Updated: June 8, 2015

Best Down Pillows

Finding the Right Pillow - Advantages of Down Pillows..
Sleep, perchance to dream. But if your sleep is perchance to toss and turn and wake up groggy, you probably have a love/hate relationship with bedtime. Sleep should be restorative and it should help you get into the right frame of mind to greet - or tackle, depending on your attitude - the new day. If it doesn't, then a change is definitely in order. You could buy a $2000 memory foam mattress. Getting sleepy just thinking about that one, aren't you? But then the price is there to throw cold water in your face. Another way to get better quality, more luxurious sleep is to get a great down pillow. It's far less expensive, but it will go a long way in making bed a welcoming, comfortable place to spend a few hours. In fact, for many people, the pillow is much more important than the mattress. Choosing the right down pillows is important so you get the best quality for your money and the best quality for your sleep. But what kind of feather should you be looking for? What fill power? All this can get confusing. Here are some buying tips for down pillows.

down pillows


Why Should You Buy Down Pillows?

If you have ever shopped for pillows, you know that the selection can be overwhelming. If you're like most people, you pick the one that seems fluffiest, most comfortable, and within your price range and go on your way. But we all know what happens to those fluffy pillows within a few weeks. They're flat. You need to double it over, which is uncomfortable, or buy another one, which is a hassle. Or it's too thick and you sleep with your neck propped up. While there are some extremely good synthetic fiber pillows, they do tend to wear unevenly, fail to contour to the body, sleep hot, release chemicals over time, retain moisture, or become hard. All of this can make you uncomfortable, as well as throw your neck and spine out of alignment, which results in poor sleep and aches and pains in the morning. Down pillows, on the other hand, can be a tremendous investment for several reasons:
  • They are soft and comfortable.
  • They can be molded to suit your neck and spine. ("Molded" means you shake it up, fluff it up, and squish it until it's perfect.)
  • They are washable and very durable if cared for properly.
  • Down is very light, and the filaments expand and form clusters to create air pockets. This traps air and makes a natural, warm insulator. But does this mean they "sleep hot"?
  • Down also regulates warmth and wicks away moisture so you are cool and refreshed.
  • It is a natural and sustainable material.
You may have seen down comforters and pillows that are made of "down alternative." This is because some people have allergies to down. Or do they? It could be that they have allergies to dust and dust mites that can get into pillows that are not cleaned properly. The down itself is most often not the problem, according to researchers. You can find down pillows that are thoroughly washed and sterilized to prevent dust mites, and you can care for the pillows as well to keep this from becoming a problem. Do you need that down alternative? Chances are you just need a great real down pillow.

Picking the Right Down Pillow

The first thing to be aware of when buying a down pillow is what type of fill you are getting. Down is the soft feathers that are under the outer feathers on geese, ducks, and other water birds. It is the fluffy stuff on chicks. There are also feather pillows, which are made from the outer feathers. These can still be a great choice, but they do have the hollow quills and you may feel that occasionally. Down pillows can be up to 30 percent feathers and still be legally called down, so if you are partial to total down, that is something to look for before you buy.

A great all down pillow is the Vancouver White Goose Down Pillow. There is no doubt that this is a luxury down pillow: it is made of European white goose down, has a 330 thread count sateen weave 100 percent cotton cover (which is leak free), and features double piping and stitching for ultimate durability and quality. The down is washed and rewashed to ensure that it is hypoallergenic. The price also leaves no doubt that this is a luxury pillow. It lists for $150, but you can find it for $90 on Amazon (pillows don't weigh much and are easy to ship!).

The Vancouver White Goose Down Pillow also has 600+ fill power. What does this mean? Down is different; down from mature birds has better insulating properties and is loftier. The fill power is the volume an ounce of down takes up. And you guessed it, as the fill power goes up, so does the quality, and so does the price. 700-800 is the best of the best. The down comes from cold climate geese and provides the most warmth and the lowest weight. It will feel like you are sleeping on air. And it should: the King Fraser Imperial White Goose Down Pillow from Natural Comfort costs $170 for its hypoallergenic white goose down pillow, 100 percent cotton 300 thread count cover, and its anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, and odor removing treatments. This pillow came from only the best birds, you can be sure.

You can get the same fill power with a less expensive pillow from Downlite. For just $50, you can get 700 fill power from French Pyrenees white duck down. It also has a 300 thread count and soft cotton cover. The difference in price is due to the birds: white geese are preferred. But Downlite receives consistently positive reviews from Buzzilions and other consumer websites, so you can sleep tight and a little richer. The most affordable fill power that doesn't sacrifice quality is 500 - 550, though you can find some relatively inexpensive 600+ fill power for less than $50. For a down-alternative pillow, check out the ever popular Dream Supreme gel-filled pillows -- at $25, they are some of the most popular pillows at Amazon, with more than 250 reviewers giving them 4 out of 5 stars on average.

Down Feather Mix Pillows

Down and feather mixes are also great, and they are less expensive. A good one to try is the White Goose Feather and Goose Down Pillows from Miller. It has 95 percent goose feather and 5 percent goose down, a 100 percent cotton 240 thread count cover, and it has undergone an antibacterial treatment to reduce allergens. Amazon reviewers call these pillows "great," "the bargain of the year," and say you can't go wrong, especially for the price. Most noted that while you can tell the difference between this and an all down pillow, this was an excellent value, very comfortable, fluffy, and well worth the price. A set of two costs only $20.

When buying a down pillow, set your price limit and keep your preferences in mind. You can find luxurious all down pillows or great feather/down pillows that will offer superior comfort. Down can help make your sleep more pleasant and satisfying. For the pillow of your dreams, browse the entire collection of down pillows here.