Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best camping pillows

When you’re venturing into nature, you need to be well-rested and alert. But sleeping in the wilderness is not always easy, and if you have an uncomfortable pillow, it can be downright unbearable. That’s why camping pillows are an essential part of a good outdoors experience.

Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to pillows at home, and camping pillows are no different. You need to choose the best camping pillow to fit your own individual outdoor experience. Camping pillows today come in a variety of materials and designs. The vast majority of the pillows are either inflatable or made of soft memory foam (for total luxury, some camping pillows are made with soft down feathers). Some come with special features, too, such as cooling vents and self-inflating capabilities.

If you choose the perfect camping pillow to go with the perfect sleeping pad and tent, you’ll be on your way to years of great camping adventures. Read our shopping guide for best camping pillows below, and we’ll help you get started. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at our top picks.

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Regardless of the camping pillow you choose, make sure you have room for it in your camping gear or backpack before purchasing.

Key considerations

As with any camping gear, you have to think practically about your camping pillow. It is a highly functional item, and if it doesn’t do what it’s meant to, you can be stuck having a miserable time. The primary factors that you need to consider when choosing a camping pillow have to do with comfort and convenience. If the pillow doesn’t fulfill both of those requirements, then it’s not the right one for you. Consider the following things when shopping for your next camping pillow.

Foam vs. inflatable

Whether you prefer a foam camping pillow or an inflatable one will likely depend on how much space you have to carry it. Generally, people find foam pillows more comfortable than inflatable ones, although this is not universally true. However, the biggest advantage of an inflatable pillow is portability. An inflatable camping pillow can be deflated and folded flat in a hurry. On the other hand, a foam pillow will take up more space on your travels.

Pillow size

Camping pillows are available in every size that a regular household pillow is available. That means you have a lot of choices. As mentioned above, you will want to balance comfort with convenience when choosing your pillow size. If it’s too small but convenient to pack, you’ll be uncomfortable. If it’s comfortable to sleep on but too big to carry, you won’t be able to pack it away. You need to find that sweet spot where the size is just right.

Surface material

Some camping pillows come with soft surface materials such as felt or flannel. Others, though, have no surface covering and require a pillowcase. Think about what kind of surface you prefer to sleep on and use that to determine what surface you’ll need for your camping pillow. If you need to pack an additional pillowcase, no matter how small, it will still take up valuable space.

Camping climate

You will need to consider the climate in which you will be camping. If you will be in a warm climate, then you may not want to opt for a camping pillow with a vinyl surface. Even with a pillowcase, this can lead to a sweaty head by the time you wake in the morning. Think about your camping environment’s humidity, heat, cold, and dampness when considering which camping pillow will be the best choice for your needs.



Some inflatable camping pillows are actually self-inflating. These pillows only require you to open a valve and the air rushes in all on its own. This makes inflation a breeze when you’re tired and don’t have the time or energy to blow up your own camping pillow. It’s truly the height of convenience when it comes to inflatable camping pillows.

Expanding memory foam

Some memory foam camping pillows can expand and contract to twice their size. This is helpful when you have limited space, but you still want a comfortable night’s rest. Just remember that although these pillows can contract to be much smaller, it will take a moderate amount of effort to pack them tightly.

Down feathers

Although this is by no means a common feature of camping pillows, it does exist. Most people will choose not to spend the extra money for something that seems extravagant for a camping trip. There are some people, though, who simply don’t want to sacrifice the comforts of home while in the wilderness, and a down pillow can make roughing it feel luxurious.

Cooling features

One of the most frustrating parts about camping is trying to sleep in humid and hot conditions. That’s where camping pillows with cooling features come in. Some have small vents built into the surface of the pillow that allow air to flow through. Others use microcapsules with a special thermic coating to reduce moisture during those humid evenings. If you are someone who is frustrated by heat and moisture while camping, cooling features are something you’ll want to consider when shopping for your camping pillow.

Camping pillow prices

Inexpensive: From $5 to $20, you will find mostly inflatable camping pillows. These are the most basic models that are serviceable, but they won’t have the frills of a more expensive option.

Mid-range: For $20 to $40, you’ll find pillows that have a few more options in terms of style and durability.

Expensive: If you spend in the range of $40 to $60, you will get the top of the line in camping pillows. These pillows will have more luxurious materials, and some may even include down feathers.


  • Never transport an inflatable pillow even partially inflated. This can cause it to be snagged on another item, which could cause a leak.
  • Regardless of the surface material of your camping pillow, follow washing instructions to clean your camping pillow after every use.
  • Don’t share your camping pillow with another person as germs can spread quickly if you’re not cautious.
  • Clear your camping area of all food before going to sleep. Dangerous animals can be attracted by the smell of food at your campsite.
  • If you plan to camp alone, always notify people where you might be headed beforehand.
  • Be sure to pair a good camping pillow with a high-quality sleeping pad. One without the other is a waste of time and energy.
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Don’t overinflate your camping pillow, as it can cause a seam to rip.


Q. Why can’t I just use a regular pillow for camping?
For starters, most regular household pillows are not designed to handle the moisture and humidity present outdoors. Secondly, they are generally bulky and difficult to transport when you have a limited amount of space. Nothing beats a good camping pillow when you need a good rest in the wilderness.

Q. Can I sleep with my camping pillow only partially inflated?
. Yes. You should inflate your camping pillow to whatever level you find comfortable. They are intended to be used at different inflation levels for everyone.

Q. Isn’t it easier to just sleep without a pillow, rather than drag along a camping pillow?
. No. Although skipping the pillow will save you space, it will make for an uncomfortable night’s sleep. What’s worse, it will likely cause you discomfort even during the day because you slept poorly all night.

Q. Are inflatable camping pillows or memory foam camping pillows better?A. Neither. This is strictly up to personal preference. They both have advantages and disadvantages, so you will need to choose based on your own comfort level.

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