Author: Gaby Pilson - Professional Mountain Guide
We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more here.
Just because you’re sleeping out under the stars doesn’t mean you have to be ‘roughing it’. Instead, you can maintain a lot of the comforts of home while enjoying an amazing adventure with small pieces of gear like a hiking pillow.
To help you understand the ins and outs of hiking pillows we’ve made this dedicated review guide.
We’ll discuss what to look for in a hiking pillow and how to choose one. Then we’ll review a number of our top picks to make your decision easier.
How to Choose A Hiking Pillow
There are a number of great hiking pillows available today, so it’s really about finding the one that’s best for your needs. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
Hiking pillows generally come in one of three types - compressible, inflatable, and hybrid.
Compressible pillows are generally filled with some combination of down, foam, and synthetic fibres that compress to fit into a stuff sack. They feel the most like your pillow at home but tend to be the heaviest and bulkiest.
Inflatable pillows get filled with air and tend to be very light and compact. But, they are a bit firmer than your average pillow at home and can be more expensive.
Hybrid pillows, on the other hand, combine the best of both worlds as they have a compressible top layer for comfort and an inflatable bottom half for support and reduced overall volume compared to a fully compressible pillow.
Cost is always a factor when buying outdoor gear. When it comes to hiking pillows, you’ll either pay more for lightweight and compactness in an inflatable pillow or for a down compressible pillow and less for other options.
Size and weight
As mentioned previously, inflatable pillows tend to be the lightest and most compact, making them ideal for long backpacking trips. Compressible pillows are more comfortable, but that comfort comes with extra weight and bulk. It’s important to consider the weight and size of your pillow so you won’t have to leave it behind on your next trip.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s get right to reviewing some great hiking pillows.
Hiking Pillow Reviews
#1 Sea to Summit Aeros Review
BUY AT WILDFIRE SPORTS
Sea to Summit really brought their A-game with the Aeros. A hybrid hiking pillow, the Aeros maximizes comfort with its soft polyester knit pillowcase without sacrificing weight or compressibility.
The Aeros cradles the head for ultimate comfort and is easy to inflate with just a few breaths. Although it can't match the comfort of your home pillow, it's a great option for hikers who want comfort at night without the extra weight in their pack.
- Soft and durable pillowcase and synthetic fill
- Hybrid for comfort and compressibility
- Cradles the head
- Not as comfortable as a fully compressible pillow
- Not as comfortable as a compressible
#2 Nemo Fillo Review
The Fillo is Nemo’s luxury hiking pillow. Made to be incredibly soft, yet supportive enough for side sleepers, the Fillo performs amazingly in the backcountry in a variety of circumstances. It even has a shock cord on the underside so you can add some spare clothing underneath the pillow to bulk it up a bit.
As a compressible pillow, the Fillo is relatively heavy, though it does pack down moderately well for a pillow of its type. It’s also quite expensive, but it might be worth the extra cost for people who really value a good night’s sleep.
- Very comfortable
- Shock cord for padding under the pillow with clothes
- Luxury foam and microsuede
#3 Eagle Creek Exhale Review
BUY AT AMAZON
Although Eagle Creek is best known as a travel accessories company, they didn’t disappoint the camping world with the Exhale. Lightweight and comfortable, particularly for an inflatable pillow, the Exhale is great for travelling and hiking alike!
The Exhale can be inflated to the right firmness for custom support. Plus, its super cozy poly microfleece cover can be washed to keep things hygienic. The Exhale is a great buy for people looking for a mix of value and quality.
- Washable poly microfleece cover
- Can be inflated for custom support
- A bit more expensive than others
#4 Marmot Cumulus Review
The Cumulus is a fantastic inflatable pillow for all your hiking needs. As an inflatable pillow, it’s relatively light and can be adjusted to get your ideal level of firmness. Plus, it has an ergonomic design to support your neck.
Our favourite part? The removable, washable pillow cover which adds comfort and helps you keep the pillow clean trip after trip. The Cumulus is a bit more expensive than other options, but it’s well worth the cost.
- Relatively light
- Removable and washable pillowcase
- Ergonomic shape
- Adjustable firmness
#5 Thermarest Compressible Small Review
The Thermarest Compressible is a nifty little pillow for hikers who want all the comforts of their home pillow.
The Compressible’s cozy fabric and urethane foam fill make it feel just like your pillow at home. Plus, it’s pretty light for a compressible pillow and can be machine washed and dried.
The only real downside is that the Compressible isn’t as compact as an inflatable pillow, but that’s to be expected. We’d recommend this pillow for people who prioritise comfort over everything else on the trail.
- Light for a compressible pillow
- Cozy fabric
- Can be machine washed and dried
- Isn’t as compact as other options
Only one of these pillows can be the winner of our hiking pillow match-up. For its combination of light weight, compactness, comfort, and support, we declare the winner to be the Sea to Summit Aeros. But, at the end of the day, it’s about finding the pillow that’s right for your needs.
If you're in the market for lightweight overnight hiking gear, be sure to check out our self-inflating mattress buyers guide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Professional Mountain Guide
A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.
As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.
She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.