Editor’s Note: Right now, certain densities of the Arcadia pillows are out of stock except the “firm” option.
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 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 slip the pillowcase on). It evenly distributes your weight, 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! 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?
The Best Buckwheat Pillow: Hullo
Buckwheat might not nearly be as popular as other feathery, cotton-y, foamy fills out there stateside, but they’re a hit in Japan. Essentially what it is, is husks of grain-like seeds that fill up your pillowcase (not all the way though), so they can slip and slide inside kind of like a large bean bag. Beyond being a naturally-sourced fill that breathes better than synthetic fibers, another big plus of using a buckwheat pillow is that the loft is customizable and you can push a mound of the seeds together to raise your head, or flatten them out like a pancake when you’re sleeping on your stomach. Hullo is one of the best standard size pillows we’ve tested which specializes in buckwheat pillows, and comes pre-stuffed with hulls that are sealed up with a zipper so you don’t have to worry about any seeping out. You can remove hulls at your leisure, but you’ll have to take out the entire mound out to wash the pillow cover. To test it, we had a couple alternate trying the same buckwheat pillow one night in, one night out. One person found the husks uncomfortably firm for sleeping on, but the other (who owns a couple different sizes of buckwheat pillows, from bolster to mini sizes), enjoyed having a full-size buckwheat pillow to prop up his head. All that is to say, it might be an acquired taste, but they’re certainly worth a try if the current pillow you’ve got isn’t quite supportive enough.
Plus, 9 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.
With pillows being so deeply variable, wouldn’t it just be easier to take a detailed quiz and get one that’s custom made for your preferences? Well, turns out, that’s the concept behind the made-to-order Pluto pillow, which is designed for endless customization, according to your body stats and sleep preferences. Each one is a CertiPUR-US foam option that’s tweaked for firmness, density, thickness, and color depending on your needs. Our tester wanted a super firm pillow, and took the brand’s sleep quiz to design a custom offering for him. Although he said the process was pretty painless, he ended up with a pillow that wasn’t exactly as firm as he wanted it to be. Still, he notes that all this stuff is pretty relative and pretty easy to tinker with if you gave it another go: “If did it a second time, I feel confident I would get a pillow more to my liking,” he said.
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. The only drawback is that you can’t toss this pillow in the washing machine, you can only spot treat the cover, 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 outer 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.
There’s a certain buoyancy to Sijo’s CLIMA latex pillow that’s unlike any other pillows we’ve tried thus far. It’s almost like you’re sleeping on an inflatable, albeit one that won’t completely seep out all air come morning. That might be because of the bouncy perforated latex foam it’s made with, which comes wrapped up in an exceptionally stylish outer cover made from lightweight Tencel material. The whole shebang is designed to be extra cooling and breathable, although we didn’t notice any particular temperature-regulating effect when we tested this during the summer months. As other reviewers note, the support of the latex core can be a little trying, too. There’s bounce when your head hits the pillow, sure, but you also sink into the latex directly after, which might not work for you depending on how you sleep. We feel that it might be better suited to a stomach sleeper who’s satisfied with a little less give involved.
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 our top pick, the Coop Home Goods pillow.
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.