Favourite paddle camping pillow?

Spent years sleepin’ on a pillow of rolled clothing in a fleece slip. Seems there are a number of commercial backpacking pillows out there now and I’m thinking about trying one… if I can find one that packs small and offers greater comfort than my clothing roll.

I’d be interested in hearing what some of you are using for your paddle camping.



9 times out of 10
i’m in a hammock whether backpacking or paddle camping (mon and tues of this week an exception)…in either case i use a ‘swimmie’, the thing kids put on their arms to help them learn to swim…i buy them at walmart, take just one of them, cut down the seam so it is not a circle anymore. What you have is a double pillow that cradles the head perfectly, weighs less than 2ounces, is cheap, durable, and the amount of air can easily be adjusted. The split swimmie can be put into a fleece jacket or whatever if you dont like the plastic feel. This pillow has become very popular in leightweight backpacking circles not only for the weight saved and the comfort but also once deflated they take up almost no space.

Home made
My wife made me a “Field Pillow” when I was on active duty that I still use today. It’s great . Cool to the touch, you’re head doesn’t get sweaty especially in my hammock and takes up little space in the stuff sack.

It has two (2) baby pillow inside and the outside is the standard issue green ( yeah they’re brown today) towel, folded, with the edges sewn shut. It has my name stitched on one side to resolve ownership issues. It is fully washable and helps float the bag when “swimming”. It crushes very well. So collect the airline ones or rob the cradle and get a new towel and you’re all set.

Paddle camping pillow
I try to keep things in my kayak to a minimum so for a pillow I inflate one side of my paddle float and cover it with a towel. Great thing about using the PF is that I can make as hard as I need it or as soft as I need it.



the Same
I stuff my fleece hoodie into a home made fleece slip just like you do. I still value keeping gear pile volume and number of packs down in order to single portage as much as possible. I wouldn’t consider a dedicated pillow for a wilderness trip.

I try to bring…
a girl with big boobs.

They work great and they also tidy up and do the cooking and dishes. It’s like a two-for-one special at the Walmart.

I tried several others over the years, but last year I bought one at Eastern Mountain Sports that is long, and relatively plump. Works great as-is in my Hennessey Hammock, and with some folded up fleece when tent camping (I sleep on my side, so I need a tall pillow).


Makes sense

Hi Holmes,

I tried one of the Thermarest self-inflating pillows. They really pack small. However, I didn’t find them to be comfortable enough for me, but that’s such an individual thing. The pillow that works best (for me) is 1/3 of a regular bed pillow of my favorite style. I just cut off the end, stitched it up and now have a “regular but smaller” pillow. I like it because it’s the same type I sleep on at home, just smaller in size but not thickness. It packs almost as small as the thermarest pillows.

Good luck,


Small travel pillow case filled 1/2 full
with buckwheat hulls. I use a slightly larger version at home. I have neck issues and these pillows eliminate the stiff neck and shoulders and headache. I use my pillow on all trips, even hotel stays.

I like the floaty idea because it cradles the head. It’s also lighter than my pillow. I’ll try it at home and see if it works.

Self-inflating type
We use two different brands of self-inflating pillows. As with sleep pads, the “self-inflating” part isn’t quite accurate; blowing in a little extra air makes them more comfortable.

As a bonus, they are waterproof so don’t require packing in dry bags.

Guess I Have a “Hard Head”

– Last Updated: Jun-28-06 6:26 PM EST –

I guess that's my problem, I need a pillow to sleep well. Over the years have tried small pillows of various types. Some PFD's (Seda and the Extrasport Hi-Floats come to mind) work well with a bit of clothing stuffed inside them, zipper side down, stuffed in a fleece lined stuff sack. I currently use a heart shaped pillow which is pretty small, but works very well. I'm sure you can purchase one somewhere without getting it the hard way (open heart surgery) like I did. The CHIEF INGREDIENT is that fleece-lined stuff sack. IMHO, along with the Pack towel, one of the best inventions available to the camper. Use it as a stuff sack, turn it fleece-side out and stuff something into it and you have your pillow. WW

Paddle float pillow?
see the other thread :slight_smile:

My PFD and a jacket
Simple, comfortable, and already packed anyway.

Thanks for a plethora of great ideas!

My middle aged neck thanks you, too. I look forward to trying several of them.

Pleasant waters, all.


another suggestion
rei base camp pillow–pillows are to the neck like shoes are to feet, pennywise and pound foolish not to splurge on comfort.