Top 10 Best Backpacking Pillows in 2023

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

best backpacking pillows

Which Is the Best Backpacking Pillow for Camping?

In this article, we are looking for the Best Backpacking Pillow to take traveling and use for camping. We wanted to know which was the comfiest backpacking pillow for the money, so we went about researching and testing to find out. Here are the results.

There are lots of camping pillows on the market, but backpackers looking for comfort still need something lightweight and compact to keep in their bags. For this reason, most of the best backpacking pillows are inflatable so that they can be deflated and packed flat. Inflatable backpacking pillows are the best for packing, but hybrids and compressible camping pillows are widely regarded as more comfortable.

Something else you should consider when looking for a top backpacking pillow is the material it is made from and how comfortable/quiet it is against your skin. While backpacking pillows are not as important as camping mats or sleeping bags, they are still essential items if you are a light sleeper.

You can use the links below to skip down the page or jump to the bottom for our basic guide to backpacking pillows and what to look for when buying one.

Best Backpacking Pillows for Camping

Marmot Cirrus Down Pillow

Marmot Cirrus Down Pillow
  • Weight: 2.6 oz / 75 g
  • Construction: 650 FP Down Filled Inflatable, 50d 100% Polyester Stretch Upper, 30d 100% Polyester Non-Slip Bottom

The Marmot Cirrus Down Pillow uses 3D ergonomics and Flex-Baffle technology to support your neck no matter what position you are sleeping in. You can bend it, fold it, and rotate it to find the perfect angle, whether you are sleeping on your side, back, or front or using it as lumbar support.

The 650 FP duck down ensures you stay warm and is incredibly lightweight, and is guaranteed to stay dry thanks to the airtight RF welded seam construction. A fine-tuned locking valve allows for easy inflation and adjustment of pillow firmness, and the whole thing fits inside a tiny stuff sack. The Marmot Cirrus Down Pillow is the comfiest backpacking pillow we have tested.

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Nemo Equipment Fillo PillowNemo Equipment Fillo Pillow

  • Weight: 9 oz / 260 g
  • Construction: Hybrid Inflatable with Luxury Foam, 3” I-beam baffled air cell, Ultra-soft microsuede or jersey cover

The Nemo Equipment Fillo Pillow is possibly the most comfortable backpacking pillow we have tested, although it is not the most lightweight or compact, which is why it is not number one on the list. It should be said that there is an ultralight version available. However, the comfort of the original is in a league of its own and deserves to be here.

The super-soft microsuede cover is luxuriously soft for skin-touch comfort and is easily washable if you are using it every night. It only takes a couple of breaths to inflate and pack down into an orange size ball. I would recommend this luxury backpacking pillow to anyone looking for the best night’s sleep possible, even if it does way a few grams more than some others.

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Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow
  • Weight: 2.8 oz / 79 g
  • Construction: Inflatable, Synthetic fill between pillow case and TPU bladder, Brushed 50D polyester knit outer material

The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow is super compact and lightweight, which is great for hikers and backpackers looking for a good night’s sleep. Synthetic fill lines the pillowcase for added comfort, and the brushed polyester knit is really soft.

The shape of this pillow uses curved internal baffles to create the perfect contour for your head and is curved to support your neck whether you sleep on your back or side. Taking just a few breaths to blow up and packing it down to the size of an apple, it is easy to see why so many travelers love this backpacking pillow.

There is an ultralight version as well as a deluxe model depending on your needs, but you can’t go wrong with the standard Aeros.

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Exped Down Pillow

Exped Down Pillow
  • Weight: 5.3 oz / 150 g
  • Construction: Inflatable with RDS certified down topper, Trikot-Nylon outer

The Exped Down Pillow is comfy and warm thanks to the luxurious topper and is only slightly lighter than the very popular REM pillow from Exped. An internal air chamber allows you to adjust the height of the pillow for different sleeping positions and has a low profile FlatValve for inflation.

The Trikot surface is smooth and comfortable against the skin, while the down insulation adds warmth and cushion. Very easy to fall asleep on and will help keep your head warm on a cold night. I would recommend this to backpackers who want a better night’s sleep when camping.

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Therm-A-Rest Down Pillow

Therm-A-Rest Down Pillow
  • Weight: 4 oz / 113 g
  • Construction: Compressible 650 FP Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, Brushed Polyester, Use on its own or stuff clothing and sinch underneath

The Therm-A-Rest Down Pillow is a luxuriously soft compressible pillow for a perfect night’s sleep. Fairly lightweight and compact, you can stuff it inside a tiny stuff sack, and it will loft back up speedily when removed.

The hydrophobic down is water-resistant, and there really is nothing like sleeping on a fully down-filled camping pillow. If you need more elevation, there is a specially designed sinch pocket to stuff any clothes on the back, which is a really clever touch. Ideal for backpackers and campers who appreciate the many qualities of down travel pillows.

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Western Mountaineering Cloudrest Down PillowWestern Mountaineering Cloudrest Down Pillow

  • Weight: 5 oz / 142 g
  • Construction: Compressible 800 FP Goose Down

The Western Mountaineering Cloudrest Down Pillow is incredibly plush and a pleasure to sleep on. The 800 FP goose down packs down really small but fluffs up with just a little shake. It keeps you warm and feels like you are resting your head on a cloud, allowing you to sleep on your front, back, or side without a problem.

The Western Mountaineering Cloudrest Down Pillow has a built-in stuff sack and dimensions of 35 x 24 x 10cm when fully lofted. It is so lightweight and small that you can keep it in the corner of your backpack or in the top of your sleeping bag sack without even noticing you have it. This super-soft camping pillow is better than most regular pillows, so it is perfect for hostel use as well.


Marmot Cumulus Pillow

Marmot Cumulus Pillow
  • Weight: 4.3 oz / 122 g
  • Construction: Inflatable with Polyester Insulation, RF Welded Seams, Fine Tune Locking Valve, Removable Brushed Tricot Cover

The Marmot Cumulus Pillow is shaped like a cloud and gives you amazing neck support no matter what angle or position you sleep in. The ergonomic shape really helps keep your head centered in the middle and means you don’t roll off at night.

Filled with synthetic lining for added warmth but still very lightweight for a hybrid backpacking pillow, the Cumulus scores highly for portability. The removable and washable brushed Tricot pillowcase improves comfort and longevity as well as being more hygienic if you are a drooler. The Marmot camping pillows are some of the best out there and perfect for lightweight backpackers and hikers looking for somewhere soft to lay their heads.

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Exped Air Pillow

Exped Air Pillow
  • Weight: 2.47 oz / 70 g
  • Construction: Inflatable 50 D Polyester / Stretch Tricot Nylon

It wouldn’t be much of a best backpacking pillows list without the Exped Air Pillow because it has been around for a while and is trusted by many experienced backpackers. Incredibly packable and easy to inflate, this lightweight travel pillow is perfect for people without much space in their backpacks.

With a dimple for your neck to lie and two central stitches to keep your head centered, it is a simple design but very effective. There are even fabric eyelets so that you can attach them to your sleeping mat to avoid slippage. The Tricot Nylon is velvety soft and coupled with adjustable tautness, this is about as comfortable as packable pillows get.

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Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow
  • Weight: 2.7 oz / 77 g (+ insert – 2.6 oz / 75 g, + storage bag – 0.2 oz / 7 g)
  • Construction: Compressible 650 FP DriDown pillow top, Removable 20D Polyester Taffeta insert, 20D polyester ripstop outer

The Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow is a really lightweight backpacking pillow if you leave the insert at home and stuff clothes inside instead. If you favor comfort, and overweight saving, then using the insert will give you a really solid night’s sleep, but it does double the weight. The low-profile design fits neatly into the hood of a mummy sleeping bag and can provide lumbar support on long journeys.

The 650 FP DriDown is PFC-free and treated to be water-resistant, as is the outer material, which feels like the soft inside part of a padded jacket – very soft. We think that this is one of the best backpacking pillows for people who want the freedom to choose between a lightweight or full comfort pillow.

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Klymit Pillow X

Klymit Pillow X
  • Weight: 1.95 oz / 55 g
  • Construction: Inflatable 30 D Top Fabric, 75D Bottom Polyester

The Klymit Pillow X is the lightest camping pillow on this list, and while there are even lighter options out there, this is one of the comfiest. The X-shaped baffle design keeps your head in the middle, and it only takes 1 – 2 breaths to inflate fully.

With an inflated size of 15 x 11 x 4 inches, the pillow X packs down to an unbelievably compact 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inch (about the size of a lighter). The soft material on the top is super comfy. However, the bottom is tough and durable for sleeping on bare ground. If you are looking for an ultralight backpacking pillow, then this would be highly recommended.

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backpacking pillow on sleeping pad

Why Take a Pillow Backpacking?

Let’s face it, when you are backpacking around the world, you never know what your next bed is going to look like. If it’s a fancy hotel, then good for you, but I suspect most of the people reading this will be more used to sleeping in hostels or hammocks on the beach, where a pillow is by no means a guarantee.

Having a pillow to rest your head at the end of the day is a luxury that will never go out of fashion and only increases your chances of having a good night’s sleep. All the best backpacking pillows on this list are incredibly lightweight and packable, so they don’t take up much space, and you will use it almost every single night.

Different Types of Backpacking Pillows

Choosing the best backpacking pillow should begin with deciding what kind of construction you want. This shouldn’t be too hard because there are only three options:

Compressible Backpacking Pillows

Compressible Backpacking Pillows use high loft insulation and filling so that they can be packed away but still retain their shape when in use. Foam and synthetic fibers are often used, but Goose down is my filling of choice because it is super lightweight, packs down small, and is incredibly comfortable. Compressible camping pillows are widely considered the most comfortable of the three choices but are generally the heaviest and don’t pack down as small as the others.

Inflatable Backpacking Pillow

Inflatable Backpacking Pillows are probably the best choice for travelers and hikers because of their weight and packable size. Using air to inflate the pillow allows you to adjust the firmness to your liking and eliminates the need for any filling to hold the loft. The only downside to inflatable camping pillows is that the noises they make against your ear can be irritating to some, and they are considered the least comfortable of the three choices.

Hybrid Backpacking Pillows

Hybrid Backpacking Pillows use a combination of inflation and filling/insulation to support your head and neck. You can expect these to be slightly heavier than purely inflatable pillows but still lighter than compressible pillows, likewise with the packed size. Hybrid camping pillows are my favorite because they offer the best of both worlds and also mean that if you get a puncture, you won’t be left resting your head on the ground.

Features of Camping Pillows

Here are some of the features you can look for to make sure you are getting the best pillow for camping:


For most backpackers, hikers, campers, and anyone else carrying gear on their back, weight is one of the most important factors when it comes to picking new outdoor gear. And while saving a few grams might seem insignificant to some, savvy backpackers understand that the grams soon add up, and before you know it, your bag weighs a tonne.

Getting a lightweight pillow is the best way to ensure your comfort is not compromised at night or while carrying your pack.

Size and Shape

It is quite hard to judge which size and shape suit you most without testing a few different shapes out, but we feel the recommendations in this list of the top 10 best backpacking pillows give you a good starting point. Shapes can vary from a miniature version of a standard pillow to a concave design that has neck grooves.

The size and shape of the travel pillow, when packed, is a good specification to look for as some will fit inside a clenched fist while others require a lot more compression.


Materials should really be looked at when researching the different construction types. You want something soft and easy to clean on the outside but warm and packable on the inside. Fleece and microfibres are incredibly soft and comfortable against the skin, while the material on some cheap inflatable pillows can feel a little plasticky.

Things like a grip on the underside of a pillow to stop slippage or a well-engineered air cap cover to prevent rubbing should not be overlooked, but at the end of the day, they are just a bonus if the pillow is soft and comfortable.


This is especially important for inflatable pillows if you are camping on bare ground where thorns may pose a risk to the integrity of any inflatable gear. Down-filled backpacking pillows are also susceptible to getting wet and will lose much of their beneficial properties if they do. The best thing about backpacking pillows is that you can literally use and take them anywhere; on the bus, train, a long flight, on the beach, at home or at work – the opportunities for napping are endless!

Other Options

Most seasoned backpackers will have their own tricks for improvising a pillow, but by far, the most common one is by using a dry sack, stuff sack, or pillowcase to fill with clothing. If you have any kind of down or soft clothing, you simply roll it up and put it inside the sack, and manipulate the shape of it until you have a comfy pillow shape.

You can even go a step further by wrapping the fleece around the bag to give it a soft insulative touch. While this works very well, for the most part, it comes nowhere near the level of comfort and convenience that the best backpacking pillows offer.


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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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