If you’re still balling up a sweatshirt to use as a pillow, you’re doing it wrong
The camp pillow is easily the most overlooked item when you’re gearing up for a backpacking trip, the first thing to get scrapped when you’re looking to shave weight. You’ll just roll your puffy into a ball and be fine, right? Wrong. We’re here to make a case for the humble camp pillow. It might not be as necessary as your water filter, but a good camp pillow can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a restless night of tossing and turning. Sleeping in the backcountry is fun. Not sleeping in the backcountry sucks. Here are five of the best-reviewed camp pillows you can buy, and none of them cost more than $60.
Klymit Pillow X ($17)
If there’s a controversial camp pillow, this is it. The X shape sandwiches your head in the center of the pillow. Side sleepers might object to this sort of structure, but I love the snug feel of that X around my skull. And it weighs next to nothing (two ounces) and shrinks into a tiny ball, so you can justify stuffing this into your pack even if you’re counting ounces.
NEMO Fillo ($40)
Take a three-inch-thick air bladder, give it a layer of foam insulation, and then wrap it all in super-soft microfleece and you’ve got the Fillo. It’s not light but it’s very well loved, particularly by side sleepers who want that extra loft. Bonus: you can remove the fleece exterior and clean it in a washing machine.
Exped Down Pillow ($60)
Exped’s Down Pillow gives you the best of both worlds: a lightweight inflatable pillow with a top layer of down insulation for added comfort. It’s a sizable cushion (16 inches wide, five inches thick) with lots of loft, but it packs down to the size of a Coke can thanks to the compressibility of down.
Marmot Strato Pillow ($35)
This is the one for ounce counters. With its strategic cutaways to reduce material while still providing plenty of support for your head, the Strato weighs just 1.41 ounces. You can customize the loft of the air chambers through the “Fine Tune Locking Air Valve,” and those chambers are filled with 650-fill-power down for added insulation.
Rumpl Stuffable Fleece Puffy ($25)
This is actually just a pillowcase, but oh, what a pillowcase. One side is made from a tough 20-denier nylon, the other from a soft moleskin fleece. So you’ve got a hot-side/cold-side thing going that you stuff with whatever you’ve got handy. Fill it with your pants for a firm pillow, or your down jacket for a soft, plush experience. It weighs five ounces and rolls up into its own stuffsack.