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Pillow choice is very important for getting a good night’s sleep. Sleepers should use a pillow that meets their criteria for thickness, softness, temperature neutrality, and other factors affecting sleep quality and duration. Down pillows are particularly popular among sleepers who prefer exceptionally soft surfaces. By definition, a down pillow is primarily filled with the down (or soft interior plumage) of ducks or geese; the down fill may be supplemented with coarser outer feathers, which reinforce the pillow for added support. Other pillows are 100% down.
Down pillows generally have higher-than-average price-points; more down typically constitutes a higher cost. However, these pillows offer great softness and support. They also tend to sleep fairly cool for most and are quite moldable, making them a great option for sleepers who like to snuggle with a pillow. However, unlike other pillow materials, down may trigger allergies in some sleepers.
This guide will look at styles and characteristics of different down pillows, as well as tips for first-time buyers. Below you’ll find our picks for the best down pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Best Down Pillows
Editor’s Pick – Parachute Down Pillow
Best Down & Feather Pillow – The Luxe Pillow
Best Down Pillow Set – Royal Bedding Luxury Down Pillow
Best Down Pillow for Back and Stomach Sleepers – Downlite Extra Soft Down Pillow
Best Down Pillow for Side Sleepers – Canadian Down & Feather Company Down Perfect Pillow
Our Editor’s Pick, the Down Pillow from Parachute, is a standout for several reasons. One is selection. The pillow is available in Soft, Medium, and Firm settings to accommodate sleepers with different comfort preferences, as well as Standard and King sizes. The Down Pillow is also filled with luxurious European white down and supplemented with 15% feathers for extra stability. Double-stitched piping also holds the pillows together nicely and prevents fill from escaping.
The Down Pillow sleeps exceptionally cool due to good airflow throughout the interior and a breathable cotton-sateen cover. The pillows can be washed and dried in conventional machines, as well. Parachute offers free shipping to customers in the contiguous U.S. The Down Pillow is backed by a 60-night sleep trial, as well as a longer-than-average three-year warranty.
Pillows filled with down and feathers tend to offer better support than all-down options; the firmer, coarser feathers help stabilize the pillow and prevent the sleeper’s head from sinking too deeply. The Luxe Pillow exemplifies this design by filling the core with feathers and buffering it on both sides with chambers of luxurious white goose down. The result is a pillow that feels soft and firm in all the right places.
The Luxe Pillow also comes with a 300TC cotton damask cover that breathes well and helps the pillow sleep cool for most. Unlike many other down pillows, this one has been certified as hypoallergenic, as well, making it suitable for those who are allergic to down and feathers. The Luxe Pillow qualifies for free shipping and returns; it is backed by a 100-night sleep trial, as well.
Our pick for the Best Down Pillow Set comes from Royal Bedding, which sells its Luxury Down Pillow in sets of two. These pillows are filled with 90% down for a soft, lofty feel, while 10% of the fill comes from sturdier smaller feathers. The Luxury Down Pillow is also encased in 500TC cotton with thick piping at the seams; this prevents fill from escaping and considerably extends the pillow’s expected lifespan.
The Luxury Down Pillow also has a fairly low price-point; a set of two is widely available for less than $160 in a Standard size, which is close to the average cost of a single down pillow in the same size category. The pillows are considered hypoallergenic, as well. Standard, Standard/Queen, and King sizes are available.
Many back and stomach sleepers find down pillows difficult to sleep on because they are too lofty. Back sleepers require a pillow that will keep the spine properly aligned, whereas stomach sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on flatter, more compressible pillows. The Extra Soft Down Pillow from Downlite accomplishes both. The pillow is all-down, making it highly compressible and suitable for both face-down stomach sleeping and back sleeping. Additionally, it provides enough support for side sleepers too.
The pillow is encased in a 500TC cotton damask cover that is highly breathable, allowing the pillow to sleep very cool. The fill is hypoallergenic, as well. It is also easy to clean and care for, and may be washed and dried in a conventional machine. The Downlite Extra Soft Down Pillow has a very low price-point, and is widely available for less than $70 in all available sizes.
Many side sleepers prefer pillows that are ‘Medium’ or firmer – which rules out many options for down pillows. The Down Perfect Pillow from Canadian Down & Feather Company is a notable exception. It is available in two firmness options, ‘Medium’ and ‘Firm,’ both of which provide adequate support to most side sleepers. The pillow is constructed with outer down chambers and a core feather chamber for added comfort. The design also ensures that the pillow will maintain a full, consistent shape with minimal fluffing.
The Down Perfect Pillow also sleeps exceptionally cool due to good airflow throughout each chamber and a breathable cotton cover. The fill is also considered hypoallergenic and will not trigger any allergies in sleepers. Price-points for the Down Perfect Pillow are lower-than-average, as well, and the pillow is backed by a five-year warranty – considered exceptionally long for this pillow type.
Down pillows contain the insulating underside feathers of ducks and/or geese. Some down pillows are supplemented with coarser outer feathers — but in order to be considered a true down pillow, it must contain at least 75% down.
Duck or goose down is a popular pillow material because it is naturally soft, lightweight, moldable, and virtually silent when compressed. However, down pillows are relatively expensive compared to pillows made from other materials. Allergy potential is another drawback to consider.
Read on to learn more about down pillows and what sets them apart from other pillow types.
Down pillows are filled with the down, or underside feathers, of ducks and geese. Unlike exterior feathers, which can be somewhat coarse, down is exceptionally soft, fine and lightweight. Down also heats and insulates from the cold; in addition to pillows, down is commonly found in quilted winter jackets and layering vests. Natural down may trigger allergies in some individuals.
Many pillow manufacturers produce ‘down blend’ pillows that contain exterior feather fill. For these products, the feather fill is placed in the center and surrounded by down in order to preserve softness. In some cases, as little as 10% of the pillow will contain actual down. In order to be marketed as a ‘down’ pillow (and not a ‘down blend’), the pillow must contain at least 75% down. If it contains less than 75%, then it should be sold as a ‘feather pillow.’ Not surprisingly, pillows made of 100% down are significantly more expensive that those made from less than 100% down; likewise, ‘down’ pillows tend to be pricier than ‘down blend’ pillows.
It is also important to distinguish down from ‘down alternative,’ which is made from polyester fibers that mimic the soft, fine feel of natural down. Down alternative pillows tend to have much lower price-points that natural down pillows, and they pose no allergy risk.
Down pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:
The table below features approximate measurements for each of the pillow sizes discussed above.
|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”
Pros of down pillows include the following:
Cons of down pillows include the following:
Generally speaking, down pillows are best suited for the following types of sleepers:
On the other hand, down pillows may not be suitable for the following sleeper types:
|Criteria||Down Pillow Rating||Explanation|
|Affordability||Poor to Fair||The average down pillow costs between $70 and $100, making them significantly more expensive than other pillow types.|
|Durability||Very Good to Excellent||Because down becomes softer and finer over time, down pillows tend to have a relatively long lifespan.|
|Support||Fair to Good||The supportiveness of a down pillow generally depends on firmness and the sleeper’s body type, but many claim that these pillows offer below-average support.|
|Noise||Very Good to Excellent||Down pillows produce little to no noise, making them a good choice for people who awaken easily.|
|Weight||Very Good to Excellent||Down pillows are exceptionally lightweight and easy to move; most weigh less than 3 pounds.|
|Odor||Poor to Fair||Down pillows often produce some odor when they are unpackaged.|
|Washable||Poor to Fair||Down pillows usually need to be dry-cleaned, and should never be machine-washed; this will drive up maintenance costs.|
|Firmness/Loft Options||Fair to Good||In terms of firmness, down pillows generally range from very soft to medium-firm. Loft selection is a little more limited, and those who prefer high-loft pillows may be better suited for other pillow types.|
|Availability||Poor to Fair||Down pillows are fairly uncommon compared to other pillow types.|
Down pillows are relatively hard to find, although shoppers can usually find a limited selection through various home goods retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, and Wayfair. Down pillows are also available through exclusively online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com
Down pillows cost between $90 and $120 on average, but some may cost more than $300. They are generally the most expensive pillow type in terms of average price-point. By comparison, the average feather pillow costs between $25 and $50, while the average down alternative pillow costs between $20 and $30.
Down pillows may also be somewhat expensive to maintain over time due to the fact that the vast majority are ‘dry clean only.’
The graph below lists average price-points for eight of the most common pillow types.