A well-appointed bed should have a supportive mattress, high-quality linens, and bed pillows that provide comfort and promote an appropriate sleeping position. Many find that feather pillows provide the feeling they want when they’re trying to drift into slumber.
The best feather pillows are typically made of goose or duck feathers, the down of these birds, or a combination of the two. The feathers provide support while the down provides unparalleled softness.
But even among feather pillows, there are many types. The best feather pillows for one person might contain more feathers for greater firmness, while another person might look for a pillow that is soft enough to sink into.
Those looking for a more luxurious sleep experience should take a look at these top picks for the best feather pillows for a well-dressed bedroom.
- BEST OVERALL: Continental Bedding 100% Goose Down Pillows
- RUNNER UP: Royal Hotel Down Pillow
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: puredown Natural Goose Down Feather Pillow Inserts
- ECO PICK: Lincove Classic Natural Goose Down Pillow Set of 2
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: ComfyDown Goose Down Travel Pillow
- ALSO CONSIDER: Beckham Luxury Linens Hotel Collection Bed Pillows
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Feather Pillows
The best feather pillows will fit right into your bedroom and make your sleep much more comfortable. To that end, look at a variety of factors, such as size, fill level, loft, moldability, materials, and more.
The best feather pillows come in a variety of sizes. A standard pillow of 20 inches by 26 inches is the most common in all types of pillows. Super standard is a bit larger at 20 inches by 28 inches. Queen-size pillows are also common and measure 20 inches by 30 inches.
King-size pillows are 20 inches by 36 inches, work well on a king-size bed, and are also suitable for those who like to sit up in bed with a little support. Body pillows are about 20 inches wide and 54 inches long or more, which means they are great for cuddling up with in bed.
They can also work wonders for pregnant individuals or those who have some sort of injury or ailment that requires body support. Finally, there is the euro pillow, which is 20 inches by 20 inches square and is often used as a decorative pillow.
Feather pillows are often a blend of feathers and down. The feathers come from ducks or geese and are the rougher outer plumage that one can readily see. The down is made up of the smaller, softer feathers closer to the body and on the breast of the duck or goose.
In most pillows, the feathers are in the middle to provide firmer support, while the down is on the outer edges of the pillow to provide the right level of softness. Those who find they are allergic to down or feathers might opt for a down alternative, which is simply puffballs of polyester that mimic the feel of down.
How a person sleeps can help determine the best feather pillows for their bed. The idea is to keep the neck and back in alignment as much as possible for maximum relaxation and comfort. Side sleepers need a pillow with relatively high “loft”—a combination of pillow height and firmness—to keep this alignment.
Those who tend to sleep on their stomach or back may prefer a pillow with a lower level loft.
Those who are all over the place during sleep might want to opt for more than one pillow so they can switch them out as necessary through the night.
This term refers to the thickness, or height, of the pillow. Some might pick up a feather pillow, feel the softness and immediately decide a thicker pillow is better, but that’s not necessarily the case.
It all depends upon spinal alignment, and sometimes a higher loft isn’t a good thing, such as with those who sleep on their backs or stomachs most of the time. Those who sleep on their sides are the ones who need the higher loft.
Consider the “fill power” of the pillow. Fill power refers to the density of the pillow, measured by how many cubic inches goes into one ounce of down. The higher the fill power, the loftier the pillow will be.
Expect to find feather pillows available in soft, medium, and firm. Some pillows are designed with support chambers inside, which hold the feathers or down in place and can make for a firmer pillow. Additional feather fill can also affect the firmness, as feathers don’t compress as much as down.
To that end, most firm pillows are made with more feathers, while soft pillows are made with more down. Consider the support, pressure relief, and loft you might need to be comfortable at night. It might be best to start out with medium support to determine your specific needs.
Those who prefer the option to mold their pillow to their head will want to go with down fill. This is because down is much more malleable and moldable than feathers, allowing the sleeper to make adjustments to the pressure by simply moving the pillow to a more comfortable position.
Being able to shape a pillow can be especially helpful for those who have some sort of injury or physical ailment that makes it more difficult to find a comfortable position.
Support and Pressure Relief
Those who need strong support might want to consider a feather pillow that is made of mostly feathers, with a little down on the edges. This helps ensure a pillow that will stand up to the weight of the user’s head over time.
It might also provide some pressure relief, preventing strain on the neck and shoulders while using the pillow. The nature of feathers and down means that it compresses much more easily than pillows made of other materials, such as memory foam. If pressure relief isn’t up to par, look for a feather or down pillow that has more feathers.
Those who hate waking up to a pillow that is just too hot will be pleased to know that feathers and down tend to be cooler than other materials. For instance, latex pillows or memory foam are usually much warmer. To ensure you have the right type of pillow for a “hot” sleeper, go with a cooling pillow. Most manufacturers will make this feature clear in their description of the product.
Regardless of the cooling factor, down and feathers serve as natural insulation, so it’s possible that some might notice more warmth as the night goes on. In this case, a proper pillowcase is important. Look for a cotton pillow cover that will wick away moisture and allow for breathability, thus keeping air circulating a bit through the pillow during the night.
Our Top Picks
This medium-firm pillow is made of 100 percent goose down and boasts a soft and luxurious Egyptian cotton shell. Each contains 24 ounces of European goose down with a 550 power fill. Meanwhile, reinforced seams and premium stitching help ensure that you don’t end up on the receiving end of any annoying pokes from feather ends.
The pillows are made in the USA and meet the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for using down only from animals that have been treated humanely.
This luxurious set of pillows from Royal Hotel is available in standard, queen, and king sizes. With 41 ounces of fill in the standard and queen sizes, these luxury pillows feature a 500 thread-count cover and double silky piping around the edge for a finished look.
The overfilled pillows are exceptionally soft and malleable, even for active sleepers, with 75 percent down. They arrive in a zippered package; fluffing them a bit with a run through the dryer is recommended to prepare them for use. Don’t throw these in the washer, however! These pillows are dry-clean only.
Look no further for a budget-friendly two-pack of RDS-compliant feather pillows with medium support. This pair offers luxury at an affordable price. While the shell of each pillow is made of 100 percent Egyptian cotton, the interior is comprised of 85 percent goose feathers (for support) and 15 percent down (for softness). 20 inches by 30 inches in size, puredown’s pillows are each filled with 39 ounces of feathers and down that has been cleaned and disinfected.
From Lincove, this set of two luxury down pillows is hypoallergenic, while meeting the Responsible Down Standard (for responsibly sourced down) as well as the OEKO-TEX Standard (for being free of harmful chemicals). The pillows covers are made of 600 thread-count cotton, and the down inside boasts 800 fill power.
This down pillow from ComfyDown is smaller than most other options, but for good reason—it’s specially designed as a sleeping companion for travel. Made in the USA, the ComfyDown pillow features a 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton cover and 100 percent European goose down with 800 fill power. The filling can be easily molded for personalized comfort and support, and the pillow’s smooth, down-proof seams prevent feathers from escaping. Another benefit is that cleaning this pillow is easy: simply pop it into a front-loading washer and use the “delicate” cycle.
Some individuals are allergic to feathers or down. That’s where down alternatives come in. If you’re looking for a down-alternative pillow, consider this set from Beckham Luxury Linens. Filled with plush, cooling gel fibers, these pillows are resistant to fading and staining, in addition to being hypoallergenic. Bounce-back construction, a double-edged sewing design, and a silky 250 thread-count sateen cover help maintain comfort as time goes by. These OEKO-TEX Standard 100-certified pillows can be cleaned in a washing machine with cold water on the “delicate” cycle.
FAQs About Feather Pillows
Now that you’ve learned about what makes the best feather pillows, you might still have some questions, such as how to clean your pillows. Here are the answers.
Q. What is the difference between feather pillows and down pillows?
Feather pillows are made with the outer plumage of birds, usually geese or ducks. Down pillows are made with the inner, softer plumage. Feathers tend to be more firm, while down is very soft and compressible.
Q. Are feather pillows adjustable?
In a way, yes. Feather pillows, especially those filled largely with down, can be molded and shaped by hand to provide more comfortable sleeping positions. Those with more firmness aren’t as malleable.
Q. Can you wash feather pillows?
Yes, but be careful. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations to be certain. Generally speaking, feather pillows can be machine-washed, so long as the washer is able to remain balanced during its cycle. Washing two pillows at a time often helps prevent the washer from becoming unbalanced. (Washing in a front-loading washer also helps.) Dry the pillows thoroughly, using dryer balls to maintain the fluffiness of the pillow.
Q. How often should I replace my feather pillows?
A high-quality down pillow can last up to 15 years with proper care. Lower-quality pillows of this type might last only 1 or 2 years. Use a protective case as well as a pillowcase to help the pillow last longer.