The Basics of Backpacking and the Type of Gear You Need
Not everyone enjoys hiking on busy community trails or camping in a crowded campground. Traffic noise, too many people, and other interruptions can take away the peace versus a well-planned backpack trip in the wilderness. Although backpacking is more challenging than a day hike, it’s worth the trip! There are many rewards to exploring the more untouched areas of nature, and you can tailor your backpacking trip to enjoy hobbies such as fishing or bird watching. But before you venture out, be sure to have the right gear! And part of the preparation is buying the best backpacking pillow!
When you plan on the supplies you have to carry in your backpack, your destination and activities will help determine what you need to include. If you’re going backpacking for the first time, be sure to go with experienced friends, or take a backpacking class. You’ll also have to consider the weather conditions; what season it is, long-term forecast, erratic weather patterns, and any other surprises. Once you pick a location and trail that works for your skill level, grab a group of people to accompany you. Then, take out a trail map, and choose the stops where you want to either go fishing, bird watching, or in search of an elusive moose!
Recreational Equipment, Inc., REI, offers great articles on their website about backpacking. They even have a backpacking checklist and a printable PDF copy of it. They offer a comprehensive list with categories, but we think they could improve on their backpack pillow idea; “Pillow or stuffable pillow case” is their suggestion. Instead of a lumpy make-shift pillow, buy a comfortable camping pillow. Some of the best camping pillows are portable and lightweight for your backpack, and will help you enjoy a good night’s sleep!
Why Does a Pillow Matter if I’m on a Backpacking Trip?
While you may think of a backpacking trip as “roughing it,” there’s no reason why you have to use a plain, bulky pillow, or a pillowcase stuffed with your extra socks, underwear, and shorts. There are many great options for buying an inflatable or compressible pillow so your backpacking trip won’t leave you with a stiff neck and headache. In order to enjoy the wilderness, you want to prepare ahead so the trip itself will be enjoyable and worry-free.
Once you have all your gear, you should practice packing your backpack properly, arranging your supplies, putting up your tent and bedding, and become accustomed to setting up camp. Have a campout in your backyard overnight just to see how it all comes together. Resist the urge to use any items from inside your home—including your own pillow! This is where you want to test out the comfort of your outdoor accommodations! Read through our backpacking pillow reviews to make the best choice when you purchase a new backpacking trip pillow.
Best Backpacking Pillow Reviews 2018 – Comparison Table
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1)Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
We love the features of the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow! It’s one of the few backpacking pillows that have four different sizes to meet your needs. Wherever you backpack; in the mountains, along rivers, on an international trip, or around a lake, this pillow travels small and inflates large. The inside has foam filling packs that create a soft pillow after a long day of hiking. The outside is made from plush, brushed polyester to provide a comfortable feel against your face so it doesn’t need a pillowcase.
As soon as you unroll this small, compact camping and travel pillow, it fluffs up to become a welcoming pillow. You’re sure to have a good sleep after a long day on the trail. The XL size is 16.5” x 27” for those needing a larger pillow. This pillow is easily machine washed and dried to keep it clean for the next trip. It can be stored fully sized or rolled up depending on the storage space you have.
- The comfortable urethane foam chips expand big, but packs back up small
- The outside cover is made from soft brushed polyester
- Therm-a-Rest offers 4 sizes with an XL option
- Machine washable and dryable
- Can be stored fully expanded
- Can feel too lumpy for some people
2)Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow
When it comes to an inflatable travel pillow, this Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow is great for your backpacking trip, camping trip, and is durable enough to leave inflated in your car for easy access to a comfortable ride. The self-inflating valve makes it easy to setup camp after a long day of backpacking or hiking. The one-hand adjustable valve allows you to lay your head down to sleep and simply reach for the valve to change the softness or firmness.
Therm-a-Rest creates these pillows with special “Pressure Mapping Technology” so it adjusts to the contour of your neck and head. By using die-cut foam that runs down the center of the pillow, pressure is taken off your spine, with the denser sides giving you lateral support. This pillow is self-inflating and you can make it even firmer by lowing air into it to get almost two-inches of additional height. The lumbar support allows you to use this as a travel neck pillow in many places.
- The Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow is self-inflatable
- Designed with “Pressure Mapping Technology” for the most comfort
- You can adjust the firmness using one hand to turn the valve
- Interior has die-cut foam that runs down the center for spine support
- Offers superior lumbar support
- Valve may start leaking air after use
3)ONWEGO Camping Pillow
For A soft inflatable camping pillow that works for backpacking on a long trip, the ONWEGO Camping Pillow has all the features you need for a good night’s sleep. After you hike the trails and climb the summits of your trip, you’ll want to rest up for the next day. The top of this pillow is smooth and silky against your skin and doesn’t hold moisture, keeping you cool and dry. And if you spill anything on it while outdoors, just wipe with a damp cloth.
ONWEGO offers this compact, inflatable pillow so you can adjust the amount of air in it for the perfect firmness. Why would you want to roll up a jacket to use for a pillow after a strenuous hike? Or squash your coat behind your head on an airplane to support your neck for a rest? The indented middle of this pillow will hold you head and neck in a natural position instead of kinking your neck to one side. Use this convenient, compact pillow for all your outdoor adventures!
- The ONWEGO Camping Pillow is self-inflating
- Outside is made with a soft and smooth pillow-top material
- Made with outdoor-grade moisture resistant materials
- The bottom of the pillow is designed to prevent slipping while you sleep
- Large pillow rolls up to only be 5.5” x 6”
- This pillow arrives compressed and sometimes may not unroll completely
4)Trekology Ultralight Inflating Travel/Camping Pillows
The Trekology camping pillow is lightweight and a perfect addition to your backpacking gear list. Explore the outdoors knowing a comfortable night’s rest is ahead with this backpacking and camping pillow. The ergonomic design provides the right support for your neck and head so you won’t wake up all night trying to get comfortable. The extra interior layers provide more cushioning for your body to keep you snug and comfy. You can also use this lightweight pillow for lumber support when sitting for long times.
The ultra-compact size of the travel pillow ensures your backpack will be lighter and your carryon bag won’t weigh you down. If you need to have your own travel pillow that won’t put your luggage over the airline’s weight limit, this pillow is only 2.75 oz., deflated, and comes with a storage bag. It’s only 5″ x 2″ when rolled up and takes up little room in your luggage.
- Contoured pillow with a deep middle for the best neck and head support
- Pillow is made with strong, moisture-resistant, elastic TPU fabric, keeping it dry
- Ultra light-weight for backpacking, camping, and travel
- Backing is made with slip-resistant material so the pillow stays in place
- Easy to inflate and deflate for the perfect firmness
- The seams may become loose and leak air
5)Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
Aeros makes this Sea to Summit travel and backpacking pillow with the customer in mind. From the frequent flyer to the wilderness backpacker, this portable travel pillow ensures you a comfortable sleep. The exterior is made of soft, plush material while remaining strong enough to take the pressure from being fully inflated. Aeros offers a regular and large size for many uses. And, this pillow inflates with a few breaths using a multifunctional valve. When you open valve one and blow air into it, if fully inflates, but you can open the second valve and push the release button to adjust the firmness. To deflate, open the first valve and roll the pillow to remove all the air.
The TPU bladder is lined by the synthetic fabric fill to make this roll-up pillow soothing and moisture free. The bottom edges are scalloped to center under your shoulders for side sleepers, back sleepers, or even sitting upright in a chair to sleep after a surgery. For side sleepers, fully inflating may make the pillow to high. Let out some of the air to adjust the height. Your Sea to Summit inflatable travel pillow will be the best gear you pack for your next backpacking trip!
- Outside is made with a brushed 50D polyester knit making it soft to the skin
- Durable materials ensure this backpacking pillow will last over numerous trips
- When inflated, the curved baffles cradle your head and neck for great support
- Inflates with only a few breaths and is adjustable for the right firmness
- Has a Synthetic fill under its outer case that wicks away moisture
- The baffle that holds the air may end up deteriorating, especially if it gets wet
Backpack Like a Pro; A Comfortable Pro!
First-time backpackers will be overwhelmed at their packing list; no matter how long your trip may last. While there is a lot to consider, you can keep your backpack from weighing one-hundred pounds! Once you purchase and gather the items for your first trip lay all the items out on a table or the floor and examine your choices. Think about the weight on your back and eliminate any heavier items that may not be necessary. You can certainly hike the trails and manage the uphill climbs faster and more efficiently if you have less weight to carry.
An average backpack will likely weigh fifty pounds. The best way to keep your backpack at this weight or less is to choose a lightweight yet comfortable pillow for your trip. Typical backpacking pillows are inflatable, but you can purchase compressed pillows that may provide better neck and head support. Camping pillows that are made of compressed foam will be heavier than inflatable camping pillows. Choose the pillow that makes the most sense when planning your gear inventory.
Where Else Can I Use My Backpacking Pillow?
Investing in a pillow for backpacking trips means you are buying a pillow you may only use when you take a long hike. But there are many other uses for these lightweight, portable pillows. They work great as a travel pillow for long car trips and are small enough to pack in your carryon luggage so if you get stuck at an airport, you can have a ready pillow to rest while waiting for a delayed flight.
Keep these small inflatable pillows in your linen closet for sleepovers with a group of your child’s friends or for overnight company from out of town. Inflatable pillows make great lumbar support pillows to take to work for your office chair, to use while sitting on the couch watching TV, or as a convenient pillow to place under your ankles when sleeping to provide elevation for your feet and legs. Your investment in a best backpacking pillow is never a waste of money when you can use it for so many other situations. Click on any of the links above and buy your backpacking pillow today!