Hiking Pillows [Best Comfort and Lightweight Options]


hiking pillow lightweight comfort

A good sleep while camping is an essential ingredient to ensure your pleasure in hiking. Several factors affect your sleeping, such as the clothes you sleep in and the warmth of your sleeping bag. But today, I will discuss one of the most overlooked contributing factors, and that is “The hiking pillow.”

You might get puzzled while choosing the perfect hiking pillow for yourself since many are available in the market. So in this article, I have come up with the lists of “The top 5 lightweight” and “The top 5 most comfortable” hiking pillows.

The Top 5 Lightweight Hiking Pillows Are:

  1. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
  2. WELLAX Ultralight Camping Pillow
  3. Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow
  4. Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow – ALUFT 2.0
  5. Rugged Camp Camping Pillow – Ultralight Inflatable Travel Pillows

The Top 5 Most Comfortable Hiking Pillows Are:

  1. Hikenture Camping Pillow with Removable Cover
  2. Klymit Drift Camping Pillow
  3. TETON Sports Camp Pillow
  4. Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow Compressible Foam Pillows
  5. MyPillow Roll & GoAnywhere Pillow (Buffalo Plaid)


What Types Of Pillow Are There?

If you are reading and looking for hiking pillows, it’s very important to know how many and what types of hiking pillows are there. There are three types of pillows, and I will briefly discuss each of them in this section.

1. Inflatable  

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The main support in an inflatable pillow is an air sack. You can blow up an inflatable pillow with your breath, i.e., self-inflation, or you can use that auto inflates in which you need to open a valve, and the pillow will expand on its own. You can adjust the amount of air according to your choice and comfort, but that sometimes cause noise while moving your head.

In my opinion, the inflatable pillows are the best option for backpacking as they are super minimalist, lightest, compact, and packable. You can easily inflate these pillows to get the desired level of support and deflate to the smallest size for packing.

If you are an ultralight hiker looking for comfort, you should definitely go for an inflatable pillow. For me, they are the go-to camping pillow where weight and size are crucial concerns. But it also comes with a disadvantage of stiffness and provides less cushioning as compared to other pillows. 

When I use inflatable pillows, I feel like sleeping on a balloon since it lacks stability. For some people, they may have experience punctures in their inflatable pillows. Still, I think that shouldn’t be something to worry about because now advanced fabrics are used in inflatable pillows, making them durable.


2. Compressible  

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Compressible pillows are filled with synthetic fibers, various compressible foams, or sometimes a combination of both. These pillows are super comfortable, provide adequate support, and are instantly ready for your head. But a major downside is that they can be very bulky and heavier as compared to inflatable pillows. So it all depends on your personal choice and preference, whether size and weight are your critical concern or comfort.

I would not recommend compressible pillows for lightweight backpacking. But if you cannot compromise on comfort, you can get yourself a compressible pillow with down feathers. They are the softest and the most compressible, so they will be the lightest to carry.


3, Hybrid 

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The Hybrid pillow design is a combination of both inflatable and compressible, making it the best option of all. They have attempted to maximize the benefits of inflatable and compressible pillows and minimize their downsides of both.

A hybrid pillow uses inflatable air at the bottom for the main support. It has a fluffy thin layer of compressible material on its top to make it comfortable for your head and face. This comfy material reduces the “balloon sensation and feeling,” which I think is the best. But keep in mind that these pillows are slightly heavier than pure inflatable pillows.

If you buy yourself a hybrid pillow, I assure you would get a dream catching night’s sleep, but you have to compromise a little on space and weight.


How to Decide On the Best Pillow

As I have already mentioned, there are several hiking pillows out there in the market. It might be confusing for you to choose among them. So here I am for your rescue. In this section, I will provide you a list of characteristics or qualities to look for while buying the best hiking pillow for your next trip!

1. Price

pillow price

The first and foremost important thing for most of us is the price. However, keep in mind that the best camping and hiking pillows are on a little pricier side but in my opinion spending an extra $20 or $30 for a quality hiking pillow isn’t a bad deal at all.


2. Comfort  

hiking pillow Comfort

A comfortable pillow can make a hell of a lot of difference in the quality of your sleep. Restful sleep when camping is not impossible to achieve. All you need to do is research the things you are taking along, especially the hiking pillow.

Consider the one you choose for yourself should have some particular features such as type, filling, structure, and shape to provide you the most comfort. I would suggest you go for an ergonomically shaped pillow as it conforms to the shape of your back and neck and gives you some extra support.

Also, look for appropriate structure and filling to get stability and even distribution of pressure. At times you may find your nose buried in your pillow for half of the time when you sleep, so make sure to check out the fabric of your pillow cover.

If you already have a not-so skin-friendly fabric, you can always wrap around it with soft clothing. I personally like to have a washable soft cover to allow my skin to breathe and not have a sweaty mess in the morning.


3. Weight  

hiking pillow weight

If you often go hiking, you will surely know that every ounce matters for backpacking. But also, good sleep isn’t comparable either, isn’t it?

In my opinion, it’s not a bad deal to carry a bit extra weight for added comfort, but by weight, I mean a little weight. So make sure when you buy your new hiking pillow, it should be the lightest that takes up the least space.

In my opinion, your backpack weight shouldn’t be more than 20% of your body weight, especially when going hiking or for long distances. I would recommend an inflatable pillow since it has a small notebook size when folded hence making it easier to carry.


4. Compressibility

hiking pillow Compact Size

Compressibility is an important factor to consider while getting a hiking pillow. When we are backpacking, we literally squeeze everything into a backpack, so it’s always a good option to go for an air pillow that folds down small.

But if you are going for car camping where comfort and luxury are the ultimate goals, you can choose a little bulkier pillow.


5. Size And Shape

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The size and shape of your pillow depending on the position of your sleep, i.e., sleeping on your side, on your back, or on your stomach. Your sleeping position also determines you much support you need to keep your spine aligned. Hiking pillows are usually smaller in size, so I would suggest going for a contoured pillow to keep your head on the pillow all night rather than a square-shaped one.

The size of your pillow also matters from the portability point of view. A pillow that packs down small is ideal for backpacking. But I would recommend having the right balance between portability and comfort because you don’t want to end up with a pillow that leverages comfort for portability.


6. Lift  

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While deciding the best pillow for yourself, consider how you normally sleep. Backpacking pillows with inflatable bladders allow you to customize the level of support you want. It may cost you more, but it’s worth each penny, especially if you are prone to a sore back or neck. I would also suggest considering the thickness of the outer material and the padding you want to add.


7. Support

hiking pillow support

The level of support varies from person to person. If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain, I would advise you to get a pillow with better therapeutic features. Avoid pads with minimum backing as it can cause more problems to your back and neck pain. Also, it’s advisable to check the outer material and the thickness to determine the level of support it provides.


8. Fabric Used

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So once you have chosen the appropriate outer material, do not forget the inside material because it’s as important as the outer. I like to have something noiseless inside my hiking pillow, and I would suggest the same for you. Also, look for soft material with flexibility so that when you bring it close to your head, you feel calm and relax. The one I recommend would be memory foam since it’s the most comfortable and conforms to the shape of your back and neck. If the temperature is your main concern, then go for cooling bamboo.


9. Ease Of Use

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Hiking is an outdoor activity that exerts a lot of energy. Therefore setting your sleep place in the evening should be as easy and effortless as possible. Choose the hiking pillow that is easy to set up in the evening and put away into a backpack in the morning. I would recommend you to get a pillow that compresses well with less effort.


10. Color

hiking pillow color

The color of your pillow highly depends on the color of your bedding and also your preferences. But if camouflage is your goal, then I would recommend darker materials so that would keep you out of sight.


11. Durability  

hiking pillow durability

Suppose you are someone who often goes hiking and camping. In that case, replacing the pillow regularly might be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore invest in a hiking pillow that is durable and can take the abuse associated with hiking or camping. I think you should consider thick, high-quality materials that promise long term use.


12. Temperature  

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You might have noticed that a cooler temperature provides the best quality of sleep. So to get that cool and calm sleep, make sure your hiking pillow has temperature characteristics such as heat regulators, breathable materials, and moisture-wicking capabilities. Breathable materials help you avoid sweaty sleep, and moisture-wicking materials help keep the temperature constant by absorbing the excess moisture.


Top 5 Lightweight Pillows

If your main aim is buying a lightweight hiking pillow, then here is my recommendation of the top 5 lightweight pillows.

1. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes, and Road Trips, Amethyst

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Before going into further details, let me give you a brief review of this product:

  • Brand: Therm-a-rest
  • The material used: polyester.
  • Dimensions (inches): 18x14x4
  • Packing size: fits in your pocket
  • Shape: square
  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Pillow type: Compressible foam

Therm-a-rest Ultralight is a compressible hiking pillow that has soft foam filling. It is perfect for traveling as it packs down small for camping, hiking, traveling, road trips, and backpacking. Its foam filling can expand to 4 inches giving your neck, head, and back support in cars, planes, and tents.

In my opinion, it’s the most comfortable pillow that I have tried. It just feels like the one we use at home, but it comes compact and handy. The best part is you don’t have to worry if it drops in the dirt. I love it and get attached to it with every use.

I would highly recommend it for traveling, camping, and casual backpacking trips. It comes in different sizes, small, medium, large, and extra-large. Still, I personally prefer a small size to keep bulk and weight minimum.

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible pillow gives an ideal balance between comfort and price. It has a soft cloth exterior with a good amount of foam filling. It instantly expands to full size, easy to use, gives fair support, and when not in use, it simply rolls into a stuff pouch. What I personally love about this pillow is that it is eco friendly.


2. WELLAX Ultralight Camping Pillow

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Let’s briefly discuss its attributes:

  • Brand: WELLAX
  • The material used: Plush
  • Dimensions (inches): 16 x 12 x 4 (when inflated)
  • Packing size (inches): 5 x 2
  • Shape: oval (fan-shaped)
  • Weight: 2.75oz (78g)
  • Pillow type: Inflatable pillow

Whether you are a back, side, or stomach sleeper, the WELLAX inflatable pillow is perfect for you as it ensures the best head and neck support. This pillow is made from durable, water-resistant TPU fabric. You can take it along wherever you are going camping, hiking, or just backpacking with your family.

It serves as a good sleeping pillow when inflated, giving you complete back support, and can backpack into a small sack. You can easily carry it in your backpack or even in your pocket.

I like this pillow because it can easily inflate and deflate and only needs 3-5 breaths for increased firmness. It prevents air leaks, and you won’t need to inflate again during the night so you can have a good night’s sleep.

WELLAX ultralight camping pillow is made from water and heat resistant material, making it perfect to use in any condition. It’s made with nylon and layered with TPU fabric to give you more smoothness and softness.

Another thing I like about this pillow is that it doesn’t slip away at night since it’s made of slip resist material and it should do well at holding air in. Also, it comes with a sleeping mask and a sleep aid, which is a bonus, and who doesn’t want free goodies!


3. Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow

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Let’s see an overview of the main attributes:

  • Brand: Klymit
  • The material used: polyester
  • Dimensions (inches): 15 x 11 x 4 (when inflated)
  • Packing size (inches): 4.5” x 2.5”x
  • Weight: 1.95 oz
  • Pillow type: Inflatable pillow

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Camping & Travel Pillow is an ideal inflatable pillow for traveling, camping, hiking, and backpacking. I sometimes use it as a seat cushion. It features a self-centering X design that gives your head perfect orientation on the pillow. 1-2 breaths needed to inflate.

It’s very compact and, when deflated, becomes the size of a lighter and can fit anywhere. You can easily adjust its height, pressure, and firmness by simply adding or releasing air in it. It is made from lightweight polyester, so it’s abrasion, tear, and punctures resistant.

In my opinion, its best feature is its softer cover. For me, it feels more like fabric than vinyl, and especially when inflated, it becomes less sticky and plusher. It’s soft and not noisy at all.

The walls around sections are short, making it easy to deflate, which I think is good because it minimizes your struggle in the morning. The pillow cradles the head, so it will give your neck better alignment with your spine. All in all, I would highly recommend this as it’s super lightweight and durable.


4. Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow – ALUFT 2.0

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Let’s briefly see the attributes of this pillow.

  • Brand: TREKOLOGY
  • Material Used: Elastic TPU Fabric
  • Dimensions (inches): 16 x 12 x 4 inches
  • Packing size: 5×2 inches
  • Weight: 3.4 oz
  • Pillow type: Inflatable pillow

The ergonomic design gives complete support to your neck for a restful sleep. It’s another good option for you if you are a side, back, or stomach sleeper.

This pillow may look smaller in size but doesn’t compromise on comfort level. It’s an inflatable pillow that can be easily inflated with 5-8 breaths and deflate in only seconds. 

It has a quick deflate feature that allows you to quickly release the air from the pillow and adjust firmness according to your sleep preference. The pillow’s back has anti-slipping dots that enhance the friction between the pillow and the sleeping mat.

You can easily carry it in your backpack or even in your pocket for your convenience. It should be a durable pillow made with elastic TPU fabric and is water-resistant. So you can use it anywhere in your hotel room, in your boat, in the mountains, or in tents, literally anywhere. You can consider the Aluft travel pillow as your best friend and a perfect travel companion.


5. Rugged Camp Camping Pillow

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  • The material used: Knitted cotton.
  • Dimensions (inches): 16 x 12 x 4 (when inflated)
  • Weight: 2.75ounces
  • Pillow Type: Compressible Pillow

The last one on my list is the Rugged camp camping pillow so let’s briefly discuss the major attribute.

Rugged Camp Camping Pillow instantly inflates with just 3 to 5 breathes. You can quickly blow up the pillow without any air leakage. For me, the best part is that this pillow can be easily inflated and deflated without much struggle. All you need to do is open the top valve for inflation and the bottom valve for deflation.

It’s extremely comfortable, so I would recommend this pillow for travel, hiking, camping, backpacking, or any other outdoor activity. It gives you a good night’s sleep, and you wake up refreshed by providing adequate head and neck support.

A bonus is that you can use this pillow in your office chair to ease lower back pain. You can literally take it anywhere, in a car, train, or plane, because it’s so compact.

The rugged camp pillow is lightweight, convenient, and compact and can pack up to a hand’s size. While camping, you don’t need to worry about where you sleep if you have this pillow because it evens all sleeping surfaces, and you won’t feel any rock or debris. 

It is made from water-resistant knitted cotton, so you can also use it in damp situations. With this pillow, you can handle almost all your outdoor activities and can have a comfortable sleep.


Top 5 Most Comfortable Hiking Pillows

So now that we have discussed the top 5 lightweight hiking pillows, let’s have a look at the top 5 most comfortable hiking pillows that I would highly recommend.

1. Hikenture Camping Pillow with Removable Cover

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Before looking at details, let’s briefly discuss the main attributes of this pillow.

  • Brand: Hikenture
  • The material used: Plush
  • Dimensions (inches): 17.3×12.2×4.7
  • Packing size: 3x3x5
  • Weight: 5.6 oz

This is one of the most comfortable hiking pillows on my list of recommendations. The best part about this pillow is that you would never face any air leak in this pillow. It comes with a separate bladder that is specially made from thick TPU material.

Hikenture Camping Pillow comes with a washable cover that means more comfort with more hygiene. Its outer surface is made of skin-friendly, soft, breathable cotton. This soft, comfortable pillow is stuffed with woven polyester to add more comfort and reduce any noise.

If you are a back or side sleeper, I would recommend buying this hiking pillow as it gives a great comfort level in multiple positions. It provides an adequate amount of support to your head and neck since it has a unique ergonomic design. You can adjust the height and firmness of this pillow according to your preference.

I personally love this pillow because it gives my head and neck enough support and allows a soft touch to my head. Also, it’s extremely easy to unpack and repack, thus reducing the struggle of camping. If you have chronic neck pain, I would highly recommend getting your hands on this one since it’s soft, large, and adjustable, and thanks me later!


2. Klymit Drift Camping Pillow

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Some main attributes of this pillow are:

  • Brand: Klymit
  • Material Used: 95% Polyester, 5% Cotton, Memory Foam.
  • Dimensions (inches): 23 x 16 x 6.5
  • Weight: 2.15 pounds
  • Pillow type: Inflatable pillow

My next recommendation would be Klymit Drift Camping Pillow made of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent cotton. It’s an amazing pillow that you can use for travel at home.

The pillow is stuffed with shredded memory foam, giving a perfect balance between support and comfort. The outer surface has an easy to clean and water-resistant cover. It’s one of the most comfortable and versatile hiking pillows on my list.

fiber core is filled inside the memory foam to provide enhanced support. Also, it features a reversible outer cover for matching any situation.

It’s a somewhat lightweight, travel-friendly pillow that offers adequate comfort and support you may need during your adventures. It can be easily packed down small, which makes it ideal for transport and storage. 

I like to take this pillow along for outdoor activities as it gives me comfortable night sleep. Though it’s a soft pillow, it holds its shape very well because of the combination of memory foam with a gel fiber core.


3. TETON Sports Camp Pillow

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Some main attributes of the TETON sports camp pillow are:

  • Brand: TETON Sports 
  • The material used: Soft poly-flannel, Poly fiberfill lofts up on its own
  • Dimensions (inches): 12 x 18
  • Packing size: 4 x 7 x 9
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Pillow type: Inflatable pillow

It might be a small pillow, but it can’t be beaten in terms of comfort. If you really want to have a good sleep during camping, hiking, or road-tripping, I would recommend buying it.

It’s an extra soft travel pillow that gives perfect support to make you relax. You can take it anywhere with you as its travel friendly and can be packed tight. It will give you complete rest wherever you go on a plane, train, or in a car.

TETON sports camp pillow has the innovative fiberfill giving warm and comfortable sleep. It comes with a pillowcase made of poly flannel that is extremely soft against your skin and can be washed separately or together, just like other home pillows.

It is not an inflatable pillow, so you might be wondering will it stay fluffy. It claims to be good at staying supportive when you use it.


4. Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow Compressible Foam Pillows

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Let’s briefly discuss the major attributes of this pillow:

  • Brand: Wise Owl Outfitters 
  • The material used: Memory Foam.
  • Dimensions (inches): 12×16
  • Packing size: 9” x 6”
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Pillow type: Compressible Foam Pillows

Wise owl outfitters camping pillow has memory foam with a soft microsuede cover that gives you complete support for rest. If you truly want to rest during traveling or camping, this one’s for you.

It’s a 5-inch thick pillow that gives you a good comfortable sleep. It can be compressed to a small size so you can easily carry it with you in your backpack. The best part is it comes in different sizes like small, medium large so you can choose whichever you want according to your preference.

I personally like to use clean pillows, and this can be washed by hand or in a machine, thus increasing its comfort in terms of hygiene. So if you are on the hunt for an awesome high-quality, affordable hiking pillow, go for it. You won’t regret it!


5. MyPillow Roll & GoAnywhere Pillow (Buffalo Plaid)

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Some main attributes of the TETON sports camp pillow are:

  • Brand: MyPillow 
  • The material used: Cotton
  • Dimensions (inches): 18 x 12 x 3
  • Weight: 9.9 ounces

Last but not least, on my list of recommendations is MyPillow Roll & GoAnywhere Pillow. You can surely take it along for travel, in train, plane or car as it comes in its own travel case. You can also use it at home or in the office.

Mypillow has a unique composition that gives you good sleep every night. As its name suggests, it will certainly adjust to your need no matter where or in what position you sleep in.

It’s a well-made pillow with a neat little case. This pillow may not look extraordinary to you, but you will see and feel its benefits when you start using it. It’s a comfortable pillow that will give you a good sleep, especially in the neck area.

If you are suffering from arthritis in the neck, I would recommend using this pillow to save you from a lot of pain and anguish. It will also save you from migraine headaches if you give it a try!


Tips for Using a Hiking Pillow

hiking pillow tips

If you have got yourself a hiking pillow of your choice, then it’s better to know a few tips for using a hiking pillow.

  1. The first and foremost important tip that I can give you is to choose or buy a hiking pillow that best suits your preferences. Do thorough research but always go for the one which you feel will benefit you the most.
  2. Before going to outdoor activity, look into the activity that you are going for. If you are going hiking or backpacking, you should take size and weight into account because there every ounce counts. But if you are camping, then you can take a little heavier or bulkier pillow along.
  3. Choose an easy-to-access place where you would store your pillow. It can be either pocket, purse, or backpack.
  4. If you are a combination sleeper, take a pillow along that offers support for all sleeping positions.
  5. Analyze your sleeping position and choose the pillow that complements your favorite sleeping position. I have a few recommendations for you in that matter.
    1. If you are a stomach sleeper, get yourself a soft low profile pillow; for a side sleeper, I would suggest a firmer pillow with a bit more height.
  6. Always consider your problematic area that needs maximum support, such as your neck, head, and back.
  7. If you have an inflatable pillow, you should be extra careful that it doesn’t puncture because then it’s of no use. In the morning, deflate the pillow, pack it down, and put it in a case for extra protection.
  8. Though quality inflatable pillow survives abrasions, it’s always handy to keep a repair kit along.
  9. Check the material of your hiking pillow if it is washable, then do wash it after each outdoor activity for extra hygiene.

References

  1. https://www.greenbelly.co/pages/backpacking-pillows
  2. https://www.ultimategearlists.com/gear-reviews/best-backpacking-pillows
  3. https://www.thermarest.com/blog/camping-pillow-worth-the-weight/
  4. https://www.cleverhiker.com/pillows
  5. https://www.caminoadventures.com/blog/backpackingpillow/#Best_Backpacking_Pillow_Buying_Guide 
  6. https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-camping-pillow
  7. https://www.99boulders.com/best-backpacking-pillows

CHRIS TOOLEY

I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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