When you hear the word ‘camping’ – what do you think of?
The great outdoors, tiny tents, backpacking sleeping bags, and roughing it in the wild…?
What about air beds, duvets, sleeping pads, ten-man cabin tents and vehicle support…?
Whatever your definition or experience of camping is, I’m sure you’d want to make it as comfortable as possible.
And even if you’re hiking the backwoods with limited gear, there’s no reason why you can’t still do that.
There are all kinds of way to pimp up your camping adventure, and one of those ways is to pack an awesome camping pillow.
You might laugh, but it’s often overlooked and it can make a real difference between a poor night’s sleep and a great one.
See if you can find the best camping pillow for your trip in my review below. To aid you in your quest, a buyers guide and FAQ will follow.
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- The 17 Best Camping Pillows Reviewed 2021
- Lohan Inflatable Camping Pillow
- Redcamp Outdoor Camping Pillow
- Olunna Inflatable Camping Pillow + Neck Pillow
- Teton Sports Camp Pillow
- Boundary Life Inflatable Camping Pillow
- Ryno Tuff Sleeping Pad Set
- Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow
- Teton Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Pillow
- Klymit X Inflatable Camp & Travel Pillow
- Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
- CompuClever Memory Foam Camping Pillow
- Red Suricata Travel Contour Pillow
- Haobaimei Travel Neck Pillow
- Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
- Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow
- Coop Home Goods Camping Pillow
- Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow
- How to Choose the Best Camping Pillow for You
The 17 Best Camping Pillows Reviewed 2021
Lohan Inflatable Camping Pillow
Review: Let’s start off at the super basic end of the scale, a no-frills entry option that you can purchase with the money you’ve found down the back of the couch.
It’s still an excellent, ultralight backpacking pillow, highly portable as it folds down to no larger than a standard drinks can. For the price, it’s an absolute steal.
- Best budget option.
- Just 2.8 Oz.
- Not the most durable pillow on the market.
Redcamp Outdoor Camping Pillow
Review: Camping, hiking and backpacking company Redcamp offer this flannel pillowcase design with a non-woven fabric lining and spun cotton filling.
The slip can be removed and is machine washable. At 12” x 20”, this is a decent size option that at the very least attempts to mimic your pillows at home.
- Easy to clean.
- Not the best support.
Olunna Inflatable Camping Pillow + Neck Pillow
Review: This is a two-for-the-price-of-one offering from Olunna, as you’re getting both an inflatable camping pillow and one of those neck pillows that is useful for air/bus/train/car travel.
Both are of a simple, ergonomic design, and will inflate with 3-5 deep breaths.
Made with durable and non-slip TPU fabric, both these pillows can be used in a variety of situations. It’s handy to have lots of options.
- Two for one.
- Great portability.
- There are better neck pillows out there.
Teton Sports Camp Pillow
Review: Teton Sports are an outdoor sporting goods brand based in the US. They offer a stylish flannel camping pillow that’s well made, lightweight and comfortable.
The brushed material is super soft to the touch and pleasant on the skin. Stuffed with hollow fiberfill, it can compress down into the small carry pack provided.
- Machine washable.
- Can be matched with other Teton products.
- Might be on the small side for some.
Boundary Life Inflatable Camping Pillow
Review: A good 17 inches wide and 4 inches thick, this inflatable camping pillow from Boundary Life offers decent support considering it packs down into a super-portable pouch.
The ergonomic shape ensures it will also be useful for a lumbar support ideal for air travel.
It really does collapse down to almost nothing making it one of the best backpacking pillows available.
- Great portability.
- Good size for the type of pillow.
- Carabiner clip included.
- Let me know if you find one.
Ryno Tuff Sleeping Pad Set
Review: I’ve included this combo set of sleeping pad and camping pillow as it’s a great price considering you get two, really useful camping items.
The pillow is a good size and both it and the pad are built from durable materials. They’re both self-inflating to get you sleeping comfortably in no time.
- Awesome price for the combo.
- Attractive camping green design.
- Air valve sticks out.
- Might not be the most comfortable camping pillow around.
Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow
Review: Claiming that this is better than other pillows – guaranteed – is a bold statement from Wise Owl, but they might have a point.
It’s offered in three sizes with a choice of colors, each pillow is four inches thick and made from a breathable micro-suede. It’s washable and dryable and comes with a water-resistant pouch to pack it down into.
- Quality build and materials.
- Decent size and color options.
- Might be a bit hard to roll down.
Teton Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Pillow
Review: Offered in organic cotton or microfibre, a second Teton entry sees this self-inflating number as part of their ComfortLite range.
Having the self-inflating valve is a real plus point when you can’t be bothered to blow the product up on your own steam, and I really like the choice of materials for what feels better on your skin.
Both have a non-slip bottom too – pillows that slide around at night aren’t any fun.
- Choice of materials.
- External valve.
- Doesn’t pack as small as similar products.
Klymit X Inflatable Camp & Travel Pillow
Review: You can see how this striking product got its name, as the distinctive ‘X’ shape on the pillow is designed to support your head better.
It’s compact and super portable, with Klymit maintaining it can fold down to the size of a lighter. The would certainly make it the best pillow for backpacking.
Check it out, if nothing more than to see their bizarre promotional video.
- Excellent portability.
- Nice design in theory.
- It will be too small for many.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
Review: An outstandingly popular option, this comfortable, polyester pillow comes in a great choice of sizes and colors.
The foam filling expands to 4 inches of support for your head and neck and the whole product is machine washable.
One of the closest camping pillows to what you sleep on at home. I want to have a nap just looking at it.
- Super comfortable.
- Great choice of colors and sizes.
- Not ideal for backpacking.
CompuClever Memory Foam Camping Pillow
Review: A company that specializes in ergonomic seating support, CompuClever make their foray into the camping pillow world with this super-comfortable option.
Its zippered, soft-touch poly cover can be removed to be machine washable. But the high-density memory foam contained within is the real selling point.
It can be used in multiple situations, including lumbar support, leg spacer, and booster seating.
- Beautifully designed.
- Great neck support.
- Tough to roll down.
Red Suricata Travel Contour Pillow
Review: Another pillow you’d be happy to use in bed at home, this contoured design offers unrivaled, ergonomic support on its memory foam construction.
It also comes in a choice of firmness, so if you prefer something with a little more give you can have that option. Comes with its own PVC carry bag.
- Outstanding comfort.
- Well contoured.
- Don’t even think about backpacking with it.
Haobaimei Travel Neck Pillow
Review: Another striking design offering multiple sleep and support options, this travel pillow will certainly turn heads.
The H-style construction is highly practical for sleeping in whatever position works best for you, but it appears to be marketed directly at people who are going to sleep while at work.
However, you can actually roll it up and stuff it into its own carry pouch – but it will still keep its shape when required.
- Well designed support.
- Better as a travel pillow rather than for camping.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
Review: As far as outdoor gear goes, Sea to Summit are up there with the very best sporting goods companies around, offering everything from quality backpacks to sleeping bag liners.
This camping pillow is no exception, constructed from very soft 50D polyester, a contoured design that compacts down to a stuff sack ensuring they’re highly portable.
The support offered makes it easily one of the best backpacking pillows for side sleepers around.
- Top quality company.
- Well designed.
- Functional and subtle valve unit.
- Pricey for an inflatable pillow.
Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow
Review: Sierra are another company offering great outdoor gear options and this 30D polyester ripstop camping pillow is a great addition to their range.
Its 600-fill DriDown padding will ensure a good night’s sleep wherever you use it, and it can compress down into a surprisingly small, portable package.
- Great portability.
- Not the most attractive pillow.
Coop Home Goods Camping Pillow
Review: Moving into the next level of camping pillow is this memory foam option from the Coop.
Made in the USA from bamboo-derived viscose rayon and poly blend, it’s breathable, hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.
It’ll pack down into a stuff sack that’s just 11 inches by 6 inches and is likely to be the closest camping pillow to the one on your bed back home. You might even want to switch them out.
- The ultimate in camping pillow comfort.
- Waterproof cover.
- On the heavy side.
Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow
Review: Probably the best ultralight camping pillow and best backpacking pillow in general – at a price.
It combines a luxury foam with air insulation, while being super light and compact, machine washable and portable – it’s only 4 inches by 6 inches when packed up.
It really doesn’t get much better than this.
- Comfortable, hybrid design.
- Integrated stuff sack.
How to Choose the Best Camping Pillow for You
There’s a myriad of things to consider when you’re looking for a new camping pillow.
So, if you’ve been sleeping on your jacket all this time and know nothing about the market, check out the information below.
An FAQ section will follow to help you make a decision.
You’ll notice in the reviews above that camping pillows are made from a variety of materials, all with different properties, advantages and disadvantages.
A pillow’s material will determine how comfortable it is to sleep on – some are better than others on varying skin types. Different strokes for different folks.
The type of material will also determine how portable it is.
Inflatable models will usually be made of a tough, ripstop polyester or similar, while fabric down pillows can be a brushed flannel or cotton blend. Sometimes they’re made of various combinations.
Either way, one thing to definitely consider is what material you prefer and that you’re most likely to get a good night’s sleep on.
As with any pillow, an important factor in its quality as a product is the amount of support it provides to the user.
Inflatable models – while being super portable – aren’t going to give anywhere near the support that memory foam can offer.
You might find that a pillow looks soft and inviting, but doesn’t have enough lift to give your head and neck the support it needs. You might as well be sleeping on the ground, or on a rolled up item of clothing.
Then again, some people much prefer that – to not have their neck cranked too high or at an angle. It’s useful that inflatable models can be adjusted to whatever height suits you.
Then you have to consider how you sleep.
Do you pass out on your back, side or front? Are you a light sleeper who is likely to toss and turn at night? If you’re something of a starfish, having something with crazy, ergonomic neck supports isn’t going to be practical.
And if you sleep on your side, look for a thicker camping pillow to align the spine.
Putting a bit of thought into this will make the difference between waking up fresh as a daisy or waking up wanting to murder everybody.
Ease of Use
I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking how hard can a pillow be to use?!
Well, you’d be surprised, especially when it comes to camping pillows.
Is it going to give you any grief when setting up? Does it have a fiddly little valve? Are you going to hyperventilate just to blow it up? That’s the last thing you want after a long day of hiking.
You’ll be thankful for a self-inflating pillow if that’s the case.
Every once in a while you’ll need to clean the thing too. This is where machine washable models are a godsend. Inflatable versions are more likely to require a little more elbow grease.
While these considerations might not seem like much of a big deal, when you throw everything else into the mix of a camping trip it can all add up.
And we all enjoy anything that can make life a little easier.
Camping pillows are generally quite lightweight and are sized accordingly, as manufacturers know that portability is a big factor in making decisions.
This is particularly true if you’re backpacking and on the go.
However, it doesn’t matter so much if you’re taking the car and you’re more than welcome to throw in a huge body pillow for two.
Consider how much room you have and the style of camping you’ll be enjoying.
How small does the pillow pack down to? Does it come with its own carry bag or pouch? Is it easy to stuff into a stuff sack, or is it going to take several large men to tazer it and hold it down?
Check the specs and the design before making your purchase.
Obviously, we all want to purchase products that would ideally last a lifetime – no matter the conditions we throw at it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Camping pillows, by their very design, are often susceptible to a lot of wear and tear – especially if you’re going to be using them regularly with some punishment.
Take a look at the build of the model and the quality of the components that have gone into constructing it, and from that, you’ll be able to ascertain the level of pounding it’s going to be able to take down the years.
Camping pillows won’t ever really cost the earth, with the memory foam products usually depleting the most amount of coin.
However, you should consider once again the who, what, why, where and when of using a pillow before splashing out too much money.
If it’s for a casual, once-in-a-blue-moon camping trip, you won’t need something top-of-the-range.
Likewise, if you’re going for an 18-day hike through the Himalayas you might prefer something that’ll be up to the challenge.
You get what you pay for, but there are bargains to be had. Some models are just as good as the “high-end” stuff for a fraction of the price.
Do I Actually Need a Camping Pillow?
A very good question. The short answer is – no, you don’t.
It is a luxury item and one that is entirely a personal preference. That, and how much room you’re likely to have when you’re going on your camping trip.
Both myself and traveling friends have camped without one, using a soft item of clothing instead, while some sleeping bags come with pillows built in – which is also extremely handy.
But if you want that extra little bit of comfort – and for a significant health benefit – it’s well worth finding the space and investing in a camping pillow.
You will seriously notice the difference in the morning.
Camping Pillows or Travel Pillows – Is There a Difference?
Yes. But camping pillows can be used as travel pillows, while travel pillows can sometimes be used as camping pillows – depending on their design.
As a rule of thumb, a traditional “travel pillow” is constructed to provide support to your head and neck while in a seated or more upright position.
This means it is likely to wrap around your neck like a brace. The supports will then keep your head relatively level and you’re less likely to wake up with stabbing pains down your spine.
A camping pillow is more targeted for use while lying down.
It’s really only good for traveling if you have someone or something to lean on. So, either be thankful you’ve got a partner to abuse – or you’re lucky enough to have a window seat.
You might also strike gold in sitting next to a very accommodating stranger who doesn’t mind you drooling on them.
Are Camping Pillows Good for My Neck?
Again, it will entirely depend on the size and quality of the pillow – coupled with how you actually sleep.
But using a camping pillow is much preferable to not using one.
Doctors advise that in order to have a decent nights sleep and a pain-free following day, the head and neck need to be aligned while sleeping. Ideally, support should be all the way down your spine.
This isn’t going to happen without a good pillow.
If you’re concerned about the health benefits (or lack of) from a camping pillow, I would lean towards a model with more “loft,” such as a memory foam option or thicker inflatable.
A little bit of research will soon lead you to the support that is right for you. But don’t put up with it if you make the wrong choice first time.
Your health is more important in the long run than settling for the wrong product.
How do I Clean My Camping Pillow?
This will entirely depend on the style or model you’ve chosen. As a rule of thumb, inflatable pillows will require the occasional bath in warm water with a mild detergent. (Just make sure the valve is sealed first.)
Memory foam or down pillows are likely to have a removable cover that you can bung in a washing machine.
Check with the manufacturer’s instructions before washing to prolong the life of your purchase.
I hope you can rest easy now folks and you’re in a more comfortable position to choose the best camping pillow for you and/or your family’s needs.
It really is all about personal preference, as we all sleep in completely different ways.
Regardless, do let me know which pillow you’re considering and why – it’s always nice to have a little feedback.
Happy camping and sweet dreams!
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