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It's OK, But For About the Same Price You Can Do Better
on June 2, 2012
Finally decided a travel pillow would be a good purchase with a long trip looming. I bought four different pillows to compare. One I ordered from China for $2 (with ear plugs and eye cover on eBay), one was the Lewis N. Clark travel pillow available here on Amazon (~$14), one was the cheaper $7 Samsonite travel pillow available here, and the last was this Samsonite pillow with cover for $12. I'll preface this review to say that I've only tested these at home in airplane-like chairs; I have not flown with them yet.
The $2 pillow actually wasn't terrible. If you were careful with it chances are it would work fine. It's a little small, and no washable cover. It is some kind of vinyl or PVC that they coat or spray with something like velour to give it a somewhat fabric-like texture. For $2, not bad in a pinch - and it uses a pinch valve for air insertion (you pinch, squeeze, or bite the valve together partially and then blow in it to inflate it). The $7 Samsonite pillow is essentially identical to the cheap pillow I got from China, except Samsonite put their name on the side of the pillow. Otherwise no different. Really. $5 more for their name. Needless to say, no reason to get this one. My last choice of the four.
The Samsonite pillow from this page that includes the removable cover for $12 isn't bad. It is definitely of better quality than the two cheapies. The air bladder is better built, and a removable cover is always nice. It also has a little pocket on it that you can stick an iPod and earphones into, or keep earplugs in. It is also a little bigger than the other two. I'm not a fan of the material they used on the cover (I would also suggest avoiding the Pagoda Blue color as well, which is what I have here). It's kind of a velvet material. It reminds me of a material that a young child would think was great. It is very soft, but it doesn't remind me of sheets or a regular pillow at all, and I wonder how that material will look after it is used and washed a few times. But this is really just my personal preference; perhaps you would like it better. To put air in this pillow you have to unzip the cover and get to the pinch valve, same type as the ones above. This is kind of a pain, and you will have to do this again to deflate. But otherwise this pillow is perfectly functional, and again, of somewhat better quality than the first two.
The Lewis N. Clark adjustable pillow is a little more money (I paid $14), but I quickly decided that if one isn't going ultra-cheap, it is the pillow of choice. It has several advantages. It is a little bigger. It has an agreeable and removable (and therefore washable) fabric cover. It also includes a little case to stuff it into. But best of all, it inflates in like two seconds - literally. No little pinch valve to pull out. Instead you pull off a cover over about a 1" diameter valve and blow into it. One or two blows, depending on your lung capacity, and it's full. And once you fill it up you can adjust the firmness quickly just by pushing the little button at the back of the valve opening. I'm not sure how well I'm describing this, but just know that this system really works well. Near instant inflation and adjustment of firmness to your liking. It is much better than the pillows that have the little pinch valve. It is enough better that even a cheapskate like me is going to pay the extra money for it.
All of these pillows are of essentially the same type shapewise, although their size varies a little. I can't help with comparisons to the long, thin pillows that you wear across your body. I don't fly enough to justify the expense of those type of pillows.
What I cannot comment on yet is the durability of any of these products. However, my impression looking at the pillows initially is that all of them should be handled with care. I would expect the two cheapest to be least durable, and the Lewis N. Clark to be the best. I will be keeping the Lewis N. Clark and the cheapy $2 pillow. If I have any issues I will update this review. I will also post this review at the other product pages for the items from Amazon.
Wishing you all a little rest on your travels...
3/14/16 - Update:
Since Amazon has reminded me that folks are still occasionally looking at this review, let me just follow up by saying that I am still using the Lewis N. Clark pillow are remain pleased with it. Definitely a good purchase for me.