Car seats are arguably a lot more comfortable now than they've ever been, but it doesn't always feel that way when ailments, muscle aches and stress set in. You can be a driver or passenger to get comfortable with either of these enhancements, but how well they do in relieving your discomfort will depend on how you feel when the ride ends.
3SecondHeat Magic Neck and Shoulder Heat Pad
Available at: 3SecondHeat.com
A Canadian company, 3SecondHeat has a unique product that you won't find in stores, but can buy readily from the company website. There are a variety of forms these come in but they all generally use the same materials and technology.
Coming in a malleable plastic casing with a liquid gel inside that is made from non-toxic, food-grade salt (also water soluble), this heat pad is easy to use. There is a small metal disc that floats within the liquid and, when you bend it, the liquid inside activates and changes consistency. Knead the solution thoroughly in all areas until it turns into a slushy texture, and the pad's temperature quickly rises to the point where it's ready for use.
The neck and shoulder pad comes with its own insulating cover, which should at least double the longevity of the heat. Once finished, I had to "recharge" the pad by wrapping it in a cloth and dunking it in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Even a slow cooker or rice cooker works. However, if you use a microwave, the company voids the warranty.
Despite the odd reconstituting process, the pad is effective. There are even instructions for best placement, but most of the one-page manual talks about the recharging process. Still, it proves adept at providing relief in and out of the car, or even just a source of warmth in the cold of winter.
Lumbar Massage Cushion
Available at: Canadian Tire
There is nothing fancy or spectacular about the Lumbar cushion. The simplicity isn't a knock against it, but more an overlying example of what you should expect here. Running on two AA batteries (not included), the cushion has a vibrating massage feature that works on two settings. Click the button once for low, and then again for high. Click once more to turn it off.
At first glance, this looks like an inexpensive and ideal way to give you some relief for an aching back. Since it only vibrates and doesn't actually press into you with a range of motion like a shiatsu massager would, the result is more soothing than relief. You feel good, but it may not last long enough. This is subjective, of course, because everyone's body is different, but that was my experience.
Still, for the price, you can almost afford to take a chance with it. It's fairly small and surprisingly versatile, like using it as a conventional pillow for sleeping in vehicles or planes, or as a way to soothe an aching leg or shoulder. It may also prove popular with kids who are notorious for never being comfortable on a longer road trip.