Best Down Alternative Pillows – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

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Quick Summary

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.

Best Down Alternative Pillows

Editor’s Pick – Leesa Hybrid

Best Value – Classic Brands Quiet Sleep

Best Cooling Down Alternative Pillow – Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber

Best for Side Sleepers – eLuxury Revoloft Down Alternative Pillow

Best Shape Recovery – Canadian Down & Feather Company Gel Microfiber

How We Decided

 

39 down alternative pillows considered –– 75 hours of research –– 3 sleep experts consulted

Best Down Alternative Pillows – Tuck's Top 5 Picks

Leesa Hybrid – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • Flippable with dual firmness (‘Soft,’ ‘Firm’)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Innovative, multi-textured design

Our Editor’s Pick is the flippable Leesa Hybrid. One side is contoured and filled with down alternative material for a soft, pressure-relieving feel, while the other is flat and cushioned with a cooling gel insert. This design allows sleepers to switch between two distinct surfaces, making the Leesa Hybrid a good option for sleepers whose preferences vary from night to night.

Both sides of the Leesa Hybrid also offer different firmnesses; the down alternative side is ‘Medium Soft’ and the gel insert side is ‘Medium Firm.’ The down alternative side has adjustable loft, as well, allowing sleepers with different body types to find a comfortable setting. Cleaning the pillow is fairly easy; both the cover and the interior are machine washable.

The Leesa Hybrid has a higher price-point than most other down alternative pillows, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Leesa will ship the pillow for free to customers in all 50 states. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those with shifting loft preferences
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Leesa Hybrid Pillow Review

Classic Brands Quiet Sleep – Best Value Down Alternative Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’
  • 3-year warranty
  • 8″ loft
  • Sleeps cool and comfortable

The Quiet Sleep Gel Microfiber Pillow from Classic Brands is an inexpensive option even by down alternative pillow standards. These pillows are widely sold in bundles of two Standard-size models for less than $25; comparatively, most competing down alternative pillows cost at least $25 for one. However, the Quiet Sleep doesn’t sacrifice quality for a lower price-point. The pillow offers exceptional softness and good pressure relief. It also sleeps very cool, due to its gel-coated microfiber fill and breathable cotton cover.

The Quiet Sleep has an 8″ loft, which is thicker than average, but the material sinks deeply beneath the sleeper’s head; as a result, the pillow will not feel excessively thick. It also offers good contouring and is suitable for side or back sleepers, as well as those who snuggle with pillows while they sleep.

Classic Brands exclusively sells the pillow through Amazon.com and other third-party distributors; customers should defer to the sleep trial and return policies of the seller they choose. The Quiet Sleep is backed by a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer higher-loft pillows
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Classic Brands Quiet Sleep Pillow Review

Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber – Best Cooling Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’
  • 3-year warranty
  • 5″ to 6″ loft
  • Excellent shape recovery

While most down alternative pillows tend to sleep fairly cool, the Gelled Microfiber from Malouf’s Z collection is a notable standout. The fill is coated in cooling gel to help regulate temperature and keep sleepers comfortable, and the machine-washable cover is made from breathable cotton-percale. The pillow has medium loft and the siliconized fill fibers are denser and more clustered, creating a surface that offers strong support with the right amount of sinkage.

This fill material also allows the Gelled Microfiber to maintain a full shape without clumping or flattening, which gives the pillow a fairly long lifespan compared to other down alternative models. In addition to Queen and King sizes, this model is available as a body pillow, making it suitable for pregnant women.

Malouf offers free shipping to customers anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Gelled Microfiber is backed by a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer higher-loft pillows
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Malouf Z Gelled Microfiber Pillow Review

eLuxury Revoloft Down Alternative Pillow – Best for Side Sleepers

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’
  • 30-night sleep trial
  • 6″ loft
  • Close contouring and pressure relief

The Revoloft Down Alternative Pillow from eLuxury measures roughly 6″ thick. This high-loft design, paired with ‘Medium’ firmness, provides close conforming to the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders while allowing them to sink deeply into the pillow surface. As a result, the pillow offers great support and spinal alignment to side sleepers, which can alleviate aches and pains in their most sensitive areas. It is also suitable for back and stomach sleepers.

The pillow also sleeps very cool, thanks in part to its breathable 230TC cotton cover. It comes in three sizes – Standard, Queen, and King – to accommodate customers with different needs and preferences. Shape recovery is another key strength of the Revoloft Down Alternative Pillow, and its expected lifespan is longer than average.

This pillow is widely sold individually or in two-pillow bundles, and the price-point is lower than average. eLuxury offers a 30-night sleep trial for all customers.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer higher-loft pillows
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Canadian Down & Feather Company Gel Microfiber – Best Shape Recovery

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’
  • 30-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • 7.5″ loft
  • Exceptionally cool and supportive

The Gel Microfiber Down Alternative Pillow from Canadian Down & Feather Company is a good option for sleepers who find other similar models too lumpy and prone to flattening. The pillow is completely machine washable and will recover its full shape after every wash cycle. This quality helps extend the pillow’s expected lifespan. The Gel Microfiber sleeps exceptionally cool, as well. The microfiber fill is gel-coated to create a noticeable cooling sensation, while the cover is made from breathable, 300TC cotton.

The pillow also offers great shape retention; both sides have a 2″ gusseted edge to keep the pillow from flattening. The Gel Microfiber has a 7.5″ loft in all three available sizes – Standard, Queen, and King – that cradles the sleeper’s head and allows them to sink into the pillow without compromising support..

The Gel Microfiber pillow is sold individually or in bundles of two or three through Amazon.com and other select retailers. Canadian Down & Feather Company offers a three-year warranty with the pillow.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer higher-loft pillows
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Best Down Alternative Pillows Buyer's Guide

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.

What is the Makeup of a Down Alternative Pillow?

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.

Which Sizes Are Available for Down Alternative Pillows?

Down alternative pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:

  • Standard: Standard is the most commonly sold pillow size, as well as the most compact and typically the cheapest.
  • Super Standard: Also known as ‘Jumbo,’ Super Standard pillows are two inches longer than Standard pillows, and may be suitable for those who find the latter too compact.
  • Queen: Queen-size pillows are slightly longer than Super Standard pillows, and are often a good option for people who toss and turn or move their head while they sleep.
  • King: King-size pillows are typically the longest pillows available. They are ideal for people who toss and turn, and are long enough to serve as proper headrests and backrests for people who sit up in bed to read or watch television.
  • Euro: Unlike other pillow sizes, Euro-size pillows are square-shaped and come in a wide range of dimensional measurements. Larger Euro-size pillows make suitable headrests and backrests, as well.
  • Body: Body pillows are exceptionally wide, and are designed for sleepers who prefer to snuggle with a pillow throughout the night.

The table below features rough measurements for each of the pillow sizes discussed above.

Pillow Size Dimensions
Standard 20W” x 26L”
Super Standard 20W” x 28L”
Queen 20W” x 30L”
King 20W” x 36L”
Euro 26W” x 26L”
24W” x 24L”
22W” x 22L”
20W” x 20L”
18W” x 18L”
16W” x 16L”
Body Pillow 54W” x 20L”
48W” x 20L”

Pros and Cons of Down Alternative Pillows

Pros of down alternative pillows include the following:

  • Price: The average down alternative pillow costs between $20 and $30, making them significantly less expensive than authentic down pillows.
  • Allergies: Although some allergy potential exists due to the presence of dust microbes, down alternative is considered a suitable alternative for sleepers with allergies to genuine down.
  • Sleeping Cool: Down alternative pillows tend to retain less body heat and sleep fairly cool as a result.
  • Moldability: Down alternative pillows are fairly scrunchy and can be molded to achieve optimal loft for different sleepers.
  • Position Variety: Down alternative pillows may be suitable for back-, side-, and stomach-sleepers, depending on their loft, firmness, and moldability.
  • Odor: Down alternative produces little to no odor, whereas authentic down is associated with unpleasant smells in new pillows.
  • Availability: Down alternative pillows are more widely available than their authentic down and feather counterparts.

Cons of down alternative pillows include the following:

  • Lifespan: Most down alternative pillows perform for up to two years, meaning they are less durable than most other pillow types (including real down).
  • Support: Many owners claim that down alternative pillows cannot provide long-lasting support, and some report added pain or pressure in the neck and shoulders.
  • Maintenance: Down alternative pillows should be fluffed or shaken on a regular basis to maintain a consistent shape.
  • Noise: Unlike authentic down, which is virtually silent, some down alternative pillows produce noises when compressed; this may cause nighttime disruptions for sleepers who awaken easily.
  • Clumping: Down alternative pillows often lose their shape during the night and become lumpy, which can lead to added discomfort.

Who Is a Down Alternative Pillow Good for?

Generally speaking, down alternative pillows are suitable for:

  • People who sleep on their back, side, or stomach. Side- and stomach-sleepers may require pillows that are medium-loft or higher, whereas back-sleepers are usually comfortable with moldable pillows.
  • People who weigh less than 130 pounds, especially if the pillow is soft and has a medium- or low-loft.
  • People who are allergic to down, as down alternative is considered hypoallergenic and will not trigger allergies to the same extent.
  • People who sleep hot, since down alternative pillows retain very little body heat and generally sleep cool.

However, down alternative pillows may not be suitable for:

  • People who weigh more than 230 pounds, as most down alternative pillows are too soft and/or low-loft to support them.
  • People who experience pain or pressure in their neck or shoulders, since down alternative pillows have been linked to below-average support.
  • People who snore due to conditions like sleep apnea because they usually require firmer, higher-loft pillows to support their heads.

Other sleepers who prefer firm and/or high-loft pillows, since down alternative pillows with these characteristics are fairly limited.

Down Alternative Pillow Ratings

Criteria Down Alternative Pillow Rating Explanation
Affordability Very Good to Excellent 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.
Durability Poor to Fair 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.
Support Poor to Fair 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.
Noise Fair to Good Although down alternative pillows produce minimal noise, they are generally louder than authentic down pillows due to squeaky internal materials.
Weight Good to Very Good Most down alternative pillows weigh 2 pounds or less, making them fairly easy to move and adjust during the night.
Odor Good to Very Good Down alternative pillows produce little to no off-gassing odor compared to genuine down and feather pillows.
Washable Good to Very Good Most down alternative pillows are machine washable, and never need to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned.
Firmness/Loft Options Fair to Good Although there are exceptions, most down alternative pillows are medium-loft and range in firmness from soft to medium-firm.
Availability Good to Very Good Down alternative pillows are widely available.

Buying Tips for Down Alternative Pillows

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.

Down Alternative Pillow Price Comparison