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The term ‘down alternative’ refers to a polyester microfiber material used in pillows and bedding that is designed to mimic the lightness and softness of authentic duck or goose down. Unlike real down, which can trigger allergies for some individuals, down alternative is completely hypoallergenic. Down alternative products also tend to be priced much lower than authentic down products, making them a good option for shoppers on a budget.
Pillow buyers can choose from a wide selection of down alternative models. In addition to feeling exceptionally soft, these pillows also absorb minimal body heat and sleep very cool as a result. They are also highly moldable and suitable for sleepers who prefer to cuddle with pillows during the night. And while they do not conform as closely as pillows made from other materials (such as memory foam or latex), many sleepers with neck and shoulder pain report fewer aches and pressure points after sleeping on a down alternative pillow.
This guide will explore the common characteristics and benefits of down alternative pillows. Below you’ll find our picks for the best down alternative pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is our editor’s pick for the best down alternative pillow on the market. These pillows are soft and luxurious and also a very cost-effective choice for shoppers.
Brooklinen’s down alternative pillows are made up of a 100% shaved microfiber filling that gives sleepers the sensation of resting on a down pillow. Additionally, Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillows are encased in a 400 thread-count pure cotton shell. There are three firmness options available: plush, mid-plush, and firm.
Brooklinen’s pillows are treated with Ultra-Fresh Antimicrobial, to prevent bacteria growth and to extend the life of the pillows. These pillows are hypoallergenic and vegan-friendly.
The runner-up pick is the Parachute Down Alternative Pillow. Parachute’s pillows were designed with luxury hotel level comfort in mind, and it shows through thanks to the pillows high-quality design.
Parachute Down Alternative Pillows have a plush microfiber filling and are surrounded by a luscious sateen weave cotton casing. The pillow’s cotton exterior features double-stitched piping seams for added durability. Parachute’s pillows are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified.
If you’re looking for a hotel quality pillow at an affordable price, we at Tuck strongly recommend the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow. These plush pillows are filled with 100% poly gel fiber. They’re designed to accommodate any sleep position. Additionally, these sturdy pillows don’t shift, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
The Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow is ideal for sleepers who suffer from asthma or who are worried about allergens. The pillow is mold, mildew, and dust mite resistant. In addition, you can safely machine wash these pillows.
We at Tuck believe if you’re going to splurge on a luxury down alternative pillow, the best pick is the Boll & Branch Down Alternative pillow. This pillow is filled with 100% Primaloft, an ultrathin microfiber material originally developed for the U.S. Army.
The material is lightweight, water-resistant, and ultra soft. Primaloft is a great down alternative for sleepers who are allergy prone or prefer to avoid animal products. The pillow’s casing is made of 100% organic cotton casing.
For sleepers who want to enjoy the feel of a down alternative pillow and a memory foam pillow without having to choose between the two, we recommend the Helix Pillow. It’s an adjustable pillow that features an outer “comfort shell” made of a combination of cross-cut memory foam and down alternative material.
The pillow’s two inserts are also made up of the memory foam and down alternative blend. Sleepers can add and remove inserts according to their own comfort level, making the Helix Pillow ideal for any type of sleep position and preferred level of head and neck support. The pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.
Unlike genuine down pillows, which are filled with the underside feathers of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl, down alternative pillows are made with synthetic fibers that mimic the softness of real down. This makes them suitable for people who are allergic to down, as well as those who object to using pillows made using animal products.
Down alternative pillows have other advantages over pillows made from authentic down. They tend to be considerably cheaper, for one, and they also tend to sleep cooler and produce less odor. However, there are also drawbacks to down alternative pillows, including shorter-than-average lifespans, less pain and pressure relief, noise potential, and regular shaking and fluffing needed to maintain a full shape.
Read on to learn more about down alternative pillows, and how they compare to authentic down and other pillow types.
Most down alternative pillows contain fibers or microfibers made from cotton and/or polyester. These soft, puffy fibers tend to be as soft as authentic down. Most down alternative pillows are medium-loft, and may range in firmness soft to medium-firm. Some brands feature gel fibers or siliconized fibers, which can be even softer than conventional down alternative material. Down alternative pillows do not contain any animal products, unlike genuine down and feather pillows.
Down alternative pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:
The table below features rough measurements for each of the pillow sizes discussed above.
|Pillow Size||Standard||Super Standard||Queen||King||Euro||Body Pillow|
|Dimensions||20W" x 26L"||20W" x 28L"||20W" x 30L"||20W" x 36L"||26W" x 26L"; 24W" x 24L"; 22W" x 22L"; 20W" x 20L"; 18W" x 18L"; 6W" x 16L"; 54W" x 20L"; 48W" x 20L"||54W" x 20L"; 48W" x 20L"|
Pros of down alternative pillows include the following:
Cons of down alternative pillows include the following:
Generally speaking, down alternative pillows are suitable for:
However, down alternative pillows may not be suitable for:
Other sleepers who prefer firm and/or high-loft pillows, since down alternative pillows with these characteristics are fairly limited.
|Down Alternative Pillow Rating||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good|
|Explanation||With an average price-point of $20 to $30, down alternative pillows tend to be much cheaper than most other pillow types. In contrast, both genuine down and feather pillows tend to be more expensive.||Most down alternative pillows will perform for up to two years before they begin to degrade or become flat, giving them a shorter-than-average lifespan.||According to owners, down alternative pillows provide minimal support, and some sleepers claim that using them leads to more pain and/or pressure in the head, neck, and shoulders.||Although down alternative pillows produce minimal noise, they are generally louder than authentic down pillows due to squeaky internal materials.||Most down alternative pillows weigh 2 pounds or less, making them fairly easy to move and adjust during the night.||Down alternative pillows produce little to no off-gassing odor compared to genuine down and feather pillows.||Most down alternative pillows are machine washable, and never need to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned.||Although there are exceptions, most down alternative pillows are medium-loft and range in firmness from soft to medium-firm.||Down alternative pillows are widely available.|
Although authentic down and feather pillows are somewhat hard to find, pillow shoppers can choose from a fairly wide range of down alternative options. They are available for sale through various online and brick-and-mortar home goods retailers, as well as exclusively online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com.
Down alternative pillows typically cost between $20 and $30, and their price-point rarely exceeds $80. By comparison, the average price-point for down pillows is $70 to $100 — and some models cost more than $300. Down alternative pillows also tend to be cheaper than feather pillows, which have an average price-point of $25 to $50.
Down alternative pillows are machine washable and never need to be dry cleaned, making them relatively inexpensive to maintain over time.
The graph below lists average price-points for the eight most common pillow types.
|Pillow Type||Down Alternative||Memory Foam||Down||Buckwheat||Feather||Latex||Natural/Organic||Polyester|
|Average Cost||$20-$30||$50-$60||$70-$100||$50-$75||$25-$50||$40-$60||$150 and higher||$10-$15|