A Discerning Look at the Pillow that’s Not Really a Pillow

Trtl Travel Pillow 2019

Travel pillows are a bit of a contentious topic here around the office. Some of us are staunch believers in the traditional bean-filled “U”-shape travel pillows that people have been zipping around the skies with for decades. An equal number of us attempt to get through the flight without any pillow at all, feebly bundling our sweatshirts or jackets and cramming them in between the seat and our face.

Don’t even get us started on the “pillows” the flight attendants hand out. We’ve had bigger marshmallows on our s’mores. And if we tried to bring our Purple Pillow on board, they’d probably charge an excess baggage fee.

But here’s the thing: no matter how people go about trying to catch a few Z’s while traveling, not a single one of them is going to tell you that they had a good, comfortable sleep. That’s because even the most popular U-shaped neck pillows are unable to provide the kind of head & neck support that us upright mammals have become so accustomed to.

To the applause of thousands of user reviews, Trtl Travel Pillow has arrived, alongside a plethora of claims about how their flagship product is “scientifically proven” to provide superior head and neck support while traveling. So of course, we thought we’d take a closer look to see just how accurate these claims were, not to mention to get our hands on one of the least pillow-looking pillows that we have ever seen…

Why I Always Have a Hard Time Sleeping on Planes 

I am a pretty avid traveler. I love being amongst new cultures in new places. I just hate getting there. Unless it’s a nice, slow road trip with lots of stops, I am unlikely to be anything but cranky for the entire time from the departures gate to the baggage claim on the other side. Then the crankiness lingers and before you know it I have wasted an entire day of my vacation recovering from the flight.

We’ve all been there, and we’ve all said it: “If only I could have slept on the plane …”

It’s no wonder then that an estimated 15% of airline passengers always or sometimes use medication or alcohol to sleep on a plane.

The Trtl Pillow Overview: What You Need to Know

Like many great business ideas, the Trtl Pillow found its commercial success by targeting a very specific problem that was shared by many but addressed by few: the inadequacy of the traditional travel pillow. The idea was to rethink the way we were supporting our heads while trying to sleep on planes. And the result was not really a pillow at all, but something much different. ­

Trtl Travel Logo

Like many great business ideas, the Trtl Pillow found its commercial success by targeting a very specific problem that was shared by many but addressed by few: the inadequacy of the traditional travel pillow. The idea was to rethink the way we were supporting our heads while trying to sleep on planes. And the result was not really a pillow at all, but something much different.

Take a look at our review of the new “Trtl Pillow Plus”.

“Hammock-Style” Head & Neck Support

The Trtl pillow is different from traditional travel pillows in that it is not simply a soft material stuffed with another soft material. While that certainly must be pretty close to the actual definition of a pillow, the Trtl Pillow gets away with calling itself a pillow because of how it holds your head up.

An internal plastic frame structure is able to hold your head at an angle that is much better for neck health, not to mention a heck of a lot more comfortable on long distance journeys. This frame folds into a “V” shape that rests one end on your shoulder or chest and the other on your chin, jaw, or head, depending on how you have the Trtl Pillow situated.

Comfortable Super Soft Fleece Cover

The internal frame that we mentioned is encased within what is essentially a strip of super soft fleece material. By wrapping this fleece around your neck in the desired tightness and position, the plastic internal frame is held in place, and so is your head. Not only is this situation very structurally sound, but the act of wrapping this thing around your neck feels just like putting on a super plush scarf.

So Just Who Is the Trtl Pillow For?

If you’ve read even one of the many trtl travel pillow reviews that have been hitting the interweb over the last few years, then you might already know what the deal is with this stunningly strange yet startlingly popular sleep aid. At best, it’s a bold attempt to reinvent the travel neck pillow as we know it. At the very least, it’s a super comfortable piece of fabric that will at least be more comfortable than sleeping on the guy sitting next to you.

So who is the Trtl pillow for? We’ve narrowed it down to three types:

  • Frequent flyers who want more support than a U-shaped travel pillow can offer
  • Passengers who don’t want to spend big $$$ at the terminal for an overpriced neck pillow
  • Boat passengers, train passengers … anyone who wants to doze while seated upright

Unboxing the Trtl Pillow & Trying it On

The Trtl Pillow came in a small, unassuming box. The moment we picked it up we realized how much lighter it is than those clumpy bean-filled pillows that so many people still use. Even with all the packaging still in place, it was significantly lighter than even the smallest neck pillows.

The one that arrived was a slate grey in color, which probably would have been my second choice next to just plain black. But from what we understand, they come in a number of other colors including red and pink. We know that not too many people are that concerned with style on airplanes these days (I’m usually in my PJs) but the style conscious flyer might be interested in matching their Trtl Pillow with their luggage.

LEARN: How to Achieve a Healthier Diet Through Better Sleep

Inside the box: a long strip of super soft fleece fabric, with something hard but somewhat flexible inside. That would be the molded plastic frame … the part of the Trtl Pillow that actually holds your head up. The rest of it is just the fleece wrap, along with a few Velcro strips that help secure the Trtl Pillow in place.

We were more than a touch surprised. “That’s it? It’s just a piece of fabric!” Indeed it was hard to us to think of it as a pillow at all. Until we tried it on, that is.

Comfort

Fleece is as soft as they say it is. Even without the internal frame, we would probably find ourselves snuggling with this.

Support

The internal frame is somewhat difficult to get in place if you have no experience with a Trtl Pillow. And perhaps that’s no surprise. It turns out that when you invent something that has never existed before, there is going to be a bit of a learning curve.

With a bit of fidgeting and practice, I got the frame where I wanted it, just between my collarbone area and the side of my face. It took a while to get into this position, but once I did, I was hooked. I could see exactly why all the Trtl neck pillow reviews were as glowing as they were. My head was softly yet firmly cradled, just the way it would be if I was lying in bed. The only difference is that most of the pressure from the weight of my head was centralized around the contact points between the frame and my face.

Fortunately, the thick fleece layer was enough to cushion that pressure.  I can imagine that after a few hours in one position, the pressure would become an annoyance and you would want to re-situate. This can be time consuming, but a small price to pay for even a few hours of sleep on a plane, which is more than we usually get!

RELATED: Take a look at our review of the multi-purpose Casper Pillow

The Trtl Travel Pillow for Flight: 3 Things We Love (And 2 Things We Don’t)

Trtl Travel Pillow

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Pros
  • Trtl Pillow is a unique design, unlike any other travel pillow
  • Super-soft fleece exceeds our expectations in terms of comfort and durability
  • Very Lightweight & Packable

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Cons
  • It can take some time to find the right position
  • Extended time in one position can put pressure on the jaw

What’s Inside the Trtl Pillow

Normally when we are reviewing a new pillow, we need to go into extended detail about a number of different proprietary plastics and patented processes. This certainly isn’t the case with Trtl Pillow. There are really only two components to it, and that simplicity is no doubt one of its greater strengths.

Hypoallergenic Fleece

This is the “built for comfort” side of the Trtl Pillow. It’s basically a long strip of polyester-based fleece with a pair of Velcro strips on either end. There is an “interior” of this fleece segment, and that’s where the 2nd component comes into play.

Firm Molded Plastic

A 100& plastic construction gives the internal frame its impressive light-weightedness as well as a comfortable flex that will likely withstand some significant use without any signs of permanent bending. The frame can apply pressure to the jaw area, which is why it’s important to have plenty of that soft fleece between it and your face.

Quality Overview: The Trtl Compact Pillow

Let’s zoom out for a second and return to the wider conversation about what exactly it is that we are looking for out of a good travel pillow. We can safely assume that we are not going to achieve the same comfort level as the pillow that we left at home. But if a product can add even an hour or two of sleep to our journey, it satisfies our standards of a great neck pillow for flights.

In terms of construction quality, the Trtl Pillow is solid. The fleece is too simple an element to have any significant construction flaws (the seams look sturdy) and the internal plastic frame is only one piece. Barring some tragic incident where it is pressured in the wrong direction and snaps, we think it has a good chance of lasting a long time without losing any of its support capabilities.

Is the Trtl Nap Pillow Just for Air Travel?

It doesn’t have to be! It would work just as fine on a train or bus. Or, if you’re like me, you can wear the Trtl Pillow while working on the computer and enjoy a little relaxed screen time.

What We Really Think: The Conclusion of our Trtl Travel Pillow Review

We might as well come right out and say it: we are pretty impressed with this little upstart Pillow company. It wasn’t that long ago that we saw their project on crowdfunding sites, and now, we’re seeing these unique sleep-boosting neck pillows at airports all over the country.

We had some trouble working the product into the perfect position for sleeping, and even after we had some practice it still did not feel like an exact science. However, once we achieved the fit, we understood why so many people have abandoned their old neck pillows for the Trtl Pillow. The support is solid, and the surface is comfortable. Just what we need for the shuteye we’ve been looking for.

UP NEXT: The Trtl Travel Pillow Plus: “Examining the Smash Hit Sequel to one of 2018’s Most Popular Sleep Aids”

The Consensus: Do We Recommend the Trtl Neck Travel Pillow?

The truth of the matter is that everyone is just a little bit different and it’s hard to predict whether or not one product will work similarly for different people. But after spending some time with the Trtl Pillow we can safely say that it is versatile enough to suit all sorts of travelers. We recommend it to anyone who has had trouble sleeping on a plane, and doesn’t mind to take a few moments to get into the perfect napping position.

Trtl Travel Pillow Review Summary $29.99

Product Name: Trtl Travel Pillow

Product Description: The bestselling, scientifically proven travel neck pillow with head and neck support.

Offer price: $29.99

Currency: USD

Availability: InStock

The Trtl Travel Pillow Product Summary

What we’ve got here is a surprisingly innovative product that is sure to inspire more than a few copycats in years to come. The Trtl Neck Pillow is unlike anything we have tried before, and here’s why it’s making us want to toss out our old horseshoe-style travel pillows:

  • Super soft fleece wrap-around is nothing short of luxurious
  • Unique plastic frame is highly supportive, if not a bit complicated to use
  • Way lighter and far more compact than any other kind of neck pillow
Overall
4.1

Pros

  • GREAT SUPPORT
  • COMFORTABLE FLEECE
  • LIGHT & SMALL

Cons

  • HARD TO GET THE PERFECT FIT