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Do you prefer pillows with an exceptionally plush feel that sink beneath your head and neck? Are you more partial to light pillows that are very moldable and ideal for snuggling? If you answered yes to either question, then you may be a great candidate for a down pillow. Down refers to the inner plumage of ducks and geese, which is very soft and lightweight. Some pillows only contain down while others contain a blend of down and feathers, the coarser outer plumage of the same birds.
Ethical sourcing is an important consideration for down pillows. Since the down and feathers must be extracted from animals, consumers should research how different pillows are sourced and constructed.
Read on to learn more about down pillows in terms of pricing, available designs, and performance across different categories. Below, you’ll find our top eight picks for down pillows sold today. Each selection is based on experiences and reviews from verified owners, as well as our own product research and analysis.
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The Brooklinen Down Pillow exemplifies many of the qualities people have come to love about this pillow type. The interior does not include any chambers or baffles, resulting in a traditional feel – though support level depends on the selected loft level. The soft “plush” feel contains 100 percent down, resulting in deep sinkage around the head and neck. This will be the most comfortable choice for many stomach sleepers. The medium “mid-plush” and firm feels mostly contain feathers, so you’ll feel more reinforcement and sink much less. We recommend these loftier options for side and back sleepers.
A shell made of smooth cotton sateen encases the entire pillow and double-stitched seams help to keep the cover intact and prevent escaping fill. The down and feathers are also treated during production to remove microbes that trigger allergies for some sleepers. Spot or dry cleaning is recommended if stains occur, but you can freshen up the pillow and expand its shape by placing it in a dryer on an air fluff setting.
Regardless of which loft you choose, the Brooklinen Down Pillow is very affordable. Brooklinen also allows you to return the pillow in exchange for a full refund within 365 days of purchase, even if you’ve used and cleaned it. Shipping is free for customers in all 50 states, as well.
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The Helix Down & Feather Pillow is a standout pillow due to its innovative chambered design. The pillow’s core primarily contains feathers while the outer chambers are padded with 550-fill power down. This creates a plush feel for the pillow as well as a decent support system, so your head won’t sink as deeply into the fill. The pillow has a loft of about 6 to 8 inches, which offsets the down’s soft feel and ensures decent thickness for the pillow no matter how much your head weighs. The chambered design also distributes the fill evenly, so you won’t need to fluff this pillow too often.
The pillow’s shell is composed of smooth cotton cambric with a thread count of 240. The material is fairly durable and the seams are piped to help the cover hold together, so the pillow is less likely to lose fill over time than many competing down and feather models. The cotton is also quite breathable. While down can absorb and trap heat for some sleepers, this pillow’s cover should maintain a consistently comfortable temperature.
The pillow’s price-point is in line with other down and feather models. In addition to free ground shipping for customers in all 50 states, Helix backs the pillow with a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.
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A common complaint about down pillows is that they feel too soft, since many are crafted for an exceptionally plush feel. The Boll & Branch Down Pillow is a notable exception because it is available in three density settings. The soft option contains the least amount of fill, which equates to a fill power of about 600. The medium density option contains a slightly more fill, resulting in a mid-level feel, while the firm option has a fill power of 700 and provides great support to the head and neck.
The cover is made of organic cotton that has been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, one of the world’s foremost authorities on organic fabrics. The down fill has also earned a certification from the Responsible Down Standard, ensuring no animals are harmed or treated unfairly when the down is collected. Boll & Branch washes the down fill three times to remove as many allergens as possible. As a result, the pillow is hypoallergenic and its fill holds up well over time. The pillow can be washed and dried in any household machine.
The price-point of this pillow depends on the density you select, but all three options are quite affordable given the high-quality materials and construction. Boll & Branch also offers free shipping to all customers in the contiguous U.S. and accepts returns within 30 days of delivery.
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Another responsibly produced option, the Casper Down Pillow contains five chambers of ethically sourced white duck down and feathers. This pillow carries the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification, which carries strict requirements such as no harvesting from live animals, no forced feeding, and third-party auditing for every stage of the supply chain cycle. If you’re an animal lover who wants to ensure the products you buy are cruelty-free, then the Casper Down Pillow definitely fits that bill.
The pillow’s complex inner design includes five individual chambers. The inner chambers consist of down and feathers in a 60/40 ratio, resulting in a balance of softness and support, while the outer chambers contain a plush blend of 80/20 down and feathers. The high down content means your head will sink a bit, but the chambers reinforce the head and neck to reduce pressure and discomfort. The outer shell is made of pure cotton while the inner panels are polyester.
You can wash and dry this pillow in any household machine. To expand its shape, place in the dryer on a low tumbly setting. The Casper Down Pillow is quite affordable compared to other down and feather models, as well, and customers in the contiguous U.S. and Canada qualify for free ground shipping. The pillow is backed by a one-year warranty.
Best Goose Down
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Goose down tends to feel plusher than duck down, and it also traps more heat in order to provide better insulation. This can be attributed to goose down clusters, which are thicker and denser than down clusters from ducks. The Kassatex White Goose Down Pillow, one of the best goose down pillows on the market, is well crafted and carries an entry-level price-point for those who’ve never used this type of product before. Packed with 650-fill power white goose down, the pillow delivers a traditional down feel and sinks very deeply beneath the head and neck.
Since goose down insulates so well, this pillow is a great choice for people who tend to feel chilly during colder times of the year. By the same token, the Kassatex White Goose Down Pillow may sleep a bit warm during hotter months, but the cover is made of smooth, breathable cotton to help minimize body heat buildup. Three loft/firmness options are available. Most side sleepers with probably prefer the thicker, firmer pillow, while the medium and soft feels are better suited to back and stomach sleepers, respectively.
You can wash and dry the pillow in any household machine, so cleaning expenses will be minimal. The down and feathers inside the pillow have been treated with eco-friendly bluesign soap, as well. Ground shipping is free for customers in all 50 states, and Kassatex offers customized monogramming for an added charge. You can test out and return the pillow within 60 nights of delivery, provided it has not been monogrammed.
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A high-quality down pillow can easily run you upwards of $150, making the Double DownAround Medium Pillow from Pacific Coast a great bargain, but sturdy construction and premium materials ensure it compares favorably with higher-priced competitors. The pillow features a chambered design with a core of Resilia feathers and an outer layer of Hyperclean down, giving the pillow a cushioning yet supportive feel. The cover is composed of breathable 300 thread count cotton engineered to hold up over time and prevent the fill from escaping.
A 1.5-inch gusset with thick piping ensures the pillow will mostly maintain a full shape, meaning you won’t need to fluff it too often. You can launder the pillow in your household machines, even if you don’t own a front-loading washer. The pillow is designed for a medium feel. Pacific Coast also offers soft and firm versions of this model if you aren’t satisfied with the medium option.
In addition to a relatively low price-point for the Double DownAround Medium Pillow, Pacific Coast offers very reasonable flat shipping rates for U.S. and Canada orders. The pillow comes with a 30-day trial period, as well as a three-year warranty against structural defects and an “allergy warranty” if you experience down allergy symptoms.
Best for Side Sleepers
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Side sleepers often struggle with down pillows because they are not lofty enough, resulting in uncomfortable sinkage along the head and neck. As its name implies, the Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow is designed to remedy this issue. A thick 3.5-inch gusset along the sides helps the pillow maintain a thick, full shape that is conducive to the side sleeping position. This gusset is reinforced with thick piping for added longevity.
Although the pillow has a medium feel, most of its fill consists of premium European white down. This creates a plush, cloud-like feel. The cover is made from smooth cotton sateen, making this pillow a good option for people with sensitive skin. Parachute recommends machine washing the pillow in a cold, gentle cycle with mild detergent if it needs to be cleaned, though dry cleaning is also acceptable. Standard and king sizes are available.
Parachute offers free shipping to all 50 states, as well as Army and Air Post Office locations. You may return the pillow for a full refund within 60 days of your original order, even if it has been used or cleaned. A three-year warranty is also included with each purchase.
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Our next pick is the Natural Nights 750 Fill Power Goose Down from Down & Feather Company. Composed of premium white down clusters encased in a cover of organic Egyptian cotton, this pillow offers the traditional feel of a down pillow. The core does not contain any chambers of baffles, so your head will sink very deeply into the pillow. You can choose between four different firmness options which also vary by loft, making the pillow a good option whether you sleep on your side, back, stomach, or a combination of the three.
Durability is another major strength of this pillow. The cover is made from organic Egyptian cotton that holds up very well over time and should prevent the fill from escaping. The white Hungarian goose down clusters offer 750-fill power, indicating a very dense and plush feel. The downside to these high-quality materials is limited care options – spot clean the pillow if necessary, but never wash or dry it in a machine.
These pillows are quite expensive, as well; prices vary by size and loft, but expect to pay at least $300. Down & Feather Company incentivizes customers with a 30-night sleep trial and a free pillow adjustment as part of their return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty for added peace of mind.
Down feathers, or simply just down, are the soft inner plumage found beneath coarser exterior feathers of ducks and geese. Ducklings and goslings are entirely covered in down when they are very young; as they age, the exterior feathers will develop. Since down’s primary purpose is to insulate birds against the cold, the material has become very popular in jackets, vests, gloves, and other garments intended for cold weather. Down is also exceptionally soft and lightweight, making it ideal for pillows, comforters, and other bedding accessories. Some products contain 100 percent down and are labeled as such, but most feature a blend of down and feathers.
The plush feel of down pillows causes them to sink deeply beneath your head and neck while you sleep. This distinguishes down pillows from other pillow types – such as memory foam, latex, and buckwheat – that feel firmer and provide stronger support. Goose down typically comes in thicker clusters. As a result, goose down pillows often feel plusher and more insulating than those filled with duck down.
Read on to learn more about how to find the best down feather pillows. This guide will discuss price expectations, size availability, pros and cons for sleepers, and ethical considerations for this type of pillow.
Most down pillows offer a similar feel characterized by exceptional plushness and deep sinkage beneath the head and neck. However, there are subtle differences between these pillow models that make them better suited for some types of sleepers and less suited for others. Important considerations include the type of down used, ratio of down to feathers, cover material, loft, and price-point. We also encourage shoppers to research the down and feather harvesting practices of different companies to ensure their pillows and other products are ethically sourced and manufactured.
While misleading claims and specs are widely used throughout the mattress and bedding industry, this problem is particularly common with products containing down. Some pillows contain 100 percent down, but most contain a blend of down and feathers from the same type of bird. The feathers provide more support to stabilize the pillow and prevent excessive sinkage.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates how down and feather pillows and other products are labeled. According to the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL), pillows containing at least 75 percent down require the percentage of down to be listed on the product tag. If a pillow contains less than 75 percent down, then percentages for both down and feather fill must both be listed. Only pillows that contain 100 percent down can carry this listing.
Below, you’ll find the most important considerations to take into account when shopping for a down pillow.
Loft, or thickness, affects how supportive the pillow feels. Side sleepers generally need more loft in order to align the head and neck with the spine, which in turn reduces pressure throughout the body. Back sleepers need some loft to keep their body on an even plane, but too much can elevate the head and create neck and shoulder pain. For most stomach sleepers, a low-loft down pillow allows them to rest comfortably without contorting their head too much.
As we discussed above, 100 percent down pillows can be found but they are somewhat scarce and usually quite expensive. High feather content in a down pillow may drive down the price-point and make the pillow more supportive, but this can cause the pillow to feel less plush. For most sleepers, 50 to 80 percent down is the sweet spot – you’ll feel soft cushioning of down without sacrificing feather support for the head and neck.
Support is tied to both loft and down/feather content. For any given sleeper, the pillow should keep the head and neck upright and even with the rest of the body. Other factors like head size and sleep position can change how supportive a pillow feels, too. It’s important to note that traditional down pillows sink a bit and do not offer the same support as pillows with sturdier fill materials, such as memory foam, latex, or buckwheat hulls.
How soft or firm you prefer your pillow to be is likely tied to your sleep position and head/shoulder dimensions. When browsing different down pillows, look for the “fill power” of each model. This indicates how dense the down fill is and, consequently, how firm or soft the pillow will feel. A lofty down pillow with high fill power will probably be the firmest option – but even then, down pillows tend to feel softer compared to other pillow types.
While down molds closely to the head and neck, the material doesn’t conform evenly to provide support and alleviate pressure quite like foam or latex. Since down pillows tend to sink a bit, some sleepers may experience added or increased pressure as their head falls back.
Most down pillows are sold in traditional standard, queen, and king sizes, all of which have a rectangular shape. Some brands offer body pillows padded with down and feather fill, as well, but these models are fairly rare. Contoured and orthopedic down pillows are virtually non-existent; in order to reduce neck and shoulder pain, these pillows are constructed from foams, latex, and other denser materials.
The average down pillow costs between $80 and $200 in a standard or queen size. Expect to pay more for pillows with 100 percent down content or a high content of goose down. Those with higher ratios of feather fill will typically cost less.
The quality of a down pillow can affect how it performs in different areas. Dense down with a high fill power will give the pillow a fuller shape that requires less fluffing and shaking on your part. Cover quality is also important, since shell fabrics that deteriorate quickly can cause the down and feathers to escape and essentially ruin the pillow.
Moldability refers to how snuggly a pillow is and whether it can be scrunched into different shapes to provide more or less support. Down pillows are very moldable due to their soft fill. They are a great option for people who like snuggling with a pillow or prefer a bolster between their knees.
Since down insulates birds beneath their exterior feathers, you may notice more heat buildup with down pillows. That said, these pillows generally don’t sleep as warm as pillows with polyfoam or memory foam fill. The composition of the cover can play a role in temperature regulation since some fabrics – such as organic cotton and cotton percale – are more breathable than others.
Down pillows offer an exceptionally plush and lightweight feel that distinguish them from other pillow types. Some sleepers find the softness and sinking effect quite comfortable – but for others, the pillows do not provide enough support to the head and neck. And while down pillows can provide above-average insulation in colder weather, the insulating properties of down cause them to sleep excessively warm for some people.
We recommend down pillows to anyone who feels most comfortable on a very soft surface that sinks deeply beneath the head and neck. However, how much you like or dislike lying on a down pillow may depend on your sleep position, body type, head size, and other factors. Our picks for who is and isn’t suited to a down pillow include the following:
Who is suited:
Who is not suited:
Down pillows are widely available in the standard, queen, and king sizes. Although some brands offer down and feather body pillows, these models are much less common. Next, we’ll discuss the most common pillow sizes and dimensions. Please note: the dimensions listed below may vary by a few inches, depending on the manufacturer.
Standard: The standard size typically measures 20 inches wide by 26 inches long. This size is ideal for people who sleep on a twin, twin XL, or full mattress, as well as couples that share a queen, king, or California king. Standards are quite common.
Super Standard: The super standard size measures 20 inches wide by 28 inches long, giving sleepers a bit more space than a traditional standard. This size is not particularly common, but some brands offer “standard” sizes that are technically super standards based on their measurements.
Queen: Another very common size, the queen measures 20 inches wide and 30 inches long. If you tend to change sleep positions or toss and turn, the queen offers a bit of extra space compared to the standard.
King: A typical king size pillow measures 20 inches wide and 36 inches long, so this will be an ideal size for anyone who moves around frequently in bed. Keep in mind that this size will take up most of the surface of a twin or twin XL mattress, so you may only need one if your bed is this size.
Body Pillow: A body pillow is quite long – usually 54 inches or longer – but its width will be about 20 inches. You can sleep with a body pillow beneath your head while snuggling with it, a favored position among many pregnant women. Unfortunately, you’ll have a hard time finding body pillows made from authentic down. Down alternative body pillows are much more common.
A manufacturer that offers ethically sourced and cruelty-free down and feather products should carry a certification attesting to these qualities. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is considered one of the most prominent certifying organizations for this type of material.
In recent years, manufacturers of down and feather products have faced added scrutiny for how these materials are harvested from ducks and geese. As noted during an in-depth report from CBS News, plucking down and feathers from live birds can leave bloody wounds and open sores on the animals. Inhumane living conditions for animals and force-feeding practices are other issues that have come under attack from animal rights activists.
The RDS carries strict criteria. In order to earn this certification, manufacturers cannot pluck down or feathers from live birds or force-feed the animals. The RDS also requires “holistic respect for animal welfare,” which means the birds must be treated humanely from the time they hatch until they are slaughtered. The RDS awards this certification after thoroughly auditing the manufacturer during a series of onsite visits, animal inspections, and staff interviews.
Many manufacturers claim their down products are ethically produced, but you should still ask to see certifications that prove these products are made humanely.
How much do down pillows cost?
You can usually find a standard or queen size down pillow in the range of $80 to $200. However, fill content can affect the price since pillows containing 100 percent down tend to be quite expensive, whereas pillows with a high content of feather fill often cost much less.
How do I clean a down pillow?
Many down pillows should only be spot cleaned or dry cleaned if stains occur. Washing them in a machine can damage the down and also cause rips in the cover that lead to escaping fill. However, you can place most down pillows in a dryer to recover their shape. Some down pillows can be washed and dried in your household machine, so be sure to check the care tag just in case.
Where can I buy a down pillow? Down pillows are widely available through online and brick-and-mortar sellers. However, you’ll want to check the product specs to ensure you aren’t buying a “down” pillow that contains 90 percent feathers.
How long do down pillows last?
Most down pillows are well made and offer decent longevity, so expect them to last at least two to three years. Cover durability is a key concern. If the fabric does not hold up well over time and the seams come apart, then the pillow may lose some of its fill. You can use a pillowcase or protector to extend the lifespan, too.
Are down pillows adjustable?
Most down pillows cannot be adjusted by adding or removing fill, but many manufacturers offer multiple loft options and allow you to exchange the pillow if it feels too thick or thin. You should never attempt to adjust a down pillow yourself unless it is explicitly designed for customizable loft. Otherwise you could permanently damage the pillow.
Do down pillows have an odor?
The treatments and cleaning procedures for down and feather fill can result in a distinct odor for new down pillows. However, most people say these smells dissipate within a few days. Try placing the down pillow in a dryer before using it for the first time. This will help its shape expand and flush out unwanted odors.
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