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The Best Backpacking Pillow

Last updated on March 15, 2024

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Backpacking Pillows

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Gold Armour Anti-Slip Compact Backpacking Pillow

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Gold Armour

Anti-Slip Compact Backpacking Pillow

This lightweight backpacking pillow folds up to fit in the palm of your hand, which means it won't take up much room in your pack. The pillow can also be inflated with as little as three breaths. Campers will love the soft fabric, as well as the anti-slip dots and the elastic band that keep it firmly in place during the night.

Overall Take

Multiple Color OptionsYou'll find this backpacking pillow comes in a choice of 10 fun colors, including purple, seafoam, orange and pink.

 Runner Up

Nemo Jersey Integrated Storage Backpacking Pillow


Jersey Integrated Storage Backpacking Pillow

Unlike other backpacking pillows on the market, this model has more of a natural shape. It's filled with air sacs that inflate quickly and has a foam layer for added comfort. You can get the pillow in canopy green, abyss, goodnight gray or koi stripe.

Overall Take

As Small as a MangoThis backpacking pillow weighs just 9 ounces and has a cover that can be removed and cleaned in a washing machine.

 We Also Like

TREKOLOGY Anti-Slip Latching Backpacking Pillow


Anti-Slip Latching Backpacking Pillow

You won't want to hit the trails without this backpacking pillow. It's comfortable, compact in design and available in six fun colors. The pillow also does an excellent job of supporting the head, neck and spine when sleeping, which is important for a restful night's sleep.

Overall Take

Budget-Friendly OptionThe affordable price tag on this backpacking pillow allows you to keep your camping costs to a minimum.

 Strong Contender

Wise Owl Outfitters Waterproof Machine Washable Backpacking Pillow

Wise Owl Outfitters

Waterproof Machine Washable Backpacking Pillow

This backpacking pillow is a cinch to keep clean, as it's machine washable. The pillow features a soft micro-suede exterior and a plush memory foam interior. Included with your purchase is a handy carry bag, which can be placed inside a backpack or suitcase.

Overall Take

Most VersatileIn addition to using this backpacking pillow when hiking, it's also perfect for air travel, road trips and camping expeditions.

Buying Guide

Backpacking is a game of numbers. It involves hiking as many miles as you can during a day. Or, perhaps for you, it’s more about the elevation you can gain and the views that come with it. Whatever your goals (and how hard you like to push yourself!), most backpackers will agree that lowering the weight of your pack is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself.

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Why bother carrying something that’s bulky and heavy like a traditional pillow when you only have one bag on your back and you’re carrying it for days on end? This desire drove the industry to design the smallest and lightest pillows for this purpose because sleeping with a pillow for your head to rest on is good for your neck and back, which are parts of your body that you really don’t want acting up when you’re countless miles from civilization.

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The ideal backpacking pillow will be lightweight and small enough to not take up noticeable room in your pack. Inflatable pillows are currently the best in these regards since the air from your lungs will end up creating all the volume and cushion that you will feel when you rest your head on it.

Inflatable pillows are often made from materials that are similar to your sleeping pad. When you are looking at inflatable camping pillows, look at the material that the covers are made of. The covers are like robust pillowcases that will often have their own small amount of padding and they are made from much softer materials like bamboo or cotton. Some backpacking pillows even have a strap that can be used to fix it to your sleeping pad and ensure the pillow remains in place.

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The cover of an inflatable pillow will probably get grimy as you use it, so it benefits you to find one that is washable so you can keep it fresh over the course of its life.

Ergonomics play a big part in how comfortable we are when we sleep. Backpacking pillows can have ergonomic design features built into place like a rounded pillow that creates a concave surface where your head lays. This will allow your neck to be supported while your head can be slightly lower, which is a natural alignment that is comfortable for your spine.

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Backpacking pillows are a small luxury when you’re in the wilderness, and their size also makes them very useful for putting behind your lower back when you’re sitting at the office or on public transportation. These small pillows will give your lumbar support when you need it and they can become used daily rather than just once every while when you’re on the trail.

What to Look For

  • Choose unique colors so you and your camping party can all know which pillow is theirs.
  • Backpacking pillows make great lumbar pillows for times when you’re on long flights, public transportation or even at the office.
  • Wrapping a slick pillow in one of your t-shirts is an easy way to have a makeshift pillowcase if your pillow tries to slide out from under you. The shirt even adds soft comfort to the mix, further enhancing your slumber.

More to Explore

Pillows are so useful and common that they extend well beyond the world of civilized humans. We can find examples of animals in nature using their arms as pillows or even piles of leaves or sticks. The idea is that your spine wants to be in alignment and the use of a pillow is often the best way to achieve this. For us humans, we want our neck to be supported by the pillow but our head should rest slightly lower than the neck portion; this allows our spines to be as straight as possible and we end up getting better sleep with fewer neck issues this way.

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