Should You Splurge on a $139 Cooling Pillow or Save on the $65 Alternative?

published May 29, 2024
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Credit: Photos: Coop, Marlow; Design: Apartment Therapy

If you’ve been keeping up with our Splurge or Save series, you know that two of our most recent installments have focused on cooling bedding — specifically, sheets. Right now is the best time to stock up on bedding that’ll keep you properly ventilated during the hot summer months. But really, if you’re a hot sleeper year-round, there’s no bad time to shop for moisture-wicking sheets or a comforter that promotes proper airflow. Not to dwell on the subject, but there’s one category of cooling bedding we still haven’t touched on in the series, and it’s one of the most important: cooling pillows. Of the two we’ll focus on, one is significantly more expensive than the other. As always, we’ll try to answer the question of whether you should splurge on the pricey option or go with the cheaper alternative. As has been the case in previous posts, the products highlighted have been tested and come highly recommended by our editors, so no matter which you end up choosing, there’s no wrong answer.

Our editors have tested dozens of pillows — and plenty of expensive ones at that. Among all of them, Coop’s EdenCool+ pillow, which retails for $139, stands out as a favorite. Even more recently, one of our editors tested and loved the Marlow pillow. At just $65, it’s a solid contender for the title of “Best Cooling Pillow.” But does the Marlow give the Coop pillow a run for its money?

Credit: Photos: Coop, Marlow; Design: Apartment Therapy

Coop vs. Marlow

As a whole, we’re more familiar with Coop’s products than with Marlow’s. We’ve tested Coop’s mattress protector and sheets among other products, and generally appreciate what the brand has to offer. As for Marlow, we’ve only tested its pillow and pillow protectors. But what we have tried, we’ve loved. Now we want to find out how a pillow that’s $74 cheaper than Coop’s stands up to its cooling counterpart.

Overview of Coop’s Eden Cool+ Pillow

The EdenCool+ pillow is unique in more ways than one. For one, its fill amount is adjustable, meaning you can customize the firmness level. The fill itself is made from a blend of microfiber and cooling gel-infused memory foam, with each piece shaped like a plus (hence the pillow’s name), allowing for 50% more airflow compared to older Coop pillow models. Even better, the fill is made from 100% virgin materials, which means it’s also completely hypoallergenic. To adjust the pillow’s firmness, simply remove more fill. The more you take out, the softer your pillow will get.

Tamara, AT’s former managing commerce editor, credits the EdenCool+ pillow with helping her sleep better and even deemed it “the best, most innovative pillow I’ve tried so far.” A self-described hot sleeper, Tamara noted that outfitting her bed in cooling sheets and covers wasn’t enough; a cooling pillow was in order, and this one fit the bill. “Upon unboxing this customizable pillow, it was completely cool to the touch,” she wrote in her review. “I was so shocked that it almost felt like it had an air conditioner running through it! It also boasts a heat-wicking inner liner and a ventilated phase change gel memory foam layer on one side that transfers heat away from the body.”

Indeed, you’re unlikely to experience night sweats or stuffiness with this luxury pillow on your bed. In addition to its chilling fill, the EdenCool+ also has a cool-touch outer cover that’s not only removable but also machine-washable. The foam pillow underneath can only be spot-cleaned, but the cover can be washed on a cold, gentle cycle. 

Suffice it to say, if you ask an AT editor whether the EdenCool+ pillow is worth the splurge, they’ll tell you it is. “If you’ve been on the hunt for a bespoke pillow tailored just for your needs, this is your best bet,” Tamara added. “If you want multiple pillows, you can bundle two or four pillows and save.” Still, it’s good to know that there are budget-friendly alternatives out there. It’s even better to know how they measure up.

Overview of the Marlow Pillow

Not only is the Marlow pillow comparable to the EdenCool+ thanks to its own cooling capabilities, but its firmness level is also adjustable. All you have to do to adjust it is unzip one side of the cover for medium firmness, unzip both sides for a plush feel, or keep both sides zipped for maximum support. To get even more technical, you could unzip one side halfway to get both a firm and plush feel.

As for its materials, Marlow’s fill is 80% cooling memory foam and 20% polyester fiber, while its shell is 100% cotton. Still, the pillow is fully vegan, antimicrobial, and allergy-friendly, so you won’t experience watery eyes or a stuffy nose from sleeping on it. One downside of this pillow, however, is that it’s spot-clean only, so you can’t throw its cover in the washer. But this might not be a big deal to you once you add a pillowcase over top of it. Marlow sells a cooling protector, which you can buy separately.

In her review of the Marlow pillow, Deputy Commerce Editor Alicia mentioned that it’s great for all sleepers, regardless of which position you sleep in. Of course, that’s not the only reason why she loves it. “I’ve tested all manner of pillows, but the Marlow remains my favorite,” she wrote. “I love that you can adjust it in seconds. Sometimes, even as a side sleeper, I need a softer pillow. Instead of dragging another pillow out of the closet, I can just unzip one side. It cuts down on how many pillows I need to have in my home — and because I live in a small one-bedroom in New York City, I need all of the space I can get.”

The Marlow pillow also got a glowing review from Commerce Editor Britt, who noted that its adjustable design also makes it useful for a variety of activities. “At its firmest, it was just the right density for lounging while sitting up in bed or laying down while reading or scrolling on my phone,” she wrote. “My sleeping preference with the pillow is keeping both sides unzipped, though. The fill stays contained by a breathable mesh that also assists in regulating the temperature of the pillow. I like that it’s not as plush as a down pillow, but still feels like I’m sleeping on a cloud.”

Britt also praised the pillow for staying cool all night long and providing optimal support for her head and neck, meaning she didn’t have to constantly readjust it throughout the night. Essentially, our editors have zero complaints about this budget-friendly pick.

The Verdict

If a pillow’s materials are of the utmost importance to you, you’ll probably want to splurge on the Eden Cool+ pillow, which is made of virgin, hypoallergenic materials. But if you can look past this, you’re better off going with the less expensive pillow. The Marlow achieves the same effect of adjustable firmness, premium cooling, and all-night comfort for a fraction of the price. As for care, the Eden Cool+ pillow conveniently comes with a washable cover, whereas the Marlow’s cover is sold separately. But even with the separate cover, the Marlow pillow is still less expensive.

Here’s the best part, though: You can save on both pillows when you bundle and buy more than one. For the Marlow, you can save 20% when you buy a set of two and 30% when you buy four. With the Coop pillow, you’ll save 10% on a set of two and 15% on a set of four. As we mentioned in the beginning, we’re confident that you’ll love your pillow no matter which one you choose. But that’s all the more reason to save by picking the $65 option.

Buy: Coop Eden Cool+ Pillow, Queen, $139

Buy: The Marlow Pillow, Standard, $65