Best Down Pillows | Tuck Sleep

Best Down Pillows

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. Other drawbacks include allergy potential and minimal support.

Read on to learn more about down pillows and what sets them apart from other pillow types.

What is the Makeup of a Down Pillow?

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.

Which Sizes Are Available for Down Pillows?

Down pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:

  • Standard: This is the most commonly sold pillow size. Standards tend to be the shortest and most compact size available, and typically have lower price-points.
  • Super Standard: Roughly two inches longer than a Standard, this size is suitable for people who find Standard pillows slightly too compact.
  • Queen: Queen-size pillows are slightly longer than Standard pillows, making them a suitable option for people who tend to toss and turn or shift positions throughout the night.  
  • King: Like the Queen, the King is long enough to support people who move their heads throughout the night. They are also long enough to serve as headrests or backrests for people who sit up in bed for certain activities, such as reading or watching TV.
  • Euro: Euro-size pillows are square-shaped, and come in a wide range of dimensions to accommodate people with different preferences. While they are often used as sleeping pillows in Europe, many people find that Euro-size pillows are more suitable as headrests or backrests.

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

Pillow SizeDimensions
Standard20W” x 26L”
Super Standard20W” x 28L”
Queen20W” x 30L”
King20W” x 36L”
Euro26W” x 26L”
24W” x 24L”
22W” x 22L”
20W” x 20L”
18W” x 18L”
16W” x 16L”

Pros and Cons of Down Pillows

Pros of down pillows include the following:

  • Lifespan: Down becomes softer and finer as it ages, allowing down pillows to outlast pillows made from materials that degrade or become coarser over time.
  • Moldability: Down pillows conform closely to the sleeper, providing adequate comfort and support regardless of the weight or size of their head and neck.
  • Scrunching: Because they are so soft, down pillows can be easily scrunched in order to improve the loft.
  • Hugging: Down pillows are suitable for people who prefer to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep, in addition to the primary pillow they use under their head and neck.
  • Noise: Down pillows are virtually silent when compressed or bearing weight, which can cut down on nighttime disruptions — particularly for couples who toss and turn.
  • Lightweight: Down is naturally very lightweight, and minimal effort is required to lift and move down pillows.

Cons of down pillows include the following:

  • Price-point: Down pillows tend to be much more expensive than other pillow types, with an average price-point of $70 to $100.
  • Availability: Lack of availability may be an issue for down pillow shoppers, as these products are somewhat uncommon.
  • Odor: Down may produce unpleasant smells after unpackaging, but these tend to dissipate rather quickly, especially in well-ventilated rooms.
  • Allergies: Down can carry microbes that trigger allergies in certain people, although some down pillows are treated to remove these allergens during the manufacturing process.
  • Maintenance: Down pillows require regular fluffing in order to maintain a consistent shape and decent loft. Additionally, they almost always need to be dry-cleaned.
  • Support: Due to their moldability, most down pillows when compressed have low- to medium-loft. As a result, some sleepers complain of minimal support.

Who is a Down Pillow Good For?

Generally speaking, down pillows are best suited for the following types of sleepers:

  • People who sleep on their back or side, although they may need to scrunch the pillow in order to feel properly supported.
  • People who weigh 200 pounds or less, since people with average or below-average weights usually feel comfortable and supported on softer, lower-loft pillows.
  • People who sleep hot. Although down is an insulating material, very few down pillow owners complain of uncomfortable heat retention.
  • People who prefer to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep, due to down’s soft and moldable properties.

On the other hand, down pillows may not be suitable for the following sleeper types:

  • People who sleep on their stomach, with the exception of ultra-soft pillows that will not make them feel smothered.
  • People who weigh more than 200 pounds, as people with above-average weight tend to feel most comfortable and supported on thicker, higher-loft pillows.
  • People who snore due to conditions like sleep apnea. These individuals generally require a firmer pillow that will keep their heads upright and not compress too deeply.
  • People with down allergies. Down alternative may be a good substitute for these individuals.

Down Pillow Ratings

CriteriaDown Pillow RatingExplanation
AffordabilityPoor to FairThe average down pillow costs between $70 and $100, making them significantly more expensive than other pillow types.
DurabilityVery Good to ExcellentBecause down becomes softer and finer over time, down pillows tend to have a relatively long lifespan.
SupportFair to GoodThe 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.
NoiseVery Good to ExcellentDown pillows produce little to no noise, making them a good choice for people who awaken easily.
WeightVery Good to ExcellentDown pillows are exceptionally lightweight and easy to move; most weigh less than 3 pounds.
OdorPoor to FairDown pillows often produce some odor when they are unpackaged.
WashablePoor to FairDown pillows usually need to be dry-cleaned, and should never be machine-washed; this will drive up maintenance costs.
Firmness/Loft OptionsFair to GoodIn 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.
AvailabilityPoor to FairDown pillows are fairly uncommon compared to other pillow types.

Buying Tips for Down Pillows

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 $70 and $100 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.

Down Pillow Cost Comparison

Down Pillow Brands and Models

The table below lists product details for five of the most popular down pillow brands sold today.

Brand NameThe Company StoreDown & Feather Co.eLuxuryPacific Coast BeddingRoyal Pillow
Down Pillow Price Range (Standard)$69 to $239$259 to $369$81 to $96$55.99 to $104.99$38 to $144
SizesStandard
Queen
King
Standard
Queen
King
Standard
Jumbo (Super Standard)
Queen
King
Standard
Queen
King
Standard
Queen
King
Euro (27″ x 27″)
Down/Feather Ratio100%
98%/2%
100%100%100%100%
CoverCottonCottonCottonCottonCotton
Firmness RangeSoft
Medium
Firm
Soft
Medium
Firm
Extra Firm
Soft
Medium Firm
Soft
Medium
Firm
Soft
Medium
Firm
Loft RangeLow to MediumLow to HighLow to MediumLow to MediumLow to High
TrialLifetime Guarantee30 Night Guarantee30 Night Guarantee30 Night Guarantee
5 Year Warranty
30 Night Guarantee
CleaningDry Clean Dry Clean Machine Wash Cold
Tumble Dry Low
Machine WashableDry Clean
Customer Satisfaction Rating78% (327 Customer Reviews)81% (276 Customer Reviews)85% (543 Customer Reviews)84% (418 Customer Reviews)77% (251 Customer Reviews)

Conclusion

For more information on down pillows and other pillow types, please visit our Best Pillows Guide.