We’re gonna go back to basics for a bit and take a look at this traditional Therm-A-Rest compressible travel pillow. Do you think it can compete with some of the fancier travel pillows I’ve reviewed?
What’s the Therm-A-Rest travel pillow made of?
Like most traditional, rectangular pillows, the Therm-A-Rest is made up of an outside “pillow case” that’s stuffed with a foam filler.
The pillow case cover is described by the manufacturer as a “comfortable brushed polyester.” I have to say, it’s a pretty accurate description.
I wasn’t blown away by how soft the cover was, but it’s more than adequate for comfortable contact with your skin. I’m also a little spoiled by the luxury velour covers I’m used to, so I might be a bit biased in this department.
Either way, you won’t be disappointed by the casing – it just might not blow your socks off.
Inside this travel pillow, you’ll find standard polyurethane foam. The manufacturer describes it as just “urethane” foam, which is another word for polyurethane foam.
This pillow is interesting because it’s not one big foam insert on this inside. Instead, it’s filled with smaller foam “chips.”
I was a little put off by this at first, because more granular pillow stuffing is usually less comfortable than one big foam piece. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Therm-A-Rest’s choice to use foam chips actually worked out very nicely!
It’s important to note that this is not a memory foam pillow. The foam won’t get softer at higher temperature, and it won’t “remember” the shape of your head and neck like true memory foam travel pillows do.
Even though it’s not actually made with memory foam, most people won’t notice too much of a difference. The foam is still very compressible, and just as comfortably firm as most memory foam pillows are.
Construction of the Therm-A-Rest
Let me start by saying that this pillow is actually made in the USA. That alone made me more inclined to buy it, and I’m very glad I did so.
It’s hard to explain, but it just feels very sturdy when you hold it. The stitching is smart and tight, and there’s no give at all when I put pressure on the seams. For me personally, this pillow will definitely stand up against the wear and tear of extensive travel.
Check out the video review below for a closer look at this cool little pillow:
Disclaimer: There are a handful of reviewers online that have had serious construction issues with this pillow. When you first receive it, the instructions tell you to wash and dry it before using for maximum “loft” (fluffiness).
I did that with no problems at all, and enjoyed the very plump pillow that came out of my dryer.
However, more than a few people ended up with a shredded cover and the foam pieces spilling out all over the place during the initial washing and drying of the pillow.
I’m not sure if this is a persistent quality control issue or if it’s just a few crappy units, but it’s something to keep in mind when buying. It could also depend on the individual washing/drying machines. If you know your machines can be rough on stuff, I’d be wary of how and when you wash this pillow. You can see what I mean in the picture below, which my sister lent to me for the occasion:
Also: Don’t be worried if your pillow looks incredibly flat and sad when you first take it out of the box. Mine was ridiculously compressed, and I honestly thought they shipped me an unfinished pillow. Give it a few minutes, shake it up, and you’ll be incredibly surprised by how much it expands.
Unfortunately, all you get with the Therm-A-Rest is the pillow. On the plus side, they actually decided on a really neat design: the pillow has a “pouch” on on side that it rolls up into. So, while it doesn’t come with a travel bag, it actually is it’s own travel bag.
I always like smart design work, and I think it really shows that the company did its research before manufacturing the pillow.
Speaking of design, you have a pretty nice selection of colors and patterns to choose from. I went with the classic “denim” color model, but you can choose between denim, poppy, “night sky,” “indigo dot,” and “mosaic.”
Along with color, you can actually choose what size pillow you want too! They offer these things in sizes S through XL, and the dimensions of each size are as follows:
- Small: 12 inches by 16 inches
- Medium: 14 inches by 18 inches
- Large: 16 inches by 23 inches
- Extra large: 16.5 inches by 27 inches
This is actually one of my favorite things about the Therm-A-Rest, because pillow sizing is actually a big deal when it comes to finding the perfect travel pillow.
I like my comfort, so I went with the newer XL size. While not quite as big as most standard bed pillows, it feels very nice to have a “big” travel pillow that can still function as a travel pillow.
These little bits of personalization are always nice, and much appreciated!
I honestly think the price range is right on point for a pillow of this caliber.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have pretty high standards when it comes to travel pillows. They’re there to make you comfortable after all, so why settle for anything less?
That being said, I was honestly surprised by how much I liked this little nondescript pillow. I was expecting a boring, middle-of-the-road pseudo travel pillow, fully ready to write up a review of how disappointed I was with Therm-A-Rest.
In reality, this might just become my go-to pillow for certain types of travel. It’s hands-down the best travel pillow I’ve tested when it comes to things like camping, and it was actually perfect for plane rides as well.
For car rides, however, I’m still a bit partial to the u-shaped around-the-neck travel pillows.
The bottom line: This is an incredibly handy little pillow that’s really perfect for many different types of travel. If you’re looking for a no-frills, traditional pillow that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, the Therm-A-Rest compressible travel pillow is perfect for you.
- Perfect for travelers or campers
- Foam expands big and packs small
- Comfortable brushed polyester on the outside with soft urethane foam fill on the inside