Sleeping is always a major concern for any person leaving the comfort of their home. Backpackers often face uncertainty when it comes to finding a place to sleep.
For this reason, tents, sleeping bags, and pillows play important roles in every backpacker’s life.
For a comfortable sleep, there is virtually nothing more important than a pillow. This is even truer if you are sleeping on the ground, in the tent, in the airport’s waiting room, or during transportation.
Waking up with a headache or a painful neck is the last thing you would want on a travel holiday.
We can all agree that having the best backpacking pillow is important, but the question is – how to make the right choice? First of all, ask yourself what it is that you want from a pillow? What qualities does the best backpacking pillow have?
To help you determine these and make the right choice in the end, this article offers an insight into the most important characteristics of the best backpacking pillows available today.
The Quick Answer
The pillow design is a well-known one. At first glance, most pillows do not differ much in shape or purpose. Yet, there are factors that can significantly affect their characteristics.
In backpacking, this is very important. The materials they are made of, the support they provide, size, volume, and durability are all useful information when opting for the best backpacking pillow.
Although most of the backpacking pillows are made to offer convenience in all circumstances, there are some fine differences that can be important to consider when you are choosing the best backpacking pillow. This article puts a focus on those fine differences which make some products stand out from the rest.
To help you make the right choice, we have put together this review of best backpacking pillows in their respected categories. The following is our recommendation, based on the comparison of most relevant information regarding these fine products. So, let’s take a look.
For side sleepers, the best choice would probably be the Ope Plus Inflatable Camp Pillow. Stomach and back sleepers will be very happy with the Chanodug Inflatable Camping Pillow, the Besteam Camping Pillow, the Big Blue Mountain Camping Pillow, and the Moon Lence Ultra-light Camping Pillow.
Our Backpacking Pillow Comparison
Best Backpacking Pillow Reviews
1. Ope Plus Inflatable Cam Pillow (Best for Side Sleepers)
For side sleepers, the alignment between the spine, the neck, and the back is the most important precondition for a comfortable sleep. The design of the best backpacking pillow for side sleepers needs to follow the natural curve of the body.
If you prefer sleeping on your side but you don’t prefer waking up in stiff and in pain, this pillow is the right choice for you.
The Ope Plus Inflatable Camp Pillow is a well-designed backpacking pillow for side sleepers. Its curvature provides firm support for the head and neck, and its easy-to-use features make it a perfect choice for most.
For extra comfort, this backpacking pillow comes with a natural, hypoallergenic, cotton pillow case.
Who it’s best for?
This is the best backpacking pillow for those campers and travelers who prefer sleeping on their side. With its hypoallergenic cover, it’s also suitable to be used during travel (airplane, car, train, bus). The slightly higher price could be a potential setback though.
2. Chanodug Inflatable Camping Pillow (Best for Stomach Sleepers)
This pillow is a good choice for anyone looking for a universal sleeping aid in most situations. It is a durable backpacking pillow, with a design that enables enough support for the neck and head in most positions. Simple inflation and rapid deflation are a fine pack-and-go feature.
The pillow is priced in the middle range, but it offers a good value for the money.
Who it’s best for?
For those stomach sleepers, who are not looking for more than basics. The much-needed, head and neck support is assured with this pillow.
It is a robust and reliable product, good enough to solve all your outdoor sleeping problems for a long time. The middle-range price promises more, but this is still very much a Spartan backpacking pillow.
3. The Besteam Camping Pillow
Whether it’s hot or cold, humid or dry, this pillow promises to perform under any circumstances. The shape and the ergonomic dents keep the head and the neck supported at all times. It is a good recommendation for overnight fishing trips and music festivals because its, easy-to-clean, surface is simple to maintain.
Folding is not an issue with this pillow. The material will not wrinkle or crack, regardless of the number of times that you fold and unfold it.
A decent size and a more than decent price are important features too.
Who it’s best for?
A backpacking pillow like this is a good choice for those travelers who don’t mind getting a bit dirty from time to time. It is easy to clean and handles all types of weather well. The price is a bargain too.
4. Big Blue Mountain Camping Pillow - 2 Pack
Two for the price of one. Almost, but not exactly. Still, this is a good offer for couples or those who prefer to keep a spare pillow, just in case.
The manufacturer states that this backpacking pillow is also good in providing lumbar support while seated. Completely made of polyester, it is easy to maintain, and it is slip-free.
Who it’s best for?
Definitely, this is a good offer for anyone looking to buy two backpacking pillows at a decent price.
5. Moon Lence Ultra Light Camping Pillow
This slightly smaller backpacking pillow is a really good value for the money. It is really convenient for packing as it really takes up very little space.
It is fitted with a two-way valve it offers safe protection from deflation. The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty on this product.
Who it’s best for?
For campers and backpackers who are not looking to invest heavily in their equipment, this is certainly a good solution. If you are searching for the best backpacking pillow, you don’t have to look elsewhere. This one can be just right for you.
The Most Important Things to Look for in Your Backpacking Pillow
The first thing you should consider when you are looking for the best backpacking pillow is the design. Comfort is everything when it comes to sleeping. Waking up well-rested and pain-free is the backpacker’s happiness.
So, look for a pillow that is compatible with your sleeping habits. Ask yourself this question—are you a back, side, or a stomach sleeper?
The position of your spine and neck determines how comfortable your sleep is going to be. Not to mention the consequences of chronic injuries which may be caused by long-time sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
If you have a history of rash and allergic reactions related to different chemicals or fabrics, you should probably pay attention to the materials your backpacking pillow is made of. Look at all the brochures and the user manuals supplied by the manufacturer to make sure that all the materials are safe for you.
This applies to all pillow covers and sacks too. If you don’t want to wake up red, itchy and swollen, always perform this important check.
The pillow that doesn’t leave you looking like the beekeeper’s assistant, in the morning, is your best backpacking pillow.
Both packed and fully inflated sizes matter. You know best what pillow size will make you feel comfortable. Make sure that you don’t order something too small to sleep on or too big to pack.
Most backpacking pillows come in similar sizes, but they are not the same. So, choose wisely the best backpacking pillow for yourself.
Backpacking Pillows FAQs
Can I sit on my backpacking pillow?
It depends. What you should know is that backpacking pillows are intended for sleeping. Their design is anatomically adjusted to provide the best support for the back, neck, and head.
Sitting is an attractive option and many users state that they have successfully used their backpacking pillows for this.
However, if your pillow malfunctions, deflates or bursts as a result of sitting, you may void the warranty. According to most manufacturers, sitting on the pillow counts as improper use of the product. Unless it is stated differently by the manufacturer.
How do I inflate the pillow? Do I need a pump?
All camping pillows are intentionally built to be easily inflated and deflated, without any extra equipment. Two valves are fitted on the backpacking pillow for these purposes. The upper valve is used for inflating the pillow while the lower valve is used for deflation.
For inflation, three to five full breaths are usually needed. Deflation is fast and simple, just pull out the plug on the lower valve and the pillow will deflate in two to three seconds.
Are backpacking pillows noisy when you lay on them?
Unlike common pillows, which are filled inside with various soft materials, backpacking pillows are only filled with air. The materials used for the production of these pillows are air-tight, durable and non-slippery.
All this means that there is no reason for backpacking pillows to produce any noise while being used.
Should the pillow only be partially inflated to avoid slipping?
The answer is no. Backpacking pillows are built to be fully inflated. Your best backpacking pillow should be made from non-slip materials.
This issue is carefully addressed by the manufacturers and should be stated on the packaging. Best performance is achieved by fully inflating your backpacking pillow.
Some people might prefer to use a slightly deflated pillow; however, this is certainly not the safest or the most ergonomically correct way to use the backpacking pillow. If the pillow deflates in use, it might be a sign of malfunction and you should check your warranty.
Why are all backpacking pillows inflatable?
Well, this is a legitimate question, considering the comfort some other solutions may offer. The reason is, of course, the packing ability.
A fully deflated backpacking pillow takes up very little storage room in any luggage. Light weight and small size make inflatable pillows a number one choice for those who prefer to carry as little as possible.
There are many modern materials that can be used to make good pillows. Some of those materials, like memory foam, can even be compressed and folded to a certain level, but none of them have the great advantage the air has—to always be at hand when needed, and to disappear completely when not.