Are Camping Pillows Worth It?

When you retire to your tent at the end of a long, fun-filled day of camping, where do you lay your head?

The answer to that question may be more important to your health and enjoyment of your trip than you think. A camping pillow is an important part of any camping gear, but one that many people neglect.

Read on to learn more about this essential item and what to look for when buying one.

What is a camping pillow?

Camping pillows are a pretty self-explanatory accessory. They are pillows adapted to the needs and desires of campers, as opposed to those who sleep in a normal bed. In many cases this means changes in size, weight, material or other factors.

It is portable and weather resistant and allows for rougher use than its domestic counterpart.

What do backpackers use as a pillow?

Backpackers have even more specific requirements than regular campers. They often travel long distances on foot.

This means that every gram of weight and every inch of space in their bags is important. For this reason, many experienced backpackers opt for a camping pillow that inflates at bedtime.

These are usually ultra-lightweight. They inflate and fold up so they take up very little space in your pack when not in use. Other backpackers skip the pillow altogether.

Instead, they rest their head on a pile of clothes, a pack sack, or a similar soft object they already have with them.

Do you need a pillow for a sleeping bag?

You don’t really need a pillow to spend the night in a sleeping bag.

After all, people have slept outdoors for millions of years without anything like a pillow! If you don’t have a pillow, you can put your head on the ground or your hands to get some sleep.

However, most campers feel that bringing a pillow or similar item is worth the space and weight in their luggage. Without a good night’s sleep, it is difficult to perform at your physical best during long hikes or other activities.

Even on days when all you want to do is stay at the campsite, a poor night’s sleep can make you grumpy even in the most idyllic setting.

Camping pillow shopping guide

As with all outdoor accessories, there are some camping pillows that are better than others. Here are some important things to consider when buying a pillow to ensure a good rest.


There is no right answer to the question of the size of a camping pillow. It all depends on how you plan to use it. For example, if you are only transporting your pillow from home to car to tent, portability is not as important as comfort.

On the other hand, backpackers planning long trips should choose smaller pillows to maximize backpack space and minimize weight.


Many camping pillows are much dirtier than the pillows in your bed at home. This makes sense, because you’re more likely to get dirty and sweaty in the great outdoors, and there are fewer accessible showers and bathrooms.

Buyers should pay attention to what a camping pillow is made of before purchasing it. Is it machine washable for easy cleaning? Are there fillings or fabrics that are odor-resistant or cooling? This can be a crucial aspect to the comfort and longevity of your camping pillow.


Speaking of durability, the durability of your camping pillow is also an important issue. What good is the most comfortable, compact and lightweight pillow if it breaks after a few trips?

Camping pillows need to stand up to rough outdoor life. So check the reviews for signs of wear and take a close look at the materials.

Advantages of camping pillows

If you’ve gone without a camping pillow on previous trips, you may be wondering why it’s worth buying one now.

These are just some of the benefits of this useful addition to your camping gear.

Good rest

We all know how it feels (and how we function) when we’ve had a good night’s sleep compared to a bad night. Camping trips are supposed to be fun. So why would a bad night’s sleep put you in a worse state of mind and body?

A good camping pillow will ensure a better night’s sleep, leaving you refreshed and ready for whatever the day has in store for you.

Reduces neck and back pain

Back and neck pain are not to be trifled with. These persistent problems can flare up at the most inconvenient times and take days or weeks to fully normalize.

One of the surest ways to give yourself neck and back problems is to not properly support your body while you sleep. Just one night of sleeping on the floor without properly supporting your neck can make you regret your trip for a long time.

A dog lying near camping pillow


Unlike many expensive outdoor accessories, you can find most camping pillows for as little as $15 to $20.

Even top-of-the-line models rarely cost more than $30 to $40. So there’s little reason not to try one of these pillows and see what difference it makes to your sleep.

Are camping pillows worth it?

Camping pillows, of course, add weight and take up space in your backpack. Some backpackers believe that they should be left at home and that the function of the pillow is fulfilled by other items such as piles of clothes.

If you are going on extremely long hikes or practicing an ultralight type of backpacking, this may be useful.

However, for the vast majority of campers and backpackers, it is beneficial to bring a camping pillow. They do bring extra weight, but it is usually negligible. Most importantly, it’s worth a good night’s rest to most smart and experienced nature lovers.

The best camping pillows

There are a variety of camping pillows out there. We’ve narrowed them down to a few top picks for different needs and camping styles.

Our favorite: Travel & Camping Memory Foam Pillow.

Material: Cotton cover with memory foam filling

Size: Pack size – 10.6 inches long and 5.11 inches in diameter, In use – 15.7 inches by 9.85 inches by 3.9 inches

Our overall best choice goes to this Alkamto model, which offers a similar sleeping experience to the memory foam pillows many people have at home. It hugs the sleeper’s head and neck and keeps them cool thanks to the ventilation holes to prevent night sweats.

In addition, the cover is machine washable and comes with a convenient waterproof travel bag that is perfect for camping trips, no matter how dirty they get.

Please note:

Highest Rating: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow

Material: Polyester with memory foam filling

Sizes: Small: Pack size – 9 inches x 6 inches x 4 inches, In use – 12 inches x 16 inches x 4 inches. Medium: Pack size – 10.5 inches x 6 inches x 4 inches, In use – 14 inches x 18 inches x 4 inches.

This Wise Owl pillow gets top reviews from its owners, with more than 8,600 Amazon reviewers giving it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s filled with comfortable memory foam, has a machine-washable cover, and comes in two sizes for campers with different needs. Reviewers praised it for its comfort, value and portability.

Cheap: Teton Sport Camping Pillow

Material: Flannel with a Poly fiber filling

Size: Pack Size – 4 inches x 7 inches x 9 inches, In Use – 18 inches x 12 inches x 4 inches.

If you’re looking for a camping pillow that offers the comfort and portability you need without breaking the budget, check out this model from Teton. At around $18, it’s just over half the price of our top picks.

Still, it offers ultra-soft comfort thanks to the use of a special “SuperLoft Elite 4-Channel” polyfiber fill. Both the pillow and the flannel cover are washable, so this budget camping pillow will stay fresh for a long time.

Lumbar support camping pillow: Hikenture Camping Pillow

Material: Cotton with air filling

Size: Pack Size – 3 inches by 3 inches by 5 inches, In use – 17.3 inches by 12.2 inches by 4.7 inches.

Back pain can put even the most enthusiastic campers out of commission, so take care of your spine with this high-quality lumbar support pillow. You can use the ergonomic design both sitting and lying down for maximum versatility.

It’s also one of the most portable pillows on the market, as it completely deflates for packing. Then, when it’s time to rest, it inflates again in just a few breaths.

Please note:

Ultralight Option: Compressible Backpack Pillow

Material: Knitted cotton with air filling

Size: Pack size – 5.16 inches x 2.8 inches x 2.72 inches, In use – 16 inches x 12 inches x 4 inches

Sometimes weight reduction is the top priority. At only 2.75 ounces, there’s no better choice than this compressible backpacking pad from Rugged Camp. It achieves this light weight through lightness. It’s made of puncture-resistant material that inflates quickly and has a simple two-way valve that prevents air from escaping.

When folded, it fits in almost any backpack pocket. This makes it an easy choice compared to the comfort it offers.

Well rested for the next camping trip

A camping pillow may seem like a small thing. But as you can see, it can have a big impact on the quality of your rest and everything that comes after. There are several varieties for all types of campers, from long-distance backpackers to weekenders.

These affordable, durable accessories are sure to give campers years of sweet dreams no matter where they lay their head.

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