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Best Backpacking Pillows 2021

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Best Backpacking Pillow Review

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This is a gear review of the Best Backpacking Pillows in 2021.

The humble Backpacking Pillow is one of the most overlooked items that we take into the backcountry. Most of you might be more concerned about the lightweight sleeping mat or ultralight sleeping bag for your big trip, but for now let us focus on the lightweight backpacking pillow.

I’ve got you covered with all the best ultralight backpacking pillows. One of them is bound to suit your needs and preferences, so have a scroll through and see for yourself.


Best Backpacking Pillow 2021

Here are the Best Backpacking pillows in 2021:


Trekology ALUFT 2.0 Ultralight Camping Pillow

Pros:
> Multiple colorways to choose from
> Inflates and deflates in seconds
> Improved ergonomic design with added neck support
> Ideal for back, side, or stomach sleepers
Cons:
> Inflation only – no added foam or padding

Maximizing comfort whilst minimizing footprint, Trekology’s ALUFT 2.0 is one of the most compact, lightweight pillows on the market. Once folded, it is an absolutely tiny 5×2 inches, smaller and far squishier than your average soda can.

Enhanced with TPU fabric that’s both durable and elasticated, the 2.0 version is new and improved for 2021. Not only is it comfier, but it now boasts water resistance, so you can sleep under the stars with full peace of mind.

The rubber anti-slip gripping dots on the reverse of this clever pillow prevents any friction against your sleeping mat, keeping it held in place all night long. The integrated latch strap adds further security, so your head won’t go bump in the night!

This is one of the best budget camping pillows with loads of comfort at a budget price.

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Nemo Fillo Elite Pillow

Pros:
> Versatile enough to be used for sleeping basically anywhere
> Machine washable
> Less than 3 ounces in weight
> As comfortable as your pillow at home
Cons:
> Combines air and foam, which some customers may not realize

As the best-selling pillow from Nemo’s beloved camping range, this updated version of the Nemo Fillo is designed with brand new fabrics and an even better air valve than ever before. Enjoy a luxury sleeping experience no matter where you are!

Thanks to a three inch l beam baffled air cell, this inflatable air pillow doesn’t feel like lying on a balloon as competing products do. 100% post-consumer Primaloft synthetic fill insulation creates a cradling layer that supports your head and boosts its height impressively.

This compressible pillow packs down about as small as a lime, it’s absolutely tiny packed size and easily light enough to carry wherever backpacking takes you. An integrated stuff sack ensures it won’t get lost in the bottom of your backpack, so you can always grab it when needed.

The Nemo Fillo Elite is the current lightweight backpacking pillow that I use and have used for a couple of years. It ticks a lot of boxes and gives me all the comfort and support that I need. It was the main reason I moved away from using a staff sack filled with a down jacket for a pillow on backpacking trips.

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Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow

Pros:
> Ultra-soft and supple with additional down top
> Small, unobtrusive air valve won’t interrupt sleep
> Larger than other backpacking pillows, but still as small and light
> Dual-layer internal airbag prevents leaking overnight
Cons:
> Very expensive for a camping pillow

Offering a luxurious sleeping experience thanks to a down pillow top, the Sea to Summit Aeros Down fuses the traditional Sea to Summit quality with added softness and support, inflating generously to about the same size as a pillow you’d use in bed.

Once stuffed inside the provided sack, it’s as small as 5.5 x 3.15 inches, weighing only 6.7 ounces – this is basically nothing, allowing you to fit more important things into your bag, like extra underwear and waterproof clothing.

Soft, nylon woven top fabric is quickly and easily inflated, adjusted or deflated, thanks to their patented mini Multi-Function valve, so you’re ready to hit the hay in seconds and easily put it away the next day.

The combination of down and a lightweight construction make the Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow the best down pillow for backpacking. It is an interesting combination that just seems to work.

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Big Agnes Q Core Deluxe Inflatable Travel Pillow

Pros:
> Soft, supple finish – no need for an added cover
> Sturdy and comfortable at the same time
> Tear-resistant, puncture-proof aviation-grade technology
> Comes with a lifetime warranty
Cons:
> Hand wash and air dry only

The Big Agnes Q-Core Deluxe is one of the most popular pillows from Big Agnes, ideal for backpacking, camping or travel. Fusing all of the best sleeping pad technology with added coziness that even sensitive skin can cope with, it’s a worthy investment.

The outer fabric is nylon and has a four-way stretch and a soft-touch finish molds to your head so there’s no “ballooning” or any pressure points as with other travel pillows. Plus, integrated heat reflective technology allows you to stay warm without becoming uncomfortable.

A minimalist, offset construction allows for a lighter pillow that still offers continuous comfort and stability throughout the night. The low-profile single-port valve means immediate deflation, with a subtle adjustment button for quick changes!

This is one of the largest backpacking pillows in this review yet it is still lightweight.

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Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow

Pros:
> Super affordable without cutting corners
> Machine washable and dryer friendly!
> 100% satisfaction guarantee fulfilled by a USA based customer service
Cons:
> Can get a little lumpy, but it’s incredibly easy to fluff out

The Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow is one of the most budget-friendly pillows on our list, you might be wondering why we’re recommended such a cheap and cheerful cushion. This bad boy from Wise Owl Outfitters is what you call an absolute bargain purchase!

Pairing foamy support with a soft, micro-suede cover, your head feels like it’s being cradled by a cloud; being five inches thick, it offers superior comfort despite coming at a fraction of the cost of other backpacking pillows.

Choose between three sizes to suit your needs and preferences – even the large pillow will fold down to an impressive 12×17 inches, easily fitting inside the average rucksack, tote, suitcase… pretty much any bag you want to use!

This is a great camping pillow for car camping and travel. It does not fold down really small like the other backpacking pillows in this review but it is a budget price and a great budget car camping pillow. Because it is quite large it is the best backpacking pillow for side sleepers.

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Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Pros:
> Multiple sizes and colors available
> Contoured TPU air bladder for impressive support
> Synthetic lining for an improved airflow
> Silent inflation for those late-night returns
Cons:
> More expensive than other Aeros pillows despite minimal differences

Offering both regular and large sizes to suit a variety of backpackers. The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium collection is beautifully designed with an ultra-soft brushed polyester knit exterior. 

No bigger than a bottle of ibuprofen once you’ve popped it in the provided stuff sack, it weighs less than three ounces, which is about the same as a pack of cards. This is ideal for those who don’t think they have room for a pillow in their bag!

Simply inflated in a maximum of seven breaths, as well as swiftly deflated or adjusted using the patented Multi Function Valve, it’s up and running in seconds and then down again even faster, for even the busiest of budding travelers.

The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium really stepped up their game when it comes to lightweight camping pillows. This is one of the best.

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Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Travel And Camping Pillow

Pros:
> Replacement covers can be purchased separately
> Color options to suit you
> Cleverly designed to keep the head stable all night
> Lifetime limited warranty provided
Cons:
> No grip – may slip and slide on sleeping mats

With an innovative, self-centering Klymit X design, your head is always perfectly oriented even as you sleep when you pack the Klymit Pillow X for your trip. It’s supportive, durable, ultra-light, and most importantly, very comfortable.

Height and pressure can be instantly adjusted by adding or releasing air to suit you. This raises and lowers the height of the pillow, as well as modifying its firmness, providing your most customizable sleep yet whilst on the go.

Decreasing to an ultra-compact 4.5 x 2.5 inches and weighing less than two ounces, you can inflate it in just one or two breaths and pack it pretty much anywhere. Plus, it fits in the hood of a mummy bag to store securely when not in use. Lightweight and cheap hiking pillow.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sac Pillow

Pros:
> Added comfort from the reversible fleece-lined side
> Fully waterproof – won’t let you down
> Multiple sizes to suit you
> Doubles as storage for clean clothes
Cons:
> “Small” cushion is especially small – check measurements before buying!

Versatile and multi-purpose, the Stuff Sac pillow from Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a two-in-one special pillow you’ll regret not purchasing sooner.

During the day, you can protect and store your clothes inside – at night, it’s the perfect place to snooze.

Premium construction features include fully-taped seams and a water-resistant YKK zipper, 100% waterproof DYNEEMA composite fabrics, and a reversible, 100-weight fleece lining from Polartec. Now that’s comfortable!

Coming in both small and large, pint-sized and extra-big campers can get a full eight hours easily, both are made in Maine USA and weigh less than 2 ounces, so either way, you’ll be able to store it in pretty much any bag.

One of the best ultralight backpacking pillows or should I say one of the best stuff sack pillows for backpacking.

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Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Pros:
> Available in small, medium, large and extra-large
> Machine washable
> Uses partially recycled materials 
> Made in the USA
Cons:
> Needs regular fluffing

Made in the USA and ideal for backpacking, the Therm a Rest compressible travel foam pillow is extra light, despite being stuffed with soft foam filling, offering all of the comforts of your bed at home for sleeping just about anywhere.

Expanding out to four inches of thick and plush support, it’s perfect for use wherever you are, even on public transport. The Therm a Rest compressible pillow is made with a brushed polyester cover which is soft and supple against your skin, so even the most sensitive face can rest easy on it.

The handy integrated drawstring and cord lock keep the pillow nice and securely compressed when it’s not in use, so there’s no worry it will come loose and re-inflate when you’re on the go. It stays small and where it should be!

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Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

Pros:
> Several sizes and color options
> Polyester knit fabric and TPU bladder – high-quality materials
> Simple inflation in 10 breaths maximum
> Includes free storage bag
Cons:
> Hand wash and air dry only

Full-sized yet super light, this pillow retains all of the usual Sea to Summit quality, whilst reducing down to the footprint of a paperback book, weighing less than that would at a tiny 2.1 ounces (when you chose the regular size).

Ideal for those gram-counters out there trying to sleep comfortably without sacrificing too much rucksack space as this has a very small packed size. The integrated contours cradle your head as you sleep so it works well. For back sleeper, stomach sleepers or side sleepers this inflatable pillow should give you a good night’s sleep.

Choose between the regular, large, and deluxe sizes to suit you – each one is covered with a soft and washable stretch polyester knit that won’t irritate your face no matter how sensitive your skin happens to be.

The Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow is one of the best ultralight backpacking pillows for ultralight thru hikers.

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Best of the Rest

Here is a list of some other pillows that either almost made it to the list of best backpacking pillows or are yet to be tested.

  • Cocoon Hyperlight Air Core Pillow : The Cocoon Hyperlight Air Core Pillow is a lightweight inflatable pillow that packs up small but not quite as small as some of the Aeros range.
  • Exped Air Pillow : The Exped Air Pillow is small and lightweight and will be reviewed for the list very soon.
  • Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow : Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow is nice and soft and comfortable but there are lighter options out there for similar comfort.
Stuff sack pillow for backpacking
For most of us, gone are the days of using a stuff sack as a pillow.

Backpacking Pillow Buyer’s Guide


What Makes A Good Backpacking Pillow?

You might think that all there is to consider when pillow shopping is whether it feels nice to lay your head-on. Sure, that’s fine when you’re using it inside the house, but things need to be a little more rigorous when it comes to backpacking gear.

You need to consider the following things in a camping pillow:

  • Comfort
  • Size and Weight
  • Durability
  • Ease of Maintenance
  • Simplicity

Comfort

If it doesn’t softly cradle your head, either using foam, air inflation or another method of padding, then it’s not meeting the basic criteria of being a decent pillow. You might have a preference for a particular texture or material.

Some of the comfortable pillows are covered in neoprene where others have a rougher external fabric – depending on how you feel about texture and whether your skin is sensitive, you might want to consider if you’ll be able to settle down on top of it before you buy.

There are a couple of different types of backpacking pillows and each are different when it comes to comfort.

The inflatable pillows have the advantage of allowing the head to sink into the pillow depending on how much air was inside.

Foam pillows are usually set and unable to be changed which can be a good thing for a comfortable pillow.

Stuff sack pillows can be adjusted by adding more clothing to the stuff sack to fill it up. It can be rather annoying to sleep on a stuff sack pillow when the jacket inside is full of zips.


Best Backpacking Pillow Review
Gear Testing the Nemo Fillo Elite

Size and Weight 

If you’ve been backpacking before, you’ll be well aware of this already. Space is a vital commodity in your traveling bag, the majority of which you’re going to want to reserve for clothes, daily essentials, and other important belongings.

The smaller and flatter a pillow can be made, the better. Some are designed to roll up as small as a pair of socks inside their own carrying pack, so if you’re short of room it could be worth valuing size over everything else. Inflatable pillows are best compressible pillows for the weight.


Durability

Even if you’re not going very far, you want this pillow to survive being repeatedly shoved in and yanked out of your bag, rubbing up against all of your other stuff, possibly getting leaked on or scratched up – it could go through a lot!

Aiming for a material that’s able to stand up to more distress than the average pillow will experience, constructed with temperature changes, staining or spillages and other rough stuff in general is your best bet to make sure it lasts the whole trip.


Ease Of Maintenance

Accidents happen. When something sticky explodes inside the bag, or your nighttime drooling gets out of control, you’re going to want to give your pillow a thorough cleaning to get it back to its original comfortable condition.

This will be much easier and quicker for you if the pillow can be machine washed! It doesn’t matter if it’s dryer friendly as air-drying is cheaper anyway, but just being able to toss it into a washer when you get a chance is a useful convenience.


Simplicity

Nobody wants to spend ten minutes messing around assembling a pillow before they can go to sleep, especially if you’ve been out adventuring all day. Those products that need you to use all the air in your lungs are not a backpacker’s friend.

Prioritize picking up a pillow that will have you snoozing in seconds. You might spend a couple of extra bucks on it, but your incredibly tired backpacking self from the future will absolutely thank you for splashing that cash.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use the Nemo Fillo pillow?

All you need to do is locate the red inflation valve system and ensure it is in the ‘open’ position, by twisting once to the left and then pulling upwards and add about 2 breaths.
Once it feels good, push down and twist the inflation valve again, returning it to the ‘locked’ position and sealing in all of that air. You can vary the air pressure for a harder or softer pillow.

How do you keep a pillow on a sleeping pad?

There are plenty of hacks to try, from buying a pillow with in-built loops or attachment points to being clever with some Velcro attached to the pillow and the sleeping pad. It’s pretty difficult to verbally spell those out, though.

How to deflate a backpacking pillow?

To deflate, simply open up the valve on the inflatable pillow and give it a squeeze to remove all of the air. Then place the backpacking pillow into either the supplied stuff sac or pack it inside with the sleeping bag.

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.


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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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