It never fails, you find yourself exhausted after the mad scramble through the airport and collapse in your seat only to find yourself unable to truly nod off due to discomfort. With nothing for your head to rest upon, gravity quickly takes over and will jolt you awake- hence the reason why travel pillows are such an affordable and a popular commodity.
Most familiar to many people is the traditional horseshoe-shaped pillow that provides both shoulder and neck support to lean your head against. But if you are a traveler, you should be aware there are many other shape options to consider. The Sleep Judge Review Team was recently able to travel with a J-Pillow Travel Pillow and determine if whether or not the claim of it being an invention of the year is substantiated.
J-Pillow Travel Pillow Specs
Case material – Polyester
Comfort Positions – Side, Back and Chin Support
Adjustable – Yes
Warranty – 30-day return
Breakdown of the J-Pillow Travel Pillow
The idea of the J-Pillow came to fruition by a former flight attendant as she watched her children struggle to rest on a late night flight. This brought to mind how many times she had watched others fight to rest comfortably, and from there, an idea was born to help provide a more versatile travel pillow shape that could be used in multiple ways by a larger variety of people.
With the ability to shape it to your own needs and the option to use it for so much more than travel, the J-Pillow has become a Best Consumer Invention within Britain and went into production in 2013. Although its popularity is still growing overseas, it has a strong following amongst those who travel often.
Created for travel, the J-Pillow has many more options for use due to the specific support it lends to the head and neck. Despite the name, the J-shaped is part of a larger, almost C-shaped (or true uppercase J) design that provides neck and head support. Placed under your chin and between your head and shoulder, the shape keeps your head from falling forward and provides an upright, elevated position for a comforting sleep when in a sitting position.
- Very lightweight
- Machine washable
- Has multiple uses
- Fit a large variety of people
- Best for a person tilting their head to the side
- May not stay in place well if you tilt your head back
- ‘Arms’ may weaken over time
The pillow came packed tight within a sealed plastic bag, and within a branded drawstring carrying case, it also came with instructions for use, as well as a soft cloth guide to help show you how to best use the pillow. This little green cloth fits well within the bag as a reminder of how you can take advantage of the comfort since the shape is a little confusing at first.
There was no off-gassing present upon opening. There’s an instruction inside about how best to restore the pillow in the travel bag and take advantage of the little snap loop found on the top. Between the drawstring length and this loop, the pillow can easily connect to whatever type of bag you are traveling with.
I actually was a little confused by the pillow at first. It seemed to have too many ‘arms’ going everywhere, and I couldn’t quite make heads or tails out of it. I’m guessing I’m not the first person to view this pillow as a bit of a puzzle at first, however, it does come with a cool green cloth guide that literally explains where you should place your ear and what part goes under your chin for the more traditional wear. I found this hilarious and quite ingenious overall- and it spoke well to the detail put into the product. These directions made seeing the product as it was that much easier, as well as how it could be manipulated to be used in various ways.
Features & Benefits
As with any product, the J-Pillow has some unique claims surrounding the design. The benefits it boasts assure you that it can provide you with the comfort you deserve to get a proper rest when traveling. Since almost everyone has struggled to place their head comfortably when in a more upright position- whether in a plane, train, or other vehicles- it is easy to relate to the discomfort of having your head fall forward or be up against a hard surface with nothing for support. We probably have all, at some point, realized that not all horseshoe-shaped travel pillows work for every body type either, and it can create painful neck strain due to a complete lack of support.
Unique, Adjustable Shape
The unique adjustable shape allows for the three ‘arms’ that are shaped like an uppercase ‘J’ to be very flexible. Each ‘arms’ have gentle curves to allow you to wear it in multiple ways to provide you with the support under your chin, neck, and head need to alleviate muscle tension. It’s this shape that provides you the opportunity to truly rest in a more upright position without worrying that your head will fall forward.
I wasn’t 100% sure how this was going to work out as anything that tends to go back behind my neck always feels like it pushed it forward. It was not so with this pillow, especially since it can be adjusted or even worn with the ‘J’ arm around your neck rather than under your chin. It also didn’t slip at all once I had it settled between my neck and shoulder, as well as the part that’s propped under my chin, and it did provide good head support.
Soft, Poly Cover
The soft, fuzzy-like texture of the cover is polyester, making it easy to wipe clean and machine wash (more on that below). The seams of the pillow are also well stitched to accommodate the bending and flexing the pillow will undergo as you place it in and out of the storage bag, as well as when you use it.
Sometimes, I find this type of material to be a bit warm, but it was cool in the cabin I used it in, and it was during the winter, so I didn’t have any issues with that. It also was very comfortable to place my skin against. I honestly don’t think it would retain heat even during a warmer weather due to the given large surface area. Overall, good choice based on fabric comfort!
100% Polyester Fiber Filling
Many travel pillows use one of two different types of fills for their pillow designs: either a microbead for a firm contouring shape or a polyfill. This pillow uses a polyfill fiber as it is strong, durable, and provides good support without breaking down. It also is washable, unlike microbeads.
Personally, I found it to be a good choice of fill as microbeads, although sturdy, don’t provide enough give for me and sometimes feel as if they are pushing my head forward and creating pressure points.
This diagram shows the original thought behind the pillow’s use, and I can attest that it works rather well. The idea of your own head weight to keep the pillow in place works really well. I also like that you can wrap the ‘J’ part around the back of your neck to turn the whole pillow and provide a different support and comfort. It can also work as a pillow along any flat surface, such as in the window seat or even as an armrest (more on that below as well). You can even use the length of it as a pillow for your bed when traveling if in a pinch for a soft place to rest your head.
It is also worth noting here that the pillow has been highly reviewed by those with disabilities or those who are wheelchair-bound as a way to better support the muscles of their head and neck. The versatility of this pillow was made specifically to ease the tension of the neck that often occurs in an upright position, and it has found a secondary use outside of travel for those in need of a comfortable head and neck support.
Size & Weight
The pillow is also very lightweight at only 8 ounces and packs very easily into the bag. The size lends itself well to a variety of different body sizes as well, making it a comforting choice for a wide range of travelers. With both a drawstring and snap hanging loop, you can easily connect the bag to any of your carry on items for transportation purposes.2
Finally! A travel pillow that can be tossed in the washer and dryer! Many travel pillows do not suggest washing or are unable to be washed due to the type of materials used in their construction. Polyester synthetic fabrics usually wash and dry very well without losing shape or bunching up once dry. In fact, many traditional bed pillows use a synthetic polyfiber or polyfiber blend.
Although I did read somewhere that the company was now offering a 6-month guarantee and warranty, I could not substantiate this claim – so I don’t want to write about it as if it was absolutely true. It is worth checking out if you feel you would need to take advantage of it. The company does offer a 30-day trial with a replacement or return within the first 30 days after purchase. If you don’t like it, simply return it (minus shipping costs).
With literally thousands of reviews offered since the 2013 launch of this product, there are many opinions you can sift through before getting to those that are detailed enough to know why a person truly enjoys the J-Pillow or as to why they just didn’t like it. On the plus side, almost 9 out of 10 reviewers would recommend it overall!
Comfort, support, and the various ways it can be manipulated for personal use top the reasons why it is so liked. Many reported that they are often stopped and asked for the name of the pillow by fellow travelers- as their own experiences and rest must look comforting. Plus, almost everyone mentions how nice it is to not have a sore neck after napping while traveling.
Those who found it difficult to use or deemed it uncomfortable almost exclusively struggled to keep it in place. Whether their body shape wasn’t conducive to the pillow, or they couldn’t get comfortable due to other personal preferences, these views do highlight that there is no true ‘one size fits all’ pillow and that taking advantage of the 30-day guarantee may be needed.
My Trial Experiences
Have pillow, will travel. Seriously though, once I have my children settled and relaxed on a plane, I often have a hard time not drifting off to sleep myself- especially if I have been up since before dawn. Since having kids, I’ve had to give up the coveted window seat to lean against. And finding a comfortable pillow that allows me to drift off without being jerked awake by the inevitable head nod has been difficult.
This pillow is great. I’ve mentioned a few times about how much I like the various ways it can be used and the overall comfort, but as you can see- it really does allow your head to rest while in an upright position without straining your neck. I had no problems keeping it in place, and once I was truly settled and allowed my head to rest on it as it should, it felt quite snug. When not in use, I also found it to be a comfortable armrest.
My youngest also found it to work well as a pillow placed on the armrest. He is still little enough that he can manipulate his body to take advantage a bit more of the seat space, and the pillow cradled his head against the hard surface very well.
Hands down, this really is the best travel pillow I personally have come across. I may have found comfort in a few other styles, but this one really provides the support you want and need when sitting upright. I also really love how well it travels and can easily attach to a backpack or carry on. My entire family took advantage of this pillow, with it being a favorite amongst the kids who used it up against the window seats.
The soft outer cover, the unique shape, and the supportive fill that doesn’t create pressure points are all good reasons to consider the J-Pillow. The fact that it can be washed is also awesome since who hasn’t cringed a bit at the thought that the seats you sit in are occupied by many, many people with variable cleaning schedules.
If you travel by any form of transportation or make a daily commute and wish you could get more comfortable, then you should seriously consider the J-Pillow Travel Pillow. Not only has it found a strong following amongst those looking for a comfortable rest when on the road, it also benefits anyone in need of upright head and neck support. Our trial run here at The Sleep Judge was most definitely favorable, with multiple people, of various sizes) taking advantage of its comfort.