Best Backpacking Pillows

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So, you’re on the search for the best backpacking pillows. Maybe you’re new to trying them out, or you have been for some time but not had much luck. 

Backpacking is one of the most surreal and enjoyable trips to take in your life. The incredible views, meeting people from different walks of life, living out of a bag for the best part of your year … there’s really nothing like it. 

One thing that backpackers would suggest to you before embarking on your new adventure would be to invest in a good backpacking pillow. Many travelers don’t anticipate the sleeping situations, which often involves a sleeping bag on a thin sleeping pad. 

If you’re of the curious kind, we’ve also included a buyers’ guide complete with a small FAQ. 

You may think that a pillow will just take up too much of your limited bag space, but we urge you not to overlook this piece of gear. A good night's sleep will get you ready for your long days and make you appreciate everything even more. 

Don’t worry about space-saving, either, as the majority of backpacking pillows are actually inflatable or built to reduce to a fraction of their size. This means that you can remove all the air every morning and keep it in a small carry pouch to ensure that it takes up a very limited amount of space in your bag. 

We’ll be looking at the best backpacking pillows on the market right now, as well as the importance of knowing what to look for before committing to your purchase. 

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Our Pick

Are you here because you’ve forgotten to get a backpacking pillow for your adventure that you’re supposed to be leaving for tomorrow? If so, you’re probably going to want to know the best backpacking pillow available, right? 

Not to worry, we'll tell you right now. The best option for you is the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow, for a number of reasons. Just a few of these are detailed below:

  • The pillow is made from up to 80% recycled materials. It’s always nice to help the environment!

  • You can choose from four different sizes to accommodate your needs and preferences.

  • The clever design removes the need for a small travel bag that might get lost. 

Best Backpacking Pillows - Comparison Table

Best Backpacking Pillows - Reviews

This has to be our favorite backpacking pillow on the market right now. Choose between twelve color options as well as four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. If you’re worried about choosing a pillow that’s too small for your head, Therm-a-Rest ensures that they have you covered! 

The pillow weighs just over 0.5 pounds, making it ideal for backpacking. Once you open the pillow and set it up, it’ll plump itself up to four inches. This is thanks to the urethane filling. Fun fact, this filling has actually been upcycled from Therm-a-Rest’s other products! 

You’ll find that the pillow actually folds into itself for clever storage. This eliminates the need for a travel bag that could easily get lost during uses. The polyester pillowcase is so soft and comfortable that you’ll find it hard to wake up and get out of bed! 

Pros

  • Different sizes to choose from for people with different needs.
  • Made from up to 80% recycled materials.
  • No need for a travel bag thanks to the innovative design.

Cons

  • Four inches isn’t thick enough for some users.
  • Might take longer than you expect to dry in a tumble dryer.

Another one of our favorites, and a close second place in our list, is the TREKOLOGY Inflatable Travel Pillow. This is the smallest pillow on our list, once it’s been folded down and packed away, as it measures in at only 5 x 2 inches. This is smaller than a soda can and will fit in the smallest nook of your backpack. 

It is also the lightest model on our list, weighing 0.2 pounds. There is a strap that attaches to the pillow so that you can wrap it around your sleeping mat to prevent it from sliding off during the night. The backside also features rubber dots to increase the grip. 

You can inflate this pillow within 5 breaths, and deflate it in seconds. It is designed to lift slightly at the sides of your head so that you remain in place and don’t roll off the pillow. The TPU fabric is water-resistant and durable, so don’t worry about the lifetime of your pillow.

Pros

  • Smallest and lightest pillow on our list. 
  • Rubber grips and a strap to prevent the pillow from sliding off your sleeping mat. 
  • Long-lasting materials used to create the pillow.

Cons

  • Cannot be machine washed.
  • May lose air after a few uses.

This backpacking pillow from TETON is an affordable option that can be used for a number of different occasions. Once you take the pillow out of the handy travel bag, it expands on its own to prevent you from having to inflate it. 

The pillow is extra soft and is only slightly smaller than your pillow at home, making it extremely comfortable with minimal effort on your part. What’s more is that you can wash the pillow easily, either with the pillowcase still on or without it. 

Inside the pillow is a fiber filling that keeps the warmth in for those colder nights. The pillowcase is incredibly soft and comes in a range of four different colors. It weighs a mere 0.8 pounds and the size is 4 x 7 x 9 inches while compressed into the carry bag. 

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to use. 
  • Extra soft and comfortable travel pillow. 
  • The filling retains heat for colder nights. 

Cons

  • Some customers found it to be too small for their heads.
  • Not as supportive as some firmer pillows.

This hollow fiber-filled pillow is incredibly comfortable and offers you a piece of home while you’re on your travels. The pillow is very easy to carry thanks to its carry bag with a drawstring. The pillow weighs only 0.7 pounds so is ideal for backpackers who don’t want anything to weigh them down. 

The pillowcase is high-quality and soft, making it very enjoyable to sleep on. The carry bag measures in at 11 x 6 inches, making it long and slender, ideal for fitting down the side of all of your belongings. 

You can choose between four color options and even opt for a two-pack if you’re traveling with a friend or family member. REDCAMP offers a one year warranty to protect your purchase should anything break or falter during this time.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact pillow. 
  • High-quality pillowcase that can be washed with or without the pillow. 
  • One year warranty. 

Cons

  • A few customers stated that their pillow didn’t expand very much.
  • Not as compact as other alternatives.

Klymit weren’t kidding when they called this pillow luxurious! The main purpose of this pillow is to prioritize both comfort and cushioning. Inflate the pillow to as firm or as soft as you desire and get ready for the best sleep of your life. Plus, when you’re done simply remove the cover and machine wash it. 

Something that is particularly impressive about this pillow is that it’s almost the same size as the pillows you’d use at home. This is a big plus for backpackers, as quite a few of the smaller alternatives have been branded too small to be comfortable. 

With that being said, the pillow only weighs less than 0.4 pounds and can be packed away into the carry bag so that it measures in at 3 x 7 inches. This is incredibly small and will take up hardly any of the room in your bag. Oh, did we mention the lifetime warranty that comes along with it? 

Pros

  • Large size is perfect for all backpackers.
  • Very lightweight and compact when packed away.
  • Lifetime warranty.

Cons

  • Not thick enough for some customers.
  • The pattern might be a little uncomfortable for light sleepers.

Best Backpacking Pillows - Buyers Guide

It’s always best to do your research when looking for a piece of equipment that you’re going to be relying on, such as a backpacking pillow. The last thing you want is to begin your adventure only to find out on the first night that your pillow is actually useless. 

To avoid having to endure poor sleep for your whole backpacking experience with the pillow just wasting space in your bag, make sure that you know what to look for. Below we’ll be looking at some of the most important features to benefit from with your pillows. 

Quality

For starters, let’s talk about the quality of the pillow. If you’re opting for an inflatable pillow especially, you need to check that the seams are strong enough to hold all of the air in throughout the night. 

Otherwise, you may find yourself waking up with a sore neck because your pillow is completely flat. You’ll also want your pillow to last for at least the duration of your trip, and perhaps even longer! 

We’d suggest checking the comments to see what other people have thought of the quality of each pillow. That’ll give you a brutally honest review of each pillow, so you can trust previous users. 

Weight

Backpacking consists of you keeping all of your necessities on your back for the majority of the day, so you want the overall weight to be as low as possible. For this reason, the pillow you choose must weigh as little as possible. 

The main reason why backpackers don’t take a pillow is because they’re worried about the additional weight. Once you see the weight of each model on the market, you’ll understand that this shouldn’t be a problem. 

Just make sure to choose the lightest one possible without compromising on quality. Every little helps!

Comfort

Of course, your pillow needs to be comfortable enough to actually improve your sleep, not worsen it. How comfortable you’ll find a pillow will depend on your personal preference, sleeping position, and the type of pillow you choose. 

Inflatable pillows are generally slightly less comfortable than compression pillows because they are made of plastic. This might make some noises as you move in the night, however, inflatable pillows are lighter and take up less space. 

On the other hand, compression pillows are often more comfortable because they’re similar to normal pillows that you'd find at home. However, these will take up slightly more space in your bag. Which type you choose will depend on what comfort level you prefer. 

Size

The size of your pillow is another important factor to think of. While it’s packed away and in your bag, it needs to be small enough to fit with all your other luggage. You don’t want to have to sacrifice something more important for your pillow, so the compact size needs to be as small as possible. 

You should also consider the size of the pillow when it’s out and ready to be used. This needs to be able to comfortably fit your head while sleeping, as this could drastically change the quality of your sleep. If you tend to move a lot while you’re sleeping, you might want to look for a bigger pillow. 

Carry Bag

Does your pillow come with a carry bag? Having a bag will allow the pillow to stay compact and in one place. If you didn’t have a carry bag, your pillow might begin to uncurl and ruin your organization in your bag. 

Not to mention this is a much more sanitary way to carry your pillow. We don’t know about you, but we wouldn’t want to put our faces on a pillow that’s been rubbing against our dirty shoes all day! A carry bag will come in handy for a number of different reasons. 

Durability

If you’re using an inflatable pillow, it needs to be durable enough to withstand the continuous traveling. The last thing you need is to discover that there are holes in your pillow due to poor durability. Similarly, compact pillows need to be durable enough to keep their shape throughout your whole trip. 

Backpacking pillows aren’t particularly inexpensive, so you don’t want the pillow you choose to break too quickly. Look to previous customer reviews to assure you that the pillow you choose is of an acceptable durability. 

Shape

Some people prefer to sleep with different shaped pillows rather than the traditional rectangular design. Luckily for these people, the marker caters to them with rounded pillows, bowed pillows, and indented pillows. 

Choose what shape you’d prefer. Look at your pillow at home after you’ve slept on it and see what the shape looks like. Is there a deep indent? Do you need additional neck support? All of these factors will contribute to the right shape of your pillow. 

Many people forget that the shape of a pillow is important and just go for a traditional one. However, you’ll get the best night sleep if you actually pay attention to the shape and choose the best one for you. 

Ease of Use

We know what you’re thinking - how difficult can a pillow be to use? Well, harder than you think, actually, when you consider having to pack it away in a small bag every morning, and pull it back out every night. 

It should also be easy to use throughout the night. What we mean by this is that it shouldn’t be sliding all over the place while you’re trying to get comfortable. This will impact your sleep quality in a negative way. 

Depending on how long you’re going to be backpacking for, you might want to consider how easy it will be to wash your pillow. Make sure you get the easiest pillow to wash so that you can spend less time washing your pillow and more time enjoying yourself!

Support

What kind of support do you need from your pillow? Do you usually sleep with a soft pillow, or a firm one? You should try and match your backpacking pillow with your normal sleeping pillow at home to ensure that you get the most comfortable one for you. 

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult your daily pillow first before searching for your backpacking version. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a good weight for a backpacking pillow?

Generally, backpackers want to keep the overall weight of their beds to a maximum of three pounds. This sounds like quite a lot for a pillow, until you realize that you need to account for a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad in this as well. 

Your sleeping bag should weigh no more than two pounds and your sleeping pad less than one pound. This only allows the leftover weight for your pillow. Luckily, the majority of backpacking pillows only weigh less than three ounces, which is less than 0.2 pounds. 

How do I keep my pillow from sliding on my sleeping pad?

This is a common problem for backpackers and campers, and there isn’t a definitive answer to this question. That’s because every pillow and mat combination is different. We’d suggest choosing a pillow with a strap that wraps around the mat, or one that offers rubber dots for grip. The TREKOLOGY Inflatable Travel Pillow offers both of these beneficial features. 

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