Updated at: 12-03-2021 - By: Jane Brody

Spending a day hiking, trekking, riding, mountain climbing, backpacking and any other physical activity is exhausting. However, there is always the good side of being outdoors. Spending a night outdoors comes with the soothing and beautiful sounds and smells of nature. There is nothing as beautiful as laying down your head to a comfortable sleep as you take in all these sounds and smells. You also need a good night’s sleep in order to regain back your energy.  Anything less than a good sleep will have you waking up feeling sore and fatigued and nothing feels as bad as a stiff neck or a throbbing headache in the morning.

You need to wake up feeling fresh and ready to tackle another tough day ahead of you. Many people that go for such explorations already have shelter, sleeping bags if they are campers, they already have beddings and sleeping pads. These items are however not enough to ensure that you get the kind of sleep you need. No sleep would be comfortable enough without a pillow. Besides these, you also need a good pillow to support your head as you sleep. You do not need just any other pillow to make you have a comfortable sleep, but you need a special backpacking pillow to give you quality sleep. The kind of pillow you choose to pack for your backpacking trips will make a big difference between having a wonderful adventure and having a pathetic and regrettable experience.

best backpacking pillow

In this article, we will look at some of the best backpacking pillow you should take along for your next hiking, camping and backpacking trip. Backpacking pillows come in different types, shapes and designs. The pillows range from inflatable pillows, hybrid pillows and compressible pillows. Majority of backpacking pillows are also good for a day out in your backyard as you laze out and can act as travel pillows when you are on the road or on air.

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Backpacking pillow classes

Backpacking pillows come in three different classes or types. These are inflatable pillows, Hybrid pillows and compressible pillows.

Inflatable pillows

Just like the name suggestion, this means that to use these pillows, you first need to fill them with air. The feel from many of these pillows may be different from your everyday pillow you use at home. They weigh much less than most pillows and they are the easiest to carry especially if you are going camping or backtracking.

Remember when you are using these pillows; there is nothing inside but just air. This means you are literally resting your head on air. The good thing is you can inflate them to a size that best suits you using a small valve. The other good thing is they can deflate to the size of a tennis ball that is easy to pack into any luggage. You can even stuff an inflatable pillow into your pants pocket when you deflate it.

Compressible pillows

As the name suggests, you can compress these pillows down to fit into a carrier bag. They come with their own bags so you do not have to worry about finding a place to compress them into among your other luggage. They are not different from majority of the pillows used at home.

Compressible pillows are very comfortable and cosy. They are heavier than the inflatable pillows but offer more flexibility. They are also good for all kinds of sleepers and majority come with easy to care for pillow covers.

Hybrid pillows

Hybrid pillows are some of the most common travelling pillows. They are in between compressible and inflatable pillows. They come with a fabric layer on top and an inflatable layer at the bottom. These two layers have different uses. The top layer acts as a regular pillow giving while you receive all the support and comfort you need from the bottom of the pillow. They are a little heavier than inflatable pillows and do not break down as much.

Things to consider when picking out the best backpacking pillow

The market is awash with many pillow options. It sometimes gets very challenging to choose the best pillow for your maximum comfort. However challenging it is to choose the perfect pillow, the thing to consider most is that comfort should be your number one priority. Once you have decided that you need a comfortable sleep, the next thing to consider is what type of backpacking pillow will do you good. The three major backpacking pillow types all depend with the kind of physical activity you stay on during the day. Other things to consider when choosing the right type of backpacking pillow are;


Your sleeping preference

People have different sleeping styles. We have side sleepers, back sleepers and stomach sleepers. Pillows come in different shapes to suit different sleeping patterns. If you are a side sleeper, make sure you choose a backpacking pillow that is best for side sleepers. If you like sleeping on your back, do the same and choose a backpacking pillow suitable for your position. If you choose a pillow not fit for your sleeping pattern, then the most likely thong to happen is you will wake up with discomforts.

Side sleepers would do well with firm and thick pillows because they provide the best support for the spine, head and neck. For these people, the hybrid or inflatable backpack pillows would do just fine.

Majority of back sleepers prefer to sleep using thinner and softer pillows. These contours well with their spies making them feel comfortable all night long. The same goes for stomach sleepers. They also prefer thinner and softer pillows. Stomach sleepers also prefer pillows that help them to stay cool all night and pillows that do not heat up when the temperature in the room changes. For back and stomach sleepers, the best backpacking pillows would be the compressible ones which come with extra soft fillings. Many of the compressible pillows also have feathers and insulations to keep them cool when there is a change in room or body temperature.

Some of the pillows like memory foam pillows and extra thin pillows have dual purposes and can help both side sleepers and back sleepers. Therefore, before, you consider what type of pillow to buy, make sure you know your sleeping pattern well enough.

Pillow material

The pillow fabric plays a very important role in your sleep comfort. A coarse material will make you toss and turn and give you very poor quality sleep. You need to sleep on a material that is soft against your skin in order to sleep well. Majority of the compressible pillows come with very soft fabric covers made from polyester. Like SHREDDED MEMORY FOAM PILLOWS, the filling on majority of these pillows is foam, which is a very comfortable pillow material. Other filling materials that offer maximum comfort are synthetic fibers, down feathers and a fiber and foam combination of materials.

When you are considering the materials, you should also remember than backpacking pillows should be easy to pack. While compressible pillows are comfortable, they take more packing space as compared to pillows filled with down materials.

Inflatable pillows make very good backpacking pillows because they are easy to pack. Many of the current inflatable pillows also come with an outer shell fabric that feels soft to the skin. The fabric, made from Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is not noisy and is durable. For the perfect balance between weight and comfort, get yourself hybrid backpacking pillows. Hybrid pillows are more or less like the compressible pillows foe they are compact and portable. So next time you are buying, check out the outer shell material of the pillow, the pillow filling, the pillow valves and the inner surface of the pillow material. This will make a big difference between a comfortable sleep and fatigue the following day.

Pillow design

The design of a pillow also determines whether you will have a comfortable sleep or not. Besides offering enough comfort, a backpack pillow should be easy to pack. Both inflatable and hybrid backpack pillows come with several advanced designs that allow good air flow together with ease of inflation and deflation. They have asymmetrical ergonomic sides that allow for more comfort when using different sleeping patterns. These features include the pillow having one side more elevated than the other. These are some of the most important design features to check when you are out looking for your backpack pillow.

Weight and size

Backpacking means you probably will need to carry some luggage along with you. All you carry should be packable in order to avoid inconveniences. The weight of the pillow will matter a lot because you do not want to go around carrying something heavy. It should also be easy to pack so that you can get the balance you need with your luggage. Make sure that the pillow you buy offers you all these benefits.

Pillows range from small to large sizes. Many of them are standard sizes. Inflated pillows are more advantageous than other pillows when it comes to having all the benefits in one pillow. They are lightweight, and easy to pack. Some of the compressible pillows also offer the same benefits. Though some hybrid pillows also have the same features, they are slightly more expensive than the other pillows. They however offer enough comfort, come with the right weights and they are easily packable.

Pillow maintenance

Outdoor activities can be both fulfilling and dirty. Camping is fun, but if you are out there sleeping in the wild, most likely the surroundings will not be very conducive. Your pillow might get dirty and it is therefore very important that it have a cover material that is easy to clean. Majority of the inflatable pillows come with an easy to wipe cover material. All you need is a face wipe or a wet cloth.

Most of the hybrid and compressible pillows also come with covers that are easy to remove and wash. Many of them are hand and machine washable which is very convenient. Before you purchase, check the options and decide whether it is right for you.

Packaging bags

Many camping materials come with their own packaging bags for ease of travel. Make sure that the pillow you purchase has a packaging bag. Hybrid and compressible pillows come with self-contained packing sacks that allow the packing of the pillows by themselves. Inflatable pillows also come with bags that have drawstrings on them. Make sure to follow all the packing instructions to protect your pillow from any damages.


Aftersales support is very important if you are considering purchasing your backpack pillow. This includes the warranty of the pillow. The warranty period however does not determine the worthiness or quality of the pillow. However, having a pillow with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty will ensure that for the next two years, you will use your pillow without worrying about any hassles. Check all the aftersales offers to help you determine whether the pillow of your choice also has warranty support.

Looks and colors

Looks and colors may seem insignificant when you are choosing a backpack pillow but they are very important factors to consider. Very bright colors get dirty faster than the others do. Back camping like earlier sad is not always a very clean affair. For this reason, you will need less brightly coloured pillows. Some textures are also not as comfortable as others are. Some pillow manufacturers offer wide ranges of pillow colors and styles for you to choose from so make a wise decision.


Depending on how long you want to use your pillow and how you intend to use it, you should always consider pillows durability. If you are not planning to use your pillow for a long period and for long journeys, then you should not worry much durability. However if you travel long distances, then you should consider getting yourself a durable pillow.

The conditions under which you sleep while on your travels should also determine the durability of the pillow you need. Backpacking sometimes means sleeping in difficult and extremely harsh conditions. For these, you need a strong pillow that will withstand the conditions. If you go for cheap materials, then you will have to bear with punctures. Inflatable pillows are not the best for rough conditions because of probable leakages. You need hybrid and compressible pillows for tough travels.

Now that you know the things to consider before you buy your backpacking pillow, let us look at some of the best backpacking pillows in the market.

Some of the best backpacking pillows in the market 01/2022

Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow

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If you are looking for quality and comfortable sleep while you are out camping, then buy the Therm-A-Rest-compressible pillow. Made in the USA, this pillow comes with a polyester cover that feels very comfortable on the skin. It also provides a great support for the head and neck. The filling is urethane foam, recycled from Therm-A-Rest mattress. The price of the pillow is low, all thanks to the use of recycled material. It is machine washable and comes in four sizes. The largest size of the Therm-A-Rest pillow is 27 inches long while the smallest is 16 inches long. The thickness for all the pillows is 4 inches and the lightest weighs 7 ounces.

You have the option of choosing from eight colors, all vibrant and amazing. It also comes with its own stuff sack and the pillow and you can compress it to 2.6 liters. It comes with a limited warranty.


  • Soft polyester fabric cover
  • Easily packable
  • Comes in eight colors
  • Very affordable
  • Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty


  • Not the best choice for stomach sleepers as it is a bit on the thicker side
  • Compared to inflatable and hybrid pillows, this compressible pillow is heavy.

Buy from Amazon.com

Cocoon Air45; Core Pillow Ultralight Pillow

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Weighing 3.7 ounces, this pillow is both comfortable and gives superior support to the head, neck and back. It feels more like the ULTRA SLIM SLEEPER MEMORY FOAM PILLOW because of its thinness and flexibility. It is a synthetic fill pillow with a very simple yet great quality construction. The pillow is easy to inflate pillow and comes with its own bag. The pillow has two different feels with one side having a soft microfiber while the other is completely nylon. It is a great pillow for side sleepers.

The pillow can easily shrink to the size of a tennis ball making it one of the most convenient travel and camping pillows to carry along as you go backtracking. If you are looking for a comfortable pillow to use in the dirt, then cocoon Ultralight pillow is definitely the one for you.


  • Very easy to pack as it deflates to a very small size
  • Comes with its own bag
  • It is lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for the most difficult travel expeditions


  • Prone to sliding if you use the nylon side of the pillow
  • Can easily puncture so you have to treat it with extra caution

Buy from Amazon.com

Trekology Ultralight Pillow

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Trekology Ultralight pillow is a colorfully designed pillow that comes with many benefits. The pillow is very affordable and when deflated, it is the size of a can. On inflation, the pillows acquires am ergonomic curve that is beneficial to both back and side sleepers. The pillow does not slip when you sleep on it because it has a non-slip backside. It also comes with its own storage bag and multiple beautiful colors.


  • Many colors to choose from
  • Comes with its own bag
  • It is versatile and comfortable for both back and side sleepers. Other sleepers too can benefit from the comforts of the pillow
  • It is light
  • Very easily packable because it deflates to the size of a can
  • Has an extra layer for additional cushioning and comfort
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Deflates in a few seconds


  • Some users claim that the pillow sometimes gets to leak slowly

Buy from Amazon.com

Klymit Luxe Pillow

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Even from its name, you can tell that this pillow is a luxury item to include in your travels and camping trips. It is one of the largest inflatable pillows in the market. Despite its size, it easily compresses into the carrier sack that it comes with. Also despite its big size, the pillow weighs only 6 ounces.

Other features that make the pillow stand out are its ergonomic design that allows different kind of sleepers to get enough comfort as they sleep and its polyester filling. Though the pillow is pricier than many other pillow types in the market, it is worth every penny. The pillow also comes with a limited lifelong warranty.


  • It is light
  • Comfortable for all kinds of sleepers
  • It has a luxurious feel about it from the high quality materials
  • Comes with a lifelong warranty
  • Their large size offers extra cushioning and comfort
  • Comes with its own bag
  • Height and pressure are easy to adjust


  • Comes in just one size
  • Is more expensive as compared to other pillows

Buy from Amazon.com

Nemo Fillo

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Many campers and backtrackers consider the Nemo Fillo as one of the most comfortable pillows in the market. With its rectangular shape, the pillow is both versatile and comfortable. It is okay for all kind of sleep types. One thing that makes the pillow stand out is that you can control how much air you put inside for your sleep comfort. This means you can choose your own thickness depending on your preferences.

The pillow features a three-inch bladder with an inch of foam that provides extra comfort side and back sleepers. The pillow is also very small though not the lightest one in the market. It may not be the right choice for long-term travels but it is good for short time travels and weekend getaways. It comes with its own packing sack, which makes it easier to carry along.

Despite its small nature, the pillow provides enough surface area for the head.


  • Comes with its own carrier sack
  • Very comfortable
  • Great for all kinds of sleepers
  • You can inflate it to get your own thickness
  • Small in size
  • Affordable


  • It is slightly heavier than many other travel pillows
  • Not meant for long trips

Buy from Amazon.com


Though there is a wide range of comfortable pillows in the market that would be perfect for every kind of sleeper, not all of them would be perfect for travelling especially when you are backpacking. A pillow like DOWN ALTERNATIVE PILLOW BY FIVE STAR is great for every sleep preference, but it is too bulky to pack for backpacking. Choose right and light.

With all the above choices, there is no reason why you should not enjoy your outdoor physical activities and enjoy a well-deserved good night’s sleep. You can get all the above pillows and many more from Amazon at very affordable prices.

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