Is finding the best camping pillow just as important as finding the right camping stove or tent? We think so. There’s nothing worse than setting up your campsite, laying out your sleeping bag, and realizing you’ve forgotten a pillow! A camping pillow is a vital but often overlooked piece of gear for most hikers. But after hours of hiking, there’s nothing you want or need more than a good night’s rest.
To help you catch some zzz’s on your next camping trip, we’ve put together the 10 best camping pillows on the market. We’ve evaluated these pillows based on comfort, weight, ease of use, support, and packed size. Our best overall camping pillow that excels in nearly every category is the NEMO Fillo. We love its soft exterior, plushy foam interior, and all-around support, guaranteeing a good night of rest. Below, we’ll dive into the other top-notch pillows.
Best Camping PillowS Reviewed
For a camping pillow that gives support like the one at home, we highly recommend the NEMO Fillo. The luxury foam filling and inflatable air core are packed inside a soft microsuede cover that’s machine washable. The thickness of the pillow is easy to adjust with the handy twist valve. We love that it packs small but gives unmatched comfort at the same time.
- Good Support
- Very Comfortable
- Machine Washable
- A bit heavy, not great for multi-day backpacking trips
The multipurpose, inexpensive Therm a Rest Lumbar Pillow is one of the best value camping pillows on the market. It can be used as a headrest at the campsite and a backrest on the plane, car, or office. Many customers wind up buying multiple to keep them in different locations! There’s supportive foam in the center and it’s self-inflating, with an adjustable pressure valve to fine-tune the firmness. We also like the comfortable and durable polyester cover.
- Easy to adjust
- Solid design
- Doesn’t deflate to be very small
Best Camping Pillow for Backpacking
If you’re looking for a very comfortable soft foam pillow, the Therm a Rest Compressible Pillow won’t let you down. It comes in various sizes (Medium; Large; Extra-large) to suit your preferred comfort level. It can be thrown into the washer and dryer for easy cleaning and packs small enough for flights and backpacking. Although it’s not super lightweight, it makes up for this in comfort.
- Easy to clean
- Not very lightweight
Best Camping Pillow for Car Camping
Come close to the comfort of home when you’re car camping with the Sea to Summit FoamCore Deluxe Pillow. It’s made of upcycled foam from self-inflating sleeping mats, which helps to reduce waste. The foam itself is packed inside soft 50D knit fabric, giving the pillow a firm and lofty feel. There’s also an extra layer of polyester between the exterior and foam, which provides additional comfort and creates moisture-wicking technology. Overall, this is a luxury camping pillow that’s perfect for the car.
- Lofty foam
- Easy to pack
- Great support
- Not adjustable
Best Camping Pillow For Comfort
For a camping pillow that’s the best of both worlds in packability and comfort, check out the Therm a Rest Air Head Down Pillow (Regular; Large). It packs down small and is superbly comfortable and lightweight, weighing only 5 ounces. The tantalizing combination of an inflatable core and a thick layer of down feathers makes this pillow super comfortable. To top it off, the exterior cover is made from silky-smooth brushed polyester. Keep in mind that for this level of comfort, there is a hefty price tag.
- Super comfy
- Ergonomically shaped
Best Camping Pillow for Side Sleepers
A favourite among backpackers is the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Deluxe Pillow. It only weighs a few ounces but expands to a generous size for side sleepers. The flexible, stretchy air cells and quilted polyester exterior give great support and comfort. Like other inflatable pillows on this list, the volume can be fine-tune adjusted with a twist valve. It also packs down really small, so you’ll still have plenty of space in your bag.
- Small pack size
- Highly rated
- Super supportive
- Not as comfortable as hybrid/compressible models
Best Camping Pillow For Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers will appreciate the wide, spacious Marmot Nimbus Pillow. This inflatable camping pillow has flexible air baffles that support the neck and head. There are also welded seams for longer-lasting durability. It inflates easily with just a few breaths or pumps, making it very easy to use. When you’re ready to pack up, you can use the handy stuff bag to pack it down to a small size.
- Can be punctured
The super lightweight Klymit Pillow X is one of our favourite camping pillows. Since it weighs less than two ounces, it’s perfect for chucking in your backpack. We love the innovative X design that cradles the head and supports the neck. As a bonus, there’s also a fun camo pattern that matches the Klymit Sleeping Pad.
Another versatile option is the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Lumbar Support pillow. It supports the lower back in a variety of settings like the plane, train, or campsite. There are also curved internal baffles that contour to your shape, making it more comfortable.
For a camping pillow that inflates in seconds and is easy to use, look to the Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow. It’s a classic blow-up pillow with a small pack size that’s perfect for backpacking on the trail. While it may not be as comfortable as hybrid or compressible models, it’ll still help you get a good night’s rest.
What to Look for in a Camping Pillow
Here’s what to look for when choosing the best camping pillow for backpacking or car camping.
An inflatable camping pillow is a good option for backpackers, as it folds up small and doesn’t weigh much. They usually have an air core that can be less comfortable than other models, and they can also be noisy when you move around on them. Sometimes they can feel too firm when full, so find a pillow with a valve to fine-tune the volume to your liking.
Synthetic fillings mimic the loftiness of down but aren’t as delicate – they can also get wet and still maintain its bounce and warmth. Foam fillings also replicate feather pillows better than inflatable ones, but weigh more and take up more space.
Down camping pillows are good for car camping when weight doesn’t matter, and the pillow won’t get wet. However, remember that you’ll pay a premium for the comfort that real down provides.
Combination pillows combine memory foam cushioning with an inflatable air core. These are a good compromise between comfort and weight. Many combination camping pillows use foam to provide head support and an air core to make the pillow lightweight enough to take on the trail.
Let’s face it: weight doesn’t matter if your camping pillow isn’t comfortable. To evaluate comfort, you’ll want to look at both the external casing and interior materials. A brushed polyester exterior, for example, will feel extra soft against your head. Style, as mentioned above, also makes a big difference in comfort. Try different types of pillows, such as inflatable, combination, or down to see which fits your needs best.
On backpacking trips, every ounce counts. Fluffier foam pillows can feel great at night, but not so nice during the day if they weigh you down. Inflatable pillows are usually a better option for backpackers. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the backpacking pillow weighs under a pound, but extra lightweight ones weigh as little as one or two ounces.
Packing down to the size you need is important for backpackers, though not as crucial for car campers. A small inflatable pillow leaves more room in the pack for extra layers, more food, or spare batteries. Inflatable pillows usually pack down to the size of a small apple, whereas small foam pillows usually pack down to the size of a 1-litre water bottle. Remember, you can always strap a bigger pillow to the outside of your pack if you’re out of space.
Soft foam pillows will often offer maximum support, which is especially important for side sleepers. Combination pillows take off some weight by combining foam with an air core, and let you customize the support with a well-built valve. Companies like Sea to Summit add contouring to inflatable pillows to add comfort and cradle your head.
Are camping pillows worth it?
Definitely! Camping pillows are made of durable and easy to clean materials, so they’ll last you through many trips. They also can make a big difference in your sleep quality and your energy levels while hiking.
Are inflatable camping pillows comfortable?
Higher-end inflatable camping pillows can be comfy. If there are contouring or flexible air cells, they will be more supportive and move with you as you sleep.
Can you use a regular pillow for camping?
Yes, you can use regular pillows, but the dirt and dust from being outdoors can make your pillow smelly and dirty. As a result, you may not want to use it when you get back home from your trip.
Finding the best camping pillow is no easy feat! If you’re car camping, you’ll be able to prioritize comfort over weight and packability. However, if you’re backpacking, you’ll want to find a pillow that strikes a balance between weight and comfort. Also, if you’re a side sleeper or need extra head support, you may want a foam or combination pillow that helps you get a good night’s rest. When in doubt, you can always go for our best overall pick, the NEMO Fillo, which is a favourite among backpackers and car campers alike.