The 10 Best Camping Pillows

Updated April 24, 2018 by Chase Brush

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. No need to rest your head on an uncomfortable backpack (or a log) on your next outdoor adventure. These camping pillows are specially designed to be lightweight and to compress down compactly, so they don't hinder you on your trip. But, best of all, they're also extremely comfortable, allowing you to get a good night's sleep just about anywhere. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best camping pillow on Amazon.

10. Klymit Pillow X

9. OnWeGo Travel

8. Exped Air

7. Coop Home Goods Premium

6. Teton Sports 1018-P

5. Trekology Ultralight

4. Therm-a-Rest Compressible

3. Teton Sports ComfortLite

2. Nemo Fillo

1. Sea to Summit Aeros

The Popularity Of Camping In America

The idea of camping as an enjoyable past time first took hold in America in the late 1800s. The first two established campsites in the United States were Gunnery Camp, founded in 1861, and Sea Rest, a YMCA camp founded in 1874. Initially, the concept didn't take hold with mainstream consumers, but at the turn of the 20th century, interest began to pick up. Between 1900 and 1912, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts all established camping areas of their own. In the 1930s, the National Park Service developed 34 campgrounds around the U.S., which they called recreation demonstration areas. Fast forward to today, and there are over 100,000 federally managed campsites, more than 150,000 state managed campsites, and countless private facilities.

Studies show that camping is more popular today than ever before. In 2013, over 40 million Americans went camping for a combined total of nearly 600 million days. In 2016, roughly 75 million households contained active campers. This includes those that participate in tent, RV, cabin, and any other form of outdoor camping. That is over 60 percent of American households. Of campers included in the studies, ninety-nine percent said they plan on doing it again in coming years.

One thing worth noting, however, is that the majority of active campers in the United States, 85 percent took their first camping trip before the age of 15. Over 50 percent were also involved in regular outdoor activities as a child. It appears that the possibility of exposing oneself to camping after the age of 15 are slim. These figures underscore the importance of instilling an interest in camping and outdoor activities at a young age.

It also seems that people tend to camp less and less as they age. The average camper is 32 years of age, but more than 90 percent of all campers are under the age of 45. Millennials currently account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. campers, and the number is rising. When asked, most millenials say they enjoy camping as a way to be physically active, spend more social time with family and friends, and just generally attain a better work-life or school-life balance.

The Many Health Benefits Of Camping

Well-known American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that "In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through man, in spite of real sorrows." He may have written those words over 150 years ago, but they are just as true today as then. There is something about being out in the wilderness that just speaks to the primal instincts modern day humans tend to quash deep within ourselves.

There are many reasons why spending time camping is good for the body, mind, and soul. It is a rare thing indeed when we can completely unplug in today's society. Smartphones have brought technology into our pocket and we spend more time than ever before staring at a screen of some sort. While this may (or may not, depending on who you ask) be good for productivity, it certainly isn't doing our mental and physical well-being any favors. Studies have shown that excessive screen use can lead to an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression. It can also lead to neck and back pain, depending on the orientation of the screen in comparison to your face. Camping offers the opportunity to completely disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature and friends or family.

It must be noted that the high use of social media is actually leading to less and less, healthy physical interaction. Camping lets us forget about social media for a little while and just interact with each other. One of the most popular nighttime activities when camping is sitting around the campfire talking. It is the ideal time to reconnect with our loved ones.

Camping has also been shown to promote better sleep. This is because it helps our body get more in line with a natural circadian rhythm. All of the artificial light we use throughout the day, largely at night when our body is supposed to be preparing itself for rest, can negatively effect our ability to attain restful sleep. The blue light emitted from computers, smartphones, and television screens is especially detrimental to the body's ability to produce melatonin. Camping allows the body to reset its circadian rhythm; without the interference of artificial light, we are more prone to abide by the sun's schedule.

People tend to be more active when camping, as well. Instead of spending spare time staring at a screen, campers often hike, fish, swim, and play sports or games during the day. Doing these activities burns calories and also exposes the body to sunlight, which provides vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to obesity, depression, and even the development of autoimmune diseases.

Staying Comfortable When Camping — What To Look For In A Camping Pillow

In addition to a sleeping bag or camping pad, a camping pillow is one of the most vital aspects to getting a restful night's sleep while enjoying the great outdoors. There there are many different camping pillows on the market, but they all tend to fall into three main categories: compressible, inflatable, and hybrid.

Compressible pillows are generally filled with down feathers, synthetic fibers, or some kind of foam, sometimes a combination of these materials. They are rather plush and tend to be more comfortable than inflatable pillows, but the trade-off is that they weigh more and require more room in your pack. This means they are better for car campers — people who drive to their campsite rather than hike for miles and miles. Down tends to be the softest and most lightweight, but it doesn't retain its shape and plushness as long as foam if compressed constantly. Foam pillows will be slightly heavier, but often cost less then down models and are more durable in the long run.

Inflatable pillows are lightweight and firm, and can be completely rolled up when not in use. They usually have little or no padding. The flip side is that they require a fraction of the space of a compressible pillow. They also deal with water better and can usually dry in less than an hour. Some models can just be wiped off and don't retain any water. Inflatable pillows tend to be the least comfortable. They also produce the most noise as a sleeper moves. For a backpacker who hikes miles between campsites and needs to carry everything on their back, though, an inflatable pillow is usually a smart choice.

Hybrid pillows bridge the gap between the two previously mentioned styles. They will often be inflatable, but have some form of additional padding, most often a compressible foam, on the side where a camper rests their head. This allows them to provide a good amount of support and comfort, while requiring minimal storage space and being light in weight. Most campers will find hybrid models to be comfortable. The best type of pillow, however, will center on the kind of camper you are and your personal sleeping preferences.


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Last updated on April 24, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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