Neck Pillow: Microbead vs Memory Foam

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Traveling without an adequate travel pillow can make a long airplane flight or car ride uncomfortable and exhausting if you are unable to sleep during the trip. Proper neck support can be a game-changer when it comes to whether you will wake up fully energized or with a stiff neck and a headache. There are hundreds of different pillows on the market, but not all of them are worth your money.

There are a few things that you need to consider when purchasing a neck pillow, including the material, the support, the comfort, and of course, the price that you are paying. When it comes to the critical features that may make you more or less comfortable on your journey, it all revolves around whether you prefer microbeads or memory foam. But is there really a difference? And if so, which one is better?

The battle of these two materials has been going on ever since down pillows lost their popularity. So here we are now, ready to give you a final answer! Let’s take a look. May the best material win!

Microbead Pillow Properties

In order to resolve the “neck pillow microbead vs. memory foam” question, we need to take a look at the properties of both materials and the potential health benefits that each offer. 

When it comes to neck support, microbeads can work quite well as long as you are okay with the fact that they feature scattered polystyrene beads. Still, it is nothing you can’t fix with proper adjusting. Along with that, these pillows often feature a hypoallergenic cover that is comfortable and washable, which makes it a worthy addition to your travel accessories.

When looking at convenience and durability, microbeads may not be the best choice. Especially if you are a budget traveler and you don’t have a lot of space in your carry-on. The reason? A microbead pillow is not easy to fold and is not that lightweight for carrying either. As for durability, as long as you don’t put it under heavy strain or dismiss the recommendations in the user's guide, it should last you for many years to come.

Apart from the previously mentioned hypoallergenic property, a microbead pillow is perfect when it comes to pressure management. This is essential if you are a sleeper that likes to move a lot. Softer than memory foam, it is going to provide you with the perfect environment needed to sleep comfortably during your car ride as the microbeads move based on the position you are sleeping in.

Memory Foam Pillow Properties

On the other hand, there is a good reason why the memory foam neck pillow has grown so popular over the past few years. First of all, it is undoubtedly the best option when it comes to both head and neck support. This is because it adjusts to the shape of your head and neck according to your sleeping position. And the memory foam density takes care of the essential pressure management needed for proper rest.

However, unlike a microbead pillow, memory foam pillows don’t feature covers, and you will have to buy one separately. For budget travelers, this is not good news. But with proper research, you might be able to find an affordable cotton or polyester cover to protect your pillow.

While the durability depends on the memory foam density in most cases, you get what you pay for. Just be sure to look for a pillow that can be compressed, as the other ones are quite heavy and tricky to store away.

As for the numerous health benefits related to sleeping on memory foam, pressure management, and spinal alignment seem to be the most discussed. This is especially important if you suffer from a stiff neck and chronic pain, as memory foam will provide the support needed for relief of these two ailments.

Which One is Better?

It all depends on your budget and needs. To be honest, both are excellent choices and certainly better than going for a down travel pillow. If you are more about getting good neck support and preventing chronic pain, we think that the memory foam pillow will do a better job.

On the other hand, microbeads are the perfect choice for pressure management, and simply providing you that soft and gentle support that long-haul travelers might enjoy. So the choice comes down to what you want and need in a pillow. But for great all-round use, we would have to say that the memory foam option is probably your safest bet.


It all comes down to your personal experience and preference. Both materials have their pros and cons, with one main similarity, and that is that they are both hypoallergenic (remember to check that the memory foam cover that you purchase separately is hypoallergenic too). We did our best to highlight the essential points of these two materials, so now it is time that you do some thinking and get yourself the perfect travel pillow for your next trip!

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