The 9 Best Backpacking Pillows of 2020

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Best Backpacking Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips, Denim, Medium - 14 x 18 Inches

Out of all the products listed below, we’ve decided to choose the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow as our top pick for the best backpacking pillow.

One thing we really love about this company is its commitment to conservation. Every Therm-a-Rest pillow only uses recycled foam from Therm-a-Rest mattresses in its interior design. So, while you’re enjoying the wonderful soft texture of your Therm-a-Rest pillow, you can rest assured knowing you’re doing your part to help the environment.

Besides environmental reasons, the Therm-a-Rest pillow is conveniently available in three sizes and wasn’t designed specifically for back sleepers. The Therm-a-Rest is also very affordable considering the quality of the pillow’s design.

If you’re looking for a good mix of quality and value, definitely give the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow a try.

Best Premium Pillow

Klymit Luxe

Klymit Luxe Pillow - Lightweight Luxurious Inflatable Travel Pillow (New)

Anyone looking for the best upscale travel pillow should check out Klymit Luxe.

As you could tell from the name, this pillow is designed with luxury in mind. In fact, the Klymit Luxe is the largest inflatable pillow on our list. Despite its huge size, the Klymit Luxe easily compresses into a small stuff sack that only weighs 6 ounces.

Some other features that give the Klymit Luxe its “luxe” are its polyester filling and ergonomically cradled design.

People willing to spend a bit extra won’t be disappointed with the Klymit Luxe’s comfortable feel and impressive size.

Best Value for Money

Trekology Ultralight

TREKOLOGY ALUFT Comfort Ultralight Inflating Travel/Camping Air Pillows (deep Blue)

When it comes to value, the top prize has to go to the colorfully designed Trekology Ultralight pillow.

When deflated, this affordable inflatable pillow is smaller and lighter than an average can of Coca-Cola. When fully expanded, you’ll notice that the Trekology Ultralight pillow has an ergonomic curve that helps both side and back sleepers get a good night’s rest. There’s also a non-slip backside on these pillows to keep it in place.

Without a doubt, the Trekology Ultralight pillows are the best value play on the travel pillow market.

The 9 Best Backpacking Pillows of 2020

Save your neck and hike the next day pain free by purchasing a lightweight backpacking pillow for your next trip or adventure. We’ve narrowed down dozens of pillows on the market to give you our 9 best backpacking pillows of this year.

Brian Connelly
Brian Connelly
Last Updated: February 26, 2018

Looking for the Best Backpacking Pillow?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • Why you need a backpacking pillow
    • What you should consider when buying.
    • Reviews of the top pillows on the market
    • Our unbiased recommendation on the #1 backpacking pillow

Experienced campers know the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you don’t feel well rested in the morning, you won’t have the energy you need to thrive in the wilderness. One frequently overlooked tool that can dramatically improve your quality of sleep is a high-quality camping pillow.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to look for when shopping for a camp pillow. We’ll also go through our top nine pillow picks to help you narrow down your search.

Benefits and Feature of Backpacking Pillows

Save Your Neck With A Camping Pillow

The obvious benefit of bringing a camping pillow with you on your outdoor adventures is that it offers greater support for your neck. A good-quality camping pillow will certainly provide you more stability than a makeshift pillow out of backpacks or clothes. Indeed, many of the inflatable pillows you’ll see below have been ergonomically designed to give your neck and head cradled support. 

Related Articles

If you are new to the world of outdoors, then check out our guides to camping 101 for beginners, and backpacking tips for beginners.

It should go without saying that anyone with back, spine, neck, or shoulder issues must invest in a travel pillow. You can significantly reduce your odds of waking up with neck stiffness if you use a pillow that’s expertly contoured.

What Should You Look For In A Camping Pillow

There are two major types of backpacking pillows: inflatable and compressible. Both of these have their pros and cons. 

Inflatable pillows are generally cheaper, weigh less, and are easier to pack than compressible pillows. A few cons of inflatable pillows are that they can leak air (especially if you move around a lot in the night) and some campers can’t stand their “airy” texture.

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference when picking an inflatable or compressible pillow. Hikers who want their travel pillow to feel like their pillows at home will probably have better luck with a compressible pillow. People looking for greater convenience and less weight in their backpack, however, should start their search with inflatable pillows.

Stability Of Camping Pillows

If you’re looking for the most stable hiking pillow on the market, then you’ll need to consider the following factors carefully. 

First off, look at how large the pillow is in comparison to others. Larger pillows tend to provide more stability than smaller ones.

Next, look at the pillow’s thickness and what kind of materials are in its design. You’ll have an easier time keeping your pillow firmly on the ground if it’s made with a thick material.

Be sure to take a look and see if the pillow you’re interested in has a non-slip bottom. It’s also a great idea to opt for a pillow that has some kind of design feature like ridges to create a more stable surface.

In Defense Of Smaller Pillows

While larger pillows are generally preferred for their stability, there are a few campers who prefer using smaller pillows. Most of these hikers tend to be stomach sleepers and/or don’t have a habit of tossing and turning in their sleep. 

Smaller pillows also have the advantage of being more lightweight than larger pillows, making them easier to pack.

People who sleep either on their side or on their back, however, will probably be better off with a thicker and larger pillow. As you could imagine, tossing and turning can release a ton of air from an inflatable pillow.

Always Look For Contouring

Be sure your pillow has some degree of contouring if you want a great night’s sleep. Contoured pillows have two main benefits: they more naturally cradle your head, and they tend not to wobble as much on the ground. 

Any campers reading this who toss and turn during the night must invest in a well-contoured pillow. These pillows will provide the best stability and comfort.

Back sleepers will most likely prefer a pillow with a well-defined, firm curve for a nice cradled sleep. Side sleepers, on the other hand, should look for travel pillows that have a standard rectangular shape with plenty of padding.

A Sad Fact Of Life: Air Pillow Leakage

Even the best inflatable pillows on the market suffer from air leakage over time. There are many reasons for this common dilemma, but the main ones include using extremely thin fabrics, weak in-seams, and the shock of a harsh environment on a lightweight pillow. 

If you’re going to go with an inflatable pillow, it’s a good idea to learn basic patching skills to ensure you keep your pillow for the long haul.

Outer Casings Of Camping Pillows

As you’ll see from our list below, the most common outer fabrics on inflatable camping pillows are nylon and polyester. Most hikers prefer the softer texture of polyester to the tacky feel of nylon. Nylon does have the benefit of drying off quickly if you’re in a rainy environment, but it can easily leach odors. 

Some hikers who prefer the convenience or affordability of nylon products have found ways to overcome the material’s “sticky” texture. These campers simply place a towel or thin piece of clothing over their pillow before going to bed. If you have a warm hat, you could even wear that to comfort you against a nylon pillow.

The Results of our Backpacking Pillow Reviews

Klymit Pillow X

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow, Red/Gray
  • SLEEP COMFORTABLY WHILE CAMPING: Features an innovative self centering X design…
  • ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT and PRESSURE: Simply add or release air to raise or lower…
  • Weighing less than two ounces and packing down to the size of a lighter, this is…
  • FEATHER-WEIGHT and PACKABLE: Weighs only 1.95 oz. and packs to an ultra compact…

We’ll start our list of great travel pillows with the inflatable Klymit Pillow X.

The defining feature of this pillow is that it has a self-centering design, which is ideal for back sleepers. After you inflate the pillow, you’ll notice that there are two grooves that cross in the center. You’re supposed to put your head in the middle of the “X” to keep your neck stable throughout the night.

As for the pillow’s material, it’s made out of a fast-drying plastic. If you don’t like the feel of plastic against your face, you’ll need to place a thin jacket over this pillow for extra padding.

The two major pros for the Klymit Pillow X are that it’s extremely affordable and one of the lightest pillows on our list. In its stuff sack, the Klymit Pillow X only measures 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches and weighs a remarkable 1.95 ounces. The full dimensions of the inflated pillow are 15 x 11 x 4 inches.

The Klymit Pillow X comes in a wide variety of color designs including the standard red, camouflage, and grey.

In case you’re interested, there is a larger Klymit Pillow X size available for purchase at a slightly higher price.

  • PROs

    •  One of the lightest inflatable pillows in the industry.
    • Unique X-shaped design helps cradle head and neck.
    • Only takes two breaths to become fully inflated.
    • Two sizes available to meet your preferences.
  • CONs

    • Designed with back sleepers in mind.
    • Fast-drying plastic coating has a slightly sticky feel.
Bottom-Line: The Klymit Pillow X is a great bargain for back sleepers who don’t mind an outer plastic coating.

Nemo Fillow Pillow

Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow, Moss Green
  • ADJUSTABLE COMFORT – The Fillo combines luxury foam with air insulation, making…
  • LIGHT & COMPACT – Weighing in at a mere 9 oz and packing smaller than a water…
  • MACHINE WASHABLE – The ultrasoft pillowcase is easily removed for washing; Solid…
  • INTEGRATED STUFF SACK – The Fillo’s integrated stuff sack protects the surface…
  • MULTIPURPOSE DESIGN – Designed for camping, the Fillo is also perfect for lumbar…

Whereas the Klymit Pillow X is great for back sleepers, the Nemo Fillo Pillow is a good option for side sleepers. The major features that make this inflatable pillow great for side sleepers include its 1-inch inner layer of memory foam and its rectangular design. The Nemo Fillo Pillow’s soft microsuede outer coating is also a feature in Nemo Fillo Pillow’s favor.

While the Nemo Fillo Pillow certainly isn’t heavy at 9 ounces, it is heavier than other inflatable pillows on this list. When inflated, the Nemo Fillo Pillow expands to 16 x 4 x 6 inches. The Nemo Fillo Pillow measures 4 x 6 inches when deflated.

One selling point for the Nemo Fillo Pillow is that the stuff sack is attached to the actual pillow. If you’re someone who always misplaces things, this is a huge plus.

You can choose from many striped or single color Nemo Fillo Pillow designs. Just be prepared to pay a tad extra for this higher-end inflatable pillow.

  • PROs

    • Memory foam interior provides great comfort for back, side, and belly sleepers.
    • Stuff sack conveniently attached to the pillow.
    • Soft, machine-washable microsuede outer casing.
  • CONs

    • Not as light as other pillows on this list.
    • One of the more expensive inflatable pillows.
Bottom-Line: The soft and convenient Nemo Fillo Pillow is a great option for side sleepers who are willing to take on a few extra ounces and pay a few extra bucks.

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium – Green Large
  • Brushed 50D polyester knit is very soft and durable
  • Synthetic fill between pillow case and TPU bladder increases comfort and wicks…
  • Curved internal baffles create contours that cradle your head
  • Scalloped bottom edge centres pillow over your shoulders whether you are…
  • Inflate pillow in a couple of breaths with the multi-functional valve

The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium is another excellent pillow option for back sleepers. This pillow has what’s called a “scalloped” design, which basically means it looks like a cradle. After inflating the pillow, simply place your head and neck inside the center of the curve for support.

A unique feature in this pillow is a layer of synthetic fill underneath the outer fabric that helps protects the inner inflatable bladder. In addition to making this pillow softer, this inner synthetic fill helps ward off odors, rain, and perspiration. In case you were wondering, the outer casing of the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow is knit polyester.

The pillow’s ingenious one-way valve helps prevent air leakage. It’s also a breeze to let air out of this pillow. There’s actually a valve button you can press that releases all the air within a few seconds.

There are two sizes of Sea to Summit Aeros Pillows you can choose from, the regular and the large. The regular measures 13.4 x 9.4 x 4.3 inches inflated and 2.8 x 3.3 inches in the stuff sack. The regular pillow’s weight is only 2.8 ounces.

  • PROs

    • Curved design helps cradle neck and shoulders for back sleepers.
    • Synthetic fill makes this product very plush and resistant to rain.
    • Expertly designed valve helps keep air in and push air out.
    • Under four inches in travel size and below four ounces in weight.
  • CONs

    • Not ideal for stomach or side sleepers.
    • Mid-range price tag.
Bottom-Line: The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium is a high-quality mid-range pillow designed with back sleepers in mind.

Teton Sports ComfortLite Pillow

TETON Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Pillow; Support Your Neck and Travel Comfortably; Take it on the Airplane, in the Car, Backpacking, and Camping; Washable; Stuff Sack Included, Orange, 18 x 10 x 4-Inch
  • SELF-INFLATING TRAVEL PILLOW: Wake up comfortably even in the car or airplane;…
  • DURABLE BUT SOFT: Microfiber top feels soft against your face; Grey non-slip…
  • NO PUMP REQUIRED: Don’t wear yourself out blowing up your inflatable pillow;…
  • THE COMFORTLITE SERIES: Companion camping gear to the whole ComfortLite Self…
  • TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING product support team if you have…

The Teton Sports ComfortLite pillow measures 18 x 10 x 4 inches when inflated and weighs 12 ounces. You’ll need to make a bit extra room in your backpack for this pillow’s slightly larger stuff pack, which measures 12.5 x 3 x 3 inches.

After you inflate the pillow with four good breaths, you’ll notice a grey non-slip bottom to help keep it grounded. The top of the pillow is made of a soft microfiber that comes in either orange or blue. If you move your head a great deal when you sleep, you might have issues with air coming out of this product’s seams.

In contrast to the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow, it’s a bit difficult to get air out of this Teton product. You may need to push the pillow against a tree or a rock to ensure all the air comes out. On a positive note, the Teton pillow is one of the more affordable buys on this list.

  • PROs

    • Extremely affordable.
    • Non-stick bottom helps keep pillow centered.
    • Soft microfiber and plush interior are great for any sleeping style.
  • CONs

    • Can be a bit difficult to get all the air out.
    • Larger and heavier stuff sack than most other travel pillows.
Bottom-Line: While it might not be as convenient or lightweight as other travel pillows, the Teton pillow is a comfortable product at an extremely economical price.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips, Denim, Medium – 14 x 18 Inches
  • Ultralight (9 ounce) compressible travel pillow with soft foam filling that…
  • Foam filling expands into a 4-inch thick pillow for head, neck, and back support…
  • Compact design packs into a backpack, duffle, suitcase, or tote; drawstring and…
  • Brushed polyester cover is soft against skin for comfort; lofty urethane fill is…
  • Pillow measures 14 x 18 x 4 inches (14 x 5 x 6 inches compressed) and weighs 9…

Next on our list is Therm-a-Rest’s Compressible Pillow. This Therm-a-Rest product easily unfolds from its tiny packaging into a decent sized pillow great for back, side, and belly sleepers.

There are actually three different sizes of Term-a-Rest pillows to choose from: small, medium, and large. The small measures 12 x 16 x 4 inches when inflated and 13 x 4 x 4 inches when compressed. The weight of this pillow is around 7 ounces.

The eco-friendly designers used recycled Therm-a-Rest mattress foam in this product to give it an extremely soft feeling against your head. The outer layer is made of brushed polyester and is machine-washer friendly.

One minor drawback for this product is that there’s only one solid color (blue) to choose from. All the other designs are very vibrant and funky. You’ll definitely draw some attention if you pull out one of these bad boys on an airplane! If you’re the kind of person who wants a low-key pillow design, you might not like the styles of Therm-a-Rest pillows offered.

  • PROs

    • Recycled mattress foam filling adds softness.
    • Environmentally friendly.
    • No problems associated with inflatable pillows.
    • Three sizes available for all consumer preferences.
  • CONs

    • Mid-range price.
    • Not many low key design patterns to choose from. 
Bottom-Line: Therm-a-Rest is an incredibly soft and eco-friendly mid-range compressible pillow with plenty of size and design options to choose from.

Klymit Luxe

Klymit Luxe Pillow – Lightweight Luxurious Inflatable Travel Pillow (New)
  • BIG COMFORT: Hybrid-fill design combines the cushioning of air with the lofty…
  • CRADLES YOUR HEAD for supportive, stable sleeping, and the soft outer material…
  • PERFECT FOR traveling, casual camping, and light enough for backpackers craving…
  • ALMOST AS BIG AS your PILLOW AT HOME, but weighs only 6.2 ounces and packs…
  • Inflates in just 3-5 breaths; INCLUDES: stuff sack and because we are authorized…

For those out there who want a luxury pillow, look no further than Klymit Luxe.

The most impressive feature about this pillow is its size. Once it’s fully inflated, which should only take five breaths, the Klymit Luxe measures 22 x 12.5 x 5.5 inches. When you let the air out and put the Klymit Luxe in your travel bag, however, it will only measure 3 x 7 inches and weigh 6.2 ounces.

While you could easily fit this pillow in your travel gear, it’s designed to be placed at the head of your mummy bag. The polyester fill on the inside of the Klymit Luxe is what gives this pillow its soft texture. Every Klymit Luxe is made with a cradled design, but side sleepers shouldn’t have any issues using this pillow.

As you’ve probably already guessed, you’ll have to pay a bit extra to experience the “luxe” of this product. Besides the price, another minor drawback of the Klymit Luxe is that you can only order it in grey.

  • PROs

    • Cradled design and polyester padding provide great comfort.
    • The largest and most stable inflatable travel pillow on our list.
    • Conveniently designed to fit in a mummy bag.
  • CONs

    • One of the more expensive travel pillows.
    • Only available in grey.
Bottom-Line: Anyone who’s willing to spend extra money on one of the largest and softest inflatable pillows on the market should look into the Klymit Luxe.

Trekology Ultralight Pillow

TREKOLOGY ALUFT Comfort Ultralight Inflating Travel/Camping Air Pillows (deep Blue)
  • SMALL in SIZE – BIG on COMFORT! This is the most compact & lightweight…
  • NEWLY DESIGNED with YOUR ULTIMATE COMFORT in MIND – Improved Ergonomic Design…
  • NOW MORE DURABLE THAN EVER! Enhanced design with added layers for head support…
  • EASE OF USE! With the simple click of a button, Inflate pillow by mouth with…

The highlight of the Trekology Ultralight pillow is the price. This inflatable pillow is the cheapest on our list. However, just because this pillow is affordable doesn’t mean it was shabbily made.

The Trekology Ultralight inflates to a respectable 16 x 12 x 4 inches from a packing size of 5 x 2 inches. This pillow is also very light at only 2.75 ounces. These pillows have a slight curve to help cradle your neck, but they weren’t tailor-made for back sleepers.

Another nice feature of this pillow is the “Quick Deflate” function that allows you to release air from this pillow in a matter of seconds. You’ll find this button right on the valve.

All Trekology Ultralight pillows are 80 percent polyester and 20 percent plastic. The fabric used on the bottom of the pillow is slip-resistant to help it stay in place as you catch some zzz’s. There are numerous single color designs of the Trekology Ultralight to choose from ranging from lime green to mocha brown.

  • PROs

    • Extremely inexpensive.
    • Superb packing size and weight.
    • “Quick Deflate” function makes packing this pillow super simple.
    • Wide variety of colors to choose from.
  • CONs

    • Not as large as some other pillows listed above. 
Bottom-Line: You’ll get far more than you paid for with the Trekology Ultralight pillow. Although it’s the cheapest on our list, this pillow is also one of the most convenient.

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Sierra Designs DriDown 650fill Pillow – Blue
  • Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow – Willow
  • One Size
  • Willow Bough

The Sierra Designs DriDown is a good option for people looking for a non-inflatable pillow.

When you roll it out, the Sierra Designs DriDown measures 9 x 13 x 2 inches. You’ll only be adding 5.8 ounces to your travel gear with the Sierra Designs DriDown in your pack. This 5.8 ounces includes a complementary synthetic insert.

If you need less weight in your backpack, you could take the insert out to bring the pillow’s weight down to 2.8 ounces. You’ll just need to fill your Sierra Designs pillow with comfy clothes if you choose this option.

A major feature of this product is the Polyester Taffeta Fill, which is where the pillow gets its softness. Since this is a non-inflatable pillow, of course, you won’t have to worry about issues like air leakage.

All of the top layers of these pillows are dark grey, but you could choose from four bottom color designs including green, purple, blue, and red.

One major issue with this product is the price. While it’s not unreasonable, the price for the Sierra Designs DriDown is a bit steep for the casual camper. Still, anyone in the market for a good non-inflatable pillow won’t be disappointed with the DriDown.

  • PROs

    • Polyester Taffeta Fill makes this pillow extra soft.
    • You have the option of filling this pillow with your own clothes to save weight.
    • No issues related to inflatable pillows.
    • Under 6 ounces with synthetic fill.
  • CONs

    • A tad expensive for a travel pillow.
    • Will take up more travel space than most inflatable pillows. 
Bottom-Line: Although the Sierra Designs DriDown isn’t cheap, it’s a well-designed non-inflatable pillow that’s light, soft, and easy to handle.

Exped REM

Exped Air Pillow, Medium
  • BACKCOUNTRY COMFORT – An essential component to your backcountry sleep system,…
  • CUSTOM SUPPORT – Designed for back sleepers, side sleepers, and any-way…
  • FEATHERLIGHT (M) – Weighing a miniscule 2.5 oz, the Air Pillow is one of the…
  • EASY INFLATION – The Air Pillow features a sturdy flat valve for swift inflation…
  • BELLS AND WHISTLES – Tricot surface is smooth to the touch; Small size fits…

We’ll close our list with the Exped REM inflatable pillow.

It only takes about two or three breaths to expand the Exped REM from its collapsed state to a fully inflatable pillow. When inflated, the Exped REM measures 11 x 5 x 6 inches.

One of the unique features of this product is the super soft outer casing. Manufacturers decided to use tricot fabric on the outer layer that gives the Exped REM a luxurious feel. There’s also foam padding inside to add a greater degree of comfort and softness.

All Exped REM pillows are made up of three distinct layers: air, foam, and tricot casing. This design is ideal for side sleepers. This isn’t a curved designed product for back sleepers; rather, the Exped REM is designed to resemble a standard pillow at home.

Once you’re done using your pillow, simply put the air release pin in the valve and squeeze the air out. You can then roll out the Exped and tie it with an integrated cord.

The Exped is made in a fairly bland rectangular design and is only available in green. This pillow will add 7.2 ounces to your travel weight. Due to its higher quality, the Exped REM is also one of the pricier products on this list.

  • PROs

    • Soft inner foam and tricot outer padding are great for side sleepers.
    • Easy to inflate and deflate.
    • Attached cord helps hold pillow together when rolled up.
  • CONs

    • Not ergonomically designed for back sleepers.
    • High price tag.
Bottom-Line: The Exped REM is one of the softest inflatable travel pillows, but it’s also one of the most expensive.

Camp Bedding Reviews

If none of our selected sleeping bags below fits your particular needs then check out our other reviews on:

Last update on 2020-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API