Best Pillows for Camping and Backpacking

I’ve been using all these pillows quite a bit over the last little while some of them, for six months or a year other other ones, and I’ve put them through a lot of testing both in the field and just using around my house.

I definitely consider comfort to be the number one party and first thing that I look at. Followed by weight and cost as secondary characteristics that I’m looking at for each of these pillows, and they do fall into two different categories, there’s a good category and then some are just terrible, and I consider bad pillows that you probably just shouldn’t even purchase or look at it all.

9 Best Pillow for Camping

We’ll start by looking at the bad pillows. I have two pillows that I consider to be bad. Both of these are quite terrible for their own reasons but most of it just comes down to comfort.

Klymit X and Exped Air Lite

The Klymit X

Just has weird baffling system, I know some people who actually really like this pillow but I’ve tried using this pillow a bunch, and I just could not get comfortable on it. Every time I laid on there’s some weird lump or some weird dip in the pillow that I just couldn’t get comfortable on. So the Klymit X just not a great pillow and I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Exped Air Lite

Looks good on paper, and when I first picked it up I was actually pretty excited about it I thought it’d be a very comfortable pillow. But the way the baffling works there’s it’s quite lumpy right at the front where your neck would go, and then once you lay on it, middle part actually balloons up quite a bit and puts a lot of pressure on your ear and it just feels really uncomfortable and weird. The fact, that I couldn’t get comfortable on this pillow puts in the bad category and we’re not you look at that pillow in much detail

That means that there’s seven pillows that I consider to be pretty good pillows and if you picked up any of these you’d probably very comfortable to have great night’s sleep. But we’re gonna find out which one is the best out of the bunch.

Klymit Luxe (200g / 7oz)

Klymit-Luxe-Pillow

This was probably my least favorite out of the pillows that I consider to be good pillows. It is a hybrid pillow, it has a foam topper and then an air bladder that you inflate, foam topper does add some comfort, but not nearly as much as a lot of the other pillows that also have foam toppers.

What I found uncomfortable about this pillow, and a little bit weird was that the material and the bladder that’s underneath the topper. Just feels a little bit crinkly and moves around in weird ways as you’re laying on it. The crankiness does go away a little bit but it’s still there even after quite a bit of use.

Overall it is a fairly comfortable pillow and if you can pick it up on a really good sale then you might as well grab it. But just with that little bit of crinkly mist to it and the fact that it’s actually a super heavy pillow, this means that it wasn’t my favorite out of the good pillows that are out there.

Sea to Summit UL Deluxe (160g / 5.6oz)

This is a massive pillow, this thing’s almost as big as the pillow that I use at home on a regular basis. It has some great features, this baffling system is the same kind of baffling system that is found on Sea to Summit Sleeping Pads. It’s great for providing stability to the pillow you can be laying anywhere on this massive pillow and it’s really comfortable.

What I found was I wasn’t using the entire pillow real estate just be sleeping on one corner, and the other 3/4 of the pillow weren’t getting used. What I’d like to see Sea Summit try is add u-shaped bottom to it to not your shoulder into as well as make it about half the size, and I think they’d have a real winner on their hands. Other than this one I haven’t really liked all the other Sea to Summit pillows, because they don’t have good battling stability whereas this pillow has the stability and is great for that.

Nemo Fillo Elite (80g / 2.8oz)

Nemo-Fillo-Elite

It has a little bit less foam on the top it does have a really thin layer of foam, but the other Fillo that we’re gonna look at a bit has a really thick foam layer. Even though it doesn’t have as much foam on top it has a really really soft pillowcase, that makes the pillow really comfortable.

What I didn’t like about this pillow was that it felt a little small, and I think part of that is just not having that curved bottom to it, for your shoulders slide into you as well as when I laid on in my head felt a little bit perched.

I’m not sure why because when I look at it just like the baffling system should cradle your head quite nicely, but as soon as I laid down on it my head just felt perched above and like it I might roll off either side. But all in all it was still quite a comfortable pillow, just not quite there with some of the features that.

Exped REM (128g / 4.5oz)

Exped-REM

It’s another hybrid pillow it has a inflatable air bladder as well as foam on top, the foam for this one is made out of pieces of recycled foam from the self inflating sleeping mats Nemo makes. It is really comfortable, I really like that technology used in pillows, it results in a pillow that’s comfortable and also fairly light.

It has a really nice soft cover on it which is great, and another great feature is this two-way valve that’s on the back, you can undo that and unless you pull on little tab it’s knocking deflate and that makes inflation and deflation a breeze.

Something you can just see on the sides, are two little tabs that you could attach cord to in order to make a sleeping pad attachment. That’s something I haven’t talked about yet because there’s only one pillow out of all these that has built in sleeping pad attachments. B it’s a feature that I think is amazing.

With the REM, I’ve put a piece of shot cord through each side and then wrap it around my sleeping pad and it creates a really nice sleeping pad attachment system. What that does is prevents it your pillow from sliding away from you. I bet most of you have had that problem, if you don’t stuff your pillow inside your sleeping bag while you’re sleeping, then all of a sudden your pillow is way off in the other corner of your tent and that’s terrible.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this pillow and it was the reason why I didn’t come it first place as my favorite pillow. Is that the baffling is not super supportive unless you have this thing fully inflated, which I don’t find super comfortable it makes it a little bit too high for the way I sleep. I really don’t like balloon eNOS in a pillow and think it’s just a poor design of baffling system, and the exped is better than a lot of poorly baffled pillows out there, but it’s still not perfect and I’d like to see some improvement on that.

If you like fully inflating your pillows and don’t mind a taller stack height then the exped REM is probably the pillow for you. It just has that really nice soft comfortable foam topping as well, as a good valve and these two loops for making a homemade sleeping pad attachment system. So definitely consider this if that’s up your selection.

Trekology 2.0 (102g / 3.6oz)

Trekology-2.0-Pillow

I looked at the Trekology 1.0 this is the upgraded version that has a few features, that just make it a little bit better than the other one the other one was great but this one just takes it to the next level.

I do love this pillow it has great features. First of all, it has this nice curved bottom that you can fit your shoulder into, it also has great baffling its supportive throughout the entire pillow. You always feel like your heads nicely cradled no matter where you’re sleeping.

My favorite feature and that’s the sleeping pad attachment, it’s removable which you lose a little bit of weight if you do that. I think it’s really worth it to have a sleeping pad attachment so you can just wrap this around your sleeping pad, and then not have your pillow fly away from you in the middle of the night. It also has a two weight valve which is great really makes inflation and deflation nice you just press the button and then it starts deflating, a great feature to have on a pillow and something that I really like.

What it’s missing is it doesn’t have a foam topper which would make it quite a bit more comfortable. The material that they do use on the 2.0 version versus the version 1.0 is a little bit stretchy err and softer which add some comfort, but just isn’t quite as good as having a foam top to it, for around 100 grams though and under $20 the Trekology 2.0 is a great pillow. And I highly recommend it.

Thermarest Air Head and Nemo Fillo

We’ve got down to the two heavyweights, and not just because they’re heavy pillows because they are these are not ultralight pillows. But they’re the kings of comfort and most that is because they both have a really nice foam topper.

Thermarest Air Head (165g / 5.8oz)

Thermarest-Air-Head

It has a few amazing features. First up it has this curved bottom to it which I really like, it also has really good baffling you can be laying anywhere on this pillow and it’s gonna be really comfortable and supportive, it also is really comfortable regardless of how much you inflate it. You could have it fully inflated or fully deflated and it’s gonna be a comfortable pillow still and the bath legs still gonna be supportive. I like to keep it at about 50% inflated I find that the nice sweet spot, when it’s fully inflated it just gets a little bit high for me and a little bit firm so 50% is great for me.

If you get this pillow and you find that it’s a little bit uncomfortable try just really deflating it quite a bit, and I bet you find that sweet spot.

The one thing I really don’t like about this pillow is the classic Thermarest twist valve. I don’t know why these things are still kicking around everyone else has moved on to 2-way valves for the most part pillow inflated the way you want.

Nemo Fillo (250g / 8.8oz)

Nemo Fillo

This was by far the most recommended and talked about pillow. I know it’s really popular one just around the world and with backpackers and campers in general.

That’s because of the really comfortable thick foam top that has on it, Nemo killed it with the material that they chose for the foam topper. It’s the perfect amount of plushness and firm and it’s probably about thick. It’s really comfortable foam and nothing else really compares to it. Thermarest has a nice foam top as well but it’s just not quite as plush and comfortable as on the NEMO Fillo.

The field also has pretty good baffling it’s really supportive from side-to-side, it’s not quite as good as the Trekology or Thermarest Air Head but is definitely adequate. It’s really comfortable to lay on. It has a pillow case like it’s brother there and you can remove the pillowcase and wash it and that’s a really nice feature.

It’s definitely a really comfortable pillow but also keep in mind that this is by far the heaviest pillow of the bunch, and that’s one of the trade-offs for getting that comfort.

Conclusion

So which pillow do I think is the best let’s bring up the Trekology 2.0, Thermarest Air Head, Nemo Fillo Elite. I think it’s between these three pillows as far as which one is the best and they’re all great in their own way.

I’m just gonna give it three different awards for all three pillows:

Most comfortable: Nemo Fillo if comforts your party you don’t really care about cost or weight then the Nemo filo is probably by far the number one choice that you should consider.

Most features: Trekology 2.0 is definitely a winner this thing has a ton of features is really comfortable really supportive, if you just want a nice built in sleeping pad attachment system it’s amazingly priced.

Best all around: Thermarest Air Head. This thing just is all-around great pillow and right now it’s on sale at Thermarest website. The features Thermarest is is still one of the best pillows out there even a year later. It’s doesn’t mean the air head is the perfect pillow there’s six things that I think you could build the perfect pillow with, and all three of these really have them in some way or another.

First up, is the curved bottom you put that in Thermarest and you’re going to be starting off on great footing.

Next up has a have a foam topper the Nemo Fillo foam topper is great. If you can get that a little bit later that would be great to have it on a pillow having it under 150 grams. It would be the weight that I would target, that makes it manageable for bringing on ultralight trips, but gives you enough room to make it really comfortable.

I’d also really like to have great to 8-valve systems like we have on Sea to Summit pillows as well as the Trekology, it has a sleeping pad attachment system that’s removable like you can do with. The Trekology would be a really nice feature to have on a pillow.

If someone can do all that as well as make it have support a baffling like on Thermarest Air Head, Trekology and to a degree on the NEMO Fillo then they would have the best pillow on the market. And I would be standing on rooftops and mountains screaming the price of that pillow.

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