This is my list of the best travel pillows of 2017.
I’ve personally tested and reviewed each one of these pillows, and I’m confident that my list is the most accurate and up to date on the web.
To start, I’m going to take a minute to discuss how I pulled this list together and what criteria I used to judge each one of these travel pillows.
If you don’t care about any of that, click here to skip right to the list, or check out my table of contents and best travel pillow comparison table below.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Travel Pillows of 2017 Comparison Table
- 2 What is this list?
- 3 How do you judge travel pillows – aren’t they all the same?
- 4 The top 5 travel pillows of 2017
- 4.1 1. The Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
- 4.2 2. The J-Pillow Travel Pillow
- 4.3 3. The Travelrest Travel Pillow
- 4.4 4. The Therm-A-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
- 4.5 5. The Trtl Travel Pillow
- 5 Best travel pillow wrap up
Best Travel Pillows of 2017 Comparison Table
|Travel Pillow||Pillow Type||Cost||Buy|
|Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow||Neck||$$$$|
|J-Pillow Travel Pillow||Neck||$|
|Travelrest Travel Pillow||Body||$$|
|Therm-A-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow||Standard||$$|
|Trtl Travel Pillow||Alternative||$$$|
What is this list?
I travel a lot – for business and for pleasure.
Around a year ago, I found myself sitting on yet another cramped airplane, doing my best to massage my aching neck as I entered hour 14 of the flight.
I had one of those stupid inflatable travel pillows that you can buy for $5 at any airport, but I realized it had a hole in it just as the plane took off. Nice.
While I sat there cursing to myself, I decided that as soon as I landed I was going to buy the best, most expensive travel pillow I could find. I always get neck and back pain while traveling, and I was sick of the cheap throwaway pillows I had been using for years.
When I got online later that day, I realized that there are actually a lot of options out there when it comes to travel pillows. Many more than I thought there would be.
I thought it would be funny to document my quest for the perfect travel pillow, so I started this website and began writing down my reviews of every pillow I got my hands on.
This list is the culmination of my efforts to date. I’ve tried them all so that you don’t have to, and I’m positive that one of the pillows on this list will suit your needs perfectly.
How do you judge travel pillows – aren’t they all the same?
Believe me, that’s exactly what I thought when I started searching for the best travel pillow of all time.
Surprisingly, they’re not all the same. Just like anything else there are good travel pillows, bad travel pillows, pillows meant for this, pillows meant for that…the list goes on.
I decided that I had to come up with some kind of standardized system to rate each pillow I tested out.
Also, I know how hilariously nerdy that sounds – coming up with a grading system for travel pillows. But, someone has to stand up for the achy, sore, travel-beaten passengers of the world. Call me the Clark Kent of comfort, anonymously saving you years of back pain one travel pillow at a time.
As for my rating system, I “scored” each pillow based on it’s quality, the level of comfort it provided, and its overall value:
Quality means how well-constructed the pillow is, and what material(s) it’s made out of. I tested everything from the stitching to how well the pillow held up after multiple cycles in a washing machine.
I judged comfort based on how I felt after using the travel pillow for a full (5+ hour) trip.
I compared the level of comfort to a baseline of extended comfort without any travel pillow, which usually leaves me stiff, sore, and complaining.
The top 5 travel pillows of 2017
Without further ado, here’s my personal list of the best travel pillows I’ve come across in 2017:
1. The Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
- CONTOURED DESIGN: Unlike other neck pillows, the Evolution Cool is designed with proprietary dual-density memory foam that provides total comfort whether your head leans forward or to the side.
- COOLING SYSTEM: Designed with an innovative cooling vent technology that keeps the neck and head cool to ensure you get the rest you need on those long plane rides or road trips.
- TRAVEL ACCESSORY: Whether you're heading out on a road trip or flying to your next vacation destination, the Cabeau Evolution Cool will allow comfort and stability for the entirety of your travels.
Cabeau’s newest line of travel pillows is just about as futuristic as a travel pillow can get – and I mean that in the best way possible.
Cabeau has gone to great lengths to address many of the common issues people encounter when using a travel pillow, and I think they did a stellar job.
Recommended for: Plane rides, train rides, bus rides, car rides
Cabeau’s newest pillow just oozes “premium.” Nothing is out of place, and it’s very clear that a lot of thought and passion went into this travel pillow.
The outer cover is a polyester/spandex blend, which I was fully prepared to hate. Turns out it’s actually perfect!
The cover is comfortable, machine washable, and specifically designed to keep you at room-temperature even when using the pillow around your neck.
On the inside we have a standard, but high quality, 100% memory foam insert. The twist here is that it’s a “dual density” insert. Basically, there’s a less dense outer layer of memory foam wrapped around an inner, denser layer of memory foam.
Built into the insert are proprietary “cooling vents” that allow normal air circulation around your neck even when you’re using the pillow.
If you’ve ever felt hot, scratchy, or constricted by typical travel pillows, Cabeau’s Evolution Cool pillow is an absolute godsend.
This travel pillow provided me with the single most comfortable travel experience I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I honestly don’t have a single critique in the comfort department.
On top of the dual-density memory foam, the Cabeau features a raised neck support design that ensures your neck will remain in a neutral, comfortable position for your entire trip.
The Evolution Cool comes with extras galore: a high quality storage bag that has pouches built in for additional storage, along with memory foam earplugs attached to the pillow’s drawstrings.
They specifically designed the pillow to allow for larger, over-ear headphones too, which is yet another reason why this travel pillow totally kicks ass.
I only picked this pillow up a month and a half ago, but it’s already become my go-to travel pillow whenever I know I’ll need some heavy duty comfort assurance.
2. The J-Pillow Travel Pillow
- #1 BEST SELLING TRAVEL PILLOW on amazon in the U.K for the last 3 years with over 10,000 GENUINE product reviews worldwide on Amazon.
- WINNER OF THE BRITISH INVENTION OF THE YEAR 2013 and patented/pending worldwide
- A "MUST HAVE" FOR TRAVEL - this pillow actually helps you get some sleep on cramped planes, trains, buses or cars. Also perfect for relaxing at home, whether on the couch or reading in bed. Great for sleeping upright in bed too. Please note that our pillow is especially effective when used in the window seat of a plane and less so when used in the middle or aisle seats but still better then regular travel pillows.
This one’s definitely an odd-looking travel pillow, but I’m honestly in love with it. On an airplane, in the car, at home watching TV…there’s no wrong way to use the J-Pillow.
Recommended for: Plane rides, home use, ground travel depending on personal preferences
Very impressive. It’s covered in a luxurious, plush velour material, and you’ll find yourself compulsively touching the pillow just because of how soft it is.
On the inside, the J-Pillow is stuffed with a polyester fiber filling. I’m usually not a big fan of this material for travel pillows, but it works beautifully with the J-Pillow for whatever reason. The pillow strikes a perfect balance of firmness and “sponginess.”
The entire pillow is machine washable, which is definitely a unique feature among travel pillows. I’ve washed it 4-5 times to date, and it’s just as soft and supportive as it was on day one.
This is where the pillow’s J shape really shines. There’s practically an infinite number of ways you can position this pillow.
It doesn’t matter if you need lower back support, neck support, leg support, or any other kind of support. You can position the three prongs of this pillow to perfectly address any aches your body might throw at you.
I came out of a 6 hour plane ride essentially ache-free, simply because whenever you feel that soreness start to kick in, you can reposition the pillow easily and quickly to fend off any long-term aches.
I’ve used the J-Pillow over the course of 12+ travel-intensive trips, and its held up flawlessly.
The one thing it’s lacking is any peripherals. Nowadays nearly every travel pillow comes with a complimentary storage bag, set of ear plugs, sleeping mask, and so on, but the J-Pillow doesn’t.
Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind.
3. The Travelrest Travel Pillow
- The only pillow that provides FULL LATERAL SUPPORT for the upper body making it easier to relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep longer.
- Promotes proper head and neck alignment - KEEPS HEAD FROM FALLING FORWARD. Ideal for chronic pain sufferers. INFLATES EASILY with just a few breaths and DEFLATES INSTANTLY. Stores neatly when rolled to minimize packing space.
- Patented ERGONOMIC design provides proper support to prevent tension and neck strain. SIDE SLEEPERS LOVE IT!
This one’s labeled as the “Ultimate Travel Pillow,” and with very good reason. It’s different than the standard around-the-neck travel pillow, and is perfect if you’re seeking a more innovative approach to travel comfort.
Recommended for: Plane rides, car rides, bus & train rides depending on how much space you have
The Travelrest pillow is the only inflatable pillow you’ll ever see on a list of the best travel pillows.
It’s hard to do inflatable pillows well, but Travelrest managed to get it down perfectly. It’s truly heavy-duty, and I haven’t been worried about it popping even once.
The whole thing is covered in a faux-velvet material – it’s not the softest material in the world, but I don’t actually have any complaints about it.
If you’re worried about the material, they also sell a separate, true-velour cover for the pillow, which will satisfy even the pickiest customer out there.
The coolest part about the Travelrest is its inflating mechanism. They’ve come up with a simple inflation method that gives you complete control over how well-inflated the pillow is.
This is super important for inflatable pillows, because it means you can change how firm the pillow is on the fly, without having to fiddle around with one of those stupid inflation things that you have to bite down on over and over again.
The Travelrest sports a “lateral” design, which means it’s a full-body pillow that hooks around one shoulder, and crosses your body to end at the opposite hip.
This is one of those designs that you’ll love or hate – I definitely love it!
If you have a lot of back pain, this is the pillow for you. It does a good job of stabilizing your whole body and keeping your spine in a neutral position even as you sleep.
It also gives you something to comfortably wrap your arms around. That might not be for everyone, but I always like holding something as I sleep and this pillow is perfect for that.
I’ve officially owned and used the Travelrest pillow for over a year now, and I’ve had zero issues. No rips, tears, or any other degradation in quality.
Travelrest is also fairly active online, and has a number of instructional videos that help you inflate, position, and even repair the travel pillow.
I eventually did buy the separate “luxury” cover that Travelrest also sells, and I really like it. I’m not a big fan of selling the two separately, but it’s a minor gripe compared to the mileage I’ve gotten out of this thing.
4. The Therm-A-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
- Self-lofting Prolite Foam offers unrivaled support and cushion
- Compresses to 1/4 normal size; expands big enough for maximum comfort
- Ideal for car, camp and cabin use
It might seem surprising that I’m including a classic, rectangular sleeping pillow on this list, but I’ve been really impressed by this little pillow from Therm-A-Rest.
Recommended for: Home use, camping, hotel use, airplane use
To start: this pillow is manufactured in the USA, which is definitely a selling point for me. It’s always nice to support companies based in your home country, and I think the overall construction of the pillow really is flawless.
The outer cover of the Them-A-Rest is a “brushed polyester” that definitely gets the job done. It’s not as soft as some of the other plush, velour covers I’ve talked about, but it’s not uncomfortable either.
On the inside we have a filling of polyurethane foam chips. This isn’t my favorite filling of all time, but to be honest I’m not sure I’d even realize it wasn’t “true” memory foam if they hadn’t been so up front about it in the product description.
The entire pillow is machine washable, and I’ve washed it 3+ times with no apparent issues. There are users that have had less than stellar washing experiences, though. It seems Therm-A-Rest may have some minor quality control problems, because certain units seem to break open fairly easily when washed and dried.
I’d just be doubly sure you’re adhering to all washing/drying instructions, and maybe use a different machine if you know that your own can be rough at times.
Again, this pillow gets the job done. It doesn’t make me rave about how comfortable it is, but I don’t have any specific complaints either. It’s a very straightforward, functional travel pillow.
I’ve tried it out on longer flights and a few bus rides, and it’s definitely a big improvement over no travel pillow at all.
The Therm-A-Rest really shines when you take it off road, however. This is hands down the best camping pillow I’ve ever used.
I know, I know – a lot of people consider real pillows to be an unnecessary luxury while camping. I never had a problem using a pile of dirty clothes myself, but I knew I could never go back to that after the first time I used the Therm-A-Rest while camping.
Therm-A-Rest offers this pillow in a variety of colors, and even offers four different sizes so that you can be sure you’re getting a good fit with the travel pillow.
It doesn’t come with any extras, but does have a “pouch” built in to the case that you can use to compress the travel pillow.
Again, I would consider this a standard, no-frills, functional travel pillow that really shines when you want some extra comfort while camping, or even as a comfortable addition to any hotel room.
5. The Trtl Travel Pillow
- Scientifically proven long-haul flight neck support pillow
- Holds neck in ergonomic position during rest
- Better than a traditional u-shaped memory foam travel pillow
If you think this one looks weird, that’s because it does. I was definitely hesitant to try the Trtl pillow out in public at first, but I’m really glad that I did!
It uses an innovative new design where you simply wrap the “pillow” around your neck, with a neck brace mechanism serving as a support wedge between your head and whichever shoulder you want to lean towards.
Recommended for: Plane use, ground travel depending on how much space is available
The beauty of the Trtl pillow is how simple it is. It’s basically a fleece scarf wrapped around a neck brace, and you can’t really mess up either one of those components too badly.
The cover is a very plush, fleece-like material, and it’s as soft as any pillow cover I’ve ever touched. It’s fully machine washable, and I don’t see it tearing, ripping, or losing it’s plushness anytime soon.
That’s a good thing, because the Trtl requires much more skin contact to use than most other travel pillows.
The neck brace piece is really just a simple, 4-pronged plastic support system that’s wrapped in the cover. Mine has held up perfectly so far, but I am a little worried that extended use could eventually cause the plastic to bend and even snap.
I think the Trtl is a very comfortable option. I’m not so sure about the “scientifically proven” claim that the company makes, but I don’t have any specific complaints about the pillow so far.
It allows for a very natural resting position by firmly but gently supporting your head in a specific direction. This does mean that you can’t really change head positions without re-wrapping the Trtl, but that’s not especially hard to do.
I’ve tried this one out on an east-to-west-coast flight, and I slept like a rock the entire time. I woke up with absolutely no neck pain, which was a welcome surprise.
It is worth noting that users with longer necks and/or narrower shoulders have reported issues using the Trtl, because its “one size fits all” model does count on fairly “standard” neck and shoulder measurements to function optimally.
I haven’t had the Trtl for more than a month or so, but I’ve definitely already gotten my money’s worth out of it.
Like I said, it’s an ingeniously simple design of two very basic pieces. Should the cover rip or the inner brace break, I can’t imagine it would be hard or expensive to replace either piece.
It would be smart for the company to release a “tall” version, and maybe even one for those with narrower shoulders.
The Trtl doesn’t come with any extras, but it’s such a unique spin on the standard travel pillow that I wouldn’t really expect it to.
Best travel pillow wrap up
Well, that’s my list!
I did try to put theses top 5 contenders in some sort of order, but they were all very close to each other in terms of the quality, comfort, and value each provided.
I picked a more diverse selection of pillows so that there would be something for everyone, too. I’m extremely confident that one of the pillows on my list will suit your travel comfort needs perfectly, even if you need to test out a few of them before settling on a winner.
Thank you for reading, and please let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or critiques of my list and reviews!