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The Trtl pillow looks stupid and I was almost too embarrassed to test it out in public. But…I’m very glad I did!
What is the Trtl Travel Pillow?
It’s literally a portable neck brace with some fleece wrapped around it.
Which actually strikes me as bizarrely…smart. What provides “better” neck support than a neck brace?
Much of the Trtl’s genius is in its simplicity. It’s almost like a scarf: all you have to do is wrap it around your neck and fasten the velcro, however snugly you want it to be.
You can check out Trtl’s instructional video below:
What’s it made of?
There are two parts to the Trtl: the brace, and the soft cover.
The brace, which Trtl calls an “Internal Support System,” is a single piece of plastic that has four prongs:
The bottom two can rest on either should, your chest, or your back, and the top two support your head.
There’s just enough spring to the plastic that it cradles your head rather than uncomfortably jabbing it, but it’s also firm enough that you can comfortably relax the whole weight of your head on it.
The Trtl’s soft cover is described as a “super soft hypoallergenic polyester fleece” that’s supposed to provide both warmth and comfort.
Companies throw the word “fleece” around pretty often, but I was pleasantly surprised by how soft the Trtl’s cover actually is.
There’s much more contact between your skin and the Trtl than there is with other types of travel pillows, so it’s actually very important for the fleece cover to be as soft and non-irritating as possible.
I have pretty sensitive skin as well, so this was doubly important for me. Luckily, I had 0 irritation issues even after using the Trtl for an 8 hour trip.
Lastly, the cover does come in several different colors like gray, red, black, and so on. The colors are surprisingly rich and vibrant, which adds a welcome “premium” feel to the Trtl.
How’s it constructed?
I haven’t had any problems with the Trtl’s construction quality so far, but I am a little skeptical about how long the plastic brace piece will hold up.
It works fine for the time being, but it definitely feels a little flimsy. I could totally see it bending permanently with extensive use, and eventually snapping along the middle. I do hope the Trtl proves me wrong, though. I’ll be updating this review after every few uses, so keep an eye out if you’re curious about the durability over multiple trips.
One Year Update: The plastic brace has held up absolutely phenomenally. My skepticism was completely unfounded and I continue to be impressed by how fantastically well-made the Trtl pillow is!
On the other hand, I have no problems with the fleece wrap. It’s sturdy, soft, and machine washable. That’s just about all you can ask for in a travel pillow cover.
When you wrap the covering around your neck, it fastens with standard velcro and stays snug for entire trips.
I’ve tried using it in all directions: leaning towards both shoulders, leaning forwards, and leaning backwards.
I’m equally comfortable in all four of those positions, although using it backwards against your back can be a little tricky depending on your seating situation.
- Dual use
The fleece cover can actually be used as a sort of scarf/mouthguard as well.
You can wrap it around your neck so that the cover goes over your mouth, which is perfect if you hate germ-riddled planes, busses, and trains. We’ve all had to deal with that one guy who won’t stop sneezing near you, after all.
The Trtl really is compact. Lots of travel pillows brag about how then can be compressed to the size of a brick or whatever else, but the Trtl takes the cake here.
It weighs in at 148 grams, which is less than a third of a pound. It adds practically no weight to your luggage, and takes up just as much space as a standard scarf.
The fleece cover is very snugly and warm, which I really do enjoy. I tend to get pretty cold on most airplanes, trains, and busses with A/C, so the fleece wrap is perfect for adding a bit of warmth around your neck during long journeys.
- Works for some people but not for others
How effective the Trtl is kind of depends how long your neck is, and how your shoulders are shaped.
People with longer necks will find that the Trtl to be a little short, and will have to tilt their necks unreasonably far to meet the Trtl’s plastic brace. This can definitely result in fast discomfort for those with taller necks.
Likewise, the Trtl works best for people with broader, flat shoulders.
If you have narrow or sloping shoulders, you may find it hard to get the Trtl in place, and to keep it where you want it for longer periods of time.
One Year Update: The Trtl has always fit me absolutely perfectly. Over the past year I’ve had numerous friends and relatives try out the pillow – I’ve actually gotten 0 complaints about the fit. Fear not if you have a long neck!
Like I mentioned briefly before, I am a little worried about how long the simple plastic brace will last.
I might be wrong, but I have a feeling it’ll bend and eventually snap depending on how frequently you use the pillow.
- Assumes you keep your head in one place while resting
You basically have to pick a direction to lean your head in, and stick with it for the rest of the trip.
It’s not hard to reposition the Trtl, but you do have to remove it completely and re-wrap it around your neck if you want to set it up so that you can lean your head in a different direction.
This is the one area that around-the-neck travel pillows have the Trtl beat in, because they allow you to rotate your head whenever you want and rest it in whatever position you feel like.
- Some may find it constricting
The Trtl works best when it’s snugly wrapped around your neck. I didn’t have any issues with this, but I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with things being wrapped around their necks.
If you have issues with claustrophobia or don’t like things touching your throat, you might have issues with the Trtl.
If you tend to get hot and sweaty when traveling, the Trtl may make you both hotter and sweatier.
This isn’t an issue for me because I’m usually cold on planes, trains, etc., but it’s something to keep in mind – the fleece material can be very insulating.
For me, this is definitely a cool spin on the traditional travel pillow.
It’s already kept me very comfortable on a few different trips, and I’m going to keep it as my go-to travel pillow for the time being.
There is definitely some room for improvement in the design, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Trtl comes out with a few different versions targeted at taller people, people with wider shoulders, and so on.
But, for the time being, they do a pretty good job at providing a “one size fits all” solution.