.
After personally trying most pillows on the market, I always go back to the Fillo when I need a good night’s sleep. There are slightly better pillows for specific purposes, but the Fillo is an unbeatable all-around option.
It’s a hybrid pillow, meaning that it combines foam for cushioning and an air cell with baffles to add height without adding weight. It has a machine washable microsuede or jersey (depending on the color) cover. Both materials are very soft and comfy, so you can’t go wrong with either choice. Nemo Equipment also provides a lifetime warranty.
Since it’s an inflatable camping pillow, you obviously have to inflate it before use. Fortunately, that’s super easy and the pillow blows up with just a few short breaths. When it comes to packing-up, just use the twist nozzle to deflate the air and foam pillow. The stuff-sack attached to the underside of the pillow makes portability and storage even easier.
And the fact that it’s an inflating pillow means that the firmness is adjustable. For a harder pillow, add more air. For a softer pillow, add less.
Overall, the Nemo Fillo is an air-core pillow that’s perfect for nearly every camping situation. I say nearly because the only slight negative of this pillow is the weight. It weighs 0.5lb, which isn’t notably heavy but is less than ideal for backpackers.
2. Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow
The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow is our choice for the best backpacking pillow.
It comes in two sizes, both of which are very lightweight and packable. In fact, the “regular” size weighs just 2.7 ounces and the “large” weighs just 4 ounces.
This inflatable pillow has a TPU bladder for filling with air but is topped with a soft polyester knit material for comfort. There’s a layer of synthetic fill material between the bladder and topper material to add comfort while also improving airflow.
It has an ergonomic design that’s great for back, side, and even upright sleepers. This air pillow has a cradled shape to provide excellent support for your head and neck and a scalloped bottom edge to keep the pillow lined up with your neck and shoulders.
However, it’s still not the most comfortable pillow around. As an inflatable pillow, it’s just not able to compete with the foam and down pillows that are also on the market. In addition, there isn’t a removable cover, so you may want to get the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillowcase to go with your Aeros pillow for a removable, machine washable polyester cover that makes it easy to keep your pillow clean.
With that said, ultralight, minimalist backpackers may prefer the Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow for the lightest option. It also comes in two sizes which weigh 2.5 and 2.1 ounces despite being a bit larger than the Aeros Premium’s sizes. We give the Aeros Premium the edge, though, because of its more comfortable materials and construction.
To sum up, the Aeros Premium is the pillow we use for those backpacking adventures where we want to balance comfort with space and weight.
3. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow is a great value, making it our pick for the best budget camping pillow.
If you need a pillow that just gets the job done, this is it. It has foam stuffing with a brushed polyester cover that is soft to the touch. To be honest, it’s actually quite similar to a pillow found in your everyday home.
Something many people don’t know is that these pillows are stuffed with the excess foam pieces from their foam sleeping pads. We love this economical and less wasteful use of materials.
This pillow has excellent compressibility for a foam-filled pillow, though it’s not nearly as compressible as the Sea to Summit Aeros. But in this price bracket, we can’t complain too much.
The pillow is ideal for a wide range of camping adventures. To be honest, we can’t think of many situations you couldn’t use this pillow. However, at 9 ounces, it’s the same weight as the Nemo Fillo but less packable, so it’s not the best choice for backpacking trips.
Final Thoughts on the Best Camping Pillows
With so many camping pillows on the market, it’s difficult for campers to know which one to choose. You will need to think about the size, weight, and your personal budget — among other things.
Each of the three pillows in this review has been chosen because they are the best-in-class for their specific purpose. Whether you’re looking for something for backcountry camping trips, backpacking, car camping, road trips, or some other camping or travel adventure, there’s a great pillow on this list for you.
For a few more great options, check out the Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Pillow, the Teton Sports Comfortlite Self-Inflating Pillow, the Teton Sports Camp Pillow, or the Exped Air Pillow. They aren’t our top picks, but they are high-quality options for people looking for something a little different from the pillows here. Klymit and Cocoon are a couple of other excellent brands.