In my opinion, good backpacking pillows are also just good camping pillow. Unless you really want to bring your bedroom pillow with you car camping, it’s good to have a nice backpacking pillow that’s lightweight and small, but is also super comfortable. I’m guilty of using a sweatshirt or jacket as a pillow, so I definitely need a better option. Here are options I’ve considered, with some pros and cons.
Types of Ultralight Backpacking Pillows
There are three main types of backpacking pillows you should consider. These all meet the criteria of packable and and lightweight, helping you conserve space and weight in your pack.
Inflatable pillows, like the Eno, are only made up of the out material. Obviously, the “cushion” in these pillows comes from the amount of air you put into them. You can often adjust the air in an inflatable backpacking pillow to your personal preference and comfort level. The two main types of these are manual inflating (blow it up with your breath), or self inflating (like many sleeping pads).
Packable pillows usually have some kind of foam, fiber, or feather in them that gives them their cushion. They might roll up or stuff into a sack, depending on the design. Compression pillows are typically more comfortable and soft than inflatable ones, but they also tend to be both heavier and bulkier.
Like most things that are hybrids, these pillows are a good compromise. The top side of these pillows will be padded with some kind of foam to give the softness, but the bottom will be inflatable to give you the support. They are smaller and lighter than compression pillows, but not as ultralight as inflatables.
Backpacking Pillow Recommendations
Ultimately, you need to consider your camping and backpacking needs, as well as your sleeping needs. There are a ton of great backpacking pillows on the market in all of these categories, so you’ll need to find one that works best for you.
Trekology Ultralight Inflating Travel/Camping Pillows
Pack Size: 5″x2″
Expanded Size: 16″x12″x4″
Weight: 2.8oz (80g)
The Trekology Ultralight is a great, affordable option if you do casual backpacking and camping. It packs up super small and has a good weight, so shouldn’t eat too much into your pack budget. Inflates in 3-5 breaths.
Eagles Nest Outfitters – ENO ParaPillow, Small Hammock Pillow
The Eno ParaPillow is made with the same 70D High Tenacity Nylon Taffeta as their hammocks, and is a great ultralight pillow for hammock camping. Comes with a compression stuff sack to help pack it tight and small.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
This hybrid pillow packs up small in it’s compression sack, is incredibly light, and is extraordinarily comfortable. The regular size is perfect for most ultralight campers, but it also comes in a larger size if you’re willing to add a couple more ounces to your pack.
Nemo Fillo Elite Ultralight Inflatable Travel Pillow
Packed Size: 5″x5″x3″
The Nemo Elite is a well reviewed option of hybrid pillow that’s small and compact enough to take with you on any camping or backpacking trip. You can even fit it in your pocket!
Regardless of your camping needs, there’s a good pillow out there for you. I highly encourage you to check out these options as your starting point, but ultimately find something that’s most comfortable for you, both at night and on the trail. Check out our other camping gear recommendations as well.