Gear

Best Small, But Comfy Camping Pillows That Don’t Overstuff Your Backpack

June 25, 2019 by

Most people relish the fun, the adventure, and the challenges that come with spending time camping in the great outdoors. But just because you’re “roughing it,” that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all of your creature comforts. In fact, one of the most important things to consider when getting gear for camping is proper sleeping equipment, like sleeping bags and, of course, pillows.

Many campers just settle for bringing their own bed pillow, but this is a mistake. So we’ve created this handy guide to the best camping pillows available for purchase online. We’ll give you our best recommendations for pillows and also some general advice on what to look for and keep in mind when you’re shopping for them. We’ll consider things like size, comfort, packability, and value, so you can be sure you’re getting the best camping pillow to meet your needs.

We’ve hand-picked the eight best camping pillows, so you’ll have plenty of options to consider when making your decision.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Our number one pick is the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow, and we’re sure if you try it, you’ll see why. It’s really the convenience and packability that make this camping pillow great. When at full size, this pillow measures 14 x 18 x 4 inches, but it can collapse down to a minuscule 14x4x6 inches! So it’s perfect for backpackers or even carry-on luggage for a flight.

Another great benefit of this pillow is that it is stuffed with “upcycled” Therm-a-Rest foam, so while you’re enjoying to bounty of Mother Nature, you can rest assured that you’ve made an environmentally friendly decision in your pillow choice.

What’s more is that it comes in four different sizes and tons of color and pattern options, so you’ll be able to sleep in style with the correct size of pillow for your personal needs.

Pros:

  • Collapses down into a 14”x5”x6” bundle
  • Lightweight (9 oz.)
  • Made with recycled materials
  • Lots of color/style options

Cons:

  • Some suggest it’s not quite as comfortable as other options

Check price on Amazon

TETON Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Pillow

The TETON Spots ComfortLite Self-Inflating pillow is another great option for campers and backpackers alike. Set up and use couldn’t be easier: all you have to do is twist open the air valve, and the ComfortLite pillow does the rest. No need to spend the time and energy blowing up pillows!

Another great benefit of these pillows is their great durability. You might be concerned that having an inflatable pillow would leave you at risk of puncturing or otherwise damaging it, but this worry is unfounded with this product. These pillows manage to be sturdy and durable, while still maintaining a soft, microfiber surface for your face and head.

Moreover, even if you do run into problems with these products, we found the customer service team from the manufacturer to be incredibly helpful with resolving any issues.

Pros:

  • Lightweight (12 oz.)
  • Very durable, yet still soft to the touch
  • Self-inflating; just open the valve to inflate

Cons:

  • Only comes in two colors: blue and orange
  • One size only

Check price on Amazon

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium

Even though you’ll have to inflate the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow yourself, we think this is still one of the best inflatable pillow options available. With its clever ergonomic design, this pillow cradles your head, neck, and shoulders to give you ideal comfort on your next camping trip. Due to this design, it may be more suited to back sleepers, but we found it was still quite comfortable for sleeping on you side as well.

Adding to its high comfort level is the brushed 50D polyester knit covering on the pillow’s surface. This provides a nice, soft place to lay your head at night. One downside to this, though, is that it can become somewhat hot. So, if you tend to be a warmer sleeper, you might want to check out some of our other picks.

Pros:

  • Comes in regular and large sizes
  • Ergonomic design
  • Very lightweight

Cons:

  • Only comes in two colors: blue and green
  • Not self-inflating; must blow up

Check price on Amazon

Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow – ALUFT 2.0

Yet another great inflatable camping pillow option is this Trekology Ultralight ALUFT 2.0 pillow. You won’t believe how small this pillow is when it is deflated and packed up—smaller than a standard soda can! And it’s not just its size—it weighs in at a feather-light 3.4 oz.!

But there are still more great and innovative features with this camping pillow. For instance, it features Trekology’s proprietary “dot and latch” design, which creates rubber friction between the pillow and the sleeping surface. This way, you won’t have to worry about your pillow sliding around while you’re trying to catch some ZZZs.

The only downside to this great product is that it only comes in one size. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for anyone, since it is a good medium-sized pillow that can still be backed down to the size of a much smaller compressible pillow.

Pros:

  • Lots of color options
  • Very, very light (3.4 oz)
  • Easy to inflate (3-5 breaths!)

Cons:

  • Only comes in one size

Check price on Amazon

Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow

The Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel pillow is another great inflatable pillow option. And it’s definitely one of the most comfortable camping pillows we’ve tested. It uses luxury foam and air insulation to allow you to adjust it according to your preferred firmness and height.

Even better is that you can fully remove the soft pillowcase to wash in your standard home washing machine. The available materials for this pillowcase include microsuede and jersey knit options.

Finally, the included “stuff sack” gives you to perfect way to keep your pillow clean and stowed away when not in use. When you stuff your pillow down into the stuff sack, the size is about that of a standard water bottle.

Pros:

  • Machine washable
  • Compact (about the size of a water bottle when packed properly)
  • Comes with its own “stuff sack” for packing
  • Excellent value

Cons:

  • Only comes in one size
  • Limited color options

Check price on Amazon

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camp & Travel Pillow

If space and packability are your primary concerns, you should definitely start your camping pillow search with the Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camp & Travel Pillow. Despite its somewhat strange-looking design, we found the Klymit pillow to be just as comfortable and supportive as most of the other pillows on our list.

But its true beauty comes in when you consider how small and light this pillow is. When packed sufficiently, we were able to get the size of this pillow down to roughly the size of a cigarette lighter—you could literally carry this pillow in your pocket with no problem! As for weight, you won’t even know you’re carrying it, as it weighs in at a practically undetectable 2 oz.!

So, if you’re looking for a great value and space-saving features, the Klymit Pollow X might just be the best option for you.

Pros:

  • Several color/pattern options
  • Lightest pillow we tested
  • Smallest pillow we tested (when packed)


Cons:

  • Only comes in one size

Check price on Amazon

Rumpl Stuffable Fleece Pillowcase

One of the more comfortable camping pillows on our list, the Rumpl Stuffable Fleece Pillowcase is a great option if you prefer a compressible pillow over an inflatable pillow. One nice feature of this camping pillow is that it is reversable, so if you’re a hot sleeper, you can lay your head on the cooler nylon side, and if you’re a cool sleeper, you can use the microsuede fleece side for softer, warmer comfort.

Please note: this is not an actual pillow; it is just a pillowcase to go over whichever pillow you use. This is a good choice if you plan on bringing your own bed pillow camping and want a good pillowcase to keep it clean.

Pros:

  • Fleece side and nylon fabric side
  • Several attractive colors to choose from
  • 5”x4” stuff sack for packability
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Only comes in one size
  • Just a pillowcase; pillow not included

Check price on Amazon

Exped Air Pillow UL Camping Pillow

The Exped Air Pillow UL is another great inflatable camping pillow option, though it will run you a bit steeper of a price. However, you get what you pay for when it comes to camping equipment.

This pillow features a honeycomb-pattern GripSkin coating to prevent your pillow from slipping around on your sleeping surface while you snooze. It’s also height-adjustable, which means you can dial in the correct height and firmness depending on what kind of sleeper you are: back or side. This is a clear advantage over some of the non-adjustable options out there on the market.

The large size version is just that: large. At 18”x”11.8”, it’s definitely one of the larger pillows we tested. This has a lot of great benefits, especially if you’re the kind of sleeper that moves around a lot.

But just because it’s large, that doesn’t mean it isn’t totally packable. If packed effectively, it can compress down to 4.7”x2”! And it weighs a paltry 2.1 oz.

Pros:

  • Comes in medium or large sizes
  • Height adjustable, depending on whether you are a side or back sleeper
  • GripSkin coating to prevent slipping on your sleep surface

Cons:

  • Only comes two—kind of ugly—colors: orange and yellow
  • Pricier than some other options

Check price on Amazon

Key Considerations When Choosing Camping Pillows

Size

Size is a crucial consideration for two main reasons. For one thing, you’re going to have to pack and transport any camping pillow you purchase. So you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary room for it in your pack, vehicle, or other transport. Second, size is important in terms of your comfort while sleeping on it. If you’re someone who tosses and turns a lot in your sleep, you’ll definitely want a larger pillow to accommodate a lot of shifts in sleeping position.

Packability

Related to considerations of size, you should also take into account the “packability” of any pillow you choose. That is, you should make sure the camping pillow you choose can fit easily into a pack or other luggage you are taking with you. This is especially important if you plan on back-packing. Luckily, most camping  pillows are either inflatable or compressible. These features make packing a camping pillow fare more convenient and practical than bringing along a typical bulky bed pillow.

Comfort

Unfortunately, many of the camping pillows available in the past made up for their great convenience with their typical less-than-comfortable feel. The good news is that manufacturers have made great strides in increasing the comfort level offered by their camping pillows.

Value

This factor pretty much goes without saying. You always want to get a good value and a good price when you are shopping for anything—especially with the huge variety of products available for comparison shopping online. We’ve taken some of the guesswork out of bargain hunting for you by making sure to point out great values available for the camping pillows we’ve recommended in this list of bests.

The Bottom Line

If you are in the market for a new camping (or travel) pillow, you’d be hard pressed to find better options than the recommendations we’ve listed here. Each of these pillows offers plenty of features for all of your camping needs.

If you take into consideration the factors that we’ve mentioned in the buyer’s guide, we’re confident that you’ll be able to make the right decision for your personal needs and use. Just be sure to keep in mind the following factors: comfort, packability, value, and size. We’ve tried to include these relevant factors in our product reviews for each recommendation.

In the end, just be sure not to overlook the importance of proper sleeping equipment for your next camping trip. It definitely kills the fun of spending time in the great outdoors if you aren’t getting adequate sleep. With these recommendations, though, we’re certain you’ll be sleeping soundly under the starts in no time!