Best Sleep Mask for Travel | 9 Eye Masks To Help You Sleep Anywhere
Best Sleep Mask for Travel | 9 Eye Masks To Help You Sleep Anywhere

When we’re traveling, we want to hit the ground running to make the most out of every day, even if we’re just running to the pool bar. Whether it's a trip for business or pleasure, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to have the energy to explore, but it’s not always as easy as just shutting your eyes. Sometimes we need a little extra help.

The best sleep mask will help you fall asleep and stay that way by blocking out the ambient light wreaking havoc on your circadian rhythm. Whether you’re trying to catch a few z’s on the plane or traveling with someone who has to stream “just one more episode” late at night, the best eye mask will take you to the dark side—that’s where the best sleep is, after all.

From a silk sleep mask to smooth your skin, to an eye mask that helps relieve your allergy symptoms, and even a mask that comes with built-in speakers to help you tune out other travelers, we’ve got the best sleep mask for your next trip, even if it’s just to your own bed.

How We Tested It

Best Sleep Mask for Travel Testing
Best Sleep Mask for Travel | Getting comfy with these sleep masks.

Test 1: Light is a huge factor that can interfere with sleep, so we immediately checked how well each sleep mask blocked it out. We put them on and see if there’s any light poking through, whether it’s around the bridge of the nose or the corner of our field of view. We also made sure to move around to see if shifting positions would cause light to seep in.

Test 2: Most sleep masks use a headband of some form, but it’s also one of the hardest parts to nail. Even the slightest shifts in sleeping positions can cause headbands to slip, so we checked each mask’s ability to stay in place. We’re particularly keen on how headbands interfere/interact with headrests, so we made sure to lean back on a chair during this test.

Test 3: Eyelashes bumping against the sleep mask can also feel distracting and irritating when you’re trying to sleep, so this is a factor that we’re taking into account. Some sleep masks have a flat design that rests directly against your eye, while some have eye covers that leave enough room for you to open them when you’re not quite ready to sleep yet. Either way, we’re testing if eyelashes brush up against the mask, and if so, is it still comfortable.

Why You Should Trust Us

Traveling with a variety of gear has taught us to be very prudent when selecting which to take with us. That said, any gear related to rest and relaxation requires a bit more nuance in testing, which is exactly what we’re aiming for with the three tests we’ve mentioned. These tests level the playing field when looking at each sleep mask, identifying their weak points as well as highlighting any unique features that make them stand out. In turn, this should give you relevant information in picking which sleep mask is ideal for your travel needs.

1. Eagle Creek Sandman Sleep Mask
Eagle Creek Sandman Sleep Mask Review

Why we like it: The strap is easy to adjust and doesn’t interfere with headrests.

Eagle Creek isn’t messing around with the basic sleep mask formula. Based on how the Sandman Sleep Mask looks, it’s pretty typical of what you’d expect of one. The actual mask is low profile and in the shape of a pair of aviator sunglasses, and the strap is a single band that goes around your head. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that. Fear not, though, as they’ve made just enough tweaks that makes it stand out to us.

Firstly, the strap adjusts through a slider instead of the more common hook-and-loop technique. This lets us tighten or loosen more easily instead of having to unlatch and re-latch each time we’re feeling uncomfortable. It also massively helps that the strap is angled upwards, meaning it doesn’t sit between your head and a seat’s headrest, reducing the risk of it slipping out of place and falling off while you sleep. Overall, the strap alone makes the Sandman Sleep Mask a simple but worthwhile sleep mask option for travel.

Though the mask itself is quite thin, it does a good job blocking all light sources, and it’s even quite breathable thanks to its mesh. We found that eyelashes do brush up against the mask, but it feels weighted enough to overpower that sensation and feels more comforting than anything. There’s also a storage spot for earplugs, though you’ll have to purchase those separately. Oh, and because it’s quite thin, it makes it easy to pack and slip in between other large gear.

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2. Matador Blackout Sleep Mask + Earplugs
Matador Blackout Sleep Mask Earplugs

Why we like it: Very packable; compresses down to the size of a handheld pouch.

The Matador Blackout Sleep Mask has to be one of the more interesting sleep mask designs on our list. It starts out as an impressively small and travel-friendly handheld pouch but completely unravels into a wrap-around blanket for your sleepy eyes. It doesn’t look very custom fit for the shape of a human head, but Matador makes up for it by fiddling with the materials enough to make it feel like a weighted blanket—at least, that’s how it feels to us.

You can tighten it around your head in a way that puts enough pressure on your eyes to keep them close and encourage you to sleep. Needless to say, this also helps block any light that manages to poke through. It can also cover the top of your ears since the band has a wide shape, but it ultimately feels secure once you have the entire mask tightened.

As for the included earplugs, yes, they work fine. We dig that there’s a built-in pocket where you can store them. The name kind of makes it sound like they’re old re-packaged stock they’ve bundled with the mask, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

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3. MZOO Sleep Mask
MZOO Sleep Eye Mask Review

Why we like it: Memory foam-like eye cover is super comfortable and it’s fairly low-priced.

At around $20, the MZOO Sleep Eye Mask is one of the highest recommended sleep masks on Amazon. It’s not immediately obvious to us why, as it has a fairly typical shape and build quality. In fact, some of its flaws include some light poking through around the nose area and the strap slipping off relatively easily since the thin strap falls directly against the back of your head and can get pushed out of place by a headrest.

That said, none of those prevent the MZOO Sleep Eye Mask from being comfortable to wear. It has elevated eye covers that don’t strain your eyelashes. Plus, the memory foam-like material feels really soft and delivers decent cushioning even after extended periods of wearing. Breathability is questionable since it doesn’t seem like a porous material, so it might pose a problem if you’ve boarded a plane with half-working air conditioning.

Lastly, the MZOO Sleep Eye Mask comes with a small pouch you can store it in. However, we’re not digging the fact that it’s another item to keep track of since it’s not attached or built in. Tie it to the mask while you’re wearing it? A not-so-elegant solution, but it’s an option.

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4. Manta Sleep PRO Sleep Mask
Manta Pro Sleep Mask Review

Why we like it: Looks rad It’s super effective at blocking light and is incredibly lightweight.

This funky-looking movie prop isn’t a movie prop at all, don’t worry. It’s the Manta Pro Sleep Mask, and, despite the aesthetics, it’s one of the most effective sleep masks we’ve tested in terms of blocking light. It has individual eye covers that are large enough that we can still blink and look around (not that there’s anything to see). Yet, it manages to block so much light that it’s honestly almost spooky, making us want to check if the light in the room wasn’t turned off as we were testing this.

Some brightness does manage to seep in if you keep bobbing your head back and forth, but that’s rarely an issue once you’re settled in your seat. Breathability is also a strength. Yep, that aerated mesh and foam structure isn’t just for show, it actually helps keep the air flowing. Furthermore, the entire mask is simply very lightweight and has pillow-like softness, making it excel in overall comfort. It’s honestly the one mask we’ve tested that feels closest to that “not wearing anything” feel because of how light it is.

We were concerned that the entire mask could slip off since the strap goes between your head and your seat’s headrest. Fortunately, there’s a bit of wavy rubber at the back that gives the strap grip against your head. Moreover, the rubber doesn’t feel like it’s tugging on your hair.

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5. ALASKA BEAR Sleep Mask

Why we like it: It’s designed for side sleepers.

When traveling to a destination, adjusting to the new time zone can be challenging. So, it’s not only during travel but once we arrive that the best sleep mask can help. Of course, if your eye mask strap is uncomfortable against your ears or the buckle digs into your head, it won’t be the light keeping you awake. We wouldn't want that, would we?

That's not a problem with the headband-like ALASKA BEAR Sleep Mask for Side Sleepers. The soft, stretchy fabric adjusts to keep the mask snug on your face no matter which way you turn without giving you a pressure headache by pushing on your temples. Eye cups contoured with memory foam keep the mask away from your eyes and lashes to relieve pressure, and the eye mask fits either above or over your ears—the adjustment slide is so tiny you’re not likely to feel it. This mask isn’t only for people who rest on their sides; no light gets through, whether you’re reclining on your back or sleeping on your stomach.

In a pinch, it doubles as a headband for keeping hair out of your eyes, though the contoured shape does scream sleep mask. Still, you do you!

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6. IMAK Compression Eye Pillow
IMAK Compression Eye Pillow

Why we like it: It helps to alleviate allergy symptoms.

When dealing with allergies, it doesn’t matter how dark we can get the room; it’s hard to ignore the pounding sinus pressure blocking the way to a restful night. You never know what will stoke the histamine fire in a new place, so if you’re a traveler prone to allergy attacks, the IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow may be the best eye mask for you. Unlike other cooling sleep masks, this one doesn’t look—or feel—like an ice pack for your face. If you wanted that, you could just reach for a bag of peas! Instead, it’s breathable cotton filled with ergoBeads to provide a gentle massage around your irritated, itchy eyes.

It’s not only allergy sufferers who will find relief with this eye mask. From pressure headaches brought on by the elevation of air travel to the stuffiness sparked by a musty vacation rental, it also alleviates the strains of travel. Toss it in the freezer to cool your puffy eyes, and enjoy the weighted compression, which is designed to relieve headaches, sinus pain, and the eyestrain of staring too long at videos on your phone. It conforms to your face to help you drift off to dreamland and stay there, and a durable elastic strap keeps it in place for side-sleepers.

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7. Baloo Living Sleep Stone Mask
Baloo Living Sleep Stone Mask Review

Why we like it: It feels luxurious.

When travel stress messes with your peace of mind, reaching for a sleep mask that will do more than just lull you to sleep may be the ticket. The Sleep Stone Mask from Baloo Living blocks light and muffles sound, but it also includes a smooth stone crystal that sits over the third eye chakra.

While you may not be looking for the best eye mask to help you focus during meditation, you'll appreciate reveling in the spa-like luxury of the Sleep Stone Mask. Choose from amethyst for calming, grounding, self-love, and healing; purple fluorite for intuition, clarity, immunity, and healing; blue lace agate for safety, security, balance, and grounding; or rose quartz for stress relief, gentleness, and pure love. Or maybe choose the color you like best.

Whichever you opt for, slip the stone into its dedicated pocket and tuck it back into the mask—but be sure to follow Baloo's instructions to the T, or it may slip out while you sleep. The wide satin and spandex eye mask is lightly padded, so it's like a tiny pillow for your eyes. It provides light pressure for comfort, but it's not too tight since you can find the perfect fit thanks to the hook and loop closure.

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Others We Considered

Having gone through all those excellent sleep mask options, there are plenty more that didn’t make the cut. There are a ton of options out there, which means we all get more options to choose from. Having said all of that, let’s take a look at a few options we didn’t love but you may want to consider.

The Away Sleep Mask looks and feels sleek, as we’ve come to expect from the brand. However, its headband shifts too easily, and despite having eye cups, eyelashes still noticeably brush against the surface. To be clear, other sleep masks in our list also suffer the latter issue, but the sensation feels more pronounced with the Away Sleep Mask. Overall, this one simply doesn’t provide the same level of comfort and a secure headband as the others.

The Sea to Summit Travel Eye Shades would be a compelling option since they’re around $20 and from a reputable brand. However, despite their price, they fall short in terms of blocking out light and don’t quite deliver the same level of comfort as the other sleep masks on our list at a similar price point.

Whether you’re getting cozy over the Atlantic or snoozing in the backseat during a road trip, getting enough sleep while you’re traveling is super important. Hopefully this roundup helps you find the right sleep mask to help you achieve that—rest well!

August 17, 2022

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