Journey pillows must strike a difficult steadiness: not supportive sufficient and also you’ll find yourself with a crick in your neck, too large and stiff you’ll, er, find yourself with a crick in your neck. Additionally they must be compact, light-weight and simple to scrub — no small feat for a humble journey accent!
CNN Underscored spent weeks testing 10 of the preferred and highest-rated journey pillows available on the market. We evaluated pillows of all completely different designs and supplies on each consolation and construct to find out the most effective journey pillow for journeys through aircraft, bus or automobile. And whereas lots of the pillows we examined had their deserves, there was one clear winner:
Finest journey pillow total
The Cabeau Evolution S3 is the Goldilocks of journey pillows: We discovered it agency sufficient to assist our head and neck, smooth sufficient to go to sleep on and completely transportable, due to its being made from springy reminiscence foam that lets you compress it to half its dimension.
The Cabeau Evolution S3 updates the usual U-shaped journey pillow design with raised sides that lightly cradled our head and neck after we used it. The S3’s flat again additionally rested comparatively flush towards our seat, stopping our head from uncomfortably jutting ahead, whereas an adjustable entrance clasp allow us to barely tighten or loosen the neck opening to our liking, which makes it doable to tailor the pillow to vacationers of various sizes.
We discovered that the S3 works finest when leaning your head to the facet or as a cushion towards a stable floor, however it nonetheless supplied respectable chin assist. Its two built-in straps hooked up to just about any seatback we examined on, holding the pillow in place and serving to to reduce whiplash throughout sudden stops or turbulence.
The S3’s reminiscence foam manages to be smooth, springy and supportive all of sudden; it’s agency sufficient that it saved our head from slouching too far to the facet however not so agency that it dug into our cheeks and ears (not like one other well-liked reminiscence foam mannequin we examined). In fact, reminiscence foam, nonetheless soft, isn’t going to be the lightest or most breathable materials round. And whereas we didn’t overheat whereas utilizing the Cabeau, it additionally wasn’t the best pillow we examined.
That stated, the S3’s cowl is a particular improve from Cabeau’s authentic Evolution pillow. Whereas that older mannequin’s cowl is made solely from velour, the S3’s is constructed from a extra breathable, quick-dry cloth that did certainly really feel cooler to the contact. The S3’s cowl can also be absolutely detachable and machine-washable — a should relating to one thing that touches extremely trafficked surfaces like airplane seats. Really getting that cowl on and off the S3’s reminiscence foam insert proved trickier than we’d have appreciated, however it held up completely effectively in an ordinary wash cycle.
The comfiest journey pillow on the planet is ineffective if it’s too large to journey with, which is why probably the greatest issues in regards to the Evolution S3 is the truth that it compresses right down to half its dimension. All you must do is roll the pillow up like a cinnamon bun after which stuff it contained in the included carrying case. Doing so took a little bit of elbow grease and was best on a stable floor, however we expect that’s a good value to pay given how a lot house it finally ends up saving.
The S3’s carrying case, in flip, is one other main improve from the unique Evolution pillow and was far and away our favourite case of the bunch. It clips on to your baggage and is constructed from ripstop cloth that’ll maintain your pillow clear and guarded till you’re prepared to make use of it.
Crucial issues to search for when looking for journey pillows are consolation and portability: You want one thing that’s going to supply actual assist with out taking over a bunch of house in your baggage (thus defeating the aim of being a journey pillow). With these issues in thoughts, we settled on two main rubrics for our pillow testing standards: consolation and construct. We then had one brief tester and one tall tester consider how snug and supportive the pillows felt when behind our heads, underneath our chins and within the crooks of our necks. We gauged how straightforward the pillows have been to move by rolling them up, smooshing them down and packing every into its carrying case (if included). We hooked up these carrying instances to our baggage and famous how doing so impacted our mobility. We additionally famous how the pillows’ covers felt towards our pores and skin after which slipped those self same covers off and put them by way of a machine wash cycle. Lastly, we factored in the associated fee and appears of every pillow to find out their total worth and to decide on the most effective pillow for many vacationers.
We used the next particular classes and subcategories for testing:
- Behind head consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when positioned across the neck and/or behind the top.
- Aspect consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when leaning our necks to the facet in addition to when leaning towards a tough floor (as a traveler would be capable to do when sitting in a window seat). We additionally famous how easy it was to readjust the pillows whereas resting on them (i.e., to modify sides).
- Entrance consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when letting our heads droop ahead and resting our chins on it.
- Match: We famous if every pillow match folks of various heights equally effectively and in the event that they have been adjustable in any respect.
- Portability: We famous every pillow’s dimension, whether or not it included a strap or bag for simple toting and if it may very well be compressed to take up much less house. Whereas some pillows have been certainly heavier than others ( you, reminiscence foam fashions), we discovered that a number of further ounces weren’t noticeable when carting the pillows round. General dimension, case high quality and the flexibility to connect pillows to our baggage made a way more significant distinction in portability.
- Material: Almost all of the pillows featured a smooth, velvety shell constructed from a velour or fleece-like materials, however there was a variety when it comes to plushness. We famous how every pillow felt towards our pores and skin.
- Washability: Provided that journey pillows contact your face, they must be straightforward to scrub. We additionally famous how tough it was to get the pillows’ instances on and off when crucial.
- Breathability: We famous whether or not the pillows felt breathable and funky to the contact in addition to in the event that they tended to lure warmth.
- Look: We made word of every pillow’s total look and gauged how seemingly they have been to draw humorous seems.
Jensens Innovations J-Pillow ($29.95, initially $34.95; amazon.com)
The J-Pillow is a fantastically snug possibility with an enormous caveat: It really works finest in the event you’ve acquired a window seat. As a result of the J-Pillow doesn’t connect on to your neck or your seat, it tended to slide round until it was wedged towards a tough floor. The J-Pillow was additionally too cumbersome for us to simply stuff right into a carry-on bag or private merchandise.
Whereas a much less versatile possibility than our prime decide, the J-Pillow’s lack of neck attachment may truly be a plus for many who discover common U-shaped journey pillows restrictive. And after we might lean towards a tough floor, the J-Pillow supplied glorious head, neck and front-facing/chin assist. Just like the Cabeau S3, it comes with a sturdy (although much less compact) journey case that clips to your baggage. There additionally aren’t any covers or zippers to cope with; your entire pillow might be tossed within the wash.
Turtl Pillow ($29.99, initially $39.99; amazon.com)
The Turtl is basically a padded neck brace and was essentially the most transportable pillow we examined. It folds down comparatively flat, taking over nearly no house in your baggage, and one among our taller testers beloved its sturdy assist. That stated, the Turtl proved far too large for our shorter tester, and each testers might really feel the plastic brace within the center poking by way of its padding. The Turtl was additionally very heat (which is sensible, given that you simply’re principally carrying a wool scarf), and we didn’t love that you must absolutely unwrap and rewrap the pillow round your neck if you wish to swap the facet you’re sleeping on.
Cabeau Evolution Basic Pillow ($29.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
Cabeau’s authentic Evolution mannequin is a really respectable journey pillow and cheaper than our prime decide. That stated, it lacks the S3’s straps, extra breathable cowl and much superior case. In a alternative between the 2, the S3 is unquestionably definitely worth the minor bump in value.
Therm-a-Relaxation Compressible Journey Pillow ($24.95; backcountry.com)
As a light-weight choice to toss in your bag for tenting or backpacking journeys, Therm-a-Relaxation’s compressible pillow is a superb alternative. It compresses down right into a compact roll and is each supportive and cozy when used like a traditional pillow (i.e., when mendacity down). However as a result of it doesn’t wrap round your neck or have any straps to maintain it in place, it’s not a fantastic possibility for making an attempt to relaxation whereas sitting upright.
Bcozzy Chin-Supporting Journey Pillow ($34.97, initially $49.97; amazon.com)
Bcozzy’s well-liked pillow didn’t provide us almost sufficient neck assist, and the fabric, whereas smooth to the contact, felt much less luxurious than our prime decide. On the plus facet, it’s comparatively small and light-weight, and might be folded in half for extra assist in the event you’ve acquired a floor to lean towards (it’s vulnerable to slipping round in any other case).
Travelrest Nest Final Reminiscence Foam Journey Pillow ($39.99; amazon.com)
Travelrest’s bestseller is a well-made and supremely smooth pillow, however its reminiscence foam proved too stiff in our testing, and its sides have been so tall that they pushed uncomfortably towards our cheeks. This stiffness additionally made it tough to compress the pillow into its carrying case. We prefered the squishier reminiscence foam and shorter facet profile of the Cabeau fashions.
Huzi Design Infinity Pillow ($39.90; amazon.com)
If you already know you’ll have a tough floor to lean on, the Huzi might be finagled into a really snug place. It requires an illustrated information to take action, nonetheless, and by itself doesn’t provide very a lot neck assist. And whereas we beloved (beloved!) its silky, breathable bamboo cloth, the Huzi doesn’t include a carrying case and took up a ton of house in our baggage.
Cloudz Microbead Journey Neck Pillow ($10.85; amazon.com)
The ever present microbead pillow is light-weight and cheap, however its low profile leaves a lot to be desired relating to precise neck assist. We didn’t love the texture and sound of the microbeads when pressed towards our ears, and this pillow additionally doesn’t include a carrying case. Provided that it additionally isn’t machine-washable, this most likely isn’t a pillow you’d wish to rub your face towards long run. We additionally discovered that it tended to flatten out a bit with continued use over the weeks that we examined.
AirComfy Ease Journey Pillow ($19.99; amazon.com)
If you’d like a really light-weight and transportable lumbar pillow, the AirComfy Ease isn’t a foul alternative. If you’d like a flexible journey pillow, this is just too stiff, too small and too slippery to be of use. It conveniently attaches to the again of any seat for further assist, however it simply isn’t very snug. And whereas inflatability is cool in idea, in follow it appears like making an attempt to sleep on a fuzzy balloon.
Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: