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How to Create Your Own Camping Pillow? – Step by Step Tutorial


Camping is quite fun, especially when you armed with the right kind of gear!  No doubt, a camping pillow plays a vital role in providing comfort during camping nights. It’s one of the must-have gears so that campers can drift off to a good night sleep after a long tiring day.

Now everyone does not like the idea of resting their head on clothes while camping. Many would find it uncomfortable! Besides, there’s nothing worse than waking up the next day with a sore neck, achy shoulders, and headache caused by a lack of comfort and support during sleep.

For those of you who don’t want to spend too much on a camping pillow, yet need a decent option, here’s a thought:

Why not go for a DIY Camping Pillow?

Here we will see how you can make your very own DIY Camping Pillow along with few tips and tricks. There are few other simpler methods mentioned as well to help you create your own pillow.

Let’s get into the procedure:

1. DIY Self-Inflating, Memory-Foam Camping Pillow

This pillow is quite easy to make and is one of the durable options for a DIY Camping Pillow. You can easily pack it up and haul it around during camping trips.

More: Exped Down Pillow Review

​So the question is, what do you use for a camping pillow?

Materials Needed

  • Memory foam
  • Ziploc bag- 1-gallon size
  • Soft Shell Fleece
  • Strap to secure the rolled up pillow and store it

Once everything is put together, all you need to do is roll it up and fasten the strap. When you loosen the strap, the memory foam will expand on its own to self-inflate your pillow. As simple as that!

More: Klymit Pillow-X Review

Tools Needed

  • Aluminum Foil to help seal the bag permanently
  • Fabric Scissor
  • Iron
  • Sewing Pins and Sewing Machine

Step 1: Placing the foam

  1. 1
    Cut out the foam in a precise shape
  2. 2
    Place the foam into a zip lock bag
  3. 3
    Punch small holes in the bag so that it can be easily deflated

Step 2: Sealing the bag shut

  1. 1
    Push the foam to the bottom of the bag, so it doesn’t interfere with the sealing process.
  2. 2
    Set the iron to medium temperature. A too hot iron will melt the plastic bag, and too cold iron won’t create a proper seal.
  3. 3
    Place aluminum foil over bag’s seam and iron it. This is to ensure your iron doesn’t get ruined.
  4. 4
    Just as you create a seam, you can cut out the Ziploc.

Step 3: Sewing the Camping pillow

  1. 1
    Use a soft shell fleece, as it is fairly waterproof, breathable, and comfortable to sleep on.
  2. 2
    Cut two pieces of fleece to suit the shape of your memory foam (round, oval, or rectangle).
  3. 3
    While cutting the fleece, leave around half an inch of extra space to sew the seams.
  4. 4
    Turn these two pieces upside down and sew around the inner seam to create a pillowcase. Leave one side open.
  5. 5
    You can use sewing pins to sew precisely so that the fabric won’t slip off.
  6. 6
    Now flip it again to bring the right side of pillowcase up.
  7. 7
    Place the sealed foam into this pillowcase.
  8. 8
    Finish it up with an outer seam to completely seal the pillow

When you roll up this camping pillow, it will get deflated due to the punched holes in the bag. If you want, you can skip the step of punching holes. But this way, it might get annoying to roll up and store your camping pillow.

Step 4: Strap

Roll up the pillow and secure it with a strap for compact storage and easy portability.

2. DIY Air-filled Camping Pillow without the Memory Foam

Here’s another simpler method of DIY backpacking pillow that does not include memory foam.

Although the process is somewhat similar, it eradicates the complex process of sealing and cutting out foam.

More: Exped Air Pillow Review

It is probably the easiest one amongst three methods explained in this guide. All you will need is a good-quality Ziploc bag, bunch of clothes and a pillowcase!

No need to use any sewing pins, sewing machine, or fabric shears!

Materials Needed

  • Ziploc bag- 2.5 gallons size
  • Clothes for stuffing

Step 1: Preparing the bag

  1. 1
    Take your 2.5 gallons size zip lock bag
  2. 2
    Place your spare clothes into the bag- be it a soft fleece jacket or any other soft piece of clothing.
  3. 3
    Close the zip except leave just a little corner open to blow air into it.
  4. 4
    Fill up the bag with air, as per your desired firmness
  5. 5
    Seal the bag by closing the zip completely.

Step 2: Preparing a Pillow Case

  1. 1
    Place this air-filled pillow at the bottom of a large pillowcase
  2. 2
    Give it a couple of wraps. This will make the outer shell softer to sleep on.
  3. 3
    If you inflate it right, the pillow will stay inflated all night long.
  4. 4
    An important tip here is that, if you do not place any clothes inside the bag, the pillow will crack and crunch. As you place soft clothes inside, the pillow won’t make any noise as you toss and turn in your sleep.

The biggest benefit of creating your own pillow is that it is extremely affordable. These bags are quite cheap and can be used several times before discarding. Not just that, they are also lightweight to carry around.

3. Camping Pillow from a Regular Pillow

Lastly, this DIY Pillow method is for those who don’t want to use a Ziploc plastic bag. And also for those who want the comfort of regular pillows that we generally use at home.

More: Nemo Fillo Luxury Camping Pillow Review

Now regular-sized pillows are too big to carry around during camping. So, you can create mini camping pillows that easily fit into your sleeping bags!

Materials and Tools Needed

  • One regular pillow
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Fleece to make a pillowcase
  • Sewing shear

Step 1: Cutting pillow to make mini pillows

  1. 1
    Take your regular pillow and cut it into four equal parts of the rectangular shape.
  2. 2
    For precise cuts, you can trace the center line with a pencil. Cut the pillow until halfway, then cut horizontally again to make four rectangular mini pillows.
  3. 3
    The stuffing might come out a bit. Try your best to stuff it back inside and sew the cut sides ¼ of an inch in, with the help of sewing machine. Use sewing pins to secure cut sides so that they won’t move.
  4. 4
    You can add or remove some of the stuffing to make your camping pillow either soft or firm- as per your requirements.
  5. 5
     Press the pillow to even out the stuffing across the entire pillow.

Step 2: Making a Pillow Case

  1. 1
    Cut out the fleece to make your pillowcase. Make sure it’s slightly bigger than your pillow.
  2. 2
    For that, keep around ½ inch of extra space on three sides and about 1-inch space on one side to sew the Velcro on.
  3. 3
    Use a measuring tape to be more precise.
  4. 4
    Use sewing pins to secure the Velcro to the fleece and sew it on. Make sure the Velcro is sewn on the inner side of the pillowcase.
  5. 5
    Now, you can sew along the inner seams of the pillow to finish it up.
  6. 6
    Turn it around to bring the right side up. Insert the mini pillow into the pillowcase.
  7. 7
    Press on the Velcro closure to seal the pillowcase real nice. Use good-quality Velcro to avoid glitches.   

More: Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow Review

The reason why we use Velcro closure here is so you can remove the pillow and wash the pillowcase, as and when needed.


  • If you’ve placed less stuffing inside the pillow, you can try and roll the pillow up. Secure it with a strap for compact storage.
  •  If you don’t want to use a Velcro closure, sew up all the seams to seal the pillow permanently.


DIY Camping Pillow might not provide the comfort of the best camping pillows available in the market, but they are better than sleeping on folded clothes or rocks.

Making your own pillow is an excellent choice for people who are looking for comfort during camping nights, but don’t want to spend a fortune for the same. It is also best for people who are not frequent campers and are looking for an option.

More: Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow Review

Comfort is subjective, and it differs for each. Try out these DIY methods to create your own camping pillows and see what works best for you. Whether you find comfort in an air-filled pillow, self-inflating memory foam pillow or simple mini pillow made out of a regular pillow- it all comes down to your individual choice!

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DIY camping pillow guide

About the Author Tim Fox

Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here

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