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10 Best Backpacking Pillows 2021 | Lightweight | Ultralight

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The humble Bacpacking Pillow is one of the most overlooked items that we take into the backcountry. Most of you might be more concerned about the sleeping mat or sleeping bag for your big trip, but for now let us focus on the lightweight backpacking pillow.

In order to survive your entire adventure, the hiking pillow needs to be intrepid enough to withstand the rough and tumble of life on the road. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a flat cushion, nowhere to rest your head, and way too many terrible nights of sleep!

No need to panic. I’ve got you covered with our list featuring ten of the best and brightest in the world of backpacking. One of them is bound to suit your needs and preferences, so have a scroll through and see for yourself.


What is the Best Backpacking Pillow 2021?

Here are the Best Backpacking pillows in 2021:


Trekology ALUFT 2.0 Ultralight Camping Pillow

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 inches, 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.

Pros:

  • Multiple colorways to choose from
  • Inflates and deflates in seconds
  • Improved ergonomic design with added neck support
  • Ideal for back, side, or stomach sleepers

Cons:

  • Inflation only – no added foam or padding

Check Prices


Nemo Fillo Elite Pillow

Best Backpacking Pillow Review

As the best-selling pillow from Nemo’s beloved camping range, this updated version of the 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 pillow doesn’t feel like lying on a balloon as competing products do. 100% post-consumer Primaloft insulation creates a cradling layer that supports your head and boosts its height impressively.

Packing down about as small as a lime, it’s absolutely tiny 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.

This is the current lightweight backpacking pillow that I use and have used for a couple of years. It ticks a lot of boxes and was the main reason I moved away from using a staff sack filled with a down jacket for a pillow.

Pros:

  • Versatile enough to be used for sleeping basically anywhere
  • Machine washable
  • Less than 3 ounces in weight
  • As comfortable as your pillow at home

Cons:

  • Combines air and foam, which some customers may not realize

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Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow

Offering a luxurious sleeping experience thanks to a down pillow top, the 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 a lightweight construction make this the best down pillow for backpacking. It is an interesting combination that just seems to work.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Very expensive for a camping pillow

Big Agnes Q Core Deluxe Inflatable Travel Pillow

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Hand wash and air dry only

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow

The Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow is one of the most budget-friendly pillows on our list, you might be wondering why we’re recommended 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.

Pros:

  • Super affordable without cutting corners
  • Machine washable and dryer friendly!
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee fulfilled by a USA based customer service

Cons:

  • Can get a little lumpy, but it’s incredibly easy to fluff out

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Offering both regular and large sizes to suit a variety of backpackers, this plush and premium pillow from Sea to Summit’s Aeros 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.

In recent years Sea to Summit really stepped up their game when it comes to lightweight camping pillows and this is one of the best.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • More expensive than other Aeros pillows despite minimal differences

Klymit Pillow X Inflatable Travel And Camping Pillow

With an innovative, self-centering X design, your head is always perfectly oriented even as you sleep when you pack the Klymit 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 inches, 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.

Pros:

  • Replacement covers can be purchased separately
  • Color options to suit you
  • Cleverly designed to keep the head stable all night
  • Lifetime limited warranty provided

Cons:

  • No grip – may slip and slide on sleeping mats

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sac Pillow

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. Now that’s comfortable!

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.

Pros:

  • Added comfort from the reversible fleece-lined side
  • Fully waterproof – won’t let you down
  • Multiple sizes to suit you
  • Doubles as storage for clean clothes

Cons:

  • “Small” cushion is especially small – check measurements before buying!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Made in the USA and ideal for backpacking, the compressible travel pillow from Therm-a-Rest is extra light, despite being stuffed with soft 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. A brushed polyester cover is soft and supple against your skin, so even the most sensitive face can rest easy on it.

The handy integrated drawstring and cord lock keep 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!

Pros:

  • Available in small, medium, large and extra-large
  • Machine washable
  • Uses partially recycled materials 
  • Made in the USA

Cons:


Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

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, the integrated contours cradle your head as you sleep so it works well no matter if you snooze on your back or side.

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.

This is one of the best lightweight pillow for backpacking that you can purchase this year.

Pros:

  • Several sizes and color options
  • Polyester knit fabric and TPU bladder – high-quality materials
  • Simple inflation in 10 breaths maximum
  • Includes free storage bag

Cons:

  • Hand wash and air dry only

Stuff sack pillow for backpacking
For most of us, gone are the days of using a stuff sack as a pillow.

Backpacking Pillow Buyer’s Guide


What Makes A Good Backpacking Pillow?

You might think that all there is to consider when pillow shopping 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.


Comfort

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, here.

Some are covered in neoprene where 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.


Size and Weight 

If you’ve been backpacking before, you’ll be well aware of this already. Space is a vital commodity in your traveling bag, the majority of which you’re going to want to reserve for clothes, daily essentials, and other important belongings.

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.


Durability

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, 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.


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.


Simplicity

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use the Nemo Fillo pillow?

It might seem complicated but it’s pretty simple and only takes two breaths to inflate. All you need to do is locate the red inflation valve and ensure it is in the ‘open’ position, by twisting once to the left and then pulling upwards.

This should then allow you to inflate – you’ll only need to blow into it twice in order to fill it up. 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.

To deflate, simply open up the pillow and give it a squeeze to remove all of the air. Then pull out the integrated Stuff Sack and push the Nemo Filo into the bag, using your fingers and thumbs to really stuff it in.


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.


Read Next:


Best Pillow for backpacking

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