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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.
Down pillows are renowned for their exceptional softness, but they may feel ‘too soft’ for some sleepers. Our Editor’s Pick, the Down & Feather Pillow from Helix, addresses this concern with an innovative chambered design featuring outer layers of softer down and an inner core with denser feathers. This construction gives the pillow a supportive, ‘Medium Soft’ feel that should be suitable for most sleepers, especially those who find traditional down pillows too soft. The fill consists of 95% down and 5% feathers, while the cover is made from smooth, 230 thread-count cambric cotton.
Double-stitched edges protect the pillow from tearing and prevent fill from escaping. The pillow is also a great choice for hot sleepers, thanks in part to the breathable cover and strong air circulation through the interior. Its price-point is below-average compared to other down pillows, as well. Helix offers free shipping for all customers in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 1-year warranty.
Down pillows frequently carry price-points that make them more expensive than pillows with other materials – much more expensive, in some cases. Our Best Price pick, the Brooklinen Down Pillow, is a notable exception. The pillow is priced below $90 in all sizes. It also comes in three firmness settings. The softest setting, ‘Plush,’ contains 100% down. The two other settings contain a mix of down and feathers to make the pillow feel firmer and more supportive. As a result, the Brooklinen Down Pillow is suitable for most sleepers regardless of their firmness preferences.
A breathable, 400 thread-count cotton shell ensures good airflow and temperature neutrality throughout the night. The pillow also has double-stitched edges to prevent fill from escaping, giving it a longer-than-average lifespan. The down is ethically sourced from Hutterite farms, making the Brooklinen Down Pillow a good option for animal-conscious shoppers. Brooklinen offers free exchanges and replacements for all dissatisfied customers, as well.
The Down Pillow from Parachute is our pick for the Best Ethically Sourced Down Pillow. The material has earned a Responsible Down certification, which indicates the down has been sustainably and ethically extracted from healthy European ducks. The pillow also carries an OEKO-TEX 100 certification, meaning no harmful chemicals are used to produce it. These factors make the Parachute Down Pillow an excellent choice for eco- and animal-conscious shoppers.
The pillow is available in ‘Soft,’ ‘Medium,’ and ‘Firm’ settings; this selection should be suitable for most sleepers regardless of their firmness preferences. Double-stitched piping along the edges also holds the pillow together very well and prevents fill from escaping. A breathable cotton-sateen cover ensures strong airflow and good breathability, as well. Parachute offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S.; the pillow is backed by a 60-night sleep trial and a 3-year warranty.
Pillows made from goose down tend to be softer and lighter than those with duck down. Our top pick in this category, the Kassatex White Goose Down Pillow, contains 650-fill power European white goose down; this material provides an excellent balance of breathability and insulation. The pillow is available in three firmness settings – ‘Soft,’ ‘Medium’,’ and ‘Firm’ – to accommodate sleepers with varying preferences based on their sleep position and weight. It is sold in three different sizes, as well. The cover is made from breathable cotton dobby with a 350 thread-count.
The down and feathers used in the Kassatex Pillow are cleaned two times, which lowers the pillow’s allergy potential; green soaps are used during this process, which also makes the pillows eco-friendly. Unlike many competing down pillows, this model can be washed and dried in conventional machines. Kassatex backs the pillow with a 60-night sleep trial; all U.S. orders qualify for free ground shipping too.
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.|
|Firmness/Loft Options||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.
|Pillow Type||Down||Memory Foam||Down Alternative||Buckwheat||Feather||Latex||Natural/Organic||Polyester|
|Average Cost||$70-$100||$50-$60||$20-$30||$50-$75||$25-$50||$40-$60||$150 and higher||$10-$15|