Camp Pillow Round-Up: 5 Must-Haves for All Family Camping Styles

Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow

Have you ever been called a “weight weeny”? No shame, my friend, no shame! I’ve backpacked with as little as a cut-off toothbrush and one pair of underwear for nearly a week (no judgment, people!); and as much as a 15-pound tent, stock pot and 5 pounds of tuna and noodles to feed a group of 14 kids in the backcountry. Whatever your packing status, the Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow is ultralight (weighing in at a whopping 1.6 oz.) and packable, super comfortable, and ultra-adjustable, thanks to micro-adjust valve to control firmness/softness. Whether you’re packing everything and the kitchen sink or a teaching your kids the way of the purist minimalist, this pillow will ensure a comfortable night for your noggin and neck. 

Thermarest Compressible Pillow

Whether backpacking, car camping, or traveling by air (pre-COVID), one of the number one pillows I have carried is the Thermarest Compressible Pillow. This pillow is one of the two in this lineup that are the closest to my nightly sleeper. It’s not too soft, yet not too firm and it’s large enough to offer full noggin coverage (and snuggle if you’re a belly sleeper!), but small enough to pack into the backcountry. I also appreciate incredibly soft recycled fabric and up-cycled foam filling. Our kids love the comfort and fun designs!

Kelty Camp Pillow

I worked in an outdoor store in my high school years and can still remember stocking giant bins of camp pillows of every shape, size, firmness, softness and color imaginable. And since then, while I’ve tested my fair share of pillows on today’s market, I still own (and use) my first: the Kelty Camp Pillow. Simple and to the point, this pillow is compressible and comfortable. It’s also economical and a perfect camp pillow for the kiddos. 

Klymit Drift Camp Pillow

The Klymit Drift Camp Pillow is the firmest of the lineup. While I am personally a fan of softer pillows, my kids absolutely love the Drift! It features a soft cotton pillowcase for sleeping and water-resistant outer shell for transport/storage. The Drift has become our go-to for cooler season camping in our camper and car camping any time of year. 

HEST Pillow

While this pillow isn’t currently in full production-mode, the HEST team successfully launched and fully funded a Kickstarter campaign within 24 hours for their latest product: the HEST Pillow. Known for their ultra cozy sleep system (it’s true, I’ve spent a lot of nights on one!), HEST branched out to create an equally cozy, temperature-regulating memory foam-filled pillow that has quickly become one of my favorite camp pillows (dare I say, of all time!). The HEST pillow is one of the two pillows in this lineup that feel like the ultimate nightly sleeper thanks to the aforementioned memory foam and curved shape. It’s also travel-ready and great for car camping thanks to it’s reversible construction. While one side features a soft, woven nylon for sleeping, once inverted and zipped, it’s ready for the road with a dirt and water-resistant out cover. 

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