Camping Pillows for Adventure Riding

No matter how good your sleeping mat, sleeping bag and tent is, a comfortable camping pillow is key to getting a good night sleep when you're out adventure riding and camping.

When it comes to camping pillows suitable for adventure riding there are three main choices:

  • Stuff pillows
  • Compressible foam pillows
  • Inflatable pillows.

I’ve tried all three types over the years, some I’ve really liked, some not so much. The information below runs over the pros and cons of each pillow type and shows a few examples suitable for adventure riding.

Stuff Camping Pillows

This is the most basic type of camping pillow. Stuff pillows are simply a comfortable camp style pillow case with a zip, velcro flap or roll top that allows you to stuff them full of clothing to create a pillow to your preferred height and firmness. The pros include that they are lightweight, take up very little space and aren't susceptible to punctures like inflatable pillows. The cons are that they many users say they are not as comfortable as compressible foam pillows or inflatable pillows.

Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case

The Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case is super simple, low cost pillow option.

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Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow 

The Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow which is both a stuff sack and a pillow. Quite clever.

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Compressible Foam Camping Pillows

Thermarest led the way with their compressible camping pillow, now however, there are a wide number of manufacturers producing compressible pillows. For a number of years I used a Thermarest compressible camping pillow when out adventure riding and camping. They fold up reasonably small for packing and only take a few minutes to re-expand once unpacked. Compressible pillows are quite comfortable and offer the closest feel to a standard pillow out of the three options of stuff pillows, compressible pillows and inflatable pillows. 

Thermarest compressible pillow

The Therm-A-Rest pillow has a soft brushed polyester cover that is durable, washable and quite comfortable.

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Exped Deepsleep Pillow

Soft, "up-cycled" comfort-foam core, cozy brushed tricot shell made from 75 D polyester

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Inflatable Camping Pillows

A few companies have started producing inflatable camping pillows nowadays and while they are the most expensive option, they are worth every cent. You simply can't beat inflatable camping pillows for comfort plus small packed size. They pack up tiny!

Sea to Summit Aeros

One of the most popular brands is the Sea to Summit Aeros. This is the pillow I use as it’s lightweight, compact, durable and comfortable to sleep on. I've had mine for a number years now and it is still going strong.

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Exped AirPillow

The Exped AirPillow is another great inflatable pillow. This one has grommets on each side for attaching to your sleeping mat, so it won't slip away in the night.


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Inflatable Camping Pillows With Down Filling

A down filled pillow is surprising warm and a favourite for that that camp in cooler conditions. These are normally a little more spendy but most users will claim the extra few dollars are worth it.

Exped Down Pillow

The Exped Down Pillow has down insulation on the top layer and a soft tricot fabric. This is a pretty comfy pillow.

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Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow

The Aeros Down Pillow has an ultralight fabric cushion top and is filled with down for warmth and softness.

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Cheap Inflatable Pillows

Oftentimes when discussions pop up about inflatable pillows, those looking for a bargain ask about the cheap ones that are listed on many of the Chinese websites and auction websites. These can be picked up for around $10 to $15 but as a word of caution, I'd steer clear. In the few instances I've seen adventure riders use these cheap pillows, they’ve had a pretty dismal failure rate.  Saving a few pennies might be achieved but a pillow that goes flat in the middle of the night may have you regretting your decision!


One of the low cost pillow options, Naturehike, which can be hit and miss when it comes to the reliability of them staying inflated.

Camping Pillows - Closing Notes

So the final closing notes about camping pillows would be this. Stuff pillows are the lowest price option, pack up fairly small, but are not the most comfy. Compressible foam pillows are super comfy, have the closest feeling to a standard pillow, but don’t pack down very small. Inflatable pillows pack down super small, are quite comfy, but not quite as comfy as some of the compressible foam pillows.  

So in short, there is no silver bullet pillow to the perfect camping pillow. It will really depend on your budget, what packing space you have on your bike and how much you value your comfort.

Out camping with my Sea to Summit Aeros
Author of this article: RMOTO