The Best Down Comforters – 2019 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
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If you’re looking for a top-notch comforter, it’s hard to do better than down. This material is known for its impressive performance, delivering considerable warmth while remaining soft and lightweight. For people who want the best in a comforter, down is a natural place to start.
At the same time, not all down comforters are created equal. It can also be confusing to start shopping for a down comforter because of the confusion that can arise around types of down and other factors that separate one option from another.
In this guide, we’ll present our choices for the best down comforters as well as a guide that will walk you through what you need to know to make the best possible purchase.
Can choose between a Lightweight or All-Season version
100% goose down with 750 fill power
100% cotton shell with sateen for smoother and cooler feel
60-day no-risk return window
Certified to meet Responsible Down Standard
Our Editor’s Choice is the Parachute Down Duvet Insert. This comforter has all the fundamentals necessary to deliver great performance and has several other excellent features as well. First and foremost, it is made with 100% down that has a fill power of 750. This is plenty of loft to get you through the coldest winter nights. For people who sleep hotter or live in warmer climates, there’s a Lightweight version available alongside the All-Season version.
The fill meets the requirements of the Responsible Down Standard that puts a focus on the material’s production. The softness of the down is enhanced by the 100% cotton sateen shell, and for people who are nervous about trying out a down comforter, there’s a 60-day no-risk return option to help you sleep easy after buying this comforter.
Fill stays in place with plenty of loft thanks to baffle-box stitching
Smooth shell composed of 600 thread count 100% cotton
Has 8 loops to help keep comforter in place inside duvet cover
Our favorite all-season comforter is the Snowman Goose Down Comforter. It has the warmth that’s needed for winter with 700 fill power white goose down, but it’s not so overpowering in warmth to make it unusable in the summer.
To keep the down in place it uses baffle-box construction, and 8 individual loops keep the comforter in place inside a duvet cover. A 100% cotton shell is made with a thread count of 600 to give plenty of smoothness and durability while containing all the down within the comforter.
Smooth shell made of 600 thread count Egyptian cotton
Tremendous value based on performance and reasonable cost
30-day return window
For a heavy-duty down comforter, the Egyptian Bedding Goose Down comforter is our pick. It packs a serious punch with 100% down from Siberian geese. It has a fill power of 750 and a fill weight of 70 ounces. This down material can better maintain loft thanks to baffle-box stitching, and all together, it makes this a powerhouse when it comes to warmth.
In addition, the shell is made with high-end material, in specific, 100% Egyptian cotton with a thread count of 600 that helps to prevent down from coming out of the shell. It comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you have an opportunity to test it out in your own home.
50% down and 50% feather preserves lightness and softness
500+ fill power for good warmth for the price
100% cotton shell
This comforter from Topsleepy takes our top spot for most affordable because it is available at a price point that is much less intimidating to most customers but without making huge sacrifices in terms of warmth.
This comforter uses a mixture of down feathers and other feathers, and those other feathers won’t provide the same robust amount of insulation as down. For this reason, the fill power is only 500+, but this is still enough for most seasons.
In the coldest of winter, it may need to be supplemented with another blanket, but given its price, this option represents a great choice for those who can’t spring for a 100% down comforter and don’t want a down alternative (synthetic) fill.
Comforter Buying Guide – How to Choose the Best Down Comforter
Types of down
Down can be derived from either ducks or geese. Goose down tends to be somewhat warmer than duck down and may be more expensive. This is because geese are larger than ducks and thus tend have bigger, fluffier down that offers more loft. However, not all goose down is from large, mature geese, so the down fill is not inherently larger in goose down than duck down. In addition, down clusters offer more warmth, so a duck down comforter with a high percentage of clusters may be as warm or warmer than a goose down comforter made with a lower percentage of clusters.
Sometimes down materials will specify where the goose or duck was raised. While there are trends in terms of the down that comes from certain places (such as duck down from China, which tends to be made up of smaller feathers), the geographic origin of the down is not a guarantee of its size or quality.
The bottom line, though, is that despite the differences, both types of down can be very effective at insulating you and keeping you warm.
The outside of a comforter is known as its shell, and it can be made from a range of different materials.
This is the most common shell material thanks to its softness and blend of durability and affordability. Some people prefer this feel while others find that cotton sleeps hot and is not breathable.
Silk has long been known for its smoothness, and it also tends to guard against overheating. However, it is more expensive and harder to maintain, so it is not used as frequently.
Wool is an all-purpose textile thanks to its softness and warmth combined with moisture-wicking properties. But it is also heavy and expensive and thus less commonly found as the shell for down comforters.
Blends of cotton and synthetics
To give cotton more breathability and less moisture retention, some shells blend it with polyester or other synthetics.
Besides just general duck and goose down, there are other types of fill materials that may be used in down comforters and other terminology that can be useful to know when selecting one.
While both the cluster and feather are down, they are distinct. The cluster is underneath the feathers and is puffier and has more loft. As a result, if a down comforter has more fill derived from clusters, it generally is warmer.
These are synthetic materials that try to mimic the feel and warmth of down but without any allergenic issues and with lower cost. Some are very low-cost and offer minimal warmth while others, like gel-fiber and Primaloft, are softer and loftier.
There are feathers from ducks and geese that can be used that are not down (e.g, not from the underside of the plumage). These feathers are still light but are not warm like down. Sometimes they are mixed in with down in the fill.
To help make a comforter more affordable, occasionally cotton may be mixed in as part of the fill. While soft, cotton does not offer warmth like down, so don’t expect a blend like this to perform like 100% down.
This material can retain warmth well while at the same time wicking moisture. However, it is heavier and also expensive to produce. As a result it is rare to find it blended with down in the fill.
Given its airy composition, silk has the lightness of down but nowhere near its warmth. It is more commonly used in comforters intended for summer or warm weather use.
Fill power is determined by measuring how much space (volume) is taken up by 1 ounce of a type of down. If it takes up more space, then it will have more loft and warmth. The fill power has a direct impact on expected heat provided by a comforter.
Up to 400: Comforters below 400 fill power will lack the ability to deliver real warmth. They can help some, but they won’t be hefty enough to really trap heat and are better as a summer blanket.
400-599: Comforters in this range of fill power are still usually best for summer, but those that are near 600 can work in winter as well. The fill power is better, but it still won’t be the source of substantial warmth.
600-799: Comforters in this range are ideal for people who want serious warmth without having to break the bank. Comforters between 600-700 may be better suited for hot sleepers or places that aren’t quite as cold, while those between 700-799 are great in winter.
800+: If the fill power is 800 or more, it’s a serious blanket. This amount of loft goes a long way in insulating heat and can be expected to keep you warm and to last for many years.
You will often find a thread count listed in the description of the shell of the comforter. This is calculated by looking at the density of yarns inside of a square inch of the fabric. In general, higher thread counts are smoother and last longer, but sometimes thread counts are manipulated to seem higher by double counting two-ply yarns. In general, look for thread counts of 300-600 as these should deliver plenty of quality and enough strength to hold in the down material. Thread counts higher than this range likely represent double counting.
One variation among down comforters is how they are stitched as several potential methods may be used.
Sewn-through: This describes a technique of stitching the top and bottom of the comforter together to create tiny compartments to hold the down in place. As a result, the fill won’t move much, but its loft is a bit restricted.
Diamond-quilted: The pattern for stitching is a diamond and usually takes a sewn-through form of connecting the top and bottom.
Gusseted: this refers to having the top and bottom of the comforter stitched together around the outside of the comforter and can help give a more solid and rounded feel.
Baffle box: In this technique, the top and bottom don’t directly connect but are held together by a smaller piece of fabric. This increases the size of the compartments that hold the down, keeping loft levels higher while still holding the down in place. The upshot is more warmth but with a greater need for fluffing the comforter to redistribute the fill.
Why you should get a down comforter...
Excellent warmth: the nature of down and its loft makes it pound-for-pound the warmest option for a comforter.
Lightweight: because it is derived from feathers, down can provide its warmth without having to weigh a ton. This makes it easier to move around on the bed and to store away if necessary.
Softness: down has a plush, soft feel that is inviting and makes for a cozy blanket for your bed.
Durable: if properly maintained, a good down comforter can potentially last for decades.
But make sure to consider this...
Allergenic: Some people are allergic to down feathers, which makes using a down comforter or a down pillow impossible.
Too warm: Some people find the warmth provided by a down comforter to be stifling. Or they may find it to be too warm during several months of the year and not viable as an all-season blanket.
Harder to maintain: In order to protect the down fill, these comforters require more specific and careful maintenance than most synthetic or cotton comforters.
Usually require a cover: While some cotton or synthetic comforters are designed to be used as-is, most down comforters need a cover (such as duvet cover), and the comforter may move around within the duvet cover.
Caring for Your Down 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.