The Best Down Pillows for a Cozy Bed

The right down pillow can softly support the head and neck in nearly every sleep position. 

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Best Down Pillows

Photo: amazon.com

The softness of a feathery down pillow can ease you into a good night’s rest. Down pillows are lightweight, moldable, and comfortable for different sleeping positions. Your unique comfort preferences and sleep style will determine which is the best down pillow for you. Deciding on the right loft (height), firmness, and type of down can lead to better nights ahead. Read on to learn more about down pillows and why these recommendations are among the best available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lincove White Down Luxury Sleeping Pillow
  2. RUNNER UP: downluxe Goose Feather Down Pillow
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Homelike Moment Down Feather Pillow
  4. UPGRADE PICK: East Coast Bedding Premium European Goose Down Pillow
  5. BEST COOLING: puredown Natural Feather Pillow with Silk Cover
  6. BEST FOR SIDE SLEEPERS: Queen Anne The Original Pillow Goose and Duck Blend
  7. BEST FOR BACK SLEEPERS: puredown Natural Goose Down Feather Pillow
  8. BEST FOR STOMACH SLEEPERS: AIKOFUL Premium Adjustable Goose Down Feather Pillow
Best Down Pillows

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Down Pillows

Down feathers are a bird’s innermost insulating layer. These soft feathers are found mostly on the stomach and breast, underneath the firmer, stiffer outer feathers—those visible from the outside. Down feathers billow out with soft tendrils. It is these wispy tendrils that give a pillow height and provide temperature regulation. The type of down used in a pillow determines its quality, loft, durability, and temperature regulation abilities.

As for where down comes from, birds slaughtered for meat provide a good portion of the world’s down. Pillow makers also source down that’s harvested from the bird’s living space and nest. In addition, some manufacturers source feathers from birds who are live-plucked. The process doesn’t kill the bird, but it’s not considered a humane practice. If you want to ensure that your pillow uses humanely-sourced down, look for RDS-certified pillows. The Responsible Down Standard is a global, independent standard that safeguards the welfare of ducks and geese.

Duck Down

Of all the types of down, common duck down is the most affordable. Since more people worldwide eat duck than goose, duck down is more readily available than goose or eiderdown, which is harvested from the wild eider duck.

Duck down comes in smaller clusters than goose down, so it takes more duck down to achieve the same loft as goose down. That means a duck down pillow will be heavier than a goose down pillow of the same loft. That’s why you’re most likely to find goose down in lightweight camping gear.

Duck down provides good loft and cushioning. Unless you are a true connoisseur of luxury down pillows, you likely won’t notice much difference between duck and goose.

Goose Down

Goose down was the preferred filler for pillows and comforters for decades. Geese are larger than ducks, and so are their clusters of down feathers. These larger clusters provide more loft and higher fill power than from the same amount of duck down. The result is a higher-quality pillow that is light, durable, and better able to keep your head cool.

Eiderdown

While common goose down provides better quality feathers than duck, that’s not true in the case of eiderdown. Eiderdown comes from the eider duck that’s native to Iceland. The eider duck adapted to live in a cold climate, resulting in down of exceptional quality, loft, and insulation.

Since this duck species is limited to one particular area, eiderdown pillows are the most expensive pillows on the market. They have the best insulation and highest fill power, but that quality comes at a higher price point.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Down Pillow

The comfort of a down pillow depends on the down’s loft, down-to-feather ratio, and fill power. Your sleep position, standard sleep temperature, and comfort preferences will also help determine which is the best down pillow for you.

Down-to-Feather Ratio

Real, natural down is pricey. For that reason, many down pillows are a mix of less expensive outer bird feathers and down. Most manufacturers list the ratio of down to feathers in the product description. A higher proportion of down makes for a higher-quality pillow. A 100 percent down pillow will be the softest and most durable.

Fill Power

Any true down product lists the down’s fill power. Fill power is measured by the number of cubic inches that an ounce of down can fill. For example, if an ounce of down can fill 500 cubic inches, the fill power on the label will be 500. A high fill power indicates larger down clusters and higher quality.

Larger down clusters trap more air for better temperature regulation and insulation. They also retain their loft and firmness better than down with a low fill-power. The lightest weight pillows will also use high fill-power down, because it takes less down to achieve the desired loft. Fill powers are generally categorized as either high (over 650), medium (400 to 650), or low (under 400).

Loft

A pillow’s loft refers to its height or thickness. A low-loft pillow is thin, and a high-loft pillow is fluffy or tall. High fill-power down has a higher loft for the amount of down it contains. It takes more of a low fill-power down to achieve and maintain its loft. Lofts are generally categorized by thickness: low (under 3 inches), medium (3 to 6 inches), high (over 6 inches).

The right loft for you depends on your size, preferences, and sleep style. Stomach sleepers benefit from a lower loft pillow to maintain a neutral spine position and prevent their lower back from bowing. High-loft pillows are recommended for side sleepers to keep their spine aligned. Back sleepers might go with something in between.

Firmness

Pillows are either soft, medium, or firm. The one that feels comfortable to you depends on your sleep position, size, and preferences.

  • Stomach sleepers benefit from soft pillows, which keep their head closer to the mattress and their spine in a neutral position.
  • Side sleepers often need a firmer pillow to fill the space between their head and the mattress.
  • Back sleepers often do well with medium firmness because these pillows support the head and neck, conforming to the sleeper’s shape.

With that said, preferences vary from person to person. For example, some side sleepers like a soft, thin pillow that they can fold underneath their head. Consider how you sleep when deciding on a firmness level.

Pressure Relief 

Relaxed neck and shoulder muscles allow for the best of sleep. Down pillows can relieve pressure around the head and neck because down naturally cradles the body. Down also has the benefit of moving within the pillow, so that you can adjust the down’s distribution to better fit your body and sleep position.

Temperature Regulation 

For most, waking up hot is not pleasant. In a natural environment, down helps regulate a bird’s body temperature. It does the same thing when in a pillow. The down clusters allow heat and air to flow away from your body, so it doesn’t stay trapped. Higher loft downs have the best breathability and temperature regulation, though almost all downs perform well.

Ease of Cleaning

You can wash down pillows on the gentle setting in a washing machine. Down can withstand water, and can tolerate cool to moderate temperatures. However, warm or hot water, and warm or high heat, can shrink the pillow’s cover. In fact, the pillow cover may have more effect on ease of cleaning than the down. For most down pillows, cleaning is fairly simple and straightforward. But, to make sure the pillow isn’t dry-clean-only, it’s worth checking the manufacturer’s instructions, which are usually listed in the product description.

Sleeping Position 

The best down pillow for you depends heavily on your sleep position. Stomach sleepers typically prefer a soft, low-loft pillow to keep their spine in a relatively neutral position. Side sleepers tend to do well on firmer, high-loft pillows. For back sleepers, medium loft and firmness provide a balance of cushioning and conforming to the head and neck.

Our Top Picks

This guide outlines recommendations for some of the best down pillows available. More affordable options offer down mixed with standard feathers for the softness and temperature regulation of down at a lower price. Choose among these high-quality down pillows with your shopping considerations and budget in mind.

Best Overall

Best Down Pillows Lincove
Photo: amazon.com

The Lincove pillow contains high-quality, 800 fill-power goose down. That’s what gives this pillow a lightweight and fluffy feel. With the proper care, a pillow of this fill power can hold its loft for years. Each pillow is covered in a 600-thread count, cotton sateen cover for a smooth feel. This high thread-count cotton is soft and durable to match the quality of the down. The Lincove is RDS-certified and comes in soft, medium, or firm fill in standard, queen, or king sizes.

Runner-Up

Best Down Pillows downluxe
Photo: amazon.com

A mix of 10 percent goose down and 90 percent goose feathers provides many of a full down pillow’s best qualities. The down and feather mix makes this two-pack of pillows significantly less costly than a single full down option. These soft pillows can conform to your head and neck while keeping your head cool. The goose feathers provide a firmer loft, which side and back sleepers may prefer. A Jacquard 100 percent cotton cover protects the feathers and provides a soft sleep surface. The downluxe pillow comes in queen and king sizes.

Best Bang For The Buck

Best Down Pillows Homelike
Photo: amazon.com

The Homelike Moment pillow has a down-and-feather center surrounded by microfiber fill. The fill power outer boundary protects the sleeper from any feather shafts that could poke through from the center layer. Though only 5 percent down, you do get some of the softness and contouring of full down at a significantly lower price. The feathers are RDS certified, and the cover contains Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified textiles, which means they have been tested and found free of harmful chemicals. The Homelike Moment Down Feather Pillow is available in a pack of two in standard, queen, and king sizes in medium firmness.

Upgrade Pick

Best Down Pillows EastCoast
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At 800 fill power, these goose down pillows are extra soft and lofty. The loft of the down is an upgrade even over pillows of similar fill power. It’s a truly fluffy pillow. However, the quality and the loft shouldn’t be confused with firmness. This relatively soft pillow may also be appropriate for stomach and back sleepers. The 400 thread-count, 100 percent cotton cover provides extra breathability and gets softer with time, but may shrink if washed or dried in warm or hot temperatures. The two-pack of luxury pillows comes at a higher price point in standard, queen, and king sizes.

Best Cooling

Best Down Pillows puredown
Photo: amazon.com

This natural feather and down pillow contains 10 percent down and 90 percent feathers for a down feel at a lower price. It’s the cover made of bamboo and charcoal that gives the pillow a cool feel and moisture-wicking abilities. Bamboo ranks up there with cotton and linen for breathability, which helps keep your head cool while you sleep. The puredown Natural Feather Pillow is soft with a medium loft. Its machine washable cover zips off when it’s time for cleaning, so you can wash the pillow and cover separately. This pillow is RDS-certified, offered in standard, queen, and king sizes.

Best For Side Sleepers

Best Down Pillows Queen
Photo: amazon.com

Side sleepers need a firmer pillow with a higher loft to support their neck. The Queen Anne pillow comes in three firmness options and three sizes (standard, queen, and king), so side sleepers can find the right firmness for their comfort and the right size for their mattress. This pillow doesn’t skimp on high-quality down. It contains a 650 fill-power blend of duck and goose down. The result is a soft, durable pillow with good temperature control. The Original Pillow comes with a 100 percent, 300 thread count cotton cover.

Best For Back Sleepers

Best Down Pillows Natural
Photo: amazon.com

Back sleepers benefit from a pillow that gently cradles the head and neck. The puredown is a medium-firm pillow made of 5 percent down and 95 percent feathers, so it softly supports the head and neck through changing sleep positions. The feather-down blend gives a touch of that downy loft at an affordable price. The puredown pillow is available in double, queen, and king, and sources RDS-certified feathers. Available in a pack of two, these pillows come with 100 percent soft cotton covers.

Best For Stomach Sleepers

Best Down Pillows AIKOFUL
Photo: amazon.com

Stomach sleepers need a low loft pillow to prevent the hips from sinking and lower back from bowing. The AIKOFUL is actually three thin pillows inside a single zippered pillowcase. That allows you to pick the right loft for you—a single soft, thin pillow; medium loft with two pillows; or higher loft with all three. With a blend of microfiber fill, down, and feathers, this is not a pure down pillow. However, you still get some of the soft feel of down in a pillow that you can customize to your preferences. The Premium Adjustable Goose Feather Down Pillow is available for purchase individually or in a pack of two.

FAQs About Down Pillows

If you’re new to down pillows, you might have a few questions about finding the right one. Once you know the basics, you have the knowledge to find pillows with the right characteristics, loft, and fill power for your comfort and budget.

Q. How do I choose a down pillow?

Start with your budget. Down can get pricey, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may need to look for a pillow with a combination of feathers and down. Next, look for a pillow with a loft that’s most likely to accommodate your preferred sleep position. Finally, consider the down’s fill power. High fill-power down can last for years if cared for properly.

Q. What are the pros and cons of down pillows?

Down pillows are malleable to the sleeper’s preferred shape, hold this shape well, and provide good temperature regulation. These pillows are durable and can last years if cared for correctly. On the other hand, quality down can be pricey. Down pillows are not as firm as other types and require regular fluffing.

Q. Do you get proper neck support from a typical down pillow?

Adequate neck support depends on your sleep style, the pillow’s loft, and firmness. Stomach sleepers typically do well on a down pillow because they don’t need much loft or firmness. By contrast, side sleepers may find down pillows too soft to adequately support the neck. However, if you’re a side sleeper who likes to fold the pillow, a malleable down pillow might work well. Back sleepers often benefit from a medium-firmness down pillow.

Q. How can you tell if down is ethically sourced? 

The only way to be certain the down has been ethically sourced is to look for third-party certifications like the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). This certification, and others like it, ensure that feather harvesters do not force-feed, live-pluck, or otherwise harm the animals unnecessarily.

Q. How do you clean a down pillow?

Down pillows can be cleaned in a washing machine on the gentle cycle with mild liquid detergent. To maintain balance in the washing machine, wash, at least, two pillows in the same load. Consider adding an extra rinse cycle to make sure all of the detergent comes out. Never use fabric softener, as it can coat the down.

It’s important to get the feathers completely dry without burning them. If the feathers stay wet, they can mold and mildew. If temperatures get too high in the dryer, they can scorch. It may take several cycles through the dryer at a lower temperature setting to completely dry a down pillow.

Q. How long do down pillows last?

With regular washing every 6 months, down pillows can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.