Designing the ideal travel pillow is trickier than it might seem, mostly because what’s “ideal” for one person or scenario is uncomfortable for the next. There are all sorts of situations in which we could use a little extra head cushioning and support, but the shape of the pillow would have to change depending on whether you were sitting up, laying on your back, or leaning forward onto a desk. Is the surface beneath your head hard or soft? Do you need firm support, or do you prefer something gentler? It would seem that no single pillow could possibly be expected to rise to all of these occasions, but that’s exactly what the three-in-one Omni travel pillow aims to do.
Making its debut on Kickstarter and almost immediately being funded well beyond its initial goal, the Omni pillow by Italian innovation studio Banale can wrap around your neck for train, plane, bus, and car rides, fold in half for camping or power napping, or open all the way to add some extra cushioning to hotel pillows. Unlike most inflatable and memory foam designs, the Omni folds down to a surprisingly compact package (about the size of a mango) in a matter of seconds, clipping onto the outside of your bag and taking up virtually zero space. A washable water-resistant cover keeps it clean and dry while on the go.
Each of the pillow’s three shapes has its own special features. When it’s rolled up, it can be fixed at neck level with an adjustable strap, which you can also use to change the amount of support being provided to you. It also has a pocket for your phone, a headphone jack, and a “blanket catcher” tab to keep your whole body covered while you sleep.
The double-cushioned mode offers three and a half inches of memory foam, with elastic bands on either side being used to hold it all together. Slip your arm inside to elevate your head and create a comfortable position for napping at a desk or on an airplane tray. When unfolded all the way for use as a pillow topper, it measures a full 21 inches in width, and you can use the elastic straps to secure it to another pillow.
The Omni is available in four colorways: “oceano” blue, “azalea” pink, “notte” black, and “sportive” gray with a neon green trim. Kickstarter backers can also choose from additional rewards like a companion blanket, an eye mask, ear plugs, a travel towel, and a travel toothbrush that boasts a built-in toothpaste pump. A single pillow will run you 45 euros (about $54.94), but add-ons and bulk purchases will naturally cost a little more.
Weighing in at just over 12 ounces, the Omni is lighter in weight than a lot of other memory foam travel pillows and a whole lot more versatile. It’s easy to say that all you really need to make a good pillow is some stuffing and a case, and that adding anything more would be like reinventing the wheel, but the Omni takes a few obvious limitations of that simple design and solves all of its usual functionality problems for a result that’s actually a lot more practical.