Camping Pillows in a tent

The Best Camping Pillows for Cosy Wilderness Sleeps

I have spent far too many nights camping without a pillow. I always think that I’ll be tired enough to sleep through the lumps and bumps of whatever is my backpack ‘pillow’. And although I generally do sleep pretty well on most things, my sore neck the morning after always reminds me that I should have brought my camping pillow. When car camping, I usually embrace the luxury of the pillow from my bed at home, and it really does make things so much more cosy. But of course that’s just not feasible when backpacking. Thankfully, the best camping pillows are light enough to carry and comfortable enough to be worth carrying, making them an essential on any backpacking or camping checklist. So take a leap into the lap of camping luxury with one of the best camping pillows on the market.

ProductPillow typeWeightBest use
Therm-A-Rest Compressible PillowCompressible255g (9oz)Camping and backpacking
Sierra Designs DriDown PillowCompressible165g (5.8oz)Backpacking
Kelty Luxury PillowCompressible300g (10oz)Car camping
Sea to Summit Aeros PillowInflatable88g (3.1oz)Backpacking
Big Agnes Air Core PillowInflatable128g (4.5oz)Backpacking
Teton Sports Comfortlite PillowInflatable340g (12oz)Car camping
Exped Air UL PillowInflatable51g (1.8oz)Backpacking
Nemo Fillo PillowHybrid260g (9.2oz)Camping and backpacking
Cocoon Ultralight Air Core PillowHybrid165g (5.8oz)Backpacking
Big Agnes Sleeping Giant Memory FoamHybrid241g (8.5oz)Camping and backpacking

What to look for in a great camping pillow


If you’re going to bring a pillow it might as well do what it’s supposed to do and be as comfortable as possible. But this can be a very personal thing that is often dependent on what you are used to. Make sure you know what you like in your home pillow and try to get as close to that as possible with your camping pillow choice.


Some pillows will only provide support when sleeping in a certain position. If you are a side sleeper then you’ll need something that is higher than if you are a front sleeper. And if you turn lots, then something less firm will be more suitable.


Even when car camping, a packable pillow is preferable over one from your bed. And for backpackers, the smaller it packs down, the better.

Low weight

As with its pack down size, the weight of your camping pillow should be as little as possible. That said, if you need a bit of comfort for a good nights’ sleep, it can often be well worth carrying a little extra.

Sleeping on a camping pillow on the beach

Different types of camping pillow

There are three main types of pillows that fit the criteria of what the best camping pillows should be:

  • Compressible – most comfortable but often heavy and large
  • Inflatable – least comfortable but light and packs down small
  • Hybrid – a combo of the above that can be a good compromise

Bear in mind the implications of each of the above factors for your own use, and you should have a good idea of which type of camping pillow is for you. Once you know that, you can narrow down your search for the best camping pillow.

The best compressible camping pillows

These are usually the most comfortable type of camping pillow and most closely resemble the pillow on your bed at home. Compressible pillows are made from duck or goose down, synthetic foam or fibers, or a combination of both. They are best suited to car campers or weekend backpackers willing to sacrifice the space and carry a little extra weight.


  • They take up more room in your pack than other types of pillows
  • They are heavier than inflatable pillows
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

This Therm-a-Rest camping pillow is one of the most comfortable and best value options for your wilderness sleeps. Filled with upcycled sleeping pad scraps, and covered with a luxurious brushed polyester finish, you’ll have home away from home snoozes every night. The integrated stuff sack, although convenient, isn’t able to pack the Compressible down to much less than a quarter of the pillow size. So together with its moderate weight, it is the perfect cuddler for car camping or one-nighters in the backcountry.

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Sierra Designs DriDown Camping Pillow

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

If you’re looking for a great allrounder camping pillow then the DriDown is right up there as one of the most versatile options on the market. At its heaviest (165g (5.8oz)), the super soft 600 fill duck down insulated top encases a synthetic insert, that is ideal for car campers or luxury backpackers. But replace the synthetic insert with your clothes and you’ve cut it down to a featherweight 79g (2.8oz) – perfect for long distance backpackers.

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Kelty Luxury Camping Pillow

Kelty Luxury Pillow

For those on a budget, the Kelty Luxury pillow is the one for you. At 300g (10oz) it’s not especially light and it doesn’t pack down particularly small, but the 550 fill power and Kelty CloudLoft Pro insulation more than make up for it. The result is a pillow that will feel like you’re at home, and is suitable for side and stomach sleepers alike. It has the tendency to flatten overnight, so fill the sleeve up with a jacket or sweater to help it hold up all night long.

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The best inflatable camping pillows

Of the three types of pillows, these are the lightest and pack down the smallest. They are usually made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and are laminated on top with soft polyester or similar. They are used by blowing air into a valve to inflate to a level that suits you, and are best suited to long backpacking trips where space is limited and weight needs to be kept to a minimum.


  • They are usually the least comfortable type of camping pillow
  • They can be noisy when you turn over or move around on them
Sea to Summit Aeros Camping Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow

Incredibly light, and crazy small when packed down (7 x 8cm (2.8 x 3.3in), the Aeros provides high performing camping luxury and is one of the best backpacking pillows available. It doesn’t quite compete with compressible pillows on comfort. But the soft and durable polyester knit cover, combined with an easily adjustable inflatable body, makes the Sea to Summit Aeros pillow as cosy as inflatable comfort gets.

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Big Agnes Air Core Camping Pillow

Big Agnes Air Core Pillow

Another small and light option that is very well suited to the minimalist backpacker is the Air Core pillow. Its slippy surface isn’t as cosy as other camping pillows but it sure stays put in the pillow pockets of Big Agnes’ sleeping bags that it is designed to fit inside. The baffled panels do a very good job at eliminating cold spots in lower temperatures and the I-beam construction creates a highly stable inflatable camping pillow.

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Camping Pillows Teton Sports Comfortlite

Teton Sports Comfortlite Pillow

The luxurious Comfortlite owes much of its cosiness to the brushed organic cotton shell that covers the top of the pillow. The non-slip bottom provides a really tough and durable base that makes the Comfortlite equally at home as a fireside seat, as it is in your bed. Side sleepers can enjoy 4 inches of support when fully inflated. But it can also be deflated very easily to suit front and back sleepers. A little too heavy for long-distance backpackers, but ideal for canoeing and kayaking expeditions, or car camping.

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Exped Air UL Camping Pillow

Exped Air UL Pillow

Weighing in at a miniscule 51g (1.8oz), the Exped Air pillow is one of the lightest camping pillows you can lay your weary head on. Fully inflated, the pillow offers decent comfort levels for side sleepers, and deflate to your desired level and the anatomically shaped design will also cradle backsleepers to sleep in no time. The lack of soft finish leaves lovers of luxury wanting for something more, but for lightweight backpackers the Exped is an ideal option. And when packed down, is it so tiny that it can easily get lost amid all your other gear.

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The best hybrid camping pillows

In an effort to maintain comfort whilst keeping things as packable as possible, many campers and backpackers use a pillow that has a soft and compressible top, and an inflatable bottom or core. Due to their ability to perform really well in most camping scenarios, a good hybrid camping pillow should be suited to car campers and backpackers alike.


  • They are often heavier than inflatable pillows
  • They are not quite as comfortable as compressible camping pillows
Nemo Fillo Camping Pillow

Nemo Fillo Pillow

The Nemo Fillo backpacking pillow is a highly versatile and very well designed option for all types of campers. And for a large pillow, it packs down into its integrated stuff sack to a very tidy 10 x 15cm (6 x 4 in). The memory foam microsuede outer ensures comparable comfort to that of a compression pillow, whilst the inflatable core provides excellent and adjustable support. A bit on the heavy side for long-distance backpackers, but potentially worth the extra weight for a guaranteed good nights sleep.

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Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Camping Pillow

Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow

This Cocoon pillow is an impressively lightweight hiking pillow in the hybrid range. And one that will find its way onto the checklist of car campers and backpackers alike. The inflatable bladder provides OK stability, but it performs best when tucked into the hood of a backpacking sleeping bag to prevent excess movement. The outer has a synthetic fill that provides a comfortable finish, and when packed down, the whole thing will disappear into your backpack.

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Big Agnes Sleeping Giant Memory Foam Camping Pillow

Big Agnes Sleeping Giant Memory Foam Pillow

Not the lightest camping pillow in the world, and you’ll certainly notice it in your backpack when packed down, but what the Sleeping Giant does offer is an exceptionally satisfying comfortable place to get some zzzs. The top layer of memory foam, backed up by an inflatable core, ensures the perfect balance of stability and firm comfort that will make you feel like you are tucked up at home. Take out the inflatable bladder and replace with clothing, and you can shave off enough weight for a mega lightweight yet cosy set up.

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It’s not often that campers and backpackers consider adding non-essentials to their packing checklist. But with so many excellent backpacking and camping pillows available that will hugely heighten your chance of a great nights sleep, it seems silly not to pack one. So snuggle up and say goodnight to restless wilderness sleeps.

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