A vital component of adventure backpacking is getting rest when on the road. When backpacking, you hardly get a chance to obtain consistent hours of sleep due to varying itineraries or because fellow travellers’ plans interfere with yours. Whether on a bus, airplane or ferry, compromising on comfort when recovering means compromising on the overall experience you get from your journey. It is wise to take a decent travel pillow to be well rested after a nap on the road. My backpacker guide has reviewed the 3 best travel pillows and will present their advantages and disadvantages below to help you make a profound choice before heading off. Note that this post reviews pillows only and ignores neck pillows.

The Cocoon Air-core Pillow convinces with its soft flannel front, which guarantees the softest rest of the 3 best travel pillows. It also packs into a conveniently small unit (fist size), despite requiring some effort. It is fairly light and comes in numerous colours. The downside of the flannel front is its sensitivity to dirt. Also, it misses a lining that prevents the floating of air inside the pillow. As a result the head is hardly stationary when resting on the pillow. The Cocoon Air-core is very good value for money. The pillow comes in a storage bag and costs about 26$.

The Exped Air Pillow is my favourite because it is superlight (85g), robust and really convenient to inflate (two breaths suffice) as well as compress and pack. Also, the air remains in place because the fabric lining fixes the shape without causing the pillow to be hard as a rock. Because of those advantages it is worth the additional cost which is considerably higher than that of its competitors (39$). I take it on all of my trips and pack it so it is easily reachable.

The Thermarest Compressible Pillow is great for people who do not like to sleep on air. Admittedly the constant movement of the air that is compressed inside an air pillow affects your sleep. The pillow feels very similar to a real pillow avoiding this movement. The downside is the additional weight which is three times the weight of the “Exped Air-Pillow” (255g). It is the least expensive (23$) of the 3 best travel pillows and has a convenient rubber band to fix it to a headrest or similar.

I hope this quick review will help you find out what kind of travel pillow meets your needs best.