How To Choose The Best Camping Pillow To Get Your Beauty Sleep In The Wilds

Some people’s idea of camping might involve sleepless nights on a hard, cold floor – but it doesn’t have to be like that and it fact it shouldn’t. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for making sure you’re ready to go again the next day and choosing the best camping pillow is essential for this.

If you want to know which pillow to buy for your camping trips and how to choose the best one for you, please read on for my tips and advice that will help you get your well-deserved rest when out in the woods.

Buyer’s Guide

When choosing the best camping pillow for your needs, much depends on your style of camping. There is a difference between a pillow that is suitable for minimalist backpacking and one for use in more luxurious car-based camping.

Here are a few points you may wish to consider when choosing the right pillow for your needs:

Size

Camping Pillows And Hammock On The Lake

The most obvious difference between a pillow for camping and one that you use at home is the size. While a pillow you use on your bed can be as large as you want, one for camping needs to be considerably smaller.

How small a pillow you choose for your outdoor adventures depends on the kind of camping you prefer. If you usually take your car, a slightly bigger pillow is acceptable. However, if you prefer backpacking trips where you carry everything with you, you will need the smallest one possible.


Weight

Weight is a similar consideration to size for the same reasons. If you can carry your kit in a car or on a motorcycle, weight is not such a critical consideration. If you are a backpacker, you will want the lightest pillow available. There may be a trade-off between weight and comfort.


Inflatable, Self-Inflating Or Compressible?

There are different styles of pillows that are suitable for camping. Broadly, they are inflatable, self-inflating and compressible.

An inflatable pillow is one that you inflate yourself by blowing into it. A self-inflating pillow is one that inflates itself when you take it out of its bag. A compressible one doesn’t use air but rather contains some kind of filling which “fluffs up” for use but can be compressed for transportation.

The advantages of an inflatable pillow are that they are normally the cheapest, are light and can pack down very small. However, some people don’t like inflating pillows themselves as it leaves them light-headed, and it can also introduce moisture to the inside which may cause mildew to grow.

EXPED Ultralight Air Pillow

EXPED Ultralight Inflatable Pillow
>> Check out on Amazon.com

Self-inflating pillows don’t need to be inflated as they do the work themselves but as a rule, they are heavier than inflatable versions and so less suitable for those who are trying to keep weight to the absolute minimum.

Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Self-inflating Pillow
>> Check out on Amazon.com

Compressible pillows generally offer the highest comfort levels but the price to pay is an increase in weight as they are often the heaviest types of pillows.

TETON Sports Camp Pillow Perfect for Camping and Travel; Free Stuff Sack Included

TETON Sports Compressible Pillow
>> Check out on Amazon.com


Size When Packed

For any camping pillow, an important point to note is how small it is when in its stuff sack. Being able to pack down to the smallest sizes is more important to backpackers than those who take a car when camping.


Filling

Glamping Tent Decorated With Colorful Pillows

If you choose a compressible pillow, you may want to consider the filling. Pillows come with various fillings including down, memory foam, shredded memory foam and others. Memory foam is a special type of material that molds to the shape of your head and keeps the shape all night.

In general, down pillows are softer and can pack down smaller whereas memory foam pillows are firmer. Shredded memory foam offers a kind of compromise between the two.


Support

Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Adjusting The Support Easily

Adjusting Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow With Its Valve
Via Outdoorgearlab.com

The amount of support you require from a pillow varies from person to person. Some people prefer a softer pillow with less support, others may need a pillow that gives plenty of support in order to avoid waking up with a stiff neck.

With filled pillows, down pillows offer less support while memory foam offers the most. If you have an inflatable pillow you can adjust the firmness and support by increasing or decreasing the amount of air inside. However, they won’t mold to the shape of your head like a memory foam pillow.


Comfort

Kids Lay On Camping Pillows In A Tent

It could be argued that this is the most important consideration as the main reason why you would take a pillow on a camping trip is to get a better and more comfortable night’s sleep – otherwise you can just use a bundled-up pile of clothes.

Given that you are looking for maximum comfort from your pillow, a lot of it comes down to personal choice as to what kind of pillow you prefer. Do you prefer a harder one or a softer one? You may also have to reach a compromise between comfort and size/weight.


Maintenance And Durability

If you are investing your money in a potentially expensive piece of camping equipment, you want it to be easy to care for and you want it to last a long time. These are factors that you may wish to consider when choosing a camping pillow.

Five Of The Best – Reviews Of Some Outstanding Camping Pillows

Nemo Fillo

Nemo Fillo

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This luxurious camping pillow from Nemo combines an inflatable chamber with an inch-thick layer of memory foam. When inflated, it measures 10.5”x17” and the weight is 9.2oz. When packed down into the stuff sack, it is about the size of a large potato.

This pillow is one of the most comfortable camping pillows you will come across and if you prefer a little bit of extra comfort on your camping trips, this might be a good choice. One good feature is the removable case which makes it easier to care for.

Another good feature of this pillow is the integrated stuff sack which means you don’t have to worry about losing it. This pillow is also available in several colors and it’s nice to have the choice of buying a product that suits you best.

The biggest problem with this pillow is the price as it certainly doesn’t come cheap. Some people might also find it a little small for their liking and if you are a fussy sleeper, you might think it’s a bit noisy, a common problem with many camping pillows.

This pillow will really be appreciated by campers who are looking for something light that packs down really small and who don’t mind paying a little bit more to have an extra level of comfort. It’s not the best option for someone who likes a larger pillow.

Pros

  • Luxurious and comfy
  • Integrated stuff sack
  • Hybrid inflatable and memory foam design
  • Available in different colors

Cons

  • Expensive
  • A little small

InstantCamp Air-Light Pillow

InstantCamp Air-Light Pillow

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This inexpensive ultralight air pillow from Instant Camp is ideal for any number of outdoor activities. It’s made from durable nylon and features a two-baffle design to ensure a comfortable sleeping position. It measures 18”x10.75”x6” inflated and only 4”x1.5”x3” when packed away.

The best thing about this pillow is that when it’s deflated and packed away in the bag, it’s tiny. It’s super-lightweight so it’s ideal for anyone who needs to really cut down on weight without sacrificing comfort when out camping.

The two-baffle system means it’s pretty comfortable for an air pillow and it’s really easy to inflate and deflate. It’s made from durable material so it should last a long time and an added bonus is that the level of customer service from the manufacturers is fantastic.

If I can find anything to complain about with this pillow, it’s that it’s a bit noisy to sleep on. You can solve this problem by placing it inside a t-shirt for sleeping. Also, remember it’s just an air pillow. That’s fine for me but it might be a bit strange to sleep on for fussy sleepers.

This is a great option for someone who is looking for a simple and light option that won’t cost too much. However, if you’re picky about your pillows, you might want to spend your money on something a bit more like a traditional home-style pillow.

Pros

  • Tiny size when packed away
  • Super-lightweight
  • Great value for money
  • Made from durable nylon
  • Two-baffle system for added support and comfort

Cons

  • Noisy to sleep on
  • Just a simple air pillow, not as comfortable as a traditional pillow

Coop Home Goods Premium Memory Foam Pillow

Premium Shredded Memory Foam Camping and Travel Pillow

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This is a travel version of a regular pillow and contains shredded memory foam for extra comfort and support. The covering is a combination of bamboo-derived Viscose Rayon and polyester which naturally regulates heat, it’s machine washable and is made in the USA.

This pillow is really good for people who suffer from neck or back pain associated with sleeping since the shredded memory foam supports the head and neck in a natural position. However, it is softer and more comfortable than a standard memory foam pillow.

This is a much more luxurious pillow than an inflatable option and offers an extra level of comfort. I love the way the company are so sure of their product, they will even allow you to return it within 30 days if you are not satisfied. It also comes with a five-year warranty.

My biggest gripe with this pillow is that it is pretty hard to put back in its stuff sack. It’s also heavier and bulkier than an inflatable pillow and not suitable for minimalists. Also note that all memory foam pillows have an odor when they arrive and need airing to get rid of it.

This is the ideal pillow for someone who wants maximum comfort when camping, especially someone who has back or neck problems, and who doesn’t mind carrying a little extra weight. It might not be the right choice for a backpacker trying to reduce weight.

Pros

  • Very comfortable pillow
  • Firm support for head and neck
  • Bamboo cover regulates heat and reduces odor
  • 30-day return policy

Cons

  • Extra size and weight
  • Hard to put away

TETON Sports ComfortLite Self Inflating Pillow

TETON Sports ComfortLite Self Inflating Pillow

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This self-inflating camping pillow from TETON measures 13”x3.5”x3.5” when deflated and 18”x10”x4x when ready for use. It’s made from durable but soft material, is available as either an organic cotton or a microfiber version and includes a non-slip bottom to stop it moving about.

I love the simplicity of use of this pillow. It’s self-inflating so you just take it out of the stuff sack and let it do its thing. That said, it’s also possible to adjust the amount of air inside to make it most comfortable for you.

When it’s inflated, this is a good-sized pillow for a camping pillow and one feature I really like is the non-slip bottom which means it won’t be sliding around your tent all night while you’re trying to sleep on it.

The main problem with this pillow is its size when deflated and packed away. If you are looking for something small to go in your backpack, you might be disappointed with the size of this pillow. It is also a bit noisy to sleep on, more so if you put less air in it.

I think this is a good pillow for those who are not looking to minimize size and weight and who want a large camping pillow that is easy to inflate. It’s probably too big for backpackers who value a small and lightweight camping pillow.

Pros

  • Self-inflating and easy to use
  • Good size
  • Non-slip bottom
  • Durable material

Cons

  • Too big when deflated
  • Noisy

Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Premium

Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Premium

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This inflatable pillow from Sea To Summit is made from soft brushed 50D polyester knit for comfort. It features curved baffles to cradle the head and synthetic fill between the case and the bladder to increase comfort and dissipate perspiration.

First of all, this pillow wins big when it comes to the deflated size. It squishes down to next to nothing when inside its stuff bag and is very light. However, when you take it out and blow it up, it becomes a decent-sized pillow, especially if you opt for the large size.

The other thing I love about this pillow is how soft and comfortable it is. The material is lovely to sleep on and you won’t need to put it in a case or t-shirt before you place your head on it. It also makes a lot less noise than many other inflatable pillows.

There are a few flaws, however. The biggest problem is that due to the way it is designed, it is difficult to repair if you get a puncture. This is coupled with the fact that it doesn’t seem to be made of the most durable materials meaning punctures are likely. It also doesn’t come cheap.

I would recommend this pillow for someone who is looking for a small and portable pillow that offers maximum comfort when inflated. This might not be the right option for someone who needs kit that will stand up to rough use or for someone on a budget.

Pros

  • Super-comfy
  • Tiny and lightweight when packed away
  • Good size when inflated
  • Not noisy

Cons

  • Almost impossible to repair
  • Susceptible to punctures

Conclusion

These pillows are all excellent products in my opinions, although they are all suited to slightly different uses. The Instant Camp pillow is cheap, small and light, great for minimalists. The Coop memory foam pillow is great for those who want the comforts of home on the campsite.

The TETON has the great no-slip bottom and the Sea To Summit is ideal for backpackers who don’t want to compromise on comfort. For me, the best of the bunch is the Nemo pillow which, despite its high price tag, is super-comfy and also packs down to a small size.

Which pillow do you use? Or do you just go with a pile of dirty clothes? Do you have any tips on getting a good night’s sleep? I’d love to hear from you. And if you enjoyed my article, please share with your friends!

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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