Gear | August 16, 2023 10:14 am

Stuff We Swear By: I’ll Never Have Another Beach Day Without This Inflatable Pillow

The Ballast Beach Pillow is an ingenious invention. Seriously.

The Ballast Beach Pillow
Beach naps just got way more comfortable.
Ballast/Getty

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This is Stuff We Swear By, a series in which our editors expound on an item they use (and love) on a daily (or near-daily) basis.

If you’re an avid beach-goer, you know lugging your gear to and from the beach is the worst part of going to the beach (especially if you, like me, live in a city and have to take public transportation to get there). I’ve been going to the shore since I was a literal baby, but back then I had adults packing my beach essentials for me (and also, carrying me to the beach). Now that I’ve had some solo outings under my belt as a grown adult who has to haul all their shit to the beach themselves, I believe I’ve mastered the ideal, non-cumbersome beach bag. Its contents include a towel, sunscreens (one for the face and the bod), a small portable speaker, a Yeti Rambler Colster Can to keep my beverages cold, a spare pair of shitty-ish sunglasses I don’t mind getting scratched and my Kindle. I find it’s the perfect assortment of beach-going necessities. However, I have recently added a game-changing beach essential to that well-curated arsenal and now will encourage you, fellow beach-lover, to do the same. 

Item: Ballast Beach Pillow

What is it?

An inflatable pillow built specifically for the beach. Unlike, say, a regular down pillow, Ballast is designed to withstand salty air climates, pesky sand and coastal shorelines with its water and sand-wicking properties. It’s also wind-proof, meaning you’ll never have to worry about embarrassing yourself trying to chase it down the beach, as it features a connected pouch you can fill with sand to weigh the pillow down. But because it’s so simple to inflate and very travel-friendly (two attributes I’ll expand on in a sec), Ballast works for camping, music festivals and anywhere else you might want to comfortably lay your head. 

How I use it

So far my Ballast Beach Pillow has seen both the beach and my local park this summer, wherein I have laid out on a towel or blanket to catch some rays. Obviously, I use the inflatable pillow … like a regular pillow. I rest the back and/or the side of my head on the soft padded top, while the curvature at the bottom creates a supportive cradle for my neck and head. I’ve also attached it to the back of a beach chair using the elastic hoops and clasps found on the side of the pillow for more support. But to get real granular, here’s how I set up my Ballast Beach Pillow:

You do have to blow up your pillow with your mouth, but I promise it takes just 3-4 breaths to fully inflate. That’s due to a unique valve Ballast uses to prevent air from escaping, which also ensures your pillow doesn’t deflate while in use. And when you’re ready to pack up and head home, the pillow easily deflates with the push of a button and folds conveniently into its own compact carrying case. You can also purchase cooling and heating gel packs sold by the brand that are specially designed to fit inside your pillow. On one particularly hot beach day, I used the freezer pack to quickly cool down. 

Why I Swear By It:

Who would’ve thought a $35 blow-up pillow would make me genuinely…joyful? The Ballast Beach Pillow seems like a simple, even unassuming item. It’s a pillow. But it is so thoughtfully designed that I’m in awe of its versatility and ingenuity. It’s simple to inflate and deflate. It’s compact/lightweight enough to slip into your jam-packed beach bag with ease. And it’s actually quite comfortable. If you love a nap on the beach or just want some real head and neck support while you bask in the sun (no more makeshift headrests concocted from crumpled-up towels here!), you should absolutely treat yourself to a beach pillow from Ballast. Plus, at just $35, it’s not even one of those splurgy treats you really have to justify, either. 

The Ballast Beach Pillow comes in a slew of colorways and is available for purchase at the Ballast website, as well as on Amazon