When I was new to backpacking, pillows were not one of my priorities during my adventures. The first things that I would always consider were the tent that I will use, the sleeping bag that I will sleep in, or the food that I will have to bring.
However, as I spend more time in forest and woody areas, I have learned that, just like my other outdoor equipment, pillows are one of the things that can make or break my outdoor trip.
This thing is true because sleeping pillows tell whether you will have a good sleep, and sleep is what gives you the energy you need for the next day of your trip. Hence, it is very important especially when you are indulging yourself in long days of backpacking.
Good thing a lot of quality pillows are now available in the market and the list that I will present to you will help you find the best backpacking pillow for you.
The Top 4 Backpacking Pillows
1. Instant Camp Ultralight Backpacking Pillow
As a regular backpacker, one of the most important things I consider during my trip is the weight of my belongings. From my clothes and tent stakes to the tent that I will use, I always choose the ones that are not heavy to carry.
This fact applies to my pillows as well. That is why this product of the reputable outdoor gear, Instacamp, has become my favorite after I have used it. This backpacking pillow can be as light as 2.4 ounces including its stuff sack.
At first, I was looking for more affordable backpacking pillows, but a fellow backpacker used and recommended this item, so I decided to grab one, and I had no regrets because it is worth every penny.
Apart from being one of the lightest backpacking pillows in the market, I was also surprised when I pack it because it can be as small as the original Blackberry phone. More accurately, its size when you deflate it can be as small as 4 x 1.5 x 3 inches.
This feature is useful for any backpacker because it will not consume too much space when you prepare the other materials that you have to bring.
In spite its tiny packed size, it can be as big as 18x10.75x5.5 inches when you fully inflate it, making it a perfect choice if you want a large pillow to sleep on during your trek.
High quality, durable nylon makes up this sleeping pillow, and it does not have foam. That is why it is very small, and it does not self-inflate. I have been using it for one year now, and I never had any issue because it is very strong, making my trek more comfortable and worry-free.
All these qualities make me satisfied with this backpacking pillow. Because it is my favorite, I also bring it when I do other activities such as when I do hunting trips or bicycle camping. I also use it both in my tent and in my hammock.
The only downside I notice is that it tends to be quite noisy when I move and rub it. Some also say that it is very thin.
2. Konvinit Inflatable Camping Pillow
If you want a more affordable sleeping pillow that does not compromise weight and packed size, then this item from Konkivit is what you should try. I consider it one of the most compact and lightweight outdoor inflatable pillows that are now available in the market.
In fact, this camp pillow weighs only 2.8 oz, and when you deflate it, it is just 4.4 x 2.2 inches, making it easy to store in the small compression pouch which comes with it.
I was also amazed at its unique ergonomic design. It has two grooves which are intended to support your head and keep it in place. This feature also prevents your head from sliding to the sides.
It is not uncommon that you feel occasional neck pain after your trek, but this pillow utilizes cambered edge bottom edge, relieving any discomfort. It is very breathable because of its polyester fiber surface and bottom layer.
On the other hand, the middle layer has a TPU seal coating, adding to its strength and firmness.
Lastly, what makes this sleeping bag my second favorite is the comfort that it provides. It is one of the most convenient and versatile pillows because I can use it almost anywhere.
However, like the first product that I mentioned, this one also tends to create noise when I move while others say that it takes a long time to inflate it.
3. Moon Lence Ultralight Pillow
Even if you have a more limited budget, you still need not sacrifice comfort and reliability of your backpacking pillow because of this product. It is one of the quality pillows that have an unbelievable price.
Although it is very affordable, it has features that are almost similar to the others that you can buy in your nearest outdoor store. One of these qualities is its matte surface which is very resistant to slippage and pleasant to touch as well.
Elastic and durable TPU fabric makes up this backpacking pillow which prevents it from piercing while its contoured shape design is perfect for protecting and supporting your head, cervical spine, and lumbar.
When it comes to size, this product can be as huge as 16 x 12 x 4 inches when you inflate it, making it a perfect pillow to use for lumbar support.
Its folding size, on the other hand, is 5 x 2 inches while its weight can be as light as 2.75 oz.
On top of these excellent features, another thing I like about Moon Lence Ultralight Pillow is that it is quick to inflate and deflate. You only to blow air into it for 3-5 times.When deflating, you simply have to open the bottom of the valve.
Buying this product is also absolutely risk-free. In fact, its manufacturers entitle their customers 100% money back and lifetime guarantee.
Although this item is close to perfect at its price, some users claim that it is quick to leak while others say that the valve covers are quite tough which is a minor issue.
4. Coop Home Goods Premium Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Wherever you go, you can surely get the comfort that you need from this one of the best pillows on the market. It features the same luxurious construction, fabric, and technology like other full-size adult pillows. I also recommend this stuff for campers, business travelers, and backpackers.
This backpacking pillow works very well with any Thermarest sleeping pad and sleeping bag, and it also features bamboo-derived viscous rayon & poly blend cover which enable you to have a comfortable sleep.
This backpacking gear comes with a stuff sack so that the user can compress the pillow for saving space and easy travel.
Being handcrafted in Los Angeles, California, this equipment is one of the extraordinary pillows that you can acquire.
When it comes to materials, CertiPUR-US certified foam is what makes up this pillow. It has no PBDEs, ozone depleters, TCEP flame retardants, TDCPP, heavy metals, lead, mercury, CFCs, and phthalates which CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) regulates.
This pillow has a luxury loft which you can surely enjoy. It is a very small pillow for travel yet its quality is one of the best ones that you can find.
The only area which its manufacturer can improve is its chemical smell at first. Other backpackers also wish it had more filling inside.
Things to remember when purchasing a backpacking pillow
Many backpacking pillows only need a deep breath so that they will inflate completely. There are also other models which need a few breaths. These backpacking pillows are manual models. They usually pack very small, and they are very lightweight.
However, some backpackers do not like the idea of buying them because inflating pillows with your breath can introduce moisture and bacteria to your backpacking pillow.
Some pillows are 'self-inflating' which means that they have a valve which allows the pillow to inflate in only a few seconds. Because of the way this pillow inflates, they often become heavy and bulky.
However, the good thing is that you do not need to inflate them using your breath, so there is less chance of introducing fungus or bacteria.
On the other hand, manual ones are light and easy to inflate, so these models are what I usually use during my trip. The bacteria from your breath will not cause any danger to your health anyway.
To understand better the differences the two main types of pillows as well as their main advantages and disadvantages, please see the video below:
Most of the time, the materials that make up compressible pillows are foam, down, and fibers and they normally have synthetic outside cover.
Inflatable pillows, on the other hand, often make use of nylon or brushed polyester which are very soft and cozy to use. Also, these materials are very sanitary. Most backpacking pillows are washable.
As we have mentioned, one of the necessary factors you always need to consider when bringing or purchasing outdoor gear is weight since you will always bring other gears with you as well during your trek.
As a general rule, always choose the lightest pillow possible. Meanwhile, I have a cousin who is also fond of backpacking, and he does not mind bringing a bulky and heavy pillow as long as it provides him good sleep.
Whether you buy lightweight or heavy ones still depend on your needs.
My cousin whom I have mentioned earlier and I have different preferences when it comes to selecting our backpacking pillows. I once tried the pillow he was using because he said it was extremely comfortable to use.
When I used it, however, I did not have the same experience. The pillow is not that uncomfortable. However, I find other pillows more cozy to use. I realized then that my cousin and I have different sleeping positions. He is a side sleeper while I am a back sleeper.
Purchase a pillow that does not consume too much space. If you are a long-term traveler, it is very inconvenient to bring bulky or large pillows. Always use the ones which are compact.
The amount of space of your pillow goes hand in hand with its weight. Fortunately, there are several products available now in the market which pack small and lightweight.
Pillows come in wide variety of shapes. The best conventional backpacking pillows are rectangular in size; however, there are also manufacturers which have come up with u-shaped ones.
Like any other material, what is important is that the shape of the pillow that you will use will help you sleep well.
There are also contemporary backpacking pillows which have different features such as contours, various styles of stitching and other features that will prevent your head from slipping.
The size of your pillow is another factor which you need to take into account. When you consider the size, check the size of the pillow when you pack and unpack it.
Choose a size that you feel comfortable with and which you can bear bringing in your trip. No single size fits all types of backpackers. What is important is that the pillow that you use will make your head at ease.
Another important factor to take into careful consideration is the durability of your sleeping pillow. Make sure that you choose one which can adapt to harsh outdoor and weather conditions.
Warranty service, brand reliability, and materials are just some of the things that can tell whether your pillow will last long or not.
Ease of use
The backpacking pillows that you should buy should be quick to use and should not need much time to prepare. Look for pillows that do not require extra much time to inflate and deflate.
Also, look for backpacking pillows that make use of materials which are quick to use, so you can make sure that they are ready to use for various trips.
Did you find useful tips on how to select the best backpacking pillow to bring on your trip? Or were you able to select the one which you think suits your needs?
I believe you may still be undecided on which one you will purchase because every item on our list is quality products which provide you the best sleeping experience possible.
Hence, if you will ask me which one is my favorite, I would say all of them. However, there is one item which I use most frequently, and it is the Instant camp Ultralight Inflatable Backpacking pillow.
Although it may not be the most affordable one that I can buy, it is what gives me the confidence that I will have sweet rest after a tiring trek because of its durability, and ease of use.
Meanwhile, its size and weight are ideal for any backpacking enthusiast.
That is just the best item for me. The one for you may be different, but just remember the things to consider which we discussed and, you will surely end up with the best one for you with no regrets.