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A great pillow is one comfort of home you don’t need to leave behind when you head to the campsite. Compact, comfortable, and water- and dirt-resistant, camping pillows allow you to rest and recharge for each day’s adventures. They come in a variety of sizes and materials with options to suit every type of sleeper.
In addition to scouring the internet for the best products, we tested several pillows firsthand while enjoying the great outdoors, evaluating comfort, durability, and portability. Whether you want an inflatable, foam, or compressible option, we found an excellent camping pillow for you.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
Our top pick is a pillow that transformed restless sleepers into happy campers during testing. The Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow features top-notch construction, including a super-soft polyester outer shell and polyurethane foam fill. Those who are sustainably conscious will sleep soundly knowing the fill was upcycled from the company’s popular sleeping pad. We even used this pillow for resting up in places beyond the woods, including on planes and to take cozy naps at home. Campers will love sinking down onto the top insulation layer, which provides an even surface for heads on any campsite.
You have your pick of four different colors and three size options (S, M, L). Since the fabric is machine-washable, post-camping cleanup is a breeze. Although the pillow compresses down well, one major downside is that its weight and size make it less suited for backpacking excursions.
Price at time of publish: $37
The Details: 18 x 13 x 6 inches | 10.1 ounces | Self-inflating foam
Exped Deep Sleep Pillow
You may be sleeping under the stars, but the Exped Deep Sleep Pillow will make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. We slept on this pillow during a six-night camping trip and a four-hour train ride and found it to be among the most comfortable pillows we’ve ever used. Since it’s filled with a plush upcycled foam chip core, it’s the ideal pillow for those who prefer ample cushioning with decently firm support. Made of soft, recycled tricot nylon, the outer cover is smooth and soothing against the skin. Fed up with pillows that disappear in the middle of the night? The fabric eyelets on the sides can be attached to a mat.
Price at time of publish: $29
The Details: 15 x 11 x 5.1 inches | 6.3 ounces | Foam
HEST Camp Pillow
If you’re willing to pay top dollar for premium comfort, this glamping-worthy pillow is worth every penny. It rivals the one you have at home, thanks to the premium blend of shredded enhanced memory foam and polyester. Your head has plenty of room to work with thanks to the 8 inches of thickness and support — perfect for side sleepers.
We put the pillow’s temperature-regulated features to the test during a two-hour train ride and were pleasantly surprised that it didn’t firm up in the cold or overheat once. When you’re ready to pack up, simply fold the adjustable compression pillow into the polyurethane-coated nylon dirt- and water-resistant cover. The pillow’s fabric held up well with no visible wear and tear, even after trips to the beach. While it has a thick fabric handle strap to carry it with you, we do wish that it came with some sort of carabiner clip, so you could attach it to the outside of a bag.
Price at time of publish: $89
The Details: 22 x 15 x 8 inches | 2.2 pounds | Memory foam
Teton Sports Camp Pillow
Spending loads on camping gear is a pain in the neck — but so is a bad pillow. We found a pillow that strikes the ideal balance between comfort and affordability. It’s made with SuperLoft Elite 4-channel Hollow Fiber, so it looks and feels similar to the pillow you have at home.
Take your pick of four rustic and woodsy color options. These match the liners in the company’s collection of sleeping bags. Both the pillowcase and the pillow can be washed, so you’ll always have a clean and comfortable pillow to hug tight at night. The biggest drawback is the pillow’s weight and bulkiness. While this might not bother car campers, it may be a dealbreaker for backpackers who are tight on space.
Price at time of publish: $18
The Details: 18 x 12 x 3 inches | 9.6 ounces | Synthetic
NEMO Fillo Elite Pillow
At only 3 ounces (about the size of a lime), it has all the good qualities of the company’s previous version, but now in a backpacker-friendly build.
While one side of the machine-washable outer shell is super-soft to the touch, the other side is slippery, so your pillow may wiggle away from you during the night.
Good things come in small packages with the Nemo Fillo Elite Pillow. It’s made with a light layer of synthetic insulation and an air bladder that doesn’t give you that uncomfortable sleeping-on-a-beach-ball feeling. The updated ergonomic valve is easy and intuitive to use, so you’ll have the pillow inflated and deflated in moments. While the curve in the middle does a good job of cradling the heads of back sleepers, side sleepers have reported that the pillow doesn’t offer enough support under their head, neck, and shoulders.
Whether you’re packing up or changing sleeping locations, the integrated stuff sack ensures you never have to lose track of the cover. It’s also a great travel pillow that makes leaning your head against car, train, and airplane windows a little less uncomfortable. Or take advantage of its dual purpose as lumbar support for your back. The fabric is also cooling, so if you’re hot in the middle of the night, simply turn it over for the cool side of the pillow.
Price at time of publish: $60
The Details: 15 x 11 x 3 inches | 3 ounces | Inflatable synthetic
Best Stuff Sack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillows
This is a space-saving option that lets you form a pillow shape with items you already have, like clothes or towels. We love the Hyperlight Mountain Gear Stuff Sack since it comes with a fully-taped water-resistant YKK zipper to ensure the inner contents don’t come spilling out throughout the night. Of course, campers who travel light may not have enough items to create their ideal pillow height and firmness.
The Stuff Sack is built to handle rough terrain. Both sizes are reversible — one side is waterproof, while the other has a cozy 100-weight fleece lining so you can hibernate peacefully throughout the night.
Price at time of publish: $59
The Details: 12 x 17 inches | 1.7 ounces | Stuff sack
NEMO Fillo Backpacking & Camping Pillow
While some inflatable pillows feel like you’re sleeping on a balloon, you’ll never get that feeling with the NEMO Fillo Pillow. It’s one of the most comfortable inflatable pillows around, no doubt thanks to the I-beam baffled air cell that provides a natural pillow shape so your head won’t fall off it in the middle of the night. Inflation and deflation are easy with the twist-and-push valve.
The pillow is available in two different colors and weighs 9 ounces — about the size of a russet potato. A thick slab of luxury foam can provide 4 inches of loft. Any kind of sleeper can customize this pillow just how they like it. For instance, if you need more loft, use the woven shock-cord backing to stuff in some extra clothes and keep your head high off the ground.
Price at time of publish: $45
The Details: Dimensions: 17 x 11 x 4 in. | 9 ounces | Inflatable and luxury foam
Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow
At only 2.1 ounces, the Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow is a backpacker’s dream. Regardless of which three colors or sizes you choose, all are compact and lightweight enough to make you forget you’re carrying it around. It’s constructed with high-quality materials, such as 20-denier laminated polyester stretch-knit fabric.
Sleep like a baby throughout the night with the curved internal baffles that cradle your head and a scalloped bottom edge that cushions tired shoulders. If you toss and turn a lot at night, you’ll appreciate the PillowLock system that keeps it secured to your pad. It only works with a Sea to Summit pad, though. When you get to your campsite late at night and just want to sleep, you can count on the three-way mini valve to make setup a breeze. It’s the only spot you need to inflate, deflate, and even press to fine-tune your desired pressure.
Price at time of publish: $45
The Details: 14.2 x 10.2 x 4.7 inches | 2.1 ounces | Inflatable
Tips for Buying a Camping Pillow
Think about your camping style
Consider how you plan to spend your time outdoors. Will you be car camping or backpacking? This is important to know since it will influence what you’ll compromise in terms of comfort level versus factors like portability.
Also, determine how long you’ll be camping and what kind of terrain you’ll be sleeping on. If you plan to camp for several days, a comfortable, high-quality pillow is a must for restful sleep. And if you plan to sleep on tree branches or rocks, you need a pillow that won’t be punctured.
Determine packed size
Pack size refers to how small the pillow can be packed away and how much it weighs. Inflatable options can be deflated and folded down, while compressible and foam options are usually packed down to the size of a water bottle.
For car camping, you might care less about what size the pillow is when packed, especially if you don’t have to walk far distances. But if you’re backpacking and space is limited, lightweight and compact options are the ideal choice — think an inflatable pillow or stuff sack.
Check for compatibility with your sleeping bag
Some sleeping bags are designed with attachments to be paired with a camping pillow. This prevents your pillow from slipping away from you in the middle of the night, especially when the sleeping bag is made of slippery fabric, such as nylon or polyester. Another option is to choose a camping pillow that has a strap around it that can be attached to a sleeping bag or pad.
Think about durability
If you camp a lot, you want a camping pillow that can be used for many years to come. For this, choose pillows that are constructed from durable materials, such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fabric, welded seams, and waterproof or water-resistant features.
Again, consider how you plan to camp. If you plan to sleep on rough terrain, you might want to avoid an inflatable pillow that could get punctured. It’s also a good idea to choose a camping pillow with a lifetime warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are camping pillows comfortable?
Since camping pillows are designed to be thinner and lighter than traditional pillows, they may never be as comfortable as your pillow at home. But some camping pillows come close, such as a foam-filled pillow with plenty of support or a compressible pillow with super-soft fill. But since everyone has a different pillow preference (and sleeping position), the most comfortable camping pillow will be the one that feels right for you.
How much should I spend on a camping pillow?
Most camping pillows range from $15 to $90 dollars. Luxury models cost more since they are made with premium materials and come with additional features, such as extra memory foam to add more loft or a built-in stuff sack.
Are backpacking pillows worth it?
Yes. If you spend many nights in the great outdoors, a good camping pillow is a worthwhile investment that will allow you to recharge after an active day. They are also smaller than a regular pillow and fit better in most sleeping bags.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this story, Sarah Kester consulted insights from our camping pillow testing in addition to researching several top-rated options. Sarah is an experienced camper who believes in the importance of a good pillow, whether you’re at home or in the great outdoors.
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