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Best camping pillows: for cozy slumbers on any camping trip or backcountry adventure

best camping pillows: woman sleeping on pillow in large tent
A glorious campsite siesta (Image credit: Getty)

Whether wild camping or on vacation with the fam, the best camping pillows will transform your experience. Designed to be lightweight, packable but, above all else, blessedly comfortable, the best camping pillows fulfil a number of criteria beyond a standard pillow. With spring in the air and summer camping trips on the horizon, it's a good time to add one to your camping kit.

And they come in all shapes and sizes too! There are inflatable pillows that take up next to no space in your backpack, memory foam cushions and ultralight pillows designed for gram counting campers. Regardless of weight or form, all do one thing brilliantly, provide a cozy nest for your head when it's time to catch forty winks.

best camping pillows: pillows in a tent

While you're out adventuring, your camping pillows will be waiting for a cozy slumber (Image credit: Getty)

Just as with the best sleeping bags, camping pillows are designed with specific uses in mind. Some feature compressible and water resistant down, perfect for wild camping expeditions, while others boast features like integrated pockets for things like sleeping masks. 

There will always be a compromise when choosing the best camping pillows for you. Inflatable pillows take up no room, yet are not quite as comfy as those filled with down or foam. Down is more expensive and is a no-go for vegans, yet gives you better performance than other materials. Which pillow ends up in your camping tent this season will depend on what you value the most. 

How we test the best camping pillows

At Advnture we endeavor to test every product we feature extensively in the field. That means one of our team of reviewers and writers – all experienced outdoor specialists active across the US, UK, Europe and Australasia – taking it out into the terrain and climatic conditions that it’s designed for. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, we’ll say so in our buying guides and reviews.

The best foam and polyester camping pillows

Best camping pillows: Thermarest Compressible pillow (medium)

(Image credit: Thermarest)

Thermarest Compressible (medium)

Recycled foam offers good comfort but still packs down small, all wrapped up in fun prints and patterns

Specifications

RRP: $27 (US) / £30 (UK)
Materials: Foam and polyester
Weight: 260g / 9.2oz
Dimensions: 46 x 36 x 10cm / 18 x 14 x 4in
Color: Various patterns
Compatibility: Great for weekenders, camping kids and frequent flyers alike

Reasons to buy

+
Comfy foam filling, which is upcycled
+
Packs down small
+
Available in various sizes
+
Fun designs

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Brushed polly material might not suit everyone

If you hate the feeling of inflated pillows but don’t want the bulk of foam, Thermarest’s Compressible pillow is a great compromise. This pillow is packed with comfortable foam but still manages to compress down to the size of a water bottle and weighs a middling-to-light 260g. We’re still not sure if we like brushed polly as a pillow material, as it doesn’t feel very breathable against the skin when compared to jersey or cotton, but if you don’t mind it, you’ll get on well with this design. 

Thermarest also recommend this pillow for flying – it’s perfect for long haul journeys, especially if you hate inflatable neck pillows, and this versatility makes the pillow’s more expensive price point more palatable. This was the only pillow we tested with patterned designs available, which are great for kids or for cheering up your campervan, bell tent or even your sofa. The foam stuffing is also fully recycled, and four sizes of the pillow are available (we tested the medium, but you can also choose small, large and extra large).

Best camping pillows: Sea to Summit Foamcore Pillow

(Image credit: Sea to Summit)

Sea to Summit Foamcore

A slim, simple and easy to store pillow with the feel of a comfortable camping mat

Specifications

RRP: $30 (US) / £26 (UK)
Materials: Foam and polyester
Weight: 300g /10.5oz
Dimensions: 13 x 42 x 30cm / 5 x 16.5 x 12in
Colors: Purple / Blue
Compatibility: Take car camping and glamping or pop in a small van or caravan

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Upcycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much cushioning
-
Folds rather than stuffs for storage

Sea to Summit make some of the best sleeping pads we've ever had the pleasure of resting our wearied bones on, and in the Foamcore pillow, which is stuffed with off-cuts from the brand’s pad-making process, they may just have bequeathed us one the best camping pillows out there, too. These pillows do Sea to Summit’s moniker proud - positive reviewers include sailors and mountaineers.

This is a slim design – if you like lots of padding or use multiple pillows at home, it might not suit you. We like the stretchy synthetic knit fabric used on the outside of the pillow, which feels fresh and cool to sleep on, and the integrated pocket, designed to hold an eye mask or earplugs and handy for keeping essentials together at camp or for using on a plane. Unlike most of the other pillows we tested, this flattish design folds or rolls up rather than stuffing in a sack, which makes it easy to slide into storage or pop in the boot of a car but less easy to cram into a backpack.

The best down camping pillow

Best camping pillows: Sierra Designs Dridown pillow

(Image credit: Sierra)

Sierra Designs Dridown

Get the great warmth and lightweight features of down in this rather luxurious quilted pillow

Specifications

RRP: $30 (US) / £25 (UK)
Materials: Water-resistant down
Weight: 120g / 4oz
Dimensions: 33 x 23 x 6cm / 13 x 9 x 2.5in
Colors: Red / Blue
Compatibility: Ideal for camping weekenders, van campers and cold weather camps

Reasons to buy

+
Light weight
+
Fantastic comfort and warmth

Reasons to avoid

-
Not super packable

Anyone who owns a down sleeping bag (or just a favourite down jacket) will know that the warmth-to-weight ratio of animal down is unbeatable. Down is deliciously soft and warm but very lightweight, so it’s perfect for camping pillows such as the DriDown, which weighs just 120g. It’s a pity this pillow doesn’t stuff super small (it compresses to about the size of a Nalgene bottle) but we did find it fits in a water bottle pocket, which is handy on the go. It also looks great, with one silky quilted and one cotton-like patterned side, which might not be the most important factor in a camping pillow but is definitely a plus for campers or van owners using pillows regularly, and also lets you pick which material you prefer to sleep on. Luxurious without adding much weight, this is another more expensive camping pillow that is well worth the spend if you’re a regular camper or van-lifer.

The best value camping pillows

Best camping pillows: Hi-Gear Luxury Camping pillow

(Image credit: Hi-Gear)

Hi-Gear Luxury

This comfortable camping pillow is about as simple and functional as they get

Specifications

RRP: £18 (UK)
Materials: Microfleece
Weight: 300g / 10.5oz
Dimensions: 50cm x 30cm x 11cm / 20 x 12 x 4in
Color: Red
Compatibility: A fuss-free choice for weekenders and festival goers

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable to sleep on
+
Comes with stuff sack

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes time to dry
-
Not super compressible

If you’re after a comfortable pillow for casual camping with zero bells and whistles, Hi-Gear’s bright red number will do you proud. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was clearly the design motto here – this is a reasonably lightweight, well-stuffed and soft little pillow to whip out on weekend trips or at festivals. It doesn’t compress down very small, so you might want something more packable for backpacking and wild camping, but otherwise it’s a fuss-free choice, and once we’ve taken with us on camping adventures of all kinds for years now. We like the soft brushed microfleece outer material, which feels much nicer against the skin than other more plastic-y pillows. Our only criticism is that if you do want to wash this pillow, its dense stuffing is tricky to dry out, and needs a day of drying in full sun to get it camping-ready again. 

Best camping pillows: Snugpak Snuggy Headrest

(Image credit: Snugpak)

Snugpak Snuggy Headrest

Lightweight, portable and boasting sleeping bag-style insulation, the Snuggy Headrest adds a welcome touch of comfort to wild camps

Specifications

RRP: $10 (US) / £6.95 (UK)
Materials: Sleeping bag insulation
Weight: 200g / 7oz
Colors: Black / Blue
Compatibility: Ideal for backpackers and those with smaller tent setups

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Reasonably compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Slick finish might not suit everyone
-
Moves around if not in sleeping bag hood

Lightweight and compact are the top priorities of Snugpak’s Snuggy Headrest, which is clearly designed with more adventurous campers who have limited space in mind. Snugpak have shaped this pillow to fit nicely in the hood of their sleeping bags, and the pillow is stuffed with the same insulation as their bag designs. While it feels pleasingly soft and malleable, this pillow still offers good neck support, and therefore a decent night’s sleep. 

That insulated stuffing is also warm, and definitely helps to keep you snug on chilly nights. The shiny slick finish might not be for everyone – if you like a soft cotton-y finish, you’ll prefer a different design, and this pillow is wont to slide about a bit if it’s not tucked in to a sleeping bag hood. If you want a dinky, lightweight pillow but don’t want to go for an inflatable design, this is our top pick – it’ll definitely add a touch of comfort to bare-bones wild camps or bivvy bag adventures. Bottom line? Frill-free, functional, and one of the best camping pillows out there for buyers on a budget.

The best inflatable camping pillows

Best camping pillows: Alpkit Drift Camping pillow

(Image credit: Alpkit)

Alpkit Drift

Ultralight and portable inflatable pillow with a soft fabric cover – ideal if you’re counting every gram on fast-paced adventures

Specifications

RRP: $17.50 (US) / £14 (UK)
Materials: Polyester
Weight: 100g / 3.5oz
Dimensions (inflated): 42 x 27 x 8cm / 16.5 x 11 x 3in
Color: Grey
Compatibility: Ideal for wild camping, bikepacking and bivvy bag adventures

Reasons to buy

+
Very compact and lightweight
+
Ergonomic design
+
Washable fabric cover

Reasons to avoid

-
Inflatable pillows aren’t quite as comfy as traditional pillows

Drift away on this comfortable and well-shaped pillow. At just 100g and packing down into its (included) stuff sack to the size of a tennis ball, the inflatable Drift is one of the best camping pillows out there for ultralight adventures – you’ll have room for this pillow in the smallest of backpacks or bike panniers, which can really make a difference if you’re planning long days of hiking or cycling and want to feel refreshed each morning. It’s quick to inflate the Drift once you’ve set up camp, and the soft ‘brushed feel’ cover (which can be removed for washing) goes far to make you feel like you’re resting your head on a more traditional pillow rather than an inflatable one. We like the wide, neck-cradling design on the Drift, and the other benefit of an inflatable pillow is that it’s easy to blow it up to the level of firmness you prefer. If space is at a premium, this is one of the best camping pillows available.

Best camping pillows: Nemo Fillo Pillow

(Image credit: Nemo)

Nemo Fillo

This brilliantly comfortable yet packable pillow combines the best of inflatable and insulated designs

Specifications

RRP: $40 (US) / £35 (UK) / €40 (EU)
Materials: Foam
Weight: 260g/9oz
Dimensions (inflated): 43 x 27 x 10cm / 17 x 11 x 4in
Colors: Abyss / Canopy green / Goodnight grey / Koi stripe
Compatibility: A comfy addition to pretty much any camping kitbag

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic comfort
+
Small pack size

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive

The Fillo may be more expensive than most of the best camping pillows on the market, but if you spend a night sleeping on it you’ll understand why. This award-winning pillow manages to be small and compressible but seriously comfortable – this is as close you’ll get to feeling like you brought your pillow from home with you without taking up too much extra space. The Fillo sits between a stuffed pillow and a blow-up pillow – it has built-in foam padding but there’s also an air cell to inflate. Pop it out of its integrated stuff sack, blow it up, and in a few seconds you’ve got a seriously comfortable pillow that doesn’t feel like other balloon-like inflatables. The soft jersey cover is lovely to sleep on and can be removed for washing. Various sizes are available, too, suiting everyone from dirtbag backpackers to luxurious glampers. If you’re off on a multi-week adventure, this pillow is well worth the spend to help you sleep well in the wild each night.

The best memory foam camping pillow

Best camping pillows: Decathlon Ultim Comfort Pillow

(Image credit: Decathlon)

Decathlon Ultim Comfort

This large and luxurious memory foam pillow is as close as you’ll get to bringing along your pillow from home

Specifications

RRP: $25 (US) / £18 (UK)
Materials: Memory foam
Weight: 570g / 20oz
Dimensions: 45 x 35 x 13cm / 18 x 14 x 5in
Colors: Sand / Pewter
Compatibility: Great comfort and looks make this pillow ideal for glamping

Reasons to buy

+
Stuffed with memory foam
+
Great looks

Reasons to avoid

-
Large
-
Heavy

The clue’s in the name – if nothing will do but the comfort of your pillow from home, Decathlon’s Ultim Comfort is about to be your new favourite cosy camping pillow. This large and rather decadent design is made with memory foam and is, in short, a delight to sleep on. The brushed fabric pillow case feels great against the skin, and can be zipped open and removed for washing. This is a large and heavy pillow that doesn’t stuff down small, but it’s not designed with lightweight kit set-ups in mind – it’s firmly aimed at week-long holidays, car campers and glampers who want to sleep as well as possible and have plenty of storage space. We also like how good-looking this neutral-coloured pillow is – it’s smart enough to grace your sofa at home when you aren’t in the great outdoors.

Best camping pillows comparison table
PillowRRPMaterialsWeightCompatibility
Thermarest Compressible (medium)$27 (US) / £30 (UK)Foam and polyester260g / 9.2ozGreat for weekenders, camping kids and frequent flyers alike
Sea to Summit Foamcore$30 (US) / £26 (UK)Foam and polyester300g /10.5ozTake car camping and glamping or pop in a small van or caravan
Sierra Designs Dridown$30 (US) / £25 (UK)Water-resistant down120g / 4ozIdeal for camping weekenders, van campers and cold weather camps
Hi-Gear Luxury£18 (UK)Microfleece300g / 10.5ozA fuss-free choice for weekenders and festival goers
Snugpak Snuggy Headrest$10 (US) / £6.95 (UK)Sleeping bag insulation200g / 7ozIdeal for backpackers and those with smaller tent setups
Alpkit Drift$17.50 (US) / £14 (UK)Polyester100g / 3.5ozIdeal for wild camping, bikepacking and bivvy bag adventures
Nemo Fillo$40 (US) / £35 (UK) / €40 (EU)Foam260g/9ozA comfy addition to pretty much any camping kitbag
Decathlon Ultim Comfort$25 (US) / £18 (UK)Memory foam570g / 20ozGreat comfort and looks make this pillow ideal for glamping

The best camping pillows: what to look for when buying

A camping pillow is a key part of your camping checklist. Our selection of the best camping pillows will suit different kinds of campers with varying budgets and demands, but all offer great quality. But what do you need to think about when looking for the best camping pillow to suit your needs?

Traditional or inflatable?

Most of the best camping pillows on the market are either ‘air’ pillows you unfold and inflate, or insulated pillows that can be compressed into a stuff sack. In general, pillows stuffed with foam or insulation are more comfortable than inflatable pillows, which can feel a bit balloon-like under your head. Having said that, some of the air pillows we tested out were surprisingly comfortable, especially those that are hybrids of air and traditional pillows. 

Inflatable pillows, however, are usually far more lightweight and portable, and are the best choice when space and weight are at a premium. If you're counting every gram on a solo backpacking mission with your one-person tent, an inflatable will probably be the best option. Whichever design you pick, we recommend choosing a pillow that has a removable, washable cover and its own stuff sack for storage.

best camping pillows: couple snoozing on pillows

For family trips to the campsite, a traditional camping pillow is the more comfortable option (Image credit: Getty)

Weight and portability

The second consideration is the weight and packability of your new pillow. It’s simple – if you’re more of a wild camper, a backpacker or a bike packer who has limited space and tends to carry their own kit over long distances, the best camping pillows are those that are as small and as light as possible – ideally around or below 200g, and packing down to the size of a water bottle or smaller. 

Some of the pillows in our round-up weigh just 100g and take up the space of a tennis ball. If you’re more of a car camper or a family camper packing up the boot for a trip to your favourite campsite, you can choose something far bigger and heavier for the family tent, cushions that resembles your pillows from home – designs with memory foam and cotton-feel covers will make sleeping under canvas very cosy and comfortable indeed.

best camping pillows: woman asleep on pillow in car

A more traditional pillow will be more comfortable but less compressible than a camping pillow (Image credit: Getty)

Compressibility

A pillow's compressibility is its ability to pack down small. Have you ever tried putting a regular pillow in a backpack? You soon realise that they are not in the least bit compressible and take up the lion's share of space in your pack. Fortunately, the down, polyester and foam that the best camping pillows are made from compress much smaller, making them much more packable. Most come with stuff sacks too, allowing you to squeeze them down to a tidy little package. As anyone with a down jacket will know, down is the most compressible material, but is generally more expensive than foam and polyester options.

Durability

This isn't a huge concern for foam and down pillows, but inflatable pillows are prone to getting pierced by anything from pine needles to crampon spikes. When buying an inflatable pillow, keep an eye out for rugged materials like thermoplastic polyethane (TPU), which are less likely to be compromised than some. It's worth reading user reviews too, as they will often highlight issues that magazine reviews and the like, which are usually done at the start of a pillow's life, miss.

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.