Best Camping Pillow – Lightweight Inflatable Travel Pillows

By | Last Updated July 8, 2020

If you’ve ever spent the night using your rolled-up jacket as a makeshift pillow, or trying to fill out your old, tired and flat camping pillow by stuffing it with your clothes -then it’s definitely time to get yourself a brand new pillow designed for the great outdoors. After long days hiking, traveling and having fun, a restorative good night’s sleep is essential to making the most of your vacation.

But just how do you go about choosing the best camping pillow? With so many different types and models of camping pillows to choose from, each catering to different camping styles, sleeping positions and preferences, you might struggle to find the right one for you.

Take the guesswork out of purchasing your new camping pillow with our top-rated pillow reviews and camping pillow buyer’s guide.

Best Camping Pillow

Best Camping Pillows

Here are 10 of the very best models, covering a range of budgets, styles and sizes. Read on to find your perfect match!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Cushion – Best Camping Pillow

Therm-a-rest Compressible Camping Pillow

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The Compressible Pillow by Therm-a-Rest is one of the most popular travel pillows out there for camping. Compact, easy to deploy and very comfortable, it is also made with a good percentage of recycled materials, making it a better choice for the planet.

We reviewed the medium size Compressible Pillow that measures 14 x 18 x 4 inches, making it generously sized enough for most campers. This pillow is also available in three other sizes, so you’re sure to find the right dimensions to suit your preferences and sleeping arrangements.

It compresses down into its integrated stuff sack, measuring just 14 x 5 x 6 inches. The handy drawstring and cord lock keep it securely closed for ease of packing, with a weight of just nine ounces. Simply release and shake to deploy, then squash it into its sack when you’re done.

This compressible travel pillow is made from an upcycled urethane filling that comes from Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping mat offcuts, while the exterior is covered with a soft brushed 60% recycled polyester. The cover is machine washable and comfortable against your skin, while the foam filling insulates and protects from the damp. Its four-inch loft keeps your head raised at a good height off the floor, for a serene night’s sleep in the wilderness.

Available in a range of sizes, prints and colors, the Compressible Pillow by Therm-a-Rest is high on almost every camper’s wish list. It’s also reasonably priced, albeit a little heavier than some of the lighter, more expensive models.

Packable, comfortable and easy to deploy, this camping pillow makes a great choice for a cozy night’s sleep in the great outdoors.

Nemo Fillo Inflatable Camping Pillow

Nemo Fillo Inflatable Camping Pillow

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The Fillo, a hybrid camping pillow by Nemo, is an excellent option if comfort is your main priority. It uses a combination of foam and air, being both inflatable and compressible, fitting neatly into its integrated stuff sack when not in use.

Measuring 17 x 11 x 4 inches, this generously sized outdoor pillow packs down to just under 4 x 6 inches, so you won’t have to worry about finding space to fit it in with all your other gear. At nine ounces weight, it is fairly lightweight, although for backpacking you may wish to take a look at some of our lighter recommendations.

The Fillo features either a microsuede or jersey knit cover depending upon your color choice. The covers are soft to the touch and removable for machine washing, making this pillow easy to care for. Unfortunately, this pillow does crinkle a bit and the backing is a little slippery, so if you’re not going to be using it nestled in a sleeping bag hood, then this may be an issue for you.

Internally, the pillow benefits from a luxury foam that is a great insulator on cold nights, as well as an air chamber. The air chamber features baffled cells as well as an easy to use twist valve to allow you to adjust your pillow’s loft for firmer or softer support.

While this pillow is not the cheapest or lightest, it is definitely one of the more comfortable models. If you are looking for a hybrid camping pillow that is easy to inflate and packs down small, with an adjustable loft height, then the Fillo could be just what you need.

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Pillow

Therm-a-rest Inflatable Camping Pillow

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The Air Head Pillow by Therm-a-Rest is another excellent hybrid camping pillow that you should definitely consider if you are looking for a lighter weight model that combines air and foam for a comfortable night’s sleep.

This camping pillow measures 12 x 17.5 x 4 inches when fully inflated and packs down to 6 x 4 inches into its separate stuff sack. At just 5.2 ounces weight, we think this pillow provides a great comfort to weight ratio, providing comfort levels that are superior or comparable to heavier models.

Both inflatable and compressible, this hybrid camping pillow has been expertly designed for hassle-free comfort. It features a baffled open-cell foam core, for stability and insulation, surrounded by an air chamber, complete with an easy to adjust valve so you can control your pillow’s support level. Just under the outer cover, you will find a layer of foam that further insulates and provides a soft cradling sensation around your head.

The removable polyester knitted cover is machine washable for easy maintenance and hygiene, featuring a non-slip backing so you won’t have to worry about it sliding off your sleeping mat. What’s more, this model also has a cut-out design shape to accommodate your shoulder, making it extra comfortable for side sleepers. The entire pillow shape has been manufactured with care to fit into most sleeping bag hoods.

The Air Head is an excellent choice if you are looking for a high-quality, well designed hybrid camping pillow. It is comfortable, lightweight and easy to adjust. While there are other lighter, less bulky models out there for backpacking, this pillow provides exceptional comfort levels.

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Sea to Summit Premium Travel Pillow

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If you are looking for a camping pillow to take backpacking, then the Aeros Premium by Sea to Summit should be at the top of your list. This inflatable travel pillow in size large measures 16 x 12 x 5 inches and packs down to just under 8 x 4 inches, weighing in at four ounces. If you like to travel ultra-light, check out the smaller regular size that weighs just 2.7 ounces.

Thanks to its clever design and high-performance materials, this pillow provides you with high comfort levels without the bulk and weight typically associated with camping pillows. The 50D brushed polyester cover is ultra-soft for a cozy night’s sleep. It can be hand-washed, although it is not removable for machine washing, so you may like to consider purchasing a separate Aeros pillow case.

For increased comfort and air-flow, there is a layer of synthetic fill between the cover and the internal TPU bladder, preventing that sticky feeling that too often goes hand in hand with inflatable pillows. The internal air chamber is silent and the valve makes it extremely easy to adjust your pillow’s loft for firmer or softer support.

The curved internal baffles and scalloped bottom edge have been cleverly designed to cradle your head, so no matter what your sleeping style, your pillow will stay central under your head. To prevent slipping, all new version Aeros pillows come with a Pillow Lock System which fixes them to compatible Sea to Summit sleeping mats.

Lightweight and highly packable, if you are looking for comfort out on the trail when backpacking, the Aeros makes an outstanding choice at a reasonable price.

TETON Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Pillow

Tenon Self Inflating Backpacking Cushion

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The ComfortLite by Teton Sports makes a great choice if you are looking for a self-inflating pillow at a low price.

It measures 18 x 10 inches when deployed and packs away into the included stuff sack measuring 12.5 x 3 x 3 inches, making it a little bulkier than other versions. At 12 ounces, this camping pillow is heavier than most, although if you’re car camping, the extra few ounces won’t make a difference.

Simply push and twist the self-inflating valve to set your pillow’s inflation level anywhere between three to seven inches. This makes this pillow a good choice if you prefer a higher loft. However, bear in mind that as there is no dimple or contours, when it is fully inflated your head is likely to roll, so you still may want to use it only partially inflated. It can also be fairly difficult to fully deflate for packing.

For better insulation, this pillow features an Open-Cell foam fill for better comfort in cooler weather. The microfiber top is soft to the touch, while the bottom features a heavy-duty non-slip fabric for added durability and to prevent sliding. Unfortunately, the cover is non-removable and wipe clean only.

While there are certainly lighter, more comfortable camping pillows out there, the ComfortLite is a good all-rounder that doesn’t cost a fortune. Its self-inflating valve makes it quick and easy to get your camp bed set up and to adjust your pillow thickness, while its foam fill will keep you cozy and warm.

Klymit Luxe Pillow

Klymit Luxe Lightweight Travel Cushion

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If you are looking for a large size camping pillow, check out this hybrid model by Klymit.

Featuring a combination of air and polyester fill, this generously proportioned pillow measures 22 x 12.5 x 5 inches, making it ideal for home-away-from-home camping comfort. Only slightly bulkier than most others it folds down to respectable 3 x 7 inches into its stuff sack with drawcord.

Despite its large size, the Luxe Pillow weighs just seven ounces. While there are many lighter models out there, considering its inflated dimensions, this pillow is pretty lightweight. However, for backpacking you would probably want to look at a smaller, lighter model.

This outdoor pillow features an abrasion-resistant, durable 75D polyester outer. Machine washable, the quilted cover can be removed, for better hygiene and easier maintenance on your return home. Soft and cushioning, the cover is also complemented by this pillow’s polyester fill that adds insulation and support.

Complete with a robust, easy to use twist valve, the Luxe Pillow is simple to inflate and fine-tune to adjust your level of support and pillow thickness. Thanks to its self-centering X-design, your head will stay on your pillow throughout the night, no matter what your sleeping position. However, the pillow itself can slide a little which will make some noise.

On the whole, if you are looking for a comfortable camping experience and want a large pillow to replicate your full-sized ones at home, then the Luxe Pillow by Klymit is definitely a top contender. Understandably it is at the higher end of the price range; however, with its superior comfort levels and durability it provides great value for money.

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow

Klymit Inflatable Camping and Travel Pillow

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Along with the Aeros by Sea to Summit, the Pillow X by Klymit is one of the top, most popular backpacking pillows available. This inflatable camping pillow is lightweight, weighing just under two ounces, with a compact fold-up size of 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches, making it ideal for backcountry exploration.

With an inflated size of 15 x 11 x 3.5 inches, it is a little smaller than regular camping pillows, however, its special X self-centering design more than compensates for this by keeping your head central on your pillow, providing excellent support and stability. What’s more, as this pillow is inflatable, you can adjust the pressure and thickness to your ideal levels.

With its 30D stretch polyester upper and abrasion-resistant 75D polyester lower, this camping pillow is designed to stand up to the rigors of the great outdoors. As this model is wipe clean only and a little slippery to the touch, you may want to wrap it in a t-shirt for better comfort and easier cleaning.

Surprisingly, this excellent backcountry pillow is extremely affordable, making it a great alternative to other more expensive backpacking pillows. Easy to inflate with a great self-centering design that really cradles your head, while remaining extremely packable and lightweight, this pillow is possibly the very best backpacking model for the money.

Exped Air Pillow UL Camping Pillow

Exped Camping Air Pillow

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Another popular choice for backpackers, the Air Pillow UL by Exped is lightweight and extremely compact. This inflatable pillow comes complete with a built-in drain pin to make deflating fast and easy, as well as allowing you to fine-tune your support and pressure levels for a more comfortable night’s sleep out on the trail.

Size large measures 18 x 11.8 x 4.7 inches, making this model a decent enough size when you’re out sleeping in the backcountry. Thanks to its central indentation, your head stays centered on your pillow, so you do not really need a much larger model. Compact and extremely packable, the Air Pillow UL folds into its stuff sack, measuring just 4.7 x 2 inches and weighing under 2 ounces.

Like most other ultra-light camping pillows, this model is wipe clean only. The exterior is a durable 50D polyester tricot fabric, complete with an anti-slip honeycomb pattern laminate. There are also two eyelets integrated into the pillow to attach it to your sleeping pad.

Certified Oeko-Tex 100, this pillow is safe to use and free from harmful chemicals. Another impressive feature is this pillow’s ergonomic shaping, with one end raised higher than the other to accommodate different sleeping positions. So, whether you’re a side, front or back sleeper, you’re more likely to be able to get comfortable with this pillow.

Ideal for comfort when you’re out on the trail, this high-quality backpacking pillow makes a great choice for your next camping trip. While there are other cheaper models available, this pillow with its Oeko-Tex certification and clever multiple height design, is definitely well worth considering.

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Sierra Designs Hiking and Backpacking Cushion

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If you enjoy both backpacking and regular camping, then you might want to check out the DriDown Pillow by Sierra Designs.

This pillow features a 2-in-1 design, being composed of a removable polyester synthetic insert and a down pillow. When weight and size are less of an issue, use the two combined giving this pillow a 5.3 ounce weight. For backpacking, simply remove the insert and the highly packable down pillow weighs in at just 2.7 ounces.

At 13 x 9 inches, this is a fairly small pillow, which is worth bearing in mind if you prefer the luxury of a large model. Also, this pillow does not provide much head support, as it does not feature any contours and it tends to lose its loft overnight. While this may not be to everyone’s satisfaction, if you are a front sleeper and you prefer flat pillows, it could be just what you are looking for.

The silky, ripstop shell is treated with a PFC-free DWR for high-performance water resistance. It is quilted and soft to the touch; however, for summer use, bear in mind that the down topper will retain your body heat that can be uncomfortable on hot nights. Therefore, this may be one to avoid if you live or camp in a very warm climate.

This pillow is fairly difficult to clean, as care needs to be taken with the water-resistant exterior. Also, it is fairly slippery and tends to slide over your sleeping bag, although it is small enough to fit into most hoods, it just doesn’t stay put.

While this camping pillow is extremely soft and very easy to pack away, it doesn’t offer very much support. If you prefer very flat pillows and tend to camp in comfortable temperatures, then this could be what you need. Otherwise, unfortunately, this model will not be the best choice for most people.

Trekology Ultralight Aluft 1.0 Inflating Camping Pillows

Trekology Ultralight Inflating Camping Pillow

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If you are looking for a low price inflatable camping pillow, check out this budget model by Trekology. With an inflated size of 16 x 12 x 4 inches, it’s plenty big enough for a comfortable night’s sleep, while once deflated it folds down to just 5 x 2 inches. Not only is this model extremely compact, it is also lightweight at just 2.75 ounces.

Made from a durable, water-resistant TPU fabric, this camping pillow is sturdy and comfortable. You can adjust the firmness to suit your sleeping position by releasing the air valve, so whether you’re a side, front or back sleeper you can easily get comfortable in the great outdoors. Thanks to this model’s ergonomic contours, your head and neck are supported and you won’t roll off your pillow.

With its anti-slip material to the back, it holds its place fairly well in your sleeping bag, while the internal inter-layers provide extra support and stability. It is also very easy to deflate and pack up thanks to its quick deflate, double-decked air valve.

While this inflatable camping pillow lacks the insulation found in hybrid models or inflatable ones with a foam layer, it is nonetheless a great budget choice, especially for summer camping. As it is lightweight and extremely compact, you could also take it with you when backpacking.

Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Camping Pillow

When you’re choosing a new camping pillow, there’s plenty of aspects to consider.

Price of the Best Camping Pillow

While you certainly don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent camping pillow, if you’re a regular camper or have high demands, then it can be better to spend a little more on a more durable model or one that offers higher comfort levels.

If you are looking for an ultralight, highly packable camping pillow for backpacking, then you may find you have less options at the lower end of the price scale. However, there are bargains to be found and our camping pillow reviews cover both ends of the price spectrum, as well as various different designs.

Best Camping Pillow Style

One of the most important choices you will need to make is what style of camping pillow you choose. Here are the three main types of camping pillows with a brief explanation, so you can make the choice that is right for you.

Inflatable Pillows – Inflatable pillows are either self-inflating or you can blow them up with a separate pump or your mouth. They tend to be very light and fold up small making them a good choice for camping.

Most inflatable pillows can be fine-tuned to provide a personalized level of inflation for varied pressure and support levels. However, you will need to make sure they have a durable exterior to avoid punctures. Also, as air is a poor insulator, they can be very cold when used on or near to the ground in cold weather.

Compressible Pillows – Compressible pillows are usually made from foam and, as their name suggests, compress down when not in use, usually into an integrated or separate stuff sack. They tend to be heavier than inflatable pillows and take up more space when packed. However, they are better insulated and some people prefer the sink-in comfort that they provide.

Hybrid Pillows – Hybrid pillows provide the best of both worlds. Comfortable, insulating, yet less bulky than pure compressible models, hybrid pillows are arguably the most comfortable style of camping pillow.

However, it all depends upon your personal preferences and not all hybrid pillows are directly comparable with one another. Some are much bulkier, featuring more foam, others are more like air pillows with just a slight layer of insulation.

So, be sure to read up carefully on the exact composition of your hybrid pillow.

Compressed and Expanded Size

Even if you are going car camping, you should still check out the size of your camping pillow, both folded away and its full dimensions. Some camping pillows are pretty small, and if you prefer a larger model, you will need to thoroughly check it out before ordering to see how it measures up to both your expectations, and other models.

Folded or compressed dimensions can vary significantly between different styles and models. If you are backpacking, then you will want to look for a pillow that packs away very small to take up a minimum of space in your pack. Even when you go camping at a developed site, nobody likes lugging around more bulk than necessary, so you should still look for a good compact model, especially if you’re camping as a family.

Weight

Most camping pillows weigh between two and 12 ounces. If you’re out backpacking then every ounce will count, especially if you’re going ultra-light. Weight tends to increase with comfort levels, so even if you’re backpacking but cannot do without a comfortable pillow, you may want to take a slightly above-average weight one as your luxury item.

For car camping, weight isn’t really much of an issue, although you may like to purchase a lightweight model in case you decide to take it away with you on vacation or elsewhere in the future.

Noise and Sliding

Inflatable models, in particular, can be prone to making noises when in use.

All types of camping pillows can be fairly slippery, so if yours looks like it’s made from a similar material to your sleeping bag, you may want to check for an anti-slip side. Certain models also have eyelets that can be used as attachment points or integrated anti-slip laminate patterns.

Washable

If you regularly go camping, then it’s an excellent idea to look for a pillow with a removable machine-washable cover. If your model does not come with one, you could see if the manufacturer has any available to purchase separately, or you could even make your own or use a t-shirt.

Aside from the dirt outdoors, your pillow will also need protection from the oils that your skin produces. After a week sleeping on your camping pillow, if it is wipe-clean only, you may not end up with a very hygienic pillow several trips down the line.

Pillow Loft

A pillow’s loft is its thickness. Depending on your sleeping position and personal preference, you will not necessarily prefer as plush or as thin a pillow as the next person.

With compressible pillows, unless they have different height ends, the loft generally cannot be altered. However, if you opt for a hybrid or inflatable pillow, you can adjust your pillow’s loft to better suit your sleeping style.

Material

Most compressible pillows are made from urethane foam or similar, while inflatable and hybrid models often use TPU air chambers.

Camping pillows tend to vary considerably when it comes down to their exterior fabric. Popular choices include brushed polyester, tricot, and microsuede. You can always change the feel of your pillow’s outer with a different pillowcase, either home-made or store-bought.

Always check your pillow’s construction materials carefully. Ideally, you’ll want to invest in a model that is Oeko-Tex certified or similar to ensure that you are not sleeping on any potentially toxic materials.

Water-resistant

Even during the summer months, damp can be an issue in the form of humidity, especially when you’re tent camping. During the wet season, you’ll also want to make sure that your pillow is water-resistant and that it won’t absorb water from the damp ground below.

Even if your pillow doesn’t feel damp to the touch, dampness can get inside your pillow where it creates ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. Choosing a water-resistant pillow will help to ensure that it remains hygienically clean with a longer product lifespan.

Final Thoughts on the Best Camping Pillow

It’s well worth putting in a bit of time and effort when choosing your camping pillow. After a long day in the great outdoors, a comfortable night’s sleep can make the world of difference to your energy levels and overall mood.

Thankfully, there’s a fantastic variety of camping pillows to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a great versatile, all-rounder like the popular Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow or a luxuriously large, comfortable model like the Luxe Pillow by Klymit, we’ve got all options covered in our camping pillow reviews.

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