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Best Camping Pillows – 2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Jackson Lindeke

Quick Overview

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.

Best Camping Pillows

The Best Camping Pillows – Reviewed

Best OverallL.L. Bean Flannel Camp Pillow

Best Overall– L.L. Bean Flannel Camp Pillow

Highlights

  • Fits into included water-resistant sack
  • Flannel and nylon exterior
  • Firm polyester fill
  • Breathable material
  • Machine-washable
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Best OverallL.L. Bean Flannel Camp Pillow

llbean.com

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In business for over 100 years, LL Bean has a reputation for creating high-quality outdoor gear. L.L. Bean’s Flannel Camp Pillow is easily transportable and lightweight for comfortable rest in nature. One side of the pillow cover has soft cotton flannel, and the other side has 70-denier nylon. Those camping in colder weather may want to sleep on the flannel side, and campers in rainy weather may want to opt for the water-resistant nylon side. It is stuffed with firm polyester fill, making it lightweight and breathable for hotter nights.

The pillow converts into a water-resistant sack, great for backpackers worried about space. It weighs just 1 pound and measures 14 inches x 18 inches. You can machine-wash and dry the pillow for easy cleanup after a trip. There are two colors to choose from, red buffalo plaid and green dress gordon.

Best Value Camping PillowTherm-a-Rest Compression Pillow

Best Value Camping Pillow - Therm-a-Rest Compression Pillow

Highlights

  • Interior is ultralight compressible foam that expands to four inches in height
  • Four sizes available from small through extra-large
  • Available in nine colors and patterns
  • All sizes pack down into their incorporated stuff sack
  • Soft brushed polyester exterior
  • Made in the USA
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Best Value Camping PillowTherm-a-Rest Compression Pillow

amazon.com

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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.

Best Water Resistance Camping PillowTrekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow

Best Water Resistance Camping Pillow - Trekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow

Highlights

  • Packs down to slightly smaller than a can of soda
  • Weighs 2.75 ounces
  • Easy to inflate with a quick-deflate feature for rapid repacking
  • Ergonomic design suitable for all sleeping positions
  • Water-resistant materials
  • Available in eight colors
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Best Water Resistance Camping PillowTrekology Ultralight Inflating Pillow

amazon.com

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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.

Most Breathable Camping PillowCoop Home Goods Travel Pillow

Most Breathable Camping Pillow - Coop Home Goods Travel Pillow

Highlights

  • Made with a thermoregulating fabric to keep you cool
  • Weighs 36 ounces, including its stuff sack
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Machine washable
  • Adjustable memory foam fill
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Most Breathable Camping PillowCoop Home Goods Travel Pillow

amazon.com

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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. Coop Home Goods offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. All purchases are backed by 5-year manufacturer’s warranties

Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Camping Pillow

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.

How to Choose a Good Camping Pillow

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.

Materials

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.

Space-Efficiency

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.

Water Resistance

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.

Pillow Loft

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.

Price

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.

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.

Return Policy & Warranty

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.

Other Tips for Sleeping Well While Camping

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.

Make Sure the Rest of Your Tent Bedding is Comfortable

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.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

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.

More Tips for Good Sleep

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