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The great outdoors is calling for a camping trip. To fully enjoy sleeping under the stars, however, good sleep is essential. Along with finding the right camping mattress and sleeping bag, a large player in the sleep equation is finding the right camping pillow for your adventures.
Camping pillows come in a variety of styles with characteristics suitable for different camping situations. Some will work better for backpackers who need lightweight comfort, while others are best for camping in potentially wet conditions. A few options focus on comfort but are more cumbersome to pack and carry, making them ideal for a camping trip where the tent is near the car.
The best camping pillow for you will suit your requirements for desired weight, materials, water resistance, loft, and price. Below you’ll find our picks for the best camping and backpacking pillows on the market today.
The Best Camping Pillows of 2019
Editor’s Pick – Nemo Fillo Pillow
Runner Up – Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow
Best Value – Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
Best Water Resistance – Trekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow
Most Breathable – Coop Home Goods Travel Pillow
Nemo Equipment’s Fillo camping pillow wins the title of Tuck editor’s pick for the best camping pillow. The Fillo is inflatable so it’s easy to adjust to any height you find comfortable. This customization means it’s suitable for side, back, or stomach sleepers. A one-inch foam pad makes this pillow feel more like your favorite pillow from home than a camping pillow. The foam, however, is removable if you’re looking for the smallest and lightest weight possible configuration with this camping pillow.
The soft jersey cover is simple to remove and machine washable, so you can be sure your camping pillow is as clean as possible. Additionally, the Fillo camping pillow has a built-in stuff sack, making it easy to transport and keep track of the case for this pillow.
Tuck’s runner up for the best camping pillow is the Aeros pillow made by Sea to Summit. The pillow comes in two sizes: regular and large. The large size is ideal for those who move around a lot in their sleep and those who prioritize comfort over pack weight. This Sea to Summit camping pillow is inflatable, so it can be adjusted to your desired loft and firmness. The inflation valve is multi-functional, so it’s simple to control any air you may need to let out. It also features a rapid deflate function so you can break down your sleeping setup quickly.
The outer material on this pillow is made with a soft polyester material for extra comfort. The inflatable bladder is durable, so you won’t have to worry about leaks. Inside, the pillow features a synthetic fill that provides extra padding and wicks away moisture to prevent you from waking up with a damp pillow.
Our choice for best value in a camping pillow goes to Therm-a-Rest’s compressible pillow. The price ranges from $25 for the small size to $35 for the extra-large. This camping pillow is filled with foam, upcycled from Therm-a-Rest camping mattresses. The pillow utilizes the scraps that naturally occur when manufacturing mattresses, adding an eco-friendly element.
The sizes available ensure you’re getting the size you desire while not carrying extra weight. The variety of color and pattern options enable you to add a little decor to your sleeping setup while camping. The brushed polyester exterior is cozy and soft, providing comfort just as if you were sleeping on your favorite pillow at home. The pillow compresses down into its attached cover and is machine washable.
The Trekology ultralight inflating pillow is a great choice for a water-resistant camping pillow. Made of a durable water-resistant fabric, this pillow won’t soak up any moisture and therefore won’t need to get packed away while soggy. The ultralight pillow packs down into a small tube about the size of a can of soda. Inflating the pillow takes about three to five breaths. The inflation nozzle has two settings: one for inflation and one for deflation. If you find the pillow to be too firm when fully inflated, you can switch to the deflate setting to let some air out, making the pillow softer.
The design and shape of this water-resistant pillow works for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers. It can also be used during the day as lumbar support when sitting around camp. The back of this pillow is lined with anti-slip materials that keep the pillow from sliding out from under you in the middle of the night.
If you’re planning on summer camping, the Coop Home Goods camping and travel pillow can help keep you cool. The pillow case is made with bamboo derived viscose rayon which facilitates ventilation. The interior is memory foam, which can be adjusted to suit your personal preference of loft. If it’s too full for you, you can remove some of the filling for a more comfortable sleep.
This is a smaller, travel-friendly version of Coop Home Good’s popular shredded memory foam pillow. As well as being breathable for hot nights, the pillow is also hypoallergenic and resists dust mites. The pillow comes with a water-resistant case for storage. Once home, the pillow is machine washable and dryer friendly.
All outdoor adventures are more enjoyable when you’re well-rested and alert. Getting a good night’s sleep while camping or backpacking can be difficult at times, but adding in a good pillow can make all the difference. When buying a camping pillow, you should consider what type of camping you will be using it for, what materials it’s made of, and how much it weighs. If there’s only a handful of feet between the car and tent, weight won’t be as much of an issue as when you’re carrying everything on your back for a multi-day backpacking trip.
The best camping pillows are lightweight, easy to transport, can be packed down into a small bag, and can be washed once you get home from your trip. While some camping pillows use the same materials as traditional pillows, camping-specific pillows are more compact and easier to transport. Camping mattresses are often thinner than the mattress used at home, so a camping pillow with a high loft helps keep you comfortable while tent sleeping, making the experience as much like sleeping at home as possible.
The best camping pillow for you will depend on your needs, based on the type of camping you will be doing. Personal preference for pillow material and construction is also a consideration. Some camping pillows are inflatable while others are made with foam, and some are a combination of both. A few other things to consider before buying are how lightweight you want the pillow to be, if it needs to be water resistant, and price.
The materials used for both the exterior and interior of the camping pillow will dictate how comfortable it is to sleep on. Inflatable pillows are a common choice for camping since they can be packed into a small bag for easy and lightweight transportation. Inflatable pillows need to be durable to avoid any punctures or leaks from occurring. Inflatable pillows also need to either have a comfortable exterior material, or come with their own pillowcase to make them cozy and soft.
If you’ll be camping or backpacking in wet climates, it makes sense to choose a pillow made of water-resistant materials. Packing a wet pillow away in a backpack means it’s likely to still be wet when you take it out again for sleeping that evening. If the climate where you’ll be camping will be hot at night or you’re naturally a hot sleeper, finding a camping pillow with good ventilation can help you get restful sleep and stay comfortable.
Below, we’ll explore different types of pillows, explaining their impact on comfort and functionality.
|Pillow Material||Is it good for camping?|
|Inflatable||Inflatable pillows are the most common camping pillows. They’re lightweight to carry and pack down into a small size. Some inflatable pillows aren’t very ergonomic, so they may be uncomfortable. It’s important for an inflatable pillow to be made with a high-quality material to ensure they won’t puncture easily or develop holes that leak air, leaving you with no pillow.|
|Foam||Foam pillows are usually easy to compress into a small bag and, therefore, work well for camping. Foam pillows provide firm support so you’re less likely to wake up sore. Traditional foam pillows may be too bulky for packing on a camping trip, but smaller, camping-friendly versions of foam pillows exist on the market. Foam does tend to absorb heat, so the pillow may end up warmer than desired. When opting for a foam pillow, look for a cover that promotes ventilation.|
|Down/Down Alternative/Feather||Although not traditionally used for camping, down pillows could be a cozy addition to your tent sleeping setup if you have the room for a larger pillow and are camping close to your vehicle. Down-alternative pillows could be a good choice for camping, as well, since they’re less expensive than their down counterparts.|
|Polyester||Polyester pillows won’t last a lifetime, but they’re a good option for a camping pillow since they’re lightweight and inexpensive. Most polyester pillows rank high in ventilation and breathability, making comfortable on hot nights.|
|Latex||Similar to foam, latex pillows provide great support, although they won’t compress down quite as small as foam will. Latex pillows would be suitable for camping if space-efficiency is not a concern.|
|Buckwheat||Pillows made with buckwheat filling tend to weigh five to ten pounds. They’re also comparatively expensive. Because of this, buckwheat pillows aren’t recommended for camping.|
While on a camping or backpacking trip, space is often at a premium. Backpackers are especially mindful of the weight of each item they’re carrying. Finding a good camping pillow that is lightweight and packs down well will be an advantage for both campers and backpackers. Inflatable pillows are usually the most space-efficient since they can be deflated and rolled up tightly into a small bag. Many come with their own carrying case, often even built into the pillow. If your campsite is near the car, you may focus more on comfort than weight and space efficiency, so a pillow that doesn’t pack down as small could be a viable option.
On occasion, camping and backpacking can be a damp affair. If wet weather hits, it’s not uncommon for everything in the tent to feel wet, even if it didn’t get direct rain. Choosing a pillow that is water-resistant will ensure that the pillow won’t absorb any moisture.
Camping pillows come in different lofts, or heights. The loft dictates how supportive and comfortable a pillow will feel for different sleepers. Some prefer a high loft while others sleep best on a low-loft pillow. Most inflatable pillows can be adjusted to whichever loft you prefer by either adding or removing air. Side-sleepers will be most comfortable with a medium-to-high-loft pillow. Back-sleepers generally have the same preference. Low loft pillows may be the most comfortable option for stomach sleepers.
Travel pillows average between $15 and $30, with a few costing up to $50. In the $15 range of the price spectrum, camping pillows tend to be either polyester-filled with a polyester cloth covering, or a simple inflatable pillow. In the $20-$25 range there are far more options of materials and features, such as cloth-covered inflatables, self-inflating valves, a variety of foam fillings, and more natural fibers. In the $25 and up range, the pillows feature more complex structures and natural components, such as a layer of foam over an inflatable section, bamboo covers, memory foam, and removable covers for effective and easy cleaning.
Camping can get a little dirty so choosing a camping pillow that can be easily cleaned is important. Many foam pillows are washing machine friendly, while many inflatable pillows can be wiped clean. Some camping pillows come with cases that can be separated and thrown in the washing machine once you get home. Down pillows often need to be professionally cleaned. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning directions.
When shopping for the best camping pillow, it’s worth looking into the return policy and warranty on the pillow. Some companies offer a 100-day trial in which you can use the pillow and return it for a full refund if you’re not happy with it. Other companies offer a lifetime warranty. A good return policy and warranty is especially useful for inflatable pillows which could get damaged and deflate permanently.
Sleeping in a cozy tent in nature can be a magical experience. But it can also be uncomfortable and difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping on the ground in a new environment with strange sounds can make for a restless night. With the right gear and routine, however, sleeping while camping can be refreshing and comfortable. Here are our top tips for sleeping well while camping.
Investing in quality camping gear can help you get the best sleep possible while out in nature. A comfortable pillow, a high-quality sleeping bag, and a camping mattress can all help to make your slumber while camping a positive experience.
Sleeping bags come in a variety of shapes, weights, lengths, and temperature ratings. Choose one that fits your desired length and width. If you’re car camping, you won’t need to consider how much the sleeping bag weighs as much as you will if you’ll be carrying it with you on an overnight backpacking trip.
Camping mattresses come in a variety of sizes and materials. Some are self-inflating and roll into a small tube while others are heavier and more suitable for car camping.
Before you pack up and head out, it’s a good idea to test out your sleeping setup. If your mattress and pillow are inflatable, check to make sure nothing is leaking. Crawl into your sleeping bag to make sure it feels roomy enough for you to move around at night, but not so big that it won’t keep you warm and secure.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene will help ensure you’re sleeping well while camping. Sleep hygiene is the bedtime routine, rituals, and behaviors you follow before sleep. If possible, go to bed around the same time you usually do while camping. Staying well hydrated and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed will help you sleep, too. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep in the new environment, try some relaxation techniques. Ensure you’re sleeping at a comfortable temperature for your body to properly thermoregulate. If your sleeping bag is too warm, unzip the top or bottom a bit for more ventilation. If you’re cold, try putting on a pair of socks or a hat to warm up.
If you are used to sleeping in a quiet environment or with a white-noise machine, you may find the sounds of nature distracting when trying to fall asleep. Pack some ear plugs in case the natural sounds are bothersome or if you have loud neighbors.
Once you get to your campsite, scout out a flat area to set up your tent. Clear away any rocks, sticks, or pinecones and lay down a tarp or footprint to set your tent on. This will help keep your tent dry if it rains or if the ground gets dewey in the early morning. Try to position your tent away from road noise or neighbors who could stay up late. If a bathroom is nearby, it’s a good idea to be close and have a flashlight ready for any nighttime trips.
Settling in for the night by getting cozy in a warm sleeping bag is a great way to unwind and set a calm tone for the night. An hour before bed, boil some water and use it to fill a heat-resistant water bottle. Stick that in your sleeping bag, and your warm sleeping bag will be waiting for you when you’re ready to crawl into bed.
Boil some extra water and enjoy a cup of tea by the fire before bed. Chamomile, passionflower, and lavender teas are all calming ingredients that will help you sleep. Make sure that whatever tea you choose before bedtime is caffeine-free.
Make sure your tent is free of holes, including any netted parts that are more likely to develop small tears, and that it is zipped up all the way to keep bugs from flying in during the night. Throw away any garbage, especially food scraps, so no animals are tempted to rummage around your camp while you sleep. Store extra food in a safe area that’s inaccessible to animals.
It’s common to have trouble settling down for the first few nights while camping or backpacking, even with comfortable bedding and proper preparation. If you’re having trouble staying calm or find yourself waking up often, try breathing exercises or meditation techniques. You can also try distracting yourself by reading a book.