Best Backpacking Pillows

Backpacking Pillows - Reviews & Guides For 2024

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Backpacking Pillows buying guide

After a whole day of backpacking, your body is bound to get exhausted. To re-energize your body, you need to have a good night's sleep. Having a suitable backpacking pillow will provide you the necessary comfort and will allow you to sleep comfortably in the night.

These backpacking pillows are fully capable of providing adequate support to your head and neck. You can easily carry them in your backpack as they are quite portable.

However, you have to consider several factors to find a suitable cushion. To gather detailed information on all these factors, you have to look into many resources which will consume a lot of time.

Moreover, you may not even get the correct facts. To solve this issue, you can look into a comprehensive buying guide that contains all the essential information on all the critical factors.

With this, you will be able to funnel down the best product and make an informed decision.

So without any further ado, let us start with a brief introduction of the product.

What do you mean by Backpacking Pillows? Why is it important to have it?

Going on long trips but unable to get sound sleep? If you are facing sleeping issues and getting fatigued, backpacking pillows can be the best buddies you can ever have.

A backpacking pillow is compact, enabling you to carry it in a hassle-free manner with you on the journey. It doesn't occupy too much space in your backpack, still providing your head enough comfort and relaxation when you are using it.

The best pillows are the ones that maintain the balance between maximum comfort and minimum weight, and the size, pillows for backpacks are the ones that have both the qualities.

These pillows are portable and come in fascinating colors and sizes. These are affordable and can be easily used. They have breathable material and moisture-wicking linings to absorb sweat and moisture and give you a dry feel while you are fast asleep.

Though they are not as comfortable as your home pillows, they are something that provides you enough comfort when you are having a tiring day outdoors.

It provides the necessary support to your head, preventing it from getting hurt or developing muscle cramps overnight.

Why should you refer to this buying guide?

Searching for the one right backpacking pillow amidst a lot of different pieces available in the market, it becomes confusing and difficult sometimes to pick up the best one.

To ease your tiring task and help you to find the one made for you, in this guide we have sorted out the features for you so that you can just have a glimpse at each of them and then go ahead with your search.

Mentioned below are some crucial factors that need to be taken care of while selecting your most important companion, which will stay throughout your journey and much more.

Types of Backpacking Pillows

When you are searching for different varieties of pillows, you will come across mainly four types of pillows, which are mentioned below to help you pick out the best as per your preference.


If you are opting for inflatable pillows, you should be aware that they have air sacks to give the necessary support they need. This supporting element makes them lightweight and portable.


Provide you immense comfort and are an excellent choice for backpacking because the air can be sucked out to make it flat. It is foldable and occupies less space.


They are less stable because the air inside keeps moving when pressure is applied, making you feel like you are sleeping on a balloon.

Easily gets punctured, if you are not careful

Not easy to repair


For providing enough support to your head, these use compressible fibers like duck feathers or synthetic foam. They are very much similar to the pillows that you use at home.


Very comfortable and relaxing and gives maximum support to your head.


Bulky and heavy, thus, not suitable for backpacking.

It is not easy to carry.

Hybrid :

The hybrid pillows are a combination of both of the above types. They incorporate the benefits of both these types.

These cushions use air sacks inside them and have a thin layer of compressible material. This combination elevates the comfort level for your face. This highly reduces the balloon-like feeling that you experience, but you will find that they become slightly stiffer, which makes it less portable.

Pillowcases and convertible stuff sacks:

These are not the real pillows that you are used to. Instead, they are simple hollow cases that allow you to stuff your clothing or cushioning material into it to make it your customized pillow.

They comprise polyester fleece, a soft face fabric to provide you a soft and comforting feel while you are tired and want to have a deep sleep.


These are lightweight, portable, and cannot be punctured. They can sometimes be used as multi-purpose pillows.


They are comfortable only when you stuff your clothes inside them (those being the only stuffing material that you carry along with you).

During winters, you wear everything to bed, which means that you are left with no material to stuff inside the pillow. Hence, no sleeping pad for you.

Things to deem about while selecting an appropriate Backpacking Pillows


The primary reason for carrying a pillow is to enjoy a comfortable stay outdoors where you cannot have home-like comfort.

Anything that is portable and has a small size is ideal for your backpack, and the best thing about backpacking pillows is that they are compact and offer great comfort to you when used.

The size of your pillow determines its portability and the amount of comfort that you can expect from it. The smaller and thinner your pillow is, the more portable and lightweight it will be.

But also keep this in mind that if you buy a narrower and more thin pillow, then your comfort will be at stake because it will provide less support to your head and will constantly slip away at night hence, disturbing your sleep.

Search for pillows that have the correct dimensions and give adequate support to your head without causing any disturbance while you are asleep.


The materials used inside your pillow are equally important as what has been used outside. Your pillow should be soft, noiseless, and flexible enough to provide a feel like you are sleeping on your mother's lap even while you are sleeping in mother nature's lap.

Materials that are ideal to be used in backpacking pillows are:

  1. Memory foam:

These are auto-adjustable to accommodate the shape of your neck and your back, giving you the utmost comfort and helping you get a deep sleep.

  1. Cooling bamboo:

If you plan your trip in the summers and want a pillow that gives you a soothing effect to complement your sleep, then you should always opt for pillows using cooling bamboo material. They give you a calm and peaceful feeling, which helps you fall asleep faster.

  1. Brushed polyester:

Pillows made of this material are more durable than those made out of other material because polyester is a strong fiber that does not get damaged easily even if you are sleeping on a rough surface.

Thus, depending on the location and the weather while at the same time considering the level of comfort that you want, choose the best pillow which caters to all your needs.


Be it red, blue, black, or green, you will find pillows featuring various colors, customized according to the taste and preference of every individual going out to spend some time amidst nature.

Some prefer colors according to their zodiac signs or choose for their favorite ones. If planning a trip with your group, you can go for color-coded pillows to match everyone.

The color of your pillow depends on the color of your bedding and, of course, on your own choice. Also, if you want yourself to keep out of sight, then you can opt for camouflaged backpacking pillows to secure yourself from your enemies.


You will find no perfect recipe for a lightweight pillow. It is entirely up to you, how much weight you want to carry on your back, and what are the sacrifices that you are willing to make.

If you are searching for the lightest pillow of all the available, then you will end up having no pad at all.

To sleep comfortably, you need to have a pillow that provides you adequate support and does not pose any difficulty while using or while traveling. Also, good sleep is a top priority when you go out for hiking or any other adventurous activity.

Eighty grams is the maximum recommended weight for a portable pillow, and to surprise you, backpacking pillows are of the same weight or even less sometimes.

Though pillowcases can be a good option, you might sometimes have to compromise with the comfort and supporting factors. Look for lightweight and easily portable inflatable options that provide you the maximum comfort than all others.

Having these pillows means that you have the most luxurious item in your backpack, which is the cheapest in monetary terms. You will never regret investing in a good backpacking pillow.

Ease of use:

Daylong hiking and other outdoor activities exhaust a significant amount of your energy. To refill the lost energy, you need to give adequate rest to your body, and that is possible only if you have a good, undisturbed sleep.

At the end of the day, you should have a place to sleep, which takes less effort and energy to be set up.

Search for the best backpacking pillows which allow you the ease to set them up quickly and effortlessly and also should provide you the ease to roll it back into your backpack. Any cushion which can be compressed easily without putting much effort into it will be an excellent choice for you.

Invest in a pillow that does not form a big hole in your pocket while at the same time allows you to use it with ease.


Nobody wants to wake up with neck pain or a shoulder sprain on a beautiful morning. The level of support that a pillow provides varies between different users and the type of activities that they do.

If you often experience shoulder and neck pain, you should opt for pillows that offer better support and have therapeutic features to help you recover soon. Pillows having minimum backing can increase your pain further and turn your adventure into a nightmare.

For choosing the right backpacking pillows which will accompany you, look for the outer fabric and thickness of the material used, which determine the level of support that the cushion will be providing you.

The width of your pillow depends on your sleeping position to ensure that you have correct spine alignment and adequate neck support that is required.

If you are a side sleeper, then opt for pillows that are thick to support your head and give you comfort.


If you plan for camping and hiking regularly, your pillows have to withstand a lot of harshnesses, which can damage them over time. Replacing your pad every time can be very heavy on your pocket and even time-consuming.

You should always search for backpacking pillows that are sturdy and durable, which increases their longevity.

Look for pillows that are made from thick and high-quality material to ensure that you are investing in something that pays off and stays long rather than betraying you midway.

Pillows made of polyester are durable and provide you with comfort and enough support. These pillows are a great choice if you are looking for more durable cushions that can take all the abuse associated with outdoor activities.


From the beginning, we are talking about the comfort level that you get from your pillow. But do you know the real meaning of this word, and why is it associated pillows?

You often tend to emphasize more on the portability of the pillows, but comfort stays unnoticed. This feature of a pillow is equally essential and affects you a lot. Will you prefer to sleep on a wooden pillow or a pillow full of thorns?

You want your pillow to be soft and smooth and adjusts according to your neck and back shape. Three things govern the comforting factor of your pillow, and they are:

Pillow type:

Compressible pillows are more comfortable than the inflatable ones, as we discussed before, but at the same time, they seem to be larger when they are being packed. Also, a pillow that is filled with air will lead your head to slip off while sleeping.

You should search for backpacking pillows that are comfortable and yet easy to be kept inside your backpack. Search for different variants and choose accordingly.


Longer and thicker pillows affect the comfort and support that a pillow provides. A thick pillow offers you great support and maximizes the comfort level. At the same time, a long pillow offers you enough width to support your head and does not let it slip off, resulting in giving birth to a big bump on your forehead otherwise.

Sleeping positions:

If you are a back sleeper, inflatable pillows won't affect you much and are comfortable but to experience even more comfort, prefer softer and lower-profile pillows.

If you are a side sleeper, emphasize more on the pillow shape and opt for thicker pillows, which will offer you slightly more height to support your neck and shoulder.

Buy the best pillow to give you the required comfort and in which you will not need to put any additional support at the bottom.


Lightweight pillows are unfortunately the noisiest ones because they are composed of crinkly materials like plastic and Dyneema. While sleeping on pillows made of these will make you feel like you are sleeping on a chips packet.

Though these materials make the pillow lightweight in nature, the sounds that come from it make it difficult to sleep and even worse when accompanied by the moving sounds made by your tentmates.

But your worst nightmare ends here. Backpacking pillows are made from materials that are soft, compressible, and noiseless. Hence, enabling you to enjoy a disturbance and noise-free sleep throughout the silent and peaceful night.


Especially when you're camping and hiking during the frosty season, it becomes very crucial for you to have sleeping bags and pillows that protect you from cold reaching you from the ground.

Just like you expect your sleeping bags to have adequate insulation, even your pillows should be capable enough to provide you with the same feeling.

If you are opting for inflatable backpacking pillows, then be aware that cold temperature may get transferred to your body through the baffles in your pillow.

To avoid getting sick, invest in a pillow that has an insulating fabric in between your head and the air sack, something like fleece, foam, or feathers, which will help a lot to keep you safe from the cold weather.

Also, to absorb your sweat and the moisture around, pillows have moisture-wicking linings in them, which also keep you cool in the warm summers.


Dirt and stains are a part of your hiking and camping trips, and if you are okay living with it, then it won't be big trouble for you.

But if you are a hygienic person and consider hygiene to be a significant factor, then you need not bother about getting dirt and stains.

These bags come with removable cases that can be easily machine-washed with your clothing.

Pillows having fleece and down require a bit more care because they lose their loft due to dirt, hair oil, drool, and sweat, and that is the reason they require more maintenance.

If you want to have an easy deal, then pillows with removal cases are an ideal choice for you because they are easier to maintain and use.


Lift is an essential factor to consider while you are purchasing your pillow. It determines the level of support that your pillow offers you.

Inflatable and hybrid backpacking pillows can be customized according to the amount of support you want by adjusting the level of air needed to inflate the air sack.

If you have a sore neck and often experience cramps, you should opt for pillows that generously lift your neck and give it adequate support.


Do you want to sleep with a pillow that keeps on slipping off while you are fast asleep? Obviously no! This not only annoys you but also interferes with your sleep, and you wake up all tired the next morning.

Backpacking pillows have tabs and Velcro straps that help secure your pillow in one place, thus making it stable. Adhesive Velcro enables you to make your lock system for the pad.

The soft loop adheres to the pillow and the rough side on the underside to make your pillow stay better in one place.


1. What are the right steps to clean backpacking pillows?

Given below are the steps to help you clean different types of backpacking pillows:

  1. Inflatable Pillows: Use a cloth dipped in warm water and a mild detergent to get it cleaned easily.
  2. Compressible: You can easily machine wash them.
  3. Hybrid: Where you can hand-wash the pillow, you need to machine-wash the pads.
2. Is it necessary to buy a backpacking pillow?

No, it is not mandatory to buy a backpacking pillow. Comfort is the only thing that is necessary for sleeping. If you get it from a hiking pillow, your purpose is served.

3. Which is the best type of backpacking pillow?

The best backpacking pillow is said to be hybrid ones as they help you save space and, at the same time, impart high comfort.

4. Which is the best shape of the backpacking pillow?

The right shape of the pillow depends entirely on the personal preference of the user. Nevertheless, The bean-shaped one is considered the best one for most backpackers.

Final Verdict

The backpacking pillows present an easily accessible and portable solution for ensuring proper sleep on your journeys.

In this guide, we have presented all the necessary details on the factors of the product. All you need to do is to evaluate all of them with your requirements and make a suitable purchase. / - © Copyright 2020