Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Down Pillow
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.
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.