Is there a more important topic than sleep quality?
Welcome to the VanSage.com Vanlife sleep series. We begin with a post by Megan Walker on Campervan Pillows.
Sleep is absolutely crucial for my husband and I, who live in our van full-time and have very active lives.
We rock climb and hike almost every day, so losing a night’s sleep usually equates to losing a full day of activity.
That said, even weekend warriors need the comfort of a good night’s sleep to take full advantage of the 48 hours away from home.
Our Campervan Pillow Top Picks at a glance
One aspect of vanlife I love is being able to pull over almost anywhere after a long drive, and collapse into bed.
No tent set-up, no hotel rooms — just park, roll into the back, and hit the sheets.
And, as we all know, one of the best parts of always having your own bed in the backseat is always having dedicated, comfortable campervan pillows.
Regardless of your bed set-up, the right campervan pillows are a crucial element of a good night’s sleep, and should be chosen with a few things in mind.
We chose to buy dedicated bedding for our van, and picked out feather pillows to compliment our mattress.
One of the benefits to buying dedicated bedding for your van is that you’ll never forget your pillow.
Best Filling Materials for Campervan Pillows
When choosing the right pillow for your van, you should consider what works best for you at home.
We all sleep differently, and therefore all need different pillow fills and densities for a good night’s rest.
Feather and Down Filled Campervan Pillows
For our van, we opted for feather pillows because the loft is malleable.
I’ve found that if we’re at a slight angle when sleeping, the feather loft means I can bunch up my pillow to help make up for an uneven sleeping surface.
Our feather-filled campervan pillows work well for us because my husband and I both sleep on our stomachs.
They’re the softest of the fill-types, and can be great for back-sleepers as well, who would benefit from a flatter pillow for head and neck alignment.
For those who are allergic to down, there are many synthetic alternatives that can achieve the same loft.
Our Feather Pillow Top Pick
Wool Pillow Filling
For the side-sleepers out there, wool is perhaps a better fill option.
Wool pillows are naturally hypoallergenic and mold-resistant, which makes them great for humid, wet environments.
Wool also helps regulate body temperature during sleep by wicking away moisture from your head and neck.
They’re also long-lasting, making them a good option if pillow-shopping is your worst nightmare.
Our Wool Pillow Top Pick
Hull Filled Pillows
Another fill option is hull, typically made from buckwheat.
These are also hypoallergenic, and can be good for people who run hot at night — they have a natural cooling effect.
Similar to memory foam, hull tends to mold around your head and maintain the shape while you sleep, and tends to be best for back, side, and stomach sleepers.
But if you’re a light sleeper, you may want to skip this one: hull pillows make noise when shifted.
Our Hull Pillow Top Pick
Pillows with Foam Filling
Memory foam is a pretty magical pillow option. As the name implies, it maintains the same shape while you sleep.
It doesn’t require fluffing like feather pillows, and offers great support for side- and back-sleepers.
One downside: because it’s made using polyurethane and other chemicals, memory foam can sometimes emit a strong odor.
|Our Foam Pillow Top PIck
Latex Filled Pillows
Latex pillows are lately becoming more popular, as they can add extra head and neck support while still feeling soft to the touch.
They’re breathable and cool, so are also great options for hot sleepers.
However, latex pillows are considerably more firm — no matter how you manipulate them, they’ll always bounce right back into their original shape.
This feature makes them good for side and back sleepers.
|Our Latex Pillow Top PIck
Cotton Pillow Filling
Another option is cotton. The advantages of cotton are that it’s odor free, cooler than memory foam, and contain compostable materials.
Cotton is also hypoallergenic, and cotton campervan pillows are easy to clean – you can pretty much just throw them in with the laundry.
And, because they’re made from natural products, cotton pillows would be a good option for someone with skin sensitivities.
|Our Top PIck for Cotton Campervan Pillows
For the vanlife minimalists, an inflatable pillow is a great option.
This could be perfect for those van dwellers with limited space who need to pack their bed away every morning.
Plus, they’re easy to throw in a pack for a spontaneous backpacking trip.
|Our Inflatable Pillow Top PIck
Hybrid Campervan Pillow Fillings
And of course any of the above pillow fillings can be combined to create the perfect sleep experience.
Memory foam and gel are the most commonly added ingredients to other fillers such as cotton, down, feathers and wool.
This is because foams rebound and return to their original shapes very quickly where others might compact and become flat.
Wool is also relatively resilient and is therefore often combined with cotton, feathers and others.
One of our favorites is the highly innovative and comfortable bamboo plus memory foam.
Bamboo has been used to make clothing for decades due to it’s breathability, durability and sustainable farming.
|Our Hybrid Pillow Top PIck
Meghan Walker is a traveling freelance writer and avid climber.
After many months spent building out her beloved 2006 Sprinter with her husband, she’s now on the move throughout the American West, typically found camped out near mountains or other inspiring geological formations.
Link to her work: meghanwalker.net