5 Best Backpacking Pillows

What makes or breaks a backpacking trip for you?

You can be the most outdoorsy and outgoing hiker out there, but deep down inside, you know that there are some things about sleeping outside that just aren’t all that awesome.

I think we can all agree that uncomfortable nights top that list!

Backpacking is only fun if you can actually sleep. Otherwise, you’re exhausted the whole time, and the trip ends up feeling like a military training exercise rather than a wonderful adventure.

Fortunately, the pursuit of sleep is not a hopeless goal. There are many affordable and simple products that can transform your backpacking nights from long and sleepless to comfortable and restful. And fortunately, not all of them are as expensive as high-tech sleeping bags and top-of-the-line tents!

Maybe all that stands between you a decent night’s sleep is you pillow.

Forget that wadded up jacket or lumpy backpack! Get a backpacking pillow, and you’ll find that your outdoor adventures will become much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to stay out later, hike longer, and get deeper into the wilderness.

Wondering which backpacking pillow to get? There are many options! I’ve picked through the endless backpacking pillows to find the five best products for campers. Which one should you get? Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each!

Quick comparison: 5 Best Backpacking Pillows

 Therm-a-Rest
Our Best Pick
Sport ComfortliteSea to SummitCocoon HyperliteTrekology
MaterialBrushed polyesterOrganic cotton50D polyester knitMicrofiber and nylonTPU fabric
Size14 x 18 x 4 in (medium)18 x 10 x 4 in14 x 10 x 5 in13 x 13.5 in16 x 12.4 in
Weight9 ounces (medium)12 ounces2.8 ounces2.72 ounces2.75 ounces
InflationExpanding foamSelf-inflatingManualManualManual
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

1. Sport ComfortLite Inflating Ultralite

This medium-sized pillow is a great choice for overnight backpacking trips. Although it’s heavier than some of the other pillows on this list, it’s still very light as far as camp bedding goes. It weighs in at 12 ounces, so it’s still well under a pound! Although there are lighter backpacking pillows on the market, a few extra ounces is not a bad trade-off for all the comfort it will give you.

You’ll be sure to love the easy upkeep of this pillow. The Teton Sports ComfortLife pillow is self-inflating! That means no more huffing and puffing to earn your sleep after you’ve already had a long day of hiking. Just let the pillow do the work so you can focus on getting a good night of rest.

As a plus, the Sports ComfortLite also comes with a stuff sack. This makes it so much easier to care for and compress! It also means that you won’t have to worry about your pillow getting damaged as you move around, unpack, and repack. Live on the edge without puncturing your pillow!

You can choose from two colors if you opt for this pillow. The Teton Sports ComfortLite comes in both light blue and bright orange. Both colors are made with nonslip fabric and organic cotton to keep it feeling soft and fresh. If you have to, you can wipe it off with a damp cloth. Any sleep droolers in the audience? You don’t have to worry about dirtying this pillow.

The icing on the cake is that this pillow is nicely priced. Although it has plenty of great feautres, this is one of the least expensive pillows on this list. It comes with a lifetime warranty, too, so if anything happens, you won’t have to pay to replace it. With this camping product, you can get all of the comfort and ease at a low price! Now, that’s hard to beat.

Still, there are a few more options to look at. Check out the remaining four pillow before you make your decision.

2. Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium

As far as comfort goes, you won’t be able to find anything that beats this pillow.

The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow will keep your head comfortable all night long. The shape of this pillow is perfect! It has an inverse contour, so that your head will be cradled all night. Say goodbye to nights of sliding off your pillow mid-dream.

The unique shape is ideal for back and side sleepers. It’s also pretty decent for sleeping upright in a pinch. So if you’re on an overnight flight or sitting for hours in the passenger seat of a car, this pillow can help you catch some sleep along the way.

The fabric on this pillow is very comfortable! It’s made of brushed 50D polyester knit, which is soft and lasts for a long time. It also wicks moisture from your face, so you won’t wake up in the great outdoors feeling nasty and sweaty. Beneath the knit exterior, there’s a bit of padding for extra comfort.

You can choose from two color options—bright blue or lime green. There are also two size options. It’s better to go with the large size, unless you’re a very petit person.

Of course, all these features are nice, but here’s what the avid outdoorsmen in the audience want to know: how does it fit in a backpack? Obviously, that’s the factor that will make or break this pillow.

Fortunately, this pillow performs very well on camping excursions! Not only does it fold down to take up little backpack space, but it is also light. It only weighs four ounces! That’s excellent news for anyone packing light, whether you’re planning to hike the Canadian Rockies or fly to Europe.

This is a pretty expensive product, as far as camp pillows go. However, it’s also a high-quality pillow. You get what you pay for! A good night’s sleep is an important investment. After all, you’re traveling to have experiences. Make sure you’re happy and in good spirits while you’re in the moment!

3. Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow

The Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow was created for outdoor-loving fashionistas. Well, fashionistas along with everyone else who likes to have sweet dreams while on the road.

This is the most stylish pillow on our list! You are going to love all the colors and styles available. You can go for geometric shapes in green and orange, pick a gray grid with highlights of yellow, or stick with a classic denim look. Kids love the many designs, which is awesome, because there are sizes made just for young hikers!

In fact, there are so many sizes that everyone in the family is sure to be comfortable with their Therm-A-Rest pillow. Choose from four sizes and eight colors—that’s a total of 32 options!

This pillow isn’t just pretty, though. It’s also comfortable and functional. The Therm-A-Rest Travel Pillow is self-inflating, so you’ll have more time for staring at the sunset and less time wrestling with camp bedding.

The pillow is made with a brushed polyester cover that looks great and cleans easily. It’s tough, too. Below the outer layer, there’s a foam filling that expands when inflated.

You’ll sleep soundly when you nap on this economically responsible product! The urethane fill is made of the byproduct of Therm-A-Rest’s mattresses. Basically, that’s pieces of memory foam.  This useful material is kept out of the landfill and provides a soft place for you to lay your head at night.

As a plus, this is super easy to wash. Most backpacking pillows can be wiped down but not laundered. However, you can actually throw this one in the wash! It’s convenient and sanitary.

It is also great for travel. This pillow compresses tightly. The entire thing fold down to the size of a water bottle and is held together tightly with a drawstring and cord. Roll it and tuck it into the built-in pocket, then pull the cord tight.  It weighs a little under ten ounces, which is not particularly light, but also not too heavy for backpacking.

When you allow it to inflate, it expands to four inches thick. Technically, it’s not actually “inflatable.” It simply squishes and un-squishes when you roll and unroll it. Unlike most travel pillows, it’s not firm, but soft. If that’s what you like, this is the best backpacking pillow for you!

This isn’t the least expensive pillow on our list, but it’s also not the most expensive. This is a great mid-priced pillow for a good night of sleep, no matter where you are going.

4. Cocoon Hyperlight AirCore

This is a high-quality version of your typical camping pillow. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done. It’s comfortable, basic, and durable—exactly the sort of thing every minimalist camper wants to use when exploring the great outdoors.

Since it’s a basic product, the Cocoon Hyperlight AirCore pillow comes in two very basic colors: black and blue. What else could you ask for? The outer shell is made of lightweight nylon, which can be a bit slippery but is extremely comfortable. Inside, the pillow itself is air-inflated. You can adjust the inflation to your firmness and height preferences.

This is the lightest pillow on our list by far. It’s only 2.72 ounces. It adds virtually no weight to your backpack! It’s also small. When inflated, it’s 33 by 34 centimeters. You can deflate and fold it tightly to fit in your backpack. If you want to slim down even more, you can take off the cover and use the pillow by itself.

This pillow isn’t for everyone. It’s fairly flat, and it’s small. There’s nothing innovative about the shape or the inflation method. However, if all you want is a good, basic camping pillow that lasts for a long time, this is the perfect option for you.

5. Trekology Ultralight Inflating Travel Pillow

This pillow is designed for excellent ergonomics. It has very good neck and lumbar support. If you often experience a sore back or neck while backpacking, you’ll be sure to love this pillow! It’s good for back, stomach, or side sleepers. You can even use this for lumbar support while driving or sitting! Multi-use is always a plus.

The Trekology Ultralite pillow comes in six colors. Choose from blue, dark blue, brown, green, orange or pink. This is just for fun, of course, but it never hurts to feel a bit fancy, even out in the wilderness!

When inflated, the Trekology Ultralite pillow is 16 x 12.4 inches. However, it folds down to five by two inches, fitting snugly in your backpack. It’s also only 2.75 ounces. You won’t have to worry about this adding a lot of weight to your pack.

Another nice feature of this pillow is the slip-resistant fabric. Some camping pillows are very slippery, and that can be annoying, especially if you tend to move a lot during the night. This pillow, however, won’t cause you to slide off during the middle of the night.

This pillow is not self-inflating, so that’s a definite drawback. However, it’s also not very tough to inflate. Plus, it has a quick-deflate feature that allows you to pack up and get moving quickly.

Which pillow would you prefer?

Do you like the basic pillow, which just includes an insert and a comfortable case? Would you prefer the soft, eco-friendly pillow with nice designs? What about the supportive nonslip pillow? Perhaps you’d prefer a self-inflating backpack pillow. Maybe your favorite option is the head-cradling product. Personally, I prefer the Therm-A-Rest pillow for its softness, ease of use, comfort, and design.

Whichever you like, you best choice is only a click away! Now that you know what’s out there, you’re informed to make a good decision.

So what are you waiting for? Sweet dreams and wide-awake adventures are just around the corner! Start prepping for backpacking season now with the purchase of a high-quality backpacking pillow. Happy trekking!