Finest journey pillow of 2021

(CNN) —  

Journey pillows have to strike a difficult steadiness: not supportive sufficient and also you’ll find yourself with a crick in your neck, too massive and stiff you’ll, er, find yourself with a crick in your neck. In addition they have to be compact, light-weight and simple to scrub — no small feat for a humble journey accent!

CNN Underscored spent weeks testing 10 of the most well-liked and highest-rated journey pillows available on the market. We evaluated pillows of all totally different designs and supplies on each consolation and construct to find out the perfect journey pillow for journeys through aircraft, bus or automotive. And whereas lots of the pillows we examined had their deserves, there was one clear winner:

The Cabeau Evolution S3 is the Goldilocks of journey pillows: We discovered it agency sufficient to assist our head and neck, delicate sufficient to go to sleep on and completely transportable, due to its being fabricated from springy reminiscence foam that allows you to compress it to half its measurement.

Julianne Ross

The Evolution S3’s adjustable entrance clasp allow us to barely 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 in opposition to 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 greatest when leaning your head to the facet or as a cushion in opposition to a stable floor, but it surely nonetheless provided respectable chin assist. Its two built-in straps hooked up to almost any seatback we examined on, preserving the pillow in place and serving to to minimize whiplash throughout sudden stops or turbulence.

The S3’s reminiscence foam manages to be delicate, springy and supportive unexpectedly; 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 (in contrast to one other in style reminiscence foam mannequin we examined). After all, reminiscence foam, nevertheless comfortable, 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 good 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).

Julianne Ross

The S3’s cowl (proper) is constructed from a extra breathable, quick-dry cloth that felt cooler to the contact than Cabeau’s authentic Evolution pillow (left).

That mentioned, the S3’s cowl is a particular improve from Cabeau’s authentic Evolution pillow. Whereas that older mannequin’s cowl is made completely 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 totally 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 preferred, but it surely held up completely properly in a regular wash cycle.

The comfiest journey pillow on the planet is ineffective if it’s too massive to journey with, which is why among the finest issues in regards to the Evolution S3 is the truth that it compresses all the way down to half its measurement. All it’s important to 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 constructed from ripstop cloth that’ll maintain your pillow clear and guarded till you’re prepared to make use of it.

A very powerful issues to search for when purchasing 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 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 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 in opposition to our pores and skin after which slipped those self same covers off and put them by means of a machine wash cycle. Lastly, we factored in the associated fee and appears of every pillow to find out their general worth and to decide on the perfect 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.
  • Facet consolation/assist: We famous how snug and supportive the pillow felt when leaning our necks to the facet in addition to when leaning in opposition to 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 individuals of various heights equally properly and in the event that they have been adjustable in any respect.


  • Portability: We famous every pillow’s measurement, whether or not it included a strap or bag for straightforward toting and if it might be compressed to take up much less area. Whereas some pillows have been certainly heavier than others ( you, reminiscence foam fashions), we discovered that just a few further ounces weren’t noticeable when carting the pillows round. Total measurement, case high quality and the power to connect pillows to our baggage made a way more significant distinction in portability.
  • Material: Almost all of the pillows featured a delicate, velvety shell constructed from a velour or fleece-like materials, however there was a spread when it comes to plushness. We famous how every pillow felt in opposition to our pores and skin.
  • Washability: Provided that journey pillows contact your face, they have to be straightforward to scrub. We additionally famous how troublesome it was to get the pillows’ instances on and off when needed.
  • 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 notice of every pillow’s general look and gauged how doubtless they have been to draw humorous seems.

Jensens Innovations J-Pillow ($24.95;

The J-Pillow is a fantastically snug choice with a giant caveat: It really works greatest if you happen to’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 except it was wedged in opposition to 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 may lean in opposition to a tough floor, the J-Pillow provided 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; the whole pillow will be tossed within the wash.

Turtl Pillow ($39.99;

The Turtl is basically a padded neck brace and was essentially the most transportable pillow we examined. It folds down comparatively flat, taking over virtually no area in your baggage, and certainly one of our taller testers liked its sturdy assist. That mentioned, the Turtl proved far too massive for our shorter tester, and each testers may really feel the plastic brace within the center poking by means of its padding. The Turtl was additionally very heat (which is sensible, given that you just’re mainly sporting a wool scarf), and we didn’t love that it’s important to totally 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;

Cabeau’s authentic Evolution mannequin 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 well worth the minor bump in worth.

Therm-a-Relaxation Compressible Journey Pillow ($24.95;

As a light-weight choice to toss in your bag for tenting or backpacking journeys, Therm-a-Relaxation’s compressible pillow is a wonderful selection. It compresses down right into a compact roll and is each supportive and comfy 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 ideal choice for attempting to relaxation whereas sitting upright.

Bcozzy Chin-Supporting Journey Pillow ($29.97;

Bcozzy’s in style pillow didn’t supply us practically sufficient neck assist, and the fabric, whereas delicate to the contact, felt much less luxurious than our prime decide. On the plus facet, it’s comparatively small and light-weight, and will be folded in half for extra assist if you happen to’ve obtained a floor to lean in opposition to (it’s susceptible to slipping round in any other case).

Travelrest Nest Final Reminiscence Foam Journey Pillow ($39.95;

Travelrest’s bestseller is a well-made and supremely delicate pillow, however its reminiscence foam proved too stiff in our testing, and its sides have been so tall that they pushed uncomfortably in opposition to our cheeks. This stiffness additionally made it troublesome 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;

If you understand you’ll have a tough floor to lean on, the Huzi will be finagled into a really snug place. It requires an illustrated information to take action, nevertheless, and by itself doesn’t supply very a lot neck assist. And whereas we liked (liked!) 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;

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 in opposition to 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 need to rub your face in opposition to 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;

If you would like a really light-weight and transportable lumbar pillow, the AirComfy Ease isn’t a nasty selection. If you would 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, but it surely simply isn’t very snug. And whereas inflatability is cool in idea, in observe it seems like attempting to sleep on a fuzzy balloon.

Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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