The trtl Travel Pillow, with its soft fleece wrap and structured neck support, definitely gives the traditional neck pillow a run for its money. While it may succeed in some areas, it falls short in others. What are those areas and who is this going to really work for? Check out the full video review and written post with more photos below.
Who Makes It?
The trtl (pronounced “Turtle”) Travel Pillow was created by engineers Michael Corrigan & David Kellock of Coolside Limited in Great Britain. They decided to develop a product that would make travel experiences more comfortable for everyone.
Their website says sleep sets the foundation to be able to experience more and they also describe the trtl Pillow as an essential “napparatus.” Points for creative phrasing.
See how trtl compares on my best travel pillows page.
- 7.5″ x 7.5″ x 3.7″
- 6.4 oz (a little under ½ lb)
- Cover: Hypoallergenic fleece (polyester) shell
- Core: Polyurethane foam filling
- Core: Plastic internal support system
- Machine washable and dryer-friendly
- Available in three colors (only two colors sold on their website)
- $29.99 price at full price (depending on retailer)
- Scientifically proven to keep the head in a better position than a traditional U-Shaped neck pillow
- Can machine wash and dry easily
- Company’s website and packaging provide clear instructions for use
- Relatively easy to pack flat
- It can be wrapped over mouth and nose to protect from germs (personal germs or those from fellow passengers!)
- The internal neck support system is non-adjustable
- Cannot be compacted or rolled into a very small size
- Hard to locate tag for the care instruction
- Not always compatible with earbuds/headphones
What I immediately like about the trtl Travel Pillow is that it’s very lightweight and the fleece shell is very soft. Although it can’t be compacted into a smaller size, as an inflatable pillow could, the internal support structure (made from plastic) is flat enough that it can lay easily in a carry-on.
When I unwrapped my pillow from the packaging I immediately noticed some dirt on the fabric. Not the best first impression but it’s probably a best practice to wash any new products soon after opening anyway.
I had a challenging time locating the care instructions tag – it’s tucked into the pocket of the pillow with the plastic internal support device. It says to wash in water at 30 degrees Celsius (that’s 89 Fahrenheit) and tumble dry and it also says to make sure all fabric is looped and/or fastened and to take out the plastic insert before wash.
I washed it immediately – just removed the plastic portion and threw the rest in the washing machine on a gentle cold cycle and a low tumble dry and I had no issues with wear or fabric color bleeding.
The instructions also say, “when reinserting the plastic part, make sure to insert at the correct orientation.” I encourage travelers to pay close attention to the complete set-up of the pillow because reinserting the plastic support piece was tedious for me and I had to look up a couple of sets of instructions to get the orientation accurate.
Once the pillow was around my neck, I really felt enveloped and supported especially when I tilted my head to the side. I had to start over and re-wrap the pillow several times before I found the correct tightness and comfort ratio. I can see this pillow being a good fit for someone in the middle seat of a plane or train because the pillow is anchored to you like a tight neck scarf so there’s no need to rest the head on a window or tray table.
The real perk of this pillow is the feature that I just mentioned – the fact that it doesn’t attach to anything but the traveler itself. Travelers can move the support to the side or they can move it under their chins to keep their heads from falling forward while resting – it’s really versatile in that sense.
Of all the positions to use this trtl Travel Pillow in, I was most comfortable an upright and seated position. I used the plastic support and foam layer to support my chin and my neck and felt snug and secure.
It interfered with my headphones when I had the pillow to one side of my head, but it was fine when the device was supporting my chin and stopping my head from falling forward.
I understand that this pillow is supposed to put the head in a better position than a u-shaped neck pillow, but I think it’s still possible to have a stiff neck or strained muscles, depending on how tightly the scarf-part of the pillow is wrapped around the neck.
I can see this being comfortable for a shorter flight or when I’m in a middle seat, I have a hard time personally seeing this work comfortably on a red-eye or a long flight where I’d like to sleep. I think there would be too much hard plastic surrounding my neck and too much potential strain around my neck to be comfortable for a long haul.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Overall, the trtl Travel Pillow got many more positive reviews than negative, but I wanted to highlight some of the common complaints in the negative.
- Some found it to be suffocating/constraining because the fleece is wrapped around the neck
- Some felt their neck was strained from the fleece pulling against the neck
- Some felt the plastic insert wasn’t’ stiff enough to provide adequate support
I do think it’s closer to an apparatus (or a “napparatus”) than a pillow with its design. It was easy to wash and dry but be sure to know how to put the plastic insert back inside the pillow correctly.
See our take on other travel pillows.
The pillow costs $29.99 (with a 60-day return policy) on the trtl Pillow website and on Amazon, which seems to be a little higher than the middle-of-the-road in terms of travel pillow prices. I think that the pillow is both innovative and clever and could be a good investment for a passenger who don’t have a window or something to rest their heads. However, there are some other supportive neck pillows on the market for around $30 or less that could be worth testing as well.
The team at trtl Pillow offers a 60-day money-back guarantee that may be worth checking out as well.