Our Review of the Best Camping Pillows
You can have the most deluxe 4 season tent ever made along with a sleeping bag that’s light as air and warm as toast. But if your head is forced to lie at a strange or uncomfortable angle, you’re going to toss and turn and wake up with a stiff neck. For decades campers and climbers compensated for the shortcomings of their sleeping bag by folding up sweaters and using them as pillows. Sometimes, if they couldn’t spare a sweater, they might even have placed one of their hiking boots under the bag and used that to elevate their head. To everyone’s relief, the days of having to rely on your boots as a pillow are firmly in the rearview mirror. Today, we have dozens of different camping pillows to choose from, and many provide just the kind of support and comfort you need to wake up refreshed and ready to hit the trail. Not all camping pillows are created equal, however. So, we’ve separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you this list of the best camping pillows on the market.
Campers don’t have to be terribly concerned about the weight of their camping pillows. But hikers do. They need to justify every ounce that goes into their pack. That’s because if you add too many of those ounces, the result is an aching back and a level of exhaustion that can drain the fun from your experience. Trekology understands this and has created an inflatable camping pillow that weighs a scant 2 ounces. That’s about the same as a single dehydrated meal. As such you can confidently add their Ultralight Inflatable pillow to your backpack without giving it much thought. But the really good news is that the Trekology Ultralight Pillow is more than just light. It inflates to 16 x 12 x 4 inches, features an easy-to-appreciate ergonomic design and comes with a handy storage bag. Both pillow and carrying sack are waterproof, and the pillow features a no-slip bottom that helps keep it in place under your head. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a strap you can use to slip around your sleeping pad to ensure the pillow stays precisely where you want it.
Therm-a-Rest pioneered the inflatable sleeping pad so it’s no surprise that they’d also offer a full line of super comfortable camping pillows. Their compressible pillow is a particular favorite of ours as it provides the kind of luxurious comfort you expect from your regular bed pillows. At 7 ounces it’s not exactly ultralight, but it’s so comfy a lot of climbers will decide to carry the extra ounces just so they can sleep better. The self-inflating urethane fill plumps up to more than 4 inches thick and provides just the right amount of support. The cover is fashioned from brushed polyester that’s as soft as velvet and doesn’t stick to your face the way a cheap plastic inflatable pillow will. The overall dimensions, when fully extended, are 12 x 16 x 4 inches and it winds up compressing to about half that size. This is a high-quality sleeping accessory, and you’ll probably find yourself taking it along on your regular travels. It slips easily into your backpack or suitcase, and the drawstring closure ensures it stays compressed until you’re ready to use it. As a bit of icing on the cake, the Therm-a-rest Compressible pillow is machine washable.
The Teton Sports Camp Pillow is advertised as the pillow you can take anywhere. And for the most part that’s true. If you’re an aficionado of the campground, you’re going to love having one or two of these in the tent. Likewise, if you have a camp trailer or RV. Although, because it doesn’t really compress much, it’s not going to work for trekkers and mountain climbers. It simply takes up too much space and, at 1 full pound, it weighs too much. That said, if your idea of camping is setting up the tent and settling in for a weekend or more, you’re going to love the way this pillow feels under your head. It’s filled with SuperLoft Elite 4-Channel fiber that provides support without being punishing. It has a washable 100% flannel pillowcase that caresses your face instead of sticking to it. And there’s a handsome stuff sack so you can take it wherever you roam. Overall size of the pillow is 18 x 12 inches and about 5 inches high. The flannel case matches the lining of several different Teton sleeping bags. Should that sort of thing matter to you. And there’s no inflating necessary.
More travel pillow than camping pillow the Coop Bamboo Derived pillow is one that recreational campers will nonetheless want to consider for their next outing. At 1.8 pounds it’s anything but light and at 10 x 8 inches when fully compressed it’s anything but small. But if you’re not slinging a backpack on and heading into the deep backcountry, you don’t need to worry about that. The Coop Travel Pillow is extremely comfortable with a Lulltra fabric shell that’s actually composed of 40% bamboo-derived viscose rayon. In spite of how that might sound the resulting surface is easy on the skin and won’t irritate no matter how hot it gets in the tent, RV or trailer. It’s also completely free of harmful chemicals, flame retardants, lead, formaldehyde and CFCs. Inside is premium memory foam that caresses your head. And you have the option to remove as much as you see fit in order to attain just the right feel for you. The Coop Travel Pillow is made in the US and comes with a convenient compression sack. Just don’t expect it to compress all that much. A great choice for airplane travel, low engagement camping, and even as a pillow for the spare bed.
The Wise Owl Camping Pillow is covered in a soft microfiber suede that feeds great against your skin. It’s filled with compressible foam that provides plenty of support without being hard. And has its own drawstring-enclosed stuff sack for easy transport. Like some other pillows on our list, it’s not intended to be carried up mountains. Instead, it’s for recreational campers who want to elevate the quality of their outdoor experience by making sure they get a great night’s sleep. Wise Owl offers their camping pillow in 5 different colors so you’ll always find one that will work with your sleeping bag or RV interior. It’s available in 3 different sizes from 12 x 16 to 14 x 18 and finally 16 x 23. While these won’t qualify as “compression” pillows per se, they nonetheless compress down by about 25%, which saves space when packing and makes them easier to store around the house. Wise Owl offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee if you’re not happy with the pillow. Although it’s not likely, you’ll need or want to take advantage of it. And finally, the Wise Owl Camping Pillow is completely washer and dryer safe, so keeping it clean and fresh is a breeze.
The Redcamp Small Camping Pillow sports a flannel/cotton shell, compresses down to 11 x 6 inches and weighs a very reasonable 7 ounces. It’s great for the campground at any time of the year. And if you have space in your pack, you can even consider taking it along on your backcountry trek. The case feels great against your skin, which helps you drift off to slumberland easily. And when it’s “inflated” itself to its full dimensions (20 x 12 x 3 inches), it’s big enough that your head never winds up slipping off. While it’s not as lofty as some other camping pillows, the microfiber fill does a great job providing support. But if it’s not quite lofty enough for you don’t despair. There’s a zipper on the back that allows you to add a sweater or anything else you want to create a more robust foundation. If you have a Redcamp sleeping bag, you’ll find that the pattern on the pillowcase matches that of the sleeping bag lining. All you have to do is select the right color. The company also offers a 1-year money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
The best camping pillows don’t always come from the most popular or biggest name brands. The Rest-a-Camp Inflatable Ultralight Camping Pillow is a great example of that. Although the name suggests they’re hoping to cop some sales from customers looking for Therm-a-Rest products, those customers shouldn’t find much to complain about when this pillow arrives from Amazon. At 4 ounces this is a true ultralight camping pillow and one you can and should consider taking up the mountain with you. When fully inflated it’s a generous 15 x 12 x 4.5 inches. And when emptied and packed away in the handy travel sack it fits neatly into the palm of your hand. The very agreeable brushed cotton pillowcase is easy on the skin. While the TPU bladder is made to last. The Rest-a-Camp Ultralight Pillow inflates with just 3 or 4 good deep breaths. And you can certainly adjust the firmness to suit your liking. It provides plenty of support and won’t wind up deflating while you sleep. You can pay a lot more for an ultralight pillow. But you don’t have to.
The HuTools Inflatable Camping Pillow is another example of an affordable, comfortable ultralight camping pillow that often flies under the radar. At only 2.8 ounces you can take this puppy up the tallest mountain or down the longest backcountry path without it adding to your burden. The marketing makes a lot of claims about it maintaining proper neck/back alignment. But all we know is that it’s really comfortable and helps you sleep better after a long day’s hike. It inflates quickly to its full size of 12 x 16 x 4 inches and stuffs down to about the size of a soda can. You won’t have to decide between bringing it and bringing extra socks or an extra T-shirt. If for some reason you don’t have room inside your backpack just sling it to the outside with a carabiner. The water-resistant stuff sack will keep it nice and dry in all but the heaviest downpours. The HuTools Ultralight Camping Pillow is available in either orange, green, grey or blue. It features a secure value that won’t leak all night. And when it is time to break camp, it will deflate in just a few seconds. A great deal by any definition of the term.
We’re really coming on hot and heavy with the ultralights as we near the bottom of this best camping pillow list. And why not? It’s always been the mountaineers who have had the most difficult time finding lightweight but comfortable sleeping gear. The Wellax Ultralight Camping Pillow is right up the serious backpacker’s alley. It weighs a feather-like 2.75 ounces and fits neatly into its tiny carrying sack for worry-free transport. When completely inflated the Wellax Ultralight expands to a full 16 x 12 x 4 inches and provides copious neck support. No more lying awake in the tent trying to get comfortable with a wet T-shirt for a pillow. 3 or 4 quick breaths and this pillow will be ready to go. The valve is also of sufficient quality that it’s not going to slowly bleed air all night and leave your head lying against the sleeping pad come morning. The back of the pillow features a slip-resistant design that does an adequate job of keeping the pillow in place under you. And the pillow is available in blue, green, orange or purple. The company also offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
The final item on our list is the RikkiTikki Inflatable Camping Pillow. It features a durable TPU bladder covered by two layers of woven polyester and combed cotton. When fully inflated it’s 15 x 12 x 4.5 inches. And because it’s an inflatable you can set the stiffness to match your own particular tastes. The RikkiTikki weighs a reasonable 4 ounces and folds down when you’re done to about the size of a soda can. There’s literally no limit on where you can take this pillow. So even if you find yourself needing to pitch your tent above treeline in the winter, you’ll still get a good night’s sleep with the RikkiTikki under your head. And a good night’s sleep can make all the difference when it comes to your energy levels. The RikkiTikki fills with just a few stout breaths, has that cozy, comfy brushed cotton case we mentioned earlier and won’t slowly bleed air while you sleep. It’s available in grey, black and navy blue and should provide you years of camping comfort for a very reasonable price.
When you go camping, there are just a few items that are going to determine your level of enjoyment. The camping pillow is one of them. This is particularly true if you set up your tent miles from nowhere. But whether you’re roughing it on a high ridge or you’re nestled into a hollow down by the river you owe it to yourself to put a little thought into what your head is going to be resting on. The best camping pillows don’t earn that designation because they’re the most expensive. Or because they’re made by one of the leading international luxury brand names. They earn that distinction because they provide comfortable head and neck support, because they won’t have to be peeled off your face in the morning and, if they’re inflatable, because they stay inflated throughout the night. Before you head off for a weekend at your favorite campground, an epic road trip that will take you to 20 states or a trek down the Appalachian Trail make sure you have the right camping pillow in your backpack, trunk or RV. When you wake up refreshed every morning, you’ll be glad you did.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure you check out more of our reviews:
- Best Sleeping Bags for Camping / Hiking
- Best Water Filters
- Best Hiking Boots for Men and Women
- Best Hiking Jackets for Men
- Best Hiking Backpacks
- Best Hiking Hammocks
- Best Camping Tents
- Best Trekking Poles
- Best Camping Headlamps
- Best Camping Pillows
- Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers for Camping
- Best Camping Chairs
- Best Camping Stoves
- Best Women’s Hiking Jackets