REI Self-Inflating Travel Pillow

In search of the perfect travel or backpacking pillow? Or a pillow for your next transcontinental flight? Well look no further. This post is for you.

The best travel pillow available

The best travel pillow available

Travel or Backpacking Pillow

One of the most important accessories for today’s traveler is the travel pillow. Enhancing your comfort while stuck in an economy seat for several hours during a flight or stranded at an airport is one way you can improve the quality of your trip.

You have most likely seen people carrying u-shaped neck pillows at the airport, or even own one yourself.  Personally, I have never had a u-shaped neck pillow I thought worked well.  They have either been too hard which hurt my neck while trying to use or too difficult to inflate and keep at the optimal firmness.

After a trip to Istanbul this past summer I decided it was time for a better alternative to my bright orange u-shaped neck pillow, purchased at Target which has a burn mark from the Bangkok airport’s security screen belt.  

My research led me to the REI Self-Inflating Travel Pillow, found only at REI. The pillow, shaped like a bowtie, uses both foam and air to achieve perfect comfort for the weary traveler.  The pillow has a self-inflating valve for easy inflation during your travel.  The self-inflating feature, allowing for travelers to easily adjust the pillow’s firmness is perhaps what sets it apart from the competition.


My recent trip from Washington Dulles to Dubai was the perfect chance to test out the pillow.  The pillow sat perfectly at the back of my neck and I could adjust the firmness of the pillow while relaxing.

On the back-side of the pillow are silicone strips that help keep the pillow in place while you are sleeping.  On the return leg of my trip, I took the non-stop United flight from Dubai to Washington Dulles and conveniently had the entire row of three seats to myself, thus allowing me to use the pillow like a traditional pillow which worked perfectly.

The bowtie shape of the pillow, another advantage, lends itself to comfortably being placed behind your neck when sitting upright or under your head while lying down.  The deflation feature allows for easy, compact storage.  

If you’re looking for a pillow to take while backpacking across Southeast Asia or for your next transcontinental flight then we highly recommend the REI Self-Inflating Travel Pillow.

 Photography by Albert Bond