Practical Guide To Find The Best Backpacking Pillow

Getting the best backpacking pillow is one of the items on every camper’s checklist that is often neglected, because a bunch of camping enthusiasts thinks that bringing a pillow for an outdoor slumber is just a waste of space. But for a long-time backpacker like me, I just know how hard it is to wake up with an aching neck.

A few years back, campers are used to rolling some clothes and stuff them into the sleeping pad’s sack to have an improvised pillow during the camping night, and I was one of those campers.

So, if you’re like me who wants to wake up with a well-rested body minus a kinky neck, get your notes ready for the practical guide to help you find the best backpacking pillow that fits your need.

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**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Features to Consider When Buying

You must be wondering, so how do you really know which one is the best of them all? Let me help you with the backpacking pillow attributes that you should consider before buying.

​THE COMFORT LEVEL

Via Michael Allen www.flickr.com

No one would ever purchase a backpacking pillow that doesn’t care about this factor. To guarantee a good night’s sleep outdoors, comfort is the top consideration that you should look for.

I especially like the ergonomically shaped camping pillow that I can also use to rest my neck in the car during long travels. What I personally consider to be the best backpacking pillow when it comes to comfort, is the one that provides a perfect blend of softness and support that will cradle my neck during the camping night, very similar to how my own home pillow feels like.

​PILLOW FILLINGS

Do you know that there are actually three major varieties of backpacking pillows today when it comes to the filling? You can choose from Inflatable, Compressible, or a combination of both.

Each variety actually comes with its own advantage and it just up to you which one is your priority for your next adventure.Let me give you a cheat sheet on what are commonly available fillings today:

​#1 Inflatable Pillow

Via Shawn Granton www.flickr.com

If you’re looking for an ultra-lightweight, compact and portable backpacking pillow, your top choice is the inflatable pillow that can offer adjustable firmness depending on what you prefer

​#2 Down Feather Compressible Pillow

Via Toyofusa Okanoya www.flickr.com

This one is my personal favourite, simply because it mimics the feel of my own bed pillow and the sleeping experience is awesome. I like its combination of softness and comfort that makes me sleep instantly.

Down feather, compressible pillows are more compact and lighter compared to its synthetic counterpart, so it’s a plus point for portability.

​#3 Synthetic Compressible Pillow

For those folks who prefer some degree of firmness for their pillow, getting a synthetic filling is probably a good choice to try. Aside from the firmness, it provides to support your neck while sleeping; it also comes with a lower tag price compared to the down filling.

​# 4 Hybrid Compressible Pillow

If you want to have the taste of both worlds, there are camping pillows that combine the benefits of both down and synthetic, and I think this type is worth a try even if I need to spend a few more dollars, for a promise of better sleep experience.

MATERIAL USED

There are several types of pillows out in the market today that are made from different materials, with own advantages. The most popular pillows are those made of synthetic fabric because they are commonly available, durable, and can withstand different weather conditions.

Via Amos Bühler www.flickr.com

Despite its rarity in the market today, what I prefer having for a backpacking pillow is the one that is made of natural fabric. I am such a sucker when it comes to comfort and I am fine, spending some time to look for the best pillow that can give me that “genuine pillow” feel.

PORTABILITY

If you’re backpacking, it is a golden rule to pack light and smart. It also means that you consider the compactness of every item that you’ll bring, and that includes your sleeping gears.

What I do in choosing the best pillow for camping, is compare its compactness versus its comfort level, and you can also do that by weighing the pros and cons of each pillow that you can come across with.

BUDGET

Via 401(K) 2012 www.flickr.com/

The richer the material used in your sleeping gear for added comfort, the higher the price tag becomes, and this is true even when searching for the best backpacking pillow. As what others say, you will definitely get what you have paid for.

But in reality, being practical in buying your own camping pillow isn’t wrong. Yes, there are virtually endless options available to buy.

But remember that you shouldn’t be spending hundreds of dollars for a pillow unless you have this life-threatening condition, that requires you to own a special kind of pillow that will give appropriate support for your neck and head.You can never go wrong listening to some great tips provided by camping pros.

​Backpacking Pillow Review Roundup

To make your search for the best backpacking pillow easier, here are some of the top picks that I have found which can be helpful to avoid mistakes when buying one of your camping gear: your own camping pillows

Nemo Fillo Backpacking and Camping Pillow are widely popular among the camping community because of the incredible comfort it provides, which is closely similar to a true bed pillow. Its filling is a combination of memory foam (compressible) and air for support (inflatable), which is also known to be a hybrid pillow, covered with micro suede fabric which promises a good night’s sleep.

My personal favourite about Nemo Fillo is its simplicity and size, which is 9.5” by 16”. It’s very similar to my bed pillow, only a little smaller but it provides an authentic comfort which helps me sleep better. I like sleeping on a memory foam pillow filling because it doesn’t give me any neck discomfort at all.

Nemo Fillo comes in different attractive colours like Moss Green, Horizon Blue, Nimbus Gray, and Sunrise Stripe. This also comes with a removable pillow case which is also washable! Nemo Fillo packs down to a softball size with Velcro strap for ease of packing.

I don’t mind the few ounces added and a little space in my camping stuff compared to the inflatable ones, as long as I can have a well-rested camping night.

I just love this pillow; in fact, I feel that the makers of this wonder pillow prove that you will truly get what you have paid for. For me, this is worthy of every penny I have spent in purchasing.

This fully inflatable camping pillow is a top notch when it comes to its compactness, lightness, and truly bang for a buck.

This pillow only weighs 2.75 ounces and packs down to a purse like size (3.94” by 2.36”) storage that you can just hang in bag tag. It comes in three colours (Blue, Green, and Orange) and only costs $11.99 each.

What I really like about IsPerfect is its ergonomic shape and its flat surface that doesn’t give me neck strains. There is also no hassle in putting in the air when inflating. I can just put some air manually or through an air machine.

Deflating can be a bit harder than inflating, though, but this also means that IsPerfect won’t leak unnecessary air while in use. With its compactness, this camping pillow becomes an all-around travel pillow for me.

Via www.amazon.com

OnWego Soft Top Inflatable Pillow is one of the best backpacking pillows out there because of its known soft top cotton covering that makes sleeping comfortable and relaxing.

I like the idea that it has a removable pillow cover; I don’t have to deal with bad smelling camping pillows with this. You can take it out and hands wash it for your next camping adventure.

Another feature that I like with this pillow is its attached storage bag. It is attached to the inner flap of the pillow, so it means I won’t get into trouble of losing it while on travel or outdoors. It is so small when packed down, like a rolled pair of socks only, and weighs around four ounces.

Since this is a fully inflatable pillow, others might find OnWego Soft Top Inflatable Pillow a bit harder and less comfortable than its compressible counterparts, but with its controllable air nozzle, you can make air adjustments until you get the right softness for your neck.

I love using this during weekend picnics with my family and sleepovers with my friends. It is lightweight, easy, durable, inflatable but comfortable.

Since it’s inflatable and has a removable case, I always bring this along for overnight beach camping adventures, as I don’t have to worry about splashes or sands to stick with it, as I can always wash its cover.

Via www.amazon.com

If you’re a fan of durability and portability, InstantCamp Air Pillow is what I think would fit your needs.

It is a fully inflatable pillow with nothing inside. This means that when you pack it down, it will be your lightest and most compact among the pillows out there, considering its size if inflated.

InstantCamp Air Pillow amazes me of its “almost” standard pillow size for its 2.4 ounces weight. Others that weigh this light are usually small bean types, but this one is 18”x10”x5”, gives ample room for your sleep turn, and its height is best for side sleepers too.

The material used for this pillow is 40D Nylon, which means it can stand rough and uneven grounds -- a true backpacker’s pillow. Unlike the plastic or vinyl air pillows, the nylon covering makes it feel better when sleeping, I don’t wake up with sweaty face or cheeks whenever I sleep on InstantCamp air pillow.

This is primarily designed as the main pillow, but I love using this for my sides and back when I have a really tired body after a trekking day, I love using this as a cuddle pillow as well, that’s why I bring this even on slumber parties and sleepovers with my buddies.

Via www.amazon.com

Another best backpacking pillow is the Inspired Equipment Inflatable-Compressible with a lifetime guarantee. If you’re a side sleeper like me or someone who can’t sleep without a pillow to cuddle or on the side, this is the best pillow to bring with you when camping.

I like its combination of memory foam and ability to add air for right control for my neck and my back. This backpacking pillow is big enough to invite you for a well-rested sleep and zero stiff necks in the morning.

This is a great option for different outdoor adventures such as backpacking, hiking, long car camping, beach camping, rv camping and the list goes on.

The material used is durable, 190-thread polyester with a non-slip base to prevent the pillow from sliding while you sleep. The top cover is textured and easy to clean with water, yet comfortable enough to sleep on.

Via www.amazon.com

  • The only downside of this pillow is its weight and size when packed down, as this is quite big due to the memory foam inside. But if you’re not worried to carry a few more ounces in exchange for a comfortable sleep and zero stiff necks,

I bet you will love this just as how much I love this. I even use this at home as my side pillows! I love the striking colours too, vibrant and very attractive green and orange.

MY FAVORITE BACKPACKING PILLOW

Each one of us has different needs for a pillow, and all camping pillows mentioned above have their own features to boast.

But personally, I am such a sucker when it comes to comfort, as this is my main reason for bringing a pillow when camping.

I just want to have a good night’s sleep after a tiring day and I don’t like waking up with an aching body or a stiff neck.I care so much about comfort with just the right balance of price, portability, and durability for camping needs.

If I need to choose which is the very best among my top five picks, I would go after NEMO FILLO because of its texture and softness that would surely give me faster time to fall asleep. I also like the neutral colours of NEMO FILLO, looking at them makes me want to get excited to sleep!


How about you, which one do you think is best for your next backpacking adventure? Have you used any of the pillows featured? How was your experience? Be nice to your buddies who are also camping enthusiasts by sharing this post if you think this would help them as well. Happy camping!

Lucy Gomez
 

Hi there, I'm Lucy Gomez, camp editor at Getcampingwild.com. I grew up in a suburb of Oklahoma and I have been camping my entire life. Camping in the wild is a way of life for me.

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