There is no better way to explore the countryside with all the comforts of home. Though it is not often that you consider pillows as essential camping gears, hugely, pillows heighten the chance of a great night’s sleep outdoors. Anyone can just fold jackets and stuff sacks with dirty clothes, but these do not always promise a comforting sleep. Often, DIY or substitute pillows make for a lousy night time comfort. Thus, a camping pillow is essential if you want a night of better sleep.
The wide variety of camping pillow manufacturers makes it hard for you to find the best one. But with the help of critical criteria in choosing pillows, the purchase decision can be simplified. In particular, there are ten best camping pillow options:
1. Trekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow
2. ONWEGO Inflatable Air Pillow
3. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
4. Teton Sports Camp Pillow
5. EXPED Ultralight Pillow
6. ZPacks Dry Bag Pillow
7. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow
8. Nemo Equipment Fill Pillow
9. Sea to Summit Aeros Premium
10. Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow
Your choice of the pillow has more to do with your choice of comfort than anything else. Even when camping is not meant to be a luxury affair, some level of comfort should still be experienced. For example, waking up with an achy neck should as much as possible be eliminated. In this guide, the most comfortable pillows follow numerous features which all call for an upgraded camping experience.
Types of Camping Pillows
There are four types of pillows for camping- stuffable, inflatable, compressible, and hybrid. The general strengths of each type are explained below.
- A Stuffable Pillow, as the name suggests, can be stuffed with whatever items you have. For example, jackets, clothes, sacks can be stuffed inside to create a lower weight and a much lower pack volume.
- An Inflatable Pillow is lighter and firmer than other pillows. It has the smallest packed size, which is very convenient during travel. To use an inflatable pillow, unpack it from the stuff sack then blow in air through the valve. The downside, however, is that an inflatable pillow provides the least comfort and produces noise. An inflatable pillow is only recommended for multi-day backpacking endeavors.
- A Compressible Pillow is the softest and closely resembles cozy pillows in a home setting. Moreover, it is also the easiest to use. It can be filled with any of the following- down feathers, synthetic fibers, and foams. The softest among the three are down feathers while the rest are heavier and firmer.
- A Hybrid Pillow is newer and combines the strengths of both compressible and inflatable pillows. For comfortable head support, a hybrid pillow has a comfortable top. For added volume, it has an inflatable bottom. Size-wise, this type is easy to carry in either short or long travels.
Critical Considerations in Choosing Pillows
Your personal preference for camping pillows will depend on your needs, such as your sleeping positions. Other preferences for the construction and materials will follow.
While camping, you tend to practice the same sleeping patterns as you do at home. Considering that, it is easy to determine that your usual sleeping positions are vital to your choice of camping pillows. If you are a side sleeper, you will need either inflatable pillows or hybrid pillows. These types of camping pillows are considerably firm yet easy to carry. If you are a stomach sleeper or back sleeper, any kind of pillow can do the trick of supporting such sleeping positions. As long as the pillow resembles your usual pillows at home, you can have a great night’s sleep outdoors.
The prevailing climate of the campsite is relevant to the type of camping pillows that you will need. If you are camping on a campsite with colder weather, inflatable pillows are highly recommended. The said pillows can create a chill by holding colder air close to your body. The opposite can be true for natural fiber pillows, which are ideal if you are one of the sleepers who want a good airflow.
Type of Camping
Another driving factor in making decisions about the camping pillows that should be purchased is the type of camping that you usually enjoy. In other words, the choice of pillows is highly dependent on whether you camp by car or through backpacking. For car camping, pillows that maximize comfort and support are needed, while the ones with low volume and weight options are ideal for backpacking.
The overall weight of the luggage can contribute to an enjoyable camping experience. The added weight on your shoulders- tent, clothing, and cooking utensils should not be so much of a burden. Fortunately, there are pillows for camping that only weigh less than 50 grams. These extra lightweight pillows will not exhaust you and will significantly help in minimizing camping materials.
The kind of comfort that a specific pillow provides is a top selection criterion. If the pillow fails to enhance comfort during sleep, then you will most likely prefer to sleep bareback. In other words, uncomfortable pillows only diminish the quality of sleep and energy for the next day’s adventure.
The pillows which are highly recommended by sleep experts and consumers for maximum comfort are compressible pillows, followed by hybrid and inflatable pillows.
Some pillows are soft and comfortable but do not provide enough support during sleep. What happens the next morning is that you feel sore and worn-out. In buying pillows, it is crucial to consider your pressure points and ensure that the pillows can provide you the maximum support possible.
How well a pillow can be positioned under your head depends on the shape of the pillow. Any sleeper, especially when tired, is most likely to toss and turn a lot of time throughout the night. In this case, ergonomically designed pillows are the best bet.
Every space in car camping and backpacking matters to campers, so the goal is to have camping gear and tools that are small and packable. Pillows for camping are not an exception. If you want to save up space, bring inflatable pillows. If not, you can bring non-inflatable ones that can be compressed in a packing cube.
The right pillows for camping are a good investment. This means that these should come from reputable brands that only use good quality materials. There should be a sense of confidence in the fact that the pillows could withstand wear and tear and can last for a considerable amount of time.
Each gear that you bring to the camp should as much as possible offer various uses. In the case of pillows for camping, versatility is a defining factor. Explore or innovate many ways to use the pillow aside from its obvious use for sleeping. For instance, use an inflatable pillow as a seat cushion.
The materials that make up the pillows add to the overall comfort. The best choice to go is an inflatable pillow. It is relatively easy to pack and transport. Usually, this pillow type comes with a pillowcase that gives you a soft and cozy touch. Overall, there are 6 common pillow materials, and each has an impact on functionality and comfort.
- Inflatable: Made with quality materials that do not easily puncture and lose support.
- Foam: Usually easy to carry and pack down in a small bag. Because the foam absorbs the heat, you can enjoy warmer pillows. It also provides firm support so that you are guaranteed not to wake up feeling sore in the morning.
- Down Alternative: Not conventionally used for camping but could be useful for roof top tent camping.
- Polyester: Pillows made from polyester are lightweight and inexpensive. When it comes to ventilation and breathability, this pillow material is the best provider.
- Latex: Similar to foam, which provides great support during sleep.
Space is often at a premium no matter which type of camping- car camping or backpacking. Pillows that are space-efficient can save up vehicles and backpack space.
Unless you are using a roof top tent with durable material, wet weather is never an issue. But when ground camping, it is easy for the tent to absorb moisture and make everything feel wet, including the pillows. To not sleep on a damp and cold pillow, consider buying water-resistant ones.
Pillows for camping can be a high loft or low loft. The loft determines how a pillow will feel comfortable on the part of the sleeper. For example, side-sleepers are most comfortable with high loft pillows, while stomach sleepers are most comfortable with low loft pillows.
Purchase the best quality pillows that are not budget-breakers. Research and compare the prices of the leading pillows to determine which one suits your financial capabilities.
Return Policy and Warranty
While evidently not the first consideration to be made before purchasing pillows, the return policy and warranty are worth looking at. Good return policy and warranty are especially useful when you fail to notice the damages upon purchase. Also, some manufacturers offer a 100-day trial for you to try their pillows. If a specific pillow fails to provide its advertised functions, you can return it and receive a full refund.
TREKOLOGY ULTRALIGHT INFLATING PILLOW $15.47
After completing the activities in one’s itinerary, it is only fair to enjoy a restful night and wake free from stick necks and pains in the shoulders and back. The Trekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow is good in this area as its ergonomic design is meant to provide you the maximum comfort possible. As it is inflatable, you can have the option to increase or decrease the air inside. This pillow only requires 3 to 5 breaths to set up while it is equally easy to deflate and pack up.
ONWEGO INFLATABLE AIR PILLOW $19.95
Versatile pieces of camping gear are hard to come by. When Onwego Inflatable Pillow was released in the market, it quickly intensified a buzz in the camping industry. It can be used as a camping pillow as a travel pillow. The contoured design maximizes support for your neck and head. Not only is this pillow space-saving, but it is also easy to carry as well. It is created with maximum comfort in mind as the design incorporates a slip-resistant surface that keeps the pillow in place while you sleep.
THERM-A-REST COMPRESSIBLE TRAVEL PILLOW $42.95
Regardless of the type of camping- car camping or backpacking, you always want to get a great night’s sleep under the stars. The pillow that is specially created to provide support and comfort for car campers and backpackers is the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow. Basically, it uses recycled waste materials from the manufacturing of Thermarest mattresses. Inside is a shredded urethane foam that is very much easy to compress. When unfolded, this pillow can cater to a four-inch loft.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow is both hand and machine washable. Because it is relatively easy to maintain, you do not need to stress yourself with the accumulation of dirt upon continued use.
TETON SPORTS CAMP PILLOW $14.99
Another ideal camping companion, Teton Sports Camp Pillow comes with a cotton case. The interior of this pillow is filled with superloft elite fill while the exterior is made from a brushed flannel. These enhance comfort and allow easy compression. If you are glued to stylish appeals and unique colors, this tent is the perfect addition to your shopping cart. What’s more, this pillow offers a lifetime warranty.
EXPED ULTRALIGHT PILLOW $59
The lightest on the list, this 1.6 ounces pillow suits all wild sleepers. It comes with an anti-slip GripSkin feature. This helps stabilize and center your head to keep comfortable contact with the pillow’s surface. For added comfort, EXPED Ultralight Pillow is equipped with indentions and deflation pins.
ZPACKS DRY BAG PILLOW $35
This pillow is excellent for keeping a minimum weight on backpacking trips. It can also double as a stuff sack for your clothes. While the fleece surface is very soft, the bottom fabric is a bit slippery. You can purchase this pillow in medium and plus sizes.
HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR STUFF SACK PILLOW $50
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pillow provides a ton of comfort. Not only does it fold to nearly nothing, but it is also water-resistant. It is constructed from Dyneema composite and Polartec fleece. It comes in a slightly rectangular shape with a zipper closure on the backside.
NEMO EQUIPMENT FILL PILLOW $39.95
The best thing about Nemo Equipment Fill Pillow is that it provides luxury at a reasonable price. It has a plush foam topper that gives excellent support. It is also quite heavy because of its sturdy valve, removable micro-suede cover, and durable feeling air bladder.
SEA TO SUMMIT AEROS PREMIUM $42.95
If you like to sleep on your side, the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium offers excellent support. It is skillfully constructed with a high-flow valve and synthetic feel on top. These features make this pillow extra comfortable and breathable while still providing a lightweight.
COCOON ULTRALIGHT AIR CORE PILLOW $32.95
Cocoon Ultralight Air Core Pillow is an ideal option if you want a pillow with a high loft. It has two surfaces- nylon and microfiber. You can switch between these surfaces depending on the ambient temperature. Sleep on the nylon side during warm nights and sleep on the microfiber side during cool nights.
Reasons Why Camping Pillows are Great
- For Comfort: Pillows in the campsite should provide the necessary comfort the same way pillows at home do. Two of the goals of camping are to fall asleep faster and not wake up in the middle of the night due to inconveniences. With the quality pillows, one is promised to rest soundly throughout the night.
- For Saving Space: The ideal camping situation is to achieve minimalism while all the camping essentials are catered for. Inflatable, compressible, stuffed, and hybrid pillows do not take up a lot of space because of the small size and lightness in weight.
- For Sleep Improvement: The traditional rolling up of clothes to create a pillow is obsolete and slightly uncomfortable. Instead of waking up fully energized, you could wake with sore shoulders and a stiff neck. Thankfully, pillows for camping are designed to keep your proper spinal alignment while you sleep comfortably at night.
Admittedly, camping should be a positive experience. It is not always that you get the time and luxury to get out of the city life, so you should enjoy the best experience possible. While bringing comfortable camping pillows is a factor for a positive camping experience, still, you cannot sleep well into the night without proper self-discipline. Good sleep, even at the campsite, is more under your control. Practice good sleep hygiene as this can mean the difference between a restless and restful slumber. If possible, go to sleep around the same time you usually sleep at home. Staying well hydrated before bedtime can also be of great help.
Are camping pillows and travel pillows the same?
Though used interchangeably, camping pillows and travel pillows are not the same. Travel pillows are traditionally smaller and are used on train and plane rides. However, some camping pillows are specifically designed to function as a travel pillow.
How do I wash my camping pillow?
Some pillows are machine washable, while others can be wiped clean. For a proper way of cleaning your pillows, refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning guide.