When it comes to camping, finding the right gear is half the battle. You want to have everything you need without weighing down your camping pack with non-necessities. Part of the key to finding that balance in choosing lightweight, compact versions of the items you need. It doesn’t get much more efficient than a compact camping pillow.
If you’re on a mission to find the best camping pillow for you, here’s what you need to know:
Why You Need a Camping Pillow
A pillow is one of those items that take up a ton of space. If you need to make room for several days of food, water, cooking materials, first aid supplies, and more, that pillow becomes obtrusive. Camping pillows are designed for the specific purpose of offering your compact comfort.
Most are inflatable to take up as little space as possible during your trek. However, there are plenty of other options as well.
3 Things to Know Before You Buy a Camping Pillow
If you’re new to camping pillows, there are a few things you need to know first:
There Are a Few Different Types of Camping Pillows
They key to a great camping pillow is finding one that fits what you need. One important factor in any pillow is where it gets its volume. A traditional pillow could use down, cotton, memory foam, or other materials to give you support.
Most camping pillows use one of two materials: memory foam or air. Both types of pillows can be rolled and compacted to take up little space in your pack. Of course, inflatable camping pillows are the most space-efficient.
Consider Your Sleeping Position in Mind
As with traditional pillows, different camping pillows are designed for different sleeping positions. Whether you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper, look for a camping pillow that fits your position.
Camping Pillows Are Multi-Functional
Camping pillows might be designed for tents and sleeping bags, but that isn’t their only purpose. Many people use them for relaxing during other types of travel, like a plane trip or a car ride.
Some camping pillows are made with other functions in mind as well. Those with a curved shape work well for lower back support, and most camping pillows are useful as seat cushions as well. Make sure to find out if the pillow is suited for that purpose, though, as it needs to withstand more weight to serve as a seat cushion.
As you shop for camping pillows, think about the other purposes you want the pillow to have. Find an option that suits all of your needs.
Finding the Best Camping Pillow: Our Top Ten Picks
There are plenty of options for camping pillows out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To help you cut through the clutter and narrow down your selection, check out our favorite camping pillows:
Best Camping Pillow: Memory Foam
If you’re not a fan of inflatable pillows, this memory foam choice could be a better option. It’s about half the size of a traditional pillow but its curved design offers unique neck support.
The primary concern for non-inflatable pillows is portability. This model folds up into a roll that’s about 6 inches by 8 inches. Weighing in at less than a pound, it’s easy to fit into any backpack. The $37 price tag is on the higher end, but if you’re a memory foam fan, it’s worth the cost.
Best Inflatable Camping Pillow
This inflatable pillow has a great balance of lightweight design, comfort, and size. It’s larger than most other pillows on this list, but it folds up into a tiny pack that weighs less than three ounces. For added convenience, this pillow comes with a carabiner clip so you can attach it to your pack as you roam. At less than $15, this product also offers a great price.
If you’re on a tight budget, look no further. This great set clocks in at less than $13, with all the convenience and easy to carry design that other pillows offer. As an added plus, though, this set comes with a sleeping mask, earplugs, a carabiner clip, and a carrying case.
Best Ultralight Camping Pillow
This great pillow harnesses the curved shape of many other camping pillows in a more structured design. Even still, it folds up into a bag about the size of a soda can.
With a decent, this pillow is in the same range as many other options on our list. One feature that sets it apart, though, is the lifetime warranty. WellaX has a reputation for great customer service, and they stand by their warranties.
Best Camping Pillow for Side Sleepers
For most of the items on this list, we’ve focused on the convenience of compact inflatable pillows. The reality, though, is that some people just can’t get comfortable with these types of pillows. If you’re more of the conventional pillow type, go for this model from COOP. It’s a memory foam pillow that offers the comfort of your memory foam pillow at home. However, it rolls up into an 11×6 cylinder.
It might not be the most convenient for camping, but this pillow does have serious appeal for the nature-lover. COOP specializes in eco-friendly products made with the smallest carbon footprint possible.
Best Camp Pillow for Comfort
Most of the pillows on the list have the advantage of some degree of water resistance. That can be a great asset when you’re camping outdoors, between rain and dew. However, it tends to take away the soft fabric feel you want in a pillow.
If you’re confident your pillow will stay dry and you want a more comfortable rest, this could be your top choice. On top of a layer of down, this model from Leisure Co. is covered in a soft jersey fabric. Still, it deflates and folds up in much the same way as the more plastic-like pillows.
If you’re looking for serious value, this is the best camp pillow for you. For an easy $10, this kit comes with an inflatable camping pillow as well as an inflatable neck pillow. If you’re traveling to your camping destination, it’s a perfect combination.
There’s one caveat, though. While the camping pillow is comfortable, the neck pillow has a seam along the inside. The seam can rub against your neck and irritate your skin. We recommend putting a blanket on top of the neck pillow.
Best Compact Camp Pillow
Most of the pillows above have a curved shape that appeals to a large number of campers. Depending on how you sleep, though, you might not be a fan. If that’s the case, this may be the pillow for you. SIMCAMP makes a unique inflatable pillow with some serious fluff. Plus, who can pass up the cute smile design?
Best Camp Pillow
As packable as an inflatable pillow can be, blowing up your pillow by mouth isn’t a great time. To skip that step, try this self-inflating pillow. All you need to do is open the specialized valve to draw in air. You can stop the valve when you’ve reached that perfect level of air.
If you want a real custom fit, try laying on the pillow as you inflate it. It can conform to your position and you’ll know when to stop the inflation. A little customization can make this you best inflatable camping pillow yet.
When it comes to a unique set-up, this option has it in the bag. The pillow doubles as a backpack, making it perfect for one-night trips. It’s the ultimate in compact comfort, and it’s worth the higher price of $30.
What to Look For in a Camping Pillow
Whether or not you’ve found the perfect fit among our ten picks above, it’s important to know how to identify the best camping pillow. From our camping experts, here are some features you should look for:
Ease of Use
No one wants to settle in after a full day of hiking and need to struggle with their camping pillow. You need something that’s easy to set up. For some campers, this is the drawback to inflatable camping pillows.
Keep in mind that some pillows are easier to inflate than other. Do your research to learn about other campers’ experiences with the pillows you’re considering. For the easiest pillows to use, aim for self-inflatable pillows or memory foam pillows.
Even in perfect weather, you’ll come into contact with dew during your camping trip. If you get stuck in a rainstorm, you’ll have a whole new level of water saturation. That’s why you want a camping pillow that has at least some degree of water resistance. At the very least, the bottom should be a weatherproof plastic.
The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a defective pillow when you’re deep into the wilderness. While a warranty may not prevent problems from happening, it’ll make sure that you aren’t the one who foots the bill. Before you buy a camping pillow, look into the warranty it includes and what that warranty covers.