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The Best Down Alternative Comforters – 2020 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

Down — made from the soft and warm material underneath the feathers of geese and ducks — is a popular material for comforters. However, it can also be expensive, allergy-inducing, and difficult to clean and maintain. For this reason, synthetic materials have been developed to mimic the feel of down while avoiding its pitfalls.

Down alternative comforters are made using these synthetic materials with a down-like performance. There’s a huge diversity of down alternative comforters in terms of their composition and price, and as a result, it can be a daunting task to know which one is the best for you.

In this guide, we’ll help you find the best down alternative comforters. In addition to recommending our top picks, we’ll also review the essential background that you need to make an informed purchase.

Best OverallBrooklinen Down Alternative Comforter

Best Overall – Brooklinen Down Alternative Comforter

Highlights

  • Polyester microfiber fill
  • 100% long-staple cotton shell
  • 3 weight options
  • Corner loops to secure a duvet cover
  • 365-night return and exchange period
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Best OverallBrooklinen Down Alternative Comforter

brooklinen.com

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The Brooklinen Down Alternative Comforter is a standout product thanks in part to its selection of weight options. Shoppers can select a lightweight comforter that is best suited to hotter times of the year and warmer climates, an ultra-warm design ideal for chilly weather, and an all-season option that offers a balance of breathability and insulation from the cold.

The comforter’s fill consists of shaved polyester microfibers that mimic the softness and lightness of natural down without sleeping too warm or triggering allergies. Down alternative is also a good choice for shoppers who would rather not purchase animal-derived products. The comforter’s shell is made from smooth long-staple cotton for a soft finish and added cooling. Each corner is equipped with a corner loop for easy fastening to any duvet cover. Brooklinen recommends spot-cleaning or dry-cleaning the comforter, rather than washing and drying it in household machines.

Although the comforter is somewhat pricey, Brooklinen provides free shipping throughout the U.S. and offers a 365-night return and exchange period, even for customers who have slept with or washed their comforter. The company backs the comforter with a warranty, as well.

Best ValueTuft &  Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert

Best Value - Tuft &  Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert

Highlights

  • No-clump polyester fill
  • Pure cambric cotton shell
  • Two different weights with different stitching available
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • Machine wash- and dryable
  • 100-night trial with two-year warranty
  • Free shipping & returns
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Best ValueTuft &  Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert

tuftandneedle.com

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The Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert comes from esteemed mattress makers Tuft & Needle, known for their signature quality mattress, commitment to honest practices, and exceptional customer support. In addition to foundations, sheets, and accessories, T&N manufactures bedding — like the Down Alternative Duvet.

The oversized duvet is crafted with a polyester fill designed to mimic the feel of down while resisting clumping and sticking. The polyester is encased  in a pure cambric cotton shell with duvet loops to attach to the cover.

The duvet comes in a choice of two weights: light and medium. The light version features sewn-through stitching while the medium features baffle-box stitching — both designed to keep the filling evenly distributed. Both versions are oversized compared to traditional duvet standard sizes, and can be washed and dried in conventional machines according to manufacturer instructions.

T&N offers free shipping within the continental U.S. The T&N Down Alternative Duvet is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty that covers defective materials.

Best Cooling - Buffy Comforter

Best Cooling - Buffy Comforter

Highlights

  • Eucalyptus-based shell fabric provides softness and breathability
  • Specialty eco-friendly fill is a polyester composed of recycled plastics
  • Eco-fiber is hypoallergenic, warm, and airy
  • Free trial to try the comforter risk-free with free returns
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Best Cooling - Buffy Comforter

buffy.co

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The Buffy Comforter is a standout comforter because of its innovative and eco-friendly design. Both the fill and the shell of this comforter break from tradition in terms of the materials that are employed. The fill is made with a polyester that is spun from recycled plastics, and in fact, an average of 50 recycled plastic bottles are removed from the environment for each Buffy Comforter.

But it’s not just eco-friendly; it’s also lofty and airy, providing plenty of warmth year-round without being too hot. The shell is made with a fabric that comes from Eucalyptus and combines both softness and breathability.

Buffy offers free shipping for the comforter and also offers a full refund if you decide within the trial period that this comforter isn’t the right fit for your needs.

Best LuxuryParachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert

Best Luxury - Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert

Highlights

  • Hypoallergenic microfiber fill
  • Sateen cotton shell
  • Baffle-box stitching & double-stitch piping seams
  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified
  • Machine wash- & dryable
  • Free domestic shipping & returns within contiguous U.S.
  • 90-night sleep trial with five-year warranty
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Best LuxuryParachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert

Parachutehome.com

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From a respected luxury bedding company, the Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert contains a microfiber fill designed for superior softness and insulation. The 100-percent microfiber fill is encased in a pure sateen cotton shell. The shell is stitched in a baffle-box style to keep the microfiber evenly distributed throughout the duvet and enforced with double-stitched piping seams.

An Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified-product, the Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert is free of harmful chemicals and synthetics. The duvet can be washed and dried in conventional machines, just make sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and five-year warranty. Plus, Parachute ships free to all 50 states.

Best All-SeasonSharon Osbourne Home Classic Down Alternative Comforter

Best All-Season – Sharon Osbourne Home Classic Down Alternative Comforter

Highlights

  • Down alternative fill
  • 100% combed microfiber cover
  • Baffle-box design prevents excessive shifting
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 101-night sleep trial

Best All-SeasonSharon Osbourne Home Classic Down Alternative Comforter

osbournehome.com

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The Classic Down Alternative Comforter from Sharon Osbourne Home offers exceptional comfort and above-average durability at a reasonable price-point. The comforter is constructed with plush down alternative fill encased in a cover made of combed microfiber yarns. Tight baffle-box construction prevents the fill from clumping or shifting to one side – a common complaint about this type of comforter – and its oversize dimensions make it suitable for most sleepers regardless of their mattress profile. The down alternative fibers also retain a minimal amount of body heat compared to authentic down and feathers.

Customers can choose from three sizes – twin/twin XL, full/queen, or king/California king – and six different neutral colors. The microfiber cover is hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and other contaminants. The comforter can be washed and dried in a machine, though owners with smaller appliances may want to consider taking it to a laundromat.

Shipping is free for all orders within the contiguous U.S. Sharon Osbourne Home also issues full refunds on all returns within 101 days of purchase, even if owners have used and/or cleaned their comforter.

SoftestQuickzip Berkshire Lite Lux Comforter

Softest – Quickzip Berkshire Lite Lux Comforter

Highlights

  • Down alternative fill
  • Woven microfiber cover
  • Suitable for year-round use
  • Small baffles prevent shifting and clumping
  • 30-night sleep trial

SoftestQuickzip Berkshire Lite Lux Comforter

quickzip.com

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The Quickzip Berkshire Lite Lux Comforter is a bit heftier than many of its competitors. This makes it suitable for colder weather, but the comforter is still breathable enough to keep sleepers comfortable during warmer times of the year. The fill consists of down alternative fibers with a very plush feel similar to authentic down, while the cover is made from woven microfiber material that feels very soft and smooth.

Thanks to its small baffle-box design, the comforter shouldn’t clump or shift to the side too much. This means owners won’t need to fluff it too often to maintain a full shape. The fill is also hypoallergenic, so they won’t need to worry about dust mites and other pests. The comforter can be washed and dried in a machine, making it cheap and convenient to clean.

Quickzip offers free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Returns are allowed within 30 days of purchase, including used and laundered items, and the company will issue a full refund. Alternatively, exchanges are also allowed during the trial period.

Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Down Alternative Comforter

If you’re the type of customer who wants to know the details about what separates one product from another, this guide is for you. To help you know about down and down alternative comforters, we’ll review the most useful background and terminology. This can help you sort through the information that you need to be an informed consumer.

Pros and Cons of Down Alternative Comforters

Down is a powerhouse fill material for a comforter thanks to its ability to offer serious warmth and softness in a lightweight package. However, it has some serious limitations, and down alternative comforters can replicate the feeling of down while offering several advantages. We’ve listed both the pros and cons of down alternative comforters and duvets below.

 Pros

  • Price: Down is an expensive material, and the higher quality the down, the more expensive it gets. Even low-cost down comforters are out of the price range of many customers. On the other hand, down alternative comforters have much more accessible price points and generally deliver significant value.
  • Hypoallergenic: many people have allergies to down, and down alternative comforters can provide a similar feel without this issue.
  • Easier to maintain: down is a delicate material, and as a result, it has to be handled with a great deal of care in order to maintain. This makes washing and storing a down comforter more of a hassle. For down alternative comforters, washing and storage are generally easy and straightforward. For example, you can usually machine-wash and dry a down alternative comforter without any risk of damaging the material.

Cons

  • Warmth. When compared ounce per ounce, natural down tends to be warmer than synthetic materials. However, many down alternative models make up for this by packing in heavier material in greater quantities.
  • Durability: While a down comforter may last a lifetime, alternative down comforters may see a shorter lifespan. Lower-quality down alternative comforters may last as little as a few years.

Fill Material

Fill materials in down alternative comforters are normally synthetic but can also include other materials as well. Within each category is a range of quality and composition.

Common Down Alternative Fill Materials

  • Polyester: this is far-and-away the most common material that is used in making down alternative comforters. Polyester is an extremely flexible material that can be produced to have different weights, lofts, and other characteristics. It also can usually be produced at low cost. Most polyesters for down alternative comforters are made to be soft and light yet lofty enough for warmth.
  • Primaloft: this is a high-end synthetic fabric that mimics the performance of down. It is very lightweight and warm, but it also specially treated to help make it water-resistant. Unlike down, which loses its loft if it gets wet, Primaloft has the ability to repel some water.
  • Gel fiber: this is another type of down alternative that utilizes gel-infused fibers that can help to retain heat. These fibers are often warmer than more basic polyester down alternative materials.

Other Non-Down Fill Materials

There are also several other materials that may be used in comforters instead of down that we’ll describe below, but normally the term “down alternative” is reserved for synthetic materials specifically designed to have a feel of down.

  • Silk: like down, silk is an expensive and extremely lightweight material, but it does not have the insulating power of down.
  • Wool: this fabric is heavy and warm, but it maintains a significant amount of breathability. This allows it to provide insulation while also dissipating heat and wicking moisture during summer months. Its weight and cost, though, can make it expensive as a fill material.
  • Cotton: cotton may be used as a fill material because of its low cost and softness. Usually these comforters have limited insulating power but may serve as a comfortable and useful layer to have on your bed.

Fill Power

Fill power is a term commonly used with down comforters that refers to the amount of space (volume) is taken up by 1 ounce of the down. More fill power generally means more warmth. This term is not used quite as much with down alternative comforters but may still be used in some cases to give an indication of expected heat potential.

  • Up to 400: below 400 fill power will deliver only very limited heat. These are intended for layering with other blankets or using only in summer.
  • 400-599: below 600 fill power usually won’t work as an all-season comforter because of a lack of warmth during winter, but they can still be comfortable and useful for layering with other blankets.
  • 600-799: you’ll get considerable warmth from comforters with this fill power. If you tend to sleep cold, err toward the higher end of this range. And if you tend to sleep cool, something in the 600-700 range is a better fit.
  • 800+: at this level of fill power, expect serious loft and insulation. This is a heavy winter blanket and may be too hot for summertime use unless you keep your air conditioning cranked up.

Shell Material

The term that is used for the outside fabric surrounding the comforter is the “shell.” A diversity of materials may be used for comforter shells:

  • Cotton: You’re probably very familiar with cotton given its widespread use in consumer textiles. It can have a lot of range with regard to its quality, but it tends to be soft, easy to wash, and low-cost. Its breathability can vary based on the thickness, but in general, cotton does tend to absorb moisture and may heat up more than some other materials.
  • Silk: The phrase “smooth as silk” doesn’t exist for nothing. Silk is soft and cool to the touch and does not retain heat. At the same time, it is harder to clean without causing damage to it, and it is also a pricey material. For this reason, it is not often used as a shell material for down alternative comforters.
  • Wool: Wool, which comes from sheep, has the ability to provide both breathability (through moisture-wicking) and warmth. It also is normally woven in a way to deliver significant softness. However, given its cost, it is not regularly found as the shell material for down alternative comforters.
  • Synthetics and blends: In addition to their use in the fill of down alternative comforters, synthetic materials may be used in the shell. These materials are often stretchable and breathable and soft. They may be blended with cotton to provide even additional softness.

What Else Should You Consider When Buying a Down Alternative Comforter

Comforter vs Duvet Insert

The terms “duvet” and “comforter” are often used interchangeably; however, there are a few key differences between them. Perhaps most significant is the fact that comforters are designed with a built-in cover, while duvets inserts are meant to be used with a duvet cover. This means duvets can be used without a top sheet, and may be easier to clean since you need only remove the cover and throw it in the wash. However, many comforters are machine washable.

Price

As noted, alternative down comforters are typically significantly cheaper than true down. That said, prices may range from under $30 for a value option to over $300 for a luxury model.

Organic Materials

Many companies commit to organic, natural materials when filling their alternative down comforters. These earth-friendly fills are free of toxins and chemicals, ensuring you breath easier at night. One common example of organic, down-alternative filling is recycled bottle water fibers.

Size

As with down and other types of comforter, down alternative comforters and duvets come in standard bedding sizes: twin, queen/full, and king/California king. However, as with all bedding, dimensions may vary among different brands. For example, one company’s twin-size comforter or duvet may sit on top of a twin-bed, while another may hang over the edges.

Color/Pattern

Down alternative comforters are available in virtually every color and pattern imaginable. On the other hand, duvets tend to be white since they are intended to be used with a cover. Duvet covers can be found in a vast array of designs, enabling you to easily update your bedroom’s decor.

Caring for Your Down Alternative Comforter

A down comforter is an investment, and with the proper care you can get many years of excellent use from it. Here are three key tips to caring for your down comforter.

First, shake it out regularly. This helps to redistribute the down and maintain the loft of the comforter. If you notice any material coming out of the shell, make sure to repair it quickly.

Second, clean it properly. Follow any instructions from the manufacturer. If it can be washed in a machine, don’t use hot water, and only use a light or mild detergent. Top-loading washing machines should be avoided because they tend to put more twisting pressure on the fill. Dry cleaning is controversial as some manufacturers recommend it, but it can in some cases damage a down comforter.

Third, store it cautiously. Down should never be stuffed tightly in a box or in a plastic bag as this will compress the down and trap in any moisture or dirt. Instead, if you need to store it (such as in the summer), fold it up and keep it in a dry place (such as a closet). Ideally, you can fold it and store it in a cotton bag that keeps it contained but allows airflow through the bag and the comforter to keep it fresh.

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