It’s got a great amount of head and neck support no matter which way you flip it, enough to curb our tester’s GERD-related night coughing. Compared to other options out there (sorry, Helix), the medium wedge we tested is also a very average-sized, not-monstrously-large pillow, which is great if you’re sharing the bed with anyone and also ideal if you want to slip a standard pillow case on it. As a reading or working wedge, we think there’s not quite enough support to prop up your back while you tinker away at an email from bed (for that, we really would recommend the Helix over this one). But for $40, it’s a really solid purchase that’s significantly cheaper than most other options on this list. Rope your partner into hopping on the wedge train, too, and buy multiple!
The Best Luxe Pillow: Saatva Latex
Some people want huge, fluffy, soft pillows, and who am we to stop them? This Saatva latex pillow is just like one of those large, glorious hotel pillows—wide and luxurious and what you’d imagine kings and queens slept on. It’s got an inner core of shredded latex and an outer core made up of synthetic fiber that actually feels something like the best down pillow, without the allergens. This GQ Home Awards 2021 winner beat out the competition for its hotel-like plushness that felt like it was cradling your head in the most un-weird way possible. If you’re a stomach sleeper, this will be your dream. (And you’ve got 45 days to test, plus a one-year warranty.)
The Best Budget-Friendly Pillow: Beckham Hotel
Perhaps you are scrolling through this list and are stunned to discover that most modern pillows cost upwards of $100. Where are the pillows of my youth? you are bellowing right now. The basic, affordable, non-memory-foam kind? Right here, as a matter of fact. At just around $40 for a set of two, these Beckham Hotel Collection pillows (no relation to David, Posh, and/or any of their unfairly-good-looking children) might seem too good a deal to actually deliver. And yet, nearly 128,000 five-star Amazon reviews cannot be wrong! Here’s what those reviewers—and GQ’s own reviewer, who loved his initial set of two enough that he shelled out for another pair—fell in love with: They’re soft and comfortable, but still firm enough to not lose their shape; packed with a cooling down alternative that won’t cause your allergies to act up; and just the right height to sleep with one alone or stacked, depending on your preference. If you’re looking for a simple, no-fuss pillow—either for your own bed or to dress up your guest room with—this is the ticket.
The Best Organic Pillow: Birch Organic
Birch’s Organic Pillow is ideal for those who care about quality sourcing, and are willing to shell out a little more for some thoughtful fabrication details. It uses an all-natural crushed talalay latex core that comes wrapped in organic wool from New Zealand, one of the best of the best wool suppliers. The temperature-regulating wool gives this pillow a breathable and moisture-wicking exterior, while the organic, eco-friendly production aims to give you a more high-quality, hypoallergenic surface to sleep on (kind of crucial if you want to get through the night).
While most other pillows seem to breeze past the exterior design, Birch clearly took the time to get it right. The organic cotton cover has a luxurious peachy handfeel that’s so soft, it feels wrong to cover it up. Most importantly, the pillow is dense and super supportive, a bit on the firmer side. For our tester, it was easily the most comfortable pillow he’s tried. Because they’re made-to-order, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get it shipped to you, but the uptick in quality is undoubtedly worth the delay.
The Best Down-Alternative Pillow: Sferra Arcadia
With great cushioning and a decent amount of loft, the Arcadia pillow makes a great down-alternative pillow for those who get the sniffles around real feathers. The brand’s Italian-made bedding and pillows have become the go-to luxe brand for wedding registries and five-star hotels, and they’re available for us plebes who want to sleep like royalty. The Arcadia pillow—available in three firmness levels, starting from soft to firm ($80 to $90)—features a down-alternative fill that’s reasonably downy compared to the real stuff. We also like that the Arcadia comes in multiple sizes from standard to queen and king to boudoir. The Arcadia pillows are also a better choice for those who want the brand’s top tier quality at a budget. Our tester found that this style was comparable to Sferra’s much more price-y $600 Cardigan pillow.
The Best Gel Pillow: Purple Original
Purple’s original pillow is a glorious, 10-pound hunk of ventilated purple polyester made up of tiny triangles. Its space-age design makes every other pillow look absolutely old-school (though it looks just like any other when you have the pillowcase on). It evenly distributes the weight you put on it, never bends out of shape or needs to be fluffed, and sleeps extra cool thanks to the built-in perforations all over. Talk about airflow! No overheating here! It doesn’t feel like any standard pillow—more like a unicorn of a gel memory foam pillow that keeps your head aloft with less sinkage involved. Sure, it’s a weird-looking, heavy hunk of breathable purple polyester—but then again, most pillows are feather pillows. And isn’t it kind of weird that we still infuse our pillows with bird plumage?
8 Other Pillows We Like
Casper’s firm-leaning foam pillow is an excellent option for side sleepers and back sleepers, and it’s an especially welcome choice for those who tend to burn up at night. Thanks to its proprietary cooling “Snow” technology and a series of heat-diffusing bands, this option doesn’t have just one cool side because both are designed for extra breathability. Casper claims that this pillow will secure you over 12 hours of cooler sleep—though we doubt that anyone’s sleeping in that late to truly put it to the test. From our calculation, it’s certainly breathable for a regular six to eight hours, though if you prefer a more cushy pillow, we still think Purple’s GelFlex grid is hard to beat.
Marlow is a sister brand to Brooklinen (no introduction necessary), except it only makes one thing: pillows. While other pillows usually offer some sort of adjustable fill, Marlow is customizable in a unique way. You can zip or unzip part of it to make it firmer or softer. It sounds beyond simple, but it somehow works perfectly. Aside from the zipper gimmick, the pillow is a winner. It’s packed with cooling memory foam and down alternative materials, and there’s an inner mesh layer to further assist with breathability. One drawback: The pillow is not machine-washable, only spot clean-able, though we appreciate the antimicrobial shell that helps with keeping bacteria at bay.
One of many reasons why we crowned Layla’s Kapok pillow as a top choice in our 2022 Home Awards is its Goldilocks combo of lofty yet squishy neck support. Filled with airy, plant-based Kapok fibers and shredded memory foam, the pillow maintains its shape without deflating as quickly as a cotton-or wool-filled pillow. The cooling polyester/viscose material also ensures you stay cool throughout the night, and its stylish hexagonal design looks great when the pillow case comes off. The Coop is still our top choice since it comes with a bag of additional fill, has a gusset to it for additional structure and support, plus clocks in at a slightly cheaper price point. Still, the Kapok pillow doesn’t fall too far behind if you want to give it a shot.
Like the pillow from Coop Home, the Easy Breather is filled with a shredded foam material. If it’s feeling a bit too lofty, you can easily pull some out. That makes it a pretty good pillow for anyone, but especially good for side sleepers. Unlike the Coop Home pillow, or the cheaper customizable Xtreme Comforts bed pillow below, the Nest Bedding pillow cover is made with Tencel. Tencel is a eucalyptus-derived fabric that tends to be a little better for breathability than traditional cotton or bamboo fabrics, which might explain why the Easy Breather performs like a cooling pillow without any of the weird cooling gels some companies try to sell. If you’re looking for a solid alternative to the Coop, the Nest Bedding pillow is calling your name.
The Leesa pillow is often sold in a set with the purchase of one of its mattresses, but you can buy it alone. It sets out to be of a “medium” thickness—not too soft, not too hard, but ends up falling on the softer side of the spectrum. This is lovely if you want your head to sink into your pillow a bit more, but may not be the best fit if you’re sleeping off a serious case of tech neck.
Memory foam pillows are probably best for side sleepers, thanks to their supportive density. Usually, these pillows lack loft. This is not a problem for the DreamCloud pillow, which is extremely thick. It’s the kind of pillow that’s perfect for those with Michael Phelps shoulders. If you aren’t broad-shouldered, your head will likely fall into the center of the bottom of the pillow, which might not be great for your neck. But if you are, its foam filling offers a cooling exterior that makes it a great alternative to the Coop Home Goods pillow.
Parachute’s down pillow has a luxe feel courtesy of its silky sateen cotton shell, but we found that it didn’t have quite the same support as the Brooklinen trio above. Our tester felt like it lacked a bit of oomph for the price, though if that’s your thing (less loft, do you!), shop away.
Leesa’s hybrid pillow is an odd duck. It’s adjustable, like the Coop Home goods, but it is not symmetrical. One side is smooth. The other-side is quilted with twelve raised sections, sort of like miniature microfiber pillows on top of the pillow. This is great for the kind of person who is constantly flipping their pillow, looking for the solution to better sleep on the other side. The company says the side with 12 raised bumps (pillows in miniature) is ideal for hot sleepers, since air can flow in between your head and parts of the pillow. It may not be the best cooling pillow we’ve ever tested, but if you’re looking for something to shake up your sleep routine, this pillow is a great option.