The best travel pillow of 2021

Journey pillows have to strike a tough stability: not supportive sufficient and also you’ll find yourself with a crick in your neck, too huge and stiff you’ll, er, find yourself with a crick in your neck. Additionally they should be compact, light-weight and simple to wash — no small feat for a humble journey accent!

CNN Underscored spent weeks testing 10 of the most well-liked and highest-rated journey pillows in the marketplace. We evaluated pillows of all completely different designs and supplies on each consolation and construct to find out one of the best journey pillow for journeys by way of aircraft, bus or automotive. And whereas most of the pillows we examined had their deserves, t. 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 moveable, due to its being fabricated from springy reminiscence foam that lets you compress it to half its dimension.

The Evolution S3's adjustable front clasp let us slightly tighten or loosen the neck opening to our liking.

The Cabeau Evolution S3 updates the usual U-shaped journey pillow design with raised sides that lightly cradled our head and neck once 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 aspect or as a cushion towards a stable floor, nevertheless it nonetheless supplied respectable chin assist. Its two built-in straps hooked up to almost any seatback we examined on, retaining 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 abruptly; it’s agency sufficient that it stored our head from slouching too far to the aspect however not so agency that it dug into our cheeks and ears (in contrast to one other widespread reminiscence foam mannequin we examined). After all, reminiscence foam, nevertheless comfortable, is rarely 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.

The S3's cover (right) is made from a more breathable, quick-dry fabric that felt cooler to the touch than Cabeau's original Evolution pillow (left).

That mentioned, the S3’s cowl is a particular improve from Cabeau’s authentic Evolution pillow. W.as that older mannequin’s cowl is made completely from velour, the S3’s is made out of 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 in the case of one thing that touches extremely trafficked surfaces like airplane seats. Truly getting that cowl on and off the S3’s reminiscence foam insert proved trickier than we’d have appreciated, nevertheless it held up completely effectively in a normal wash cycle.

The comfiest journey pillow on this planet is ineffective if it’s too huge to journey with, which is why the most effective issues concerning the Evolution S3 is the truth that it compresses all the way 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 predict that’s a good worth to pay given how a lot area 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 made out of ripstop cloth that’ll hold your pillow clear and guarded till you’re prepared to make use of it.

An important 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 on a bunch of area 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 simple 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 circumstances 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 one of the best pillow for many vacationers.

We used the next particular classes and subcategories for testing:

Consolation

  • Behind head consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when positioned across the neck and/or behind the top.
  • Facet consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when leaning our necks to the aspect 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.

Construct

  • Portability: We famous every pillow’s dimension, whether or not it included a strap or bag for straightforward toting and if it could possibly be compressed to take up much less area. Whereas some pillows have been certainly heavier than others ( you, reminiscence foam fashions), we discovered that a couple of additional ounces weren’t noticeable when carting the pillows round. Total dimension, case high quality and the flexibility to connect pillows to our baggage made a way more significant distinction in portability.
  • Cloth: Almost all of the pillows featured a smooth, velvety shell made out of a velour or fleece-like materials, however t. was a spread when it comes to plushness. We famous how every pillow felt towards our pores and skin.
  • Washability: On condition that journey pillows contact your face, they should be simple to wash. We additionally famous how troublesome it was to get the pillows’ circumstances on and off when obligatory.
  • 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 entice warmth.
  • Look: We made notice of every pillow’s total look and gauged how seemingly they have been to draw humorous seems to be.

Jensens Innovations J-Pillow ($29.95, initially $34.95; amazon.com)

The J-Pillow is a fantastically snug choice with an enormous caveat: It really works finest for those who’ve obtained 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 choice than our prime decide, the J-Pillow’s lack of neck attachment may truly be a plus for individuals who discover common U-shaped journey pillows restrictive. And once 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. T. additionally aren’t any covers or zippers to take care of; the complete pillow might be tossed within the wash.

Turtl Pillow ($29.99, initially $39.99; amazon.com)

The Turtl is actually a padded neck brace and was essentially the most moveable pillow we examined. It folds down comparatively flat, taking on nearly no area in your baggage, and one in every of our taller testers cherished its sturdy assist. That mentioned, the Turtl proved far too huge 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 smart, given that you just’re principally sporting 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 aspect you’re sleeping on.

Cabeau Evolution Traditional Pillow ($29.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Cabeau’s original Evolution model is a really respectable journey pillow and cheaper than our prime decide. That mentioned, it lacks the S3’s straps, extra breathable cowl and much superior case. In a selection between the 2, the S3 is certainly definitely worth the minor bump in worth.

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-Rest’s compressible pillow is a superb selection. It compresses down right into a compact roll and is each supportive and cozy when used like a standard 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 an amazing choice for making an attempt to relaxation whereas sitting upright.

Bcozzy Chin-Supporting Journey Pillow ($34.97, initially $49.97; amazon.com)

Bcozzy’s widespread 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 aspect, it’s comparatively small and light-weight, and might be folded in half for extra assist for those who’ve obtained a floor to lean towards (it’s susceptible 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 troublesome to compress the pillow into its carrying case. We prefered the squishier reminiscence foam and shorter aspect profile of the Cabeau fashions.

Huzi Design Infinity Pillow ($39.90; amazon.com)

If you recognize 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, nevertheless, and by itself doesn’t provide very a lot neck assist. And whereas we cherished (cherished!) its silky, breathable bamboo cloth, the Huzi doesn’t include a carrying case and took up a ton of area 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 in the case of 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. On condition 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 need a really light-weight and moveable lumbar pillow, the AirComfy Ease isn’t a nasty selection. If you need 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 additional assist, nevertheless 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:

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