Best Adjustable Pillows From Consumer Reports’ Tests

Why settle for a plain old pillow when you can shape an adjustable one to your liking?

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Photo: Coop Home Goods

Finding the perfect pillow can be a real pain in the neck. Too often what sounds great in a description doesn’t actually give you the support you need. An adjustable pillow can solve that problem by allowing you to add or remove internal stuffing or foam, usually through a side zipper. 

The pillow manufacturer will include generic instructions as a starting point, telling you how much filling to remove or add based on how you sleep. You can keep making adjustments until you feel comfortable. (CR shows you how to customize an adjustable pillow.)

“We tested several configurations for each pillow,” says Chris Regan, a Consumer Reports project leader who tests pillows. “We found you can seriously impact your support by making changes to the filling.”

In our labs, we rate pillows from widely available brands. We poke, prod, and pound each one with machines to see how well it can handle constant use. We assess how well each pillow supports the head and neck of people of several sizes—petite, average, and large/tall—whether they sleep on their side or their back. And we use a pressure mat to analyze roughly 1,600 pressure points, focusing on the contact area between the head and the pillow. We like to see that pressure is low. If it’s not, you’re likely to experience discomfort and keep shifting in your sleep.

We also evaluate how well pillows retain their loft by placing an evenly distributed 225-pound weight on each one in a room set to 98.6° F to simulate the human body and 80 percent humidity to mimic sweat for 96 hours. 

Read on for more details on the best adjustable pillows we’ve tested, listed in alphabetical order. To see other pillow options, check out our pillow ratings. For more information about pillow types, read our pillows buying guide.

CR’s take: The Avocado Green Pillow is filled with very firm, very dense chunks of certified Global Organic Latex Standard foam pieces and silk fibers from the kapok tree. It has a similar design to the Coop Home Goods pillow below, but unlike the Coop, it doesn’t come with a guide to making adjustments. Many of our testers found it extremely easy to adjust the pillow by adding or removing filling, but the filling was a bit too hard to fluff the pillow. Both back and side sleepers will find fantastic support once they’ve adjusted the filling. The pillow is also very breathable, earning an Excellent in our breathability tests, even though it may retain some warmth. It may be warm but shouldn’t make you feel clammy. But this pillow isn’t very resilient at all; its height and support characteristics changed for the worse after being pounded in our tests.

CR’s take: The Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft pillow is made of shredded memory foam and earns an Excellent rating in our tests for support no matter your size and whether you sleep on your side or back. It comes with a bag of extra foam and instructions to guide you when you’re adjusting the filling to your liking. It keeps its shape well, showing little to no change in height or fluffiness in our resilience tests, and also retains all of its support. Our testers liked the look and feel of it, too. It sleeps slightly warm but is very breathable, earning a Very Good rating in our tests, so you’re not likely to feel any dampness between your head and the pillow.

CR’s take: Sleep Number’s adjustable ComfortFit Ultimate Pillow comes with three identical layers made of memory foam and down alternative fibers that you can remove. In our tests, it earns top marks for both side and back sleeper support when adjusted according to Sleep Number’s basic directions. Our testers noted that the Sleep Number pillow had a lot of loft, and many found it easy to adjust, but some found the foam to be too hard. This pillow tends not to hold up over time as well as the Coop Home Goods pillow above, so it earns just a Good in our resilience tests. It’s very breathable, earning an Excellent rating in our breathability tests, so it’ll dissipate moisture if you tend to sweat on your pillow. But it also retains warmth, so for those who like to sleep cooler, it may not be the pillow for you.

Haniya Rae

I​’m interested in the intersection between design and technology​—whether for ​drywall or robotic vacuums—and how the resulting combination affects consumers. I’ve written about consumer advocacy issues for publications like The Atlantic, PC Magazine, and Popular Science, and now I’m happy to be tackling the topic for CR. For updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@haniyarae).