The Best Backpacking Pillow of 2020
Are you a fan of long naps and extended periods of sleep? But you also love to explore and bask in the outdoors? Mate, get yourself a backpacking pillow from our list, The Best Backpacking Pillow of 2020!
Most novice backpackers ask - Have you ever used a backpacking pillow? Why would you need a backpacking pillow? Can I just use my travel pillow? My answer: YES, you’ll need a backpacking pillow if you want to have a nighttime as good as when you are at the comforts of your home. I once thought that bringing pillows are too luxurious for camping, but when backpacking pillows sprung, I knew I had to get one.
Perhaps you’re wondering what sets a backpacking pillow apart from the usual travel pillow and what’s so special about it. We’ll try to answer your questions about backpacking pillows, and the best part is we’ll give you a round-up of the best backpacking pillows out there, how about that?
Innovative products such as sleeping bags, pricey insulated tents, camping fans (insert article here), and inflatable sleeping pads are specially made to make campers feel as comfortable as possible.
Perhaps a backpacking pillow will be a great addition to your backpacking essentials because it’s versatile – not just for backpacking but all outdoor activities as well where you need to spend a night on stiff, non-reclinable chair or the flat grounds of the great outdoors.
I felt the need to buy a backpacking pillow when one time, my neck hurt so bad in the morning from sleeping parallel to the ground without any neck support in my old sleeping pad.
Trust me, no matter how plush your sleeping pads and bags are, they’re all worthless without a pillow – yes, your back and neck will hurt too so don’t attempt skipping the pillow fella! In a nutshell, a backpacking pad is a major thing you need for a sound sleep.
Really, what’s so special about backpacking pillows?
Design Of Backpacking Pillows
1. Inflatable and lightweight
Most backpacking pillows are inflatable and lightweight. They’re not made of foam! All you have to do is blow air through the opening and keep blowing until you reach your desired softness.
Most of these pillows are designed that way to reduce the space it consumes inside the rucksack because apparently, we have all our clothes, toiletries, food, and other stuff inside our trusted pack that are more important than the pillow.
2. Mostly rectangular in shape
Unlike your weird-looking neck pillows and rounded travel pillows, a backpacking pillow’s conventional shape is a four-cornered one – just like a bed pillow. My first backpacking pillow was of the usual type, nothing so special. It has a memory foam on top and has a flat surface.
Modern ones have features such as contours, diamond stitches, and other kinds of curvatures to keep the head stable and prevent the pillow from slipping.
3. Various sizes
There isn't a standard size for backpacking pillows. There are small and large ones. Of course, the lightest would be the smaller ones but also expect them to slip all the time, especially if you roll back and forth while sleeping. In contrast, larger pillows provide more stability.
Moreover, your preferred size should be based on your sleeping style – whether you sleep on your stomach, back, or side. If you sleep on your belly, thin pillows work best whereas if you sleep on your sides, thick pads are ideal.
Don’t expect any feathers or ultra-soft cotton pillows because backpacking pillows are constructed from polyesters, smooth fabrics, and nylons.
Don’t worry, they’re still comfortable to use like your pillows at home. If ever you don’t like the feel of it under your head, just grab your fleece jacket and cotton shirt then wrap it around the pillow.
The Best Backpacking Pillows of 2020
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
Campers and backpackers are raving for this Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow, so I had to try it out. So what’s so special about it? Aside from its cute colors (I purchased the denim one), it’s, as you may have guessed, compressible.
Also, it features brushed polyester on the outside with soft urethane foam fill on the inside and a thickness of 4” to 5” when fully expanded.
Remember when I said that most backpacking pillows are inflatable? This one’s different – it’s compressible. You just have to roll it and tuck it in the extra sheet on the other side of the pillow, and you’re done.
Once you wrapped it up, the size goes down to one-third of the actual, small indeed. Also, it comes in three sizes: small – 12” x 16”, medium – 14” x 18”, and large – 16” x 23”. I purchased the medium one ‘cause I want a bigger pillow for my sleeping bag, and my head fits real nice on it.
I was surprised when I first unwrapped it. Upon rolling it out, it looked flat and not fluffy like in the picture. But after a few minutes, it looked exactly like in the picture. So yeah, you have to leave it for a few seconds after every unwrapping because the small foam cubes inside the pillow need to “fluff up” first.
Lastly, the pillow’s washable. I used to wash it after 5 or 6 overnight trips.
The Trekology Camping Pillows are compact, virtually weightless, and inflatable. It folds to the size smaller than a soda can (perfect for stuffing inside the backpack), but it’s pretty big upon inflating. Also, it has an ergonomic design, giving you a comfortable head and lumber support.
The pillow is inflatable, so you have to fill it with air through the valve and deflate it for storage. 10 seconds tops to fully expand the pad, of course, it depends on the firmness you want.
The pillow is made from polyester and is very squishy. Also, it has a nice contour, having three ridges on the center and raised sides, allowing you to sleep comfortably on your sides. For side-sleepers out there, this pillow’s ideal for you.
Lastly, the pillow is made of slip resist material to prevent slipping, so it stays in place while you rest. I must say this pillow’s impressive!
The TETON Sports Camp Pillow is lightweight, extra soft with its brushed flannel material, portable, and just the right size (14” x 18”).
The manufacturer included a stuff sack for storage, so if it doesn’t fit in your bag, you can just dangle it over your arm. When I saw the pillow, the first thing I thought of was the home pillow because of the resemblance. Like the home pillow, this backpacking pillow is stuffed with soft cotton and covered in a pillow sheet.
The pillow’s pretty soft and comfortable, but I wish it’s a little firmer. I washed it several times too, and it came out fluffy and looks new every time.
If you’re looking for a more advanced backpacking pillow, check this one out.
The Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow is made from brushed 50D polyester knit, features a TPU bladder for an increased comfort from wicking away perspiration, curved internal baffles creating contours for head support, and a scalloped bottom edge designed for all sleeping positions - whether you sleep on your back, side or upright in a chair. Quite impressive, huh?
I was very amazed at the features of this pillow, so I went to the nearest camping shop and tried it out. It’s vacuum-packed and fits in a palm when wrapped up, so I inflated it through its big valve and in just a matter of seconds, it sprung into a medium-sized soft pillow.
The brushed polyester feels great against the skin and the TPU bladder really works – it dries up any sweat, so you won’t feel clammy in it even if it’s summertime and it’s humid outside.
I also find the shape of the pillow unique. It’s contoured so you get a lot of head support and the curved side fits in the neck, so I use it to sleep on my shoulder during car campings.
However, the pillow’s not too thick, so if you’re used to sleeping on high pillows, you might need to buy two or just fold your shirt or jacket and place it underneath the pillow for added height.
Now we’re down to the last one. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Ultralight Inflatable Pillow by Instant Camp.
The weightless pillow is compact, takes up little storage room, features a unique design, and offers utmost comfort and convenience.
The pillow is pretty easy to inflate and deflate and the nylon fabric feels gentle to the face. It also features an ergonomic design, with center baffles to cradle the head and prevent the pillow from slipping.
The pillow has just the right size – not too big nor too small but it’s a bit thin so you have to add some material under it for additional thickness. Overall, this pillow is a well-constructed one.
If you’ve read the detailed reviews of each product, I’m sure you’re having a hard time choosing the best because all five have stellar qualities and features.
When I travel, I need my bag’s interior to be spacious enough to fit all of my essentials. Thus, I can’t afford to give up a good amount of room just for the pillow. So my top picks are the inflatable ones - Trekology Compact Inflating Camping Pillow, Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow, and the Ultralight Inflatable Pillow By Instant Camp.
The Aeros and Ultralight Pillows, though they’re weightless and takes up very little room, were both too small and not too thick which presents a problem to high-sleepers like me.
The goal of a backpacking pillow is to provide support to the head and the upper back so that they won’t hurt in the morning and the only way to do that is to elevate the head through the help of the pillow. If the pillow’s too thin, it just defeats the purpose.
Personally, I find the Trekology Pillow to be the most ideal backpacking pillow for all outdoor enthusiasts. It’s lightweight, inflatable, slip-resistant, has the right size and thickness and it definitely feels great to sleep in.
Truly, a backpacking pillow is the solution to a sound sleep whether you’re camping, flying on a plane, or sitting on a bus.