What to think about when choosing a neck pillow

In addition to deciding which type of neck pillow is right for you, take note of a particular pillow’s filling and outer material. Liking how the pillow looks are important, too.

Filling material

The three most common neck pillow filling materials are microbeads, polyester hollow fiber, and memory foam.

  • Microbeads are made from either polystyrene or plastic. These are the same materials you’d find in a bean bag. Microbead-filled neck pillows are often the least-comfortable but the most affordable.

  • Polyester hollow fiber is the material you'd find in most bed pillows and throw pillows. It tends to be fairly comfortable as a filling for neck pillows, but it isn't the most supportive option and may get flat or lumpy over time.

  • Memory foam molds to the shape of your head and neck. It’s comfortable and supportive, but it can make you feel fairly hot since it's not breathable. It's also one of the most expensive filling options.

Outer material

One of the main benefits you expect from a pillow is the comfort. If you'll be using your neck pillow for long journeys, you undoubtedly want it to have a soft, pleasant-feeling outer material.

Velour and polyester are two of the most comfortable outer materials for neck pillows.

Inflatable travel pillows are usually made of some form of plastic, but most have a plush layer that somewhat improves the texture. And some inflatable neck pillows have covers, though these must often be bought separately, increasing your overall cost.


The color might not be the most important aspect of a neck pillow, but most come in a range of colors, so you might as well pick one that appeals to you.

Some neck pillows even feature patterns, such as polka dots or chevron print, which can make you feel a bit more stylish as you travel.

Be careful not to choose a nice design over a quality pillow, however; if you do, you’ll likely regret it when you wake up with a sore neck.

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