Having a comfortable pillow when you’re camping can help you get a good night’s sleep when you’re out in nature and away from the comfort of your home. But lugging along your favorite household pillow is likely not the best option — especially if your pillow is heavy and bulky and your space is limited, or you’ll be backpacking out to a campsite. In addition, household pillows are not made to handle the moisture and humidity often presented outdoors. That’s why having a compact dedicated go-to best camping pillow is good idea.
A lot of campers consider a camping pillow a luxury and often just use a rolled-up hoodie or jacket under their neck. (I’ve been there all too often myself, only to toss and turn and wake up with a kink in my neck.) Yet camping pillows have come a long way over the last decade and are actually fairly lightweight, compact and can be exceptionally comfortable.
You can find a variety of camping pillows in outdoor retail stores and online — ranging in quality, weight and comfort. Manufacturers now make foam-filled camping pillows, air-filled inflatable camping pillows, down feather-filled packable pillows and more. And unlike a lot of camping gear, the best camping pillows won’t cost you hundreds of dollars.
You probably have your own preferences when it comes to your pillow at home. And camping pillows are no different. The best camping pillow for you may depend on your desired weight, material, firmness, water resistance and the price. You may prefer an inflatable pillow that’s adjustable and good for sleeping on your side, back or stomach. Or you may prefer a higher end more luxurious pillow filled with down feathers.
Regardless of your preferences, you should be able to find the right camping pillow for you. And that pillow could last you many years of camping and help you get a good night sleep when you’re away from home.
Here are six of the best camping pillows for 2021:
1. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
The Therm-a-Rest compressible travel pillow is compact, plush and packable and one of the best all-around affordable camping pillows. You can easily pack this foam and polyester filled pillow into a backpack. The lofty urethane filling is upcycled — the byproduct of Therm-a-Rest mattresses. It has a soft brushed polyester exterior and weighs just 7 ounces for the small, measuring 12x16x4 inches (13x4x4 inches compressed). The inside is squishy and feels similar to a tiny bean bag, so if you’re a side sleeper you may want to double it up or go with a larger size.
It’s made in the U.S. and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The outer fabric is machine washable, too, and you can use this pillow for more adventures than camping. This camping pillow is also great for road trips and plane rides.
2. Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow
The inflatable Seat to Summit Aeros ultralight pillow compacts down so that it’ll fit into your shirt pocket (measuring about the size of an avocado). It’s ideal for back and side sleepers since it’s contoured to cradle your head. This small pillow inflates with just a few breathes and weighs in at just 2.5 ounces — measuring 17x13x5.5 inches for extra space to roll around. It also fits snug in the hood of most sleeping bags and has an exterior that’s soft to the touch.
3. Nemo Fillo Elite Pillow
The Nemo Fillo Elite pillow is a plush inflatable camping pillow ideal for backpacking as it weighs in at just 3 ounces. (It’s the ultralight version of NEMO’s Fillow pillow.)
When inflated, you’ll get 3 inches of loft, or height, while lying flat. And you won’t need to sacrifice space as it packs down to the size of an apple. It comes with a machine washable pillowcase, and you can use it on flights and road trips as lumbar support. Measures about 10x13x3 inches fully inflated.
4. Coop Home Goods Camping Pillow
The Coop Home Goods camping pillow is filled with a comfortable hypoallergenic shredded memory foam fill and is great for those camping close to their car as it weighs in at 3 pounds and measures 9x14x4 inches. Since it’s a squishy memory foam, you can compress it down to about 7×8 inches for easy packing — it’ll save space and even comes with a stuff sack.
The case is made with proprietary Lulltra fabric, a blend of bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester that provides breathability and softness. It’s hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.
5. TETON Sports Camp Pillow
The Teton Sports camp pillow comes in a variety of plaid patterns and is extra soft. This pillow is filled with the same fiber fill used in Teton sleeping bags and is a brushed poly-flannel, so it feels soft against your skin. The filling is fluffy, so if you like a firm pillow, this one isn’t for you. It packs down tight so you can take it anywhere and it rises on its own, so no inflating needed. You can also wash it just like your pillow at home. It measures 12x8x10 inches and weighs 10 ounces.
6. Sierra Madre Pufflo Adventure Pillow
The 20D HydraSHIELD weather resistant exterior does exceptionally well both in colder weather and warmer temps, and its two-phase, ultra-soft top and a supportive air bladder finds that sweet spot between comfort and support. Weighing in at 10.8 ounces, it expands to be 17×10 inches and has a good amount of loft. I’ve found it very comfortable to use while in a hammock.
The Pufflo shape allows for side-to-side support while conforming to your neck and base of your head. Plus, you can dial into your perfect firmness by tapping the air valve to instantly adjust it.
Suzanne Downing is an outdoor writer and photographer in Montana with an environmental science journalism background. Her work can be found in Outdoors Unlimited, Bugle Magazine, Missoulian, Byline Magazine, Communique, MTPR online, UM Native News, National Wildlife Federation campaigns and more.
Feature image by Sierra Madre
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