Therm-a-Rest Compressible Backpacking Pillow

Last updated date: February 25, 2021

DWYM Score

8.3

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Backpacking Pillow

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We looked at the top Backpacking Pillows and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Backpacking Pillow you should buy.

Editor's Note February 22, 2021:
Checkout The Best Backpacking Pillow for a detailed review of all the top backpacking pillows.

Overall Take


In our analysis of 50 expert reviews, the Therm-a-Rest Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow placed 11th when we looked at the top 12 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow is a true travel essential. Ideal for anyone seeking sleep and comfort on-the-go, it offers all the support of home bedding in a small, convenient, and lightweight package for camping, plane travel, car trips, backpacking, trekking, and festivals. Easily compressible for packing into a backpack, duffel, suitcase, or tote, the pillow expands into a 4-inch thick, soft and squishy pillow for head, neck, and back support. The brushed polyester cover is soft against skin for cozy comfort, promising sleep and relaxation in places where getting a little shut-eye can be a challenge. Rest comes even easier knowing that the lofty urethane filling is upcycled—the byproduct of Thermarest mattresses, utilizing the waste generated during production. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow is available in four sizes: Small measures 12 x 16 x 4 inches expanded (13 x 4 x 4 inches compressed) and weighs 7 ounces; Medium measures 14 x 18 x 4 inches expanded (14 x 5 x 6 inches compressed) and weighs 9 ounces; Large measures 16 x 23 x 4 inches expanded (16 x 7 x 7 inches compressed) and weighs 12 ounces; XL measures 16.5 x 27 x 4 inches expanded, (18 x 7 x 7 inches compressed) and weighs 15 ounces. Machine washable. Made in the USA.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

8.4
12 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

8.3
2,514 user reviews

What experts liked

Durable fabric that resist scratches and stains in case of a spill or accident.
- BestReviews
July 1, 2019 | Full review
The lightweight rectangular pillow compresses down for packing and, when the cord lock is released, it springs into a soft 10.2-centimetre-thick (4-inch-thick) pillow.
- Road Affair
July 28, 2018 | Full review
This model does offer incredible simplicity. We like that the stuff sack is built into the design of the pillow. Just roll the pillow up, tuck it into the lip of the pillowcase, and pull the drawstring tight. It also fits snug in every mummy sleeping bag hood we tested it with and didn't move around much in our sleep.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
Wow!!!! This is an amazing pillow!I have now had this for a while, I got it to replace a down REI brand pillow that I thought was neat, but this one seriously blows it out of the water!!! It's perfect for car camping, day trips, overnighters and I say backpacking too (because I'm comfort driven)
- Trailspace
I always like smart design work, and I think it really shows that the company did its research before manufacturing the pillow. Speaking of design, you have a pretty nice selection of colors and patterns to choose from. I went with the classic “denim” color model, but you can choose between denim, poppy, “night sky,” “indigo dot,” and “mosaic.”
- Armchair Empire
This measures at exactly about 42 by 67 centimeters. The impressive thing about it is that it gives you the feeling of being at the comforts of your home.
- The Z9
July 7, 2019 | Full review
At its maximum loft, the pillow feels like the perfect size for travel. It’s larger than the pillow offerings on most airplanes but noticeably smaller than a standard-size pillow (which means you won’t be bumping your neighbor).
- Mattress Clarity
August 30, 2017 | Full review
It is capable of a loft of four inches when unfolded giving it the ability to adequately support your head, neck, and shoulders as you sleep. The cover is made from brushed polyester that adds to its comfort. Comfort is a key consideration whenever one is shopping for a camping pillow.
- Bedding Pal
The Therm-a-Rest compressible feels the most like a regular pillow and offers excellent comfort for a decent price.
- Compare Outdoor Gear
Therm-a-Rest offers sizes S-XL so you can be sure to get the best size for your application. As well as camping, these would be perfect for travel on a plane, train, or road tripping with the family. They are so similar to home pillows, but can take up far less space when packed when you need it most.
- Adventure Rig
June 2, 2017 | Full review
The foam can expand to attain a big pillow or compress to achieve a small-sized pad.
- Best Pillow Sleepers
September 18, 2018 | Full review

What experts didn't like

Traditional design won't support the neck and head from moving while sleeping.
- BestReviews
July 1, 2019 | Full review
It's heavy.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
However, more than a few people ended up with a shredded cover and the foam pieces spilling out all over the place during the initial washing and drying of the pillow.
- Armchair Empire
Sometimes looks bumpy and lumpy.
- The Z9
July 7, 2019 | Full review
I did not like that it didn't have a way for me to attach it to a carry-on and I didn't love how lumpy the pillow got after a lot of use.
- Mattress Clarity
August 30, 2017 | Full review
Some users found that the fabric tore easily while washing and compressing.
- Bedding Pal
It weighs roughly the same as the Nemo Fillo, but it’s packed size is almost twice as big.
- Compare Outdoor Gear
Not the smallest, most packable pillow out there but for the comfort it is a trade-off
- Adventure Rig
June 2, 2017 | Full review
According to some users, the pillow lack durability
- Best Pillow Sleepers
September 18, 2018 | Full review

An Overview On Backpacking Pillows

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Backpacking Pillow Buying Guide

  • 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.