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Best Backpacking Pillows

Best Backpacking Pillow Review

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This is a gear review of the Best Backpacking Pillows for 2023 by BikeHikeSafari.

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 or a Backpacking Quilt 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 scroll through and see for yourself.

Best Backpacking Pillow 2023

Here are the Best Backpacking Pillows of 2023:

Best Ultralight Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Lite Backpacking Pillow

Weight: 2 oz / 58 grams

> Ultralight
> Machine washable
> Very small packed size
> Only a couple of breaths to inflate the pillow
> Soft to the touch and Comfortable
> Not as comfortable as some of the other pillows in this review but best for its size and weight

I’ve been using the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow recently and it is my favorite ultralight pillow for backpacking and hiking. This is my new favorite ultralight backpacking pillow.

The Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow has the smallest pack size, is the lightest backpacking pillow, and is quite comfortable. Obviously, it is not as comfortable as some of the other backpacking pillows in this review but that is the compromise an ultralight hiker will make. It is also not as durable as some, so don’t think of using it as a sit pad around camp.

It is not as comfortable as the Nemo option but does not suffer any durability issues.

Overall, if you are an ultralight hiker and are looking for an ultralight pillow then consider the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Lite Pillow as the best on the market in 2023.

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Most Comfortable Backpacking Pillow

Nemo Fillo Elite

Weight: 2.8 oz / 80 grams

> Versatile enough to be used for sleeping basically anywhere
> Machine washable
> Less than 3 ounces in weight
> Almost as comfortable as your pillow at home
> Durability issues. I have had 2 of them replaced under warranty in the last couple of years.

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 lemon, 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.

There are some durability issues with this pillow. I have had two of them replaced under warranty in the last couple of years. While I think the pillow is super comfortable, lightweight, and more, it certainly has durability issues. This has led me to remove it from this year’s best backpacking pillow winner!

The Nemo Fillo Elite is a great lightweight backpacking pillow. I used this pillow for many years and 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 stuff sack filled with a down jacket for a pillow on backpacking trips. But durability issues have let this pillow down.

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Best Lightweight Backpacking Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

Weight: 2.1 oz / 60 grams

> Several sizes and color options
> Polyester knit fabric and TPU bladder – high-quality materials
> Simple inflation in a couple of breaths
> Includes free storage bag
> 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 sleepers, 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 Camping Pillow

Nemo Filo Camping Pillow

Nemo Fillo Pillow

Weight: 9.2 oz / 260 grams

> Very comfortable
> Washable external cover
> Great for side sleepers
> Add or reduce to amount of air to adjust the pillow to exactly how you want it
> A little heavy for most people to take backpacking

The Nemo Fillo Camping pillow is the best camping pillow for 2023. It is just as comfortable as the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow and weighs almost the same but has a smaller pack size.

The Nemo Fillo Camping Pillow is a combination of comfortable foam and air that you inflate into the pillow. This hybrid foam and air pillow are very comfortable but a little too bulky for most people to consider taking on a backpacking or hiking trip. But if you regard comfort ahead of weight then this is a winner. For car camping, it is an obvious choice.

The thickness of the pillow can be adjusted by adding or removing air from the pillow. So it is easy to adjust to your own personal preferences. Add to that the washability of the suede material.

Overall, the Nemo Fillo Backpacking and Camping Pillow is one of the most comfortable camping pillows for 2023.

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Most Comfortable Backpacking Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Cinch

Thermarest Compressible Pillow Cinch

Weight: 10 oz / 300 grams

> Available in small, medium, and large
> Machine washable
> Uses partially recycled materials 
> Made in the USA
> 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.

A recent upgrade to this new model includes an integrated drawstring and cord lock that keeps 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!

Overall, if you want comfort then this is your pillow. The larger size and weight make this best suited to car camping and overnight backpacking trips where weight and pack size are not the number one concern.

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Best Insulated Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow

Weight: 2.5 oz / 70 grams

> 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
> 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 lightweight construction makes 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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Best Stuff Sack Pillow

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow

Weight: 1.7 oz / 48 grams

> Added comfort from the reversible fleece-lined side
> Fully waterproof
> Multiple sizes to suit you
> Doubles as storage for clean clothes or down jackets etc
> “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.

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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Best Budget Backpacking Pillow

Trekology ALUFT 2.0 Ultralight Camping Pillow

Weight: 3.9 oz / 110 grams

> Multiple colorways to choose from
> Inflates and deflates in seconds
> Improved ergonomic design with added neck support
> Ideal for back, side, or stomach sleepers
> 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 inch, 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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Best of the Rest

Big Agnes Q Core Deluxe Inflatable Travel Pillow

Big Agnes Q Core Deluxe Pillow

Weight: 3.1 oz / 88 grams

> 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
> 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 Memory Foam Camping Pillow

Wise Owl Outfitters Memory Foam Camping Pillow

Weight: 11 oz / 312 grams

> Super affordable without cutting corners
> Machine washable and dryer friendly!
> 100% satisfaction guarantee fulfilled by a USA based customer service
> 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 I’m recommending 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

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Weight: 2.8 oz / 79 grams

> 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
> 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

Klymit Pillow X

Weight: 2.5 oz / 71 grams

> Replacement covers can be purchased separately
> Color options to suit you
> Cleverly designed to keep the head stable all night
> Lifetime limited warranty provided
> 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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More Pillows for Backpacking and Hiking

Here is a list of some other pillows that either almost made it to the list of 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.

Buyers Guide

Here is some helpful information that will assist you in making the decision on what pillow is best for you.

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

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


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 whereas 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 is 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

Packed Size

If you’ve been backpacking before, you’ll be well aware of this already. Space is a vital commodity in your backpack, the majority of which you’re going to want to reserve for more important hiking gear.

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 the best compressible pillows for the weight.

The most ultralight of the pillows in this review is about the size of a lemon and weighs 2 ounces or less.

Small pack size of the Thermarest Airhead lite pillow

Pillow Size

The size of the pillow, once it has been unpacked or blown up, will be another important consideration. If you are a side sleeper you may want something a little thicker than someone who is a back sleeper.

backpacking pillow size


As a general rule, the larger the pack size of the pillow the heavier it will be. Most ultra-lightweight pillows need air to inflate the pillow. Most add a small amount of weight by adding a layer of suede or fleece to make it more comfortable.


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, and 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.

Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow Cinch Review

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.


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.


The price is one of the many things to consider when purchasing a hiking pillow. The good-quality pillows in this review are affordable and worthy of consideration. Admittedly, some of the pillows are a bit pricey but they are usually ones filled with down or high quality foam.


Here are the best pillows for backpacking and hiking in 2023:

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

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 adding 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.

What Makes A Good Backpacking Pillow?

You might think that all there is to consider when looking for a good pillow for backpacking 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 must consider weight, packed size, ease of use, washability, price, and more.

Best Pillow for backpacking

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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 Chile.

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