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Looking for a sign you’ve officially made it to adulthood? Well, you’re reading an article about down pillows (and we’d wager you’re kinda pumped about it).
These luxe headrests are definitely an investment — the kind of thing you might get when you decide that after working damn hard all day long, you deserve a super plush space to chill at night.
But considering how pricey down pillows can be, you probably want to make sure you’re buying the right ones. That means factoring in how they’ll work for your sleep position and any allergy concerns you might have. Looking into the ethical side of things might be important too. Down is taken from geese and ducks, after all.
Our guide covers all those factors and more. Here’s a look at the top down pillows for every type of snoozer, including a budget pick that’ll give you a legit luxury feel without maxing out your bank account.
The best down pillows at a glance
- Best overall: Brooklinen Down Pillow
- Best down alternative: Snowe Down Alternative Pillow
- Best hypoallergenic: The Luxe Pillow Down and Feather
- Best firm: Cuddledown 800 Fill Power European White Goose Down Sateen Pillow
- Best for stomach sleepers: Boll & Branch Down Pillow
- Best budget: puredown Natural Goose Down Feather Pillow
- Best for side sleepers: Casper Original Pillow
- Best for back sleepers: Parachute Down Pillow
Here’s the criteria we used to pick this patch of plushy pillows:
- Percent down. No, not a down payment — the amount of down in the pillow. With the exception of the vegan-friendly down alternative option, every pillow on this list has at least 5 percent down — and most contain significantly more (although exact amounts aren’t always disclosed). While some pillows boast 100 percent down, these options are less common and tend to be super pricey. Down blended with feathers or even materials like polyester can give you the soft fluffiness you’re looking for without the sticker shock.
- Firmness. Since down typically isn’t known for providing the same support you might get from other pillow types, we wanted to make sure our pillow picks worked for specific sleep positions (like back, stomach, or side) and wouldn’t leave you aching in the morning.
- Vetted products only. We put every product we recommend through a thorough vetting process to make sure companies aren’t making any unsupported health claims (like omg this pillow cures sleep apnea!) or engaging in any shady business practices. All of the brands and products we recommend passed vetting like champs.
You can expect to pay at least $75 for a quality down pillow (yes, one pillow), and some luxury models are priced much higher. You’ll pay less for down alternative options and pillows that contain a tiny bit of down but are mostly feathers or other fills.
All prices are based on a standard-size pillow with soft density.
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$99
- $$$ = $100–$150
- $$$$ = over $150
Ready to dive into the nitty-gritty (er, super-soft) details? Here are the top down pillow picks for every type of sleeper.
Best overall down pillow
- Price: $$
- Firmness level: plush, mid-plush, or firm
- Fill materials: down and/or feathers
- Who it’s best for: any and everyone wanting a nice down pillow
Soft yet supportive, Brooklinen down pillows are available in three down-to-feather fill ratios based on whether you’re looking for soft, medium, or firm support. (The soft option is pure down clusters.) The cotton sateen shell means the surface stays cool, and double-stitched edges ensure that the pillow will hold up for years.
What reviewers say: While many reviewers LOVE the pillow, several reviews report that the mid-plush and firm options — which contain feathers — eventually start getting pokey. Some reviewers also say they have to fluff this pillow too much to get the plushness just right.
Best down alternative pillow
- Price: $$
- Firmness level: soft, medium, firm
- Fill materials: microfiber
- Who it’s best for: vegans
Down alternative is a good option when you want the feel of down but aren’t into the idea of actual feathers. This microfiber-filled pillow scores points for serving up a similar soft, plush feel with the added benefit of being vegan-friendly — but there are also medium and firm options available if you need the extra support. It’s hypoallergenic too.
What reviewers say: Lots of folks are fans of these pillows, but they do say that the soft ones have a tendency to go flat fairly quickly. The downside? It’s soft, but not quite as soft as actual down.
Best hypoallergenic down pillow
- Price: $$$
- Firmness level: soft
- Fill materials: feathers and down
- Who it’s best for: allergy-prone peeps
Allergens like microbes and dander can sometimes lurk in down, but hypoallergenic options seek to remove as much of these irritants from the down as possible. This supremely soft pillow has a waterfowl feather core surrounded by white goose down for loads of plushness, and it’s certified hypoallergenic. Bonus: It works for all sleep positions.
What reviewers say: Reviews are sparse and overwhelmingly positive, but there are a couple complaints that the pillow is too soft and flattens quickly, so you might feel like your head is sinking in a little.
Best firm down pillow
- Price: $$$$
- Firmness level: firm
- Fill materials: goose down
- Who it’s best for: people who like a firm pillow
Down and firmness don’t always go hand in hand. But this pillow delivers superior support, thanks to the super high fill power — a measure of how densely the down is packed. Also good: The filling comes from European white goose down, widely considered the best type. And the 450 thread count sateen cover feels cool and soft to the touch.
Looking for something ultra-soft? The super high fill power might mean this pillow feels a little too firm for you.
What reviewers say: There are several essays on the site about how this pillow literally changed the reviewer’s life, so let’s just say people are fans. They do wish it came with a fitted cover, though.
Best down pillow for stomach sleepers
- Price: $$$$
- Firmness level: soft, medium, or firm
- Fill materials: down
- Who it’s best for: stomach sleepers
Boll & Branch’s down fill is responsibly sourced from U.S. farms, and the folks who work to make the pillows are paid a fair wage. Just as important, this pillow feels really good, with a three-chamber construction that keeps it feeling plush while still maintaining its shape over time.
It also comes in a soft version that’s perf for stomach sleepers who need a flatter pillow to keep their spines aligned all night.
What reviewers say: They describe the pillow as “sumptuous,” “perfect,” and “like a cloud.” Um, sign us up! BUT some users say they can hear the down “crunching” when they change positions (TBH, this is pretty common with down — you either love it or you hate it).
Best budget down pillow
- Price: $$
- Firmness level: medium firm
- Fill materials: feather and down
- Who it’s best for: people on a budget
Filled with 95 percent goose feather and 5 percent goose down, this inexpensive pick offers a touch of downy softness for a price that’s easier to swallow. As a bonus, since it contains only a little bit of actual down, it sleeps cooler than most true goose down pillows.
What reviewers say: Overall, these inexpensive pillows are adored, but… expect to be plucking feathers from time-to-time. Also, though reviewers agree it’s a comfy pillow, it doesn’t have the softness of a real down pillow.
Best down pillow for side sleepers
- Price: $$
- Firmness level: medium
- Fill materials: polyester microfiber (down alternative)
- Who it’s best for: side sleepers
Side sleepers tend to sink into very soft pillows, which can leave you in a world of pain in the morning. This option from Casper is basically a pillow within a pillow — the innermost layer is firmer and more supportive and the outer layer is a super soft, down alternative fill. The supportive inner pillow prevents the pillow from flattening out while you sleep, so you won’t wake up with a crick in your neck.
What reviewers say: People go wild for this pillow, saying it’s the perfect mix of soft and supportive. Side-sleeping reviewers urge fellow lateral sleepers to splurge on this comfy cushion. The biggest downside is that it’s a down-alternative pillow rather than a true down pillow — but TBH it’s a fair tradeoff for such solid support.
Best down pillow for back sleepers
- Price: $$–$$$
- Firmness level: soft, medium, or firm
- Fill materials: down
- Who it’s best for: back sleepers
Back sleepers need a pretty firm headrest, which you can’t always get from down. With 750 fill power, Parachute’s densely packed pillow is on the firmer side, which means it’s more supportive than many other down options — especially if you choose the firm pillow.
Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for a down pillow for the ultra-soft feel of down, this pillow might be a little too firm for you.
What reviewers say: Some reviewers say it haves a really unpleasant smell at first, but most reviews are overwhelmingly positive. People with neck pain rave about it and say it’s def a down pillow to obsess over.
Ready to get down with down? Before hitting “add to cart,” here’s what to you should know:
- Regulations and certifications. The FTC requires all pillows marketed as “down” to contain at least 70 percent down, unless they specifically share the percentages of down to other materials. Other certs you may be interested in are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and Responsible Down Standard. Pillows that bear these certifications must meet the strict criteria set forth by these orgs — ensuring that your down pillow didn’t come from a *quack-pot* manufacturer.
- Loft. Loft is the height of a pillow. Low loft pillows are under 3 inches and high loft pillows are 5 inches or taller. Stomach sleepers usually want a lower loft, side sleepers usually prefer something higher, and back sleepers typically fall somewhere in between.
- Materials. Down? Down alternative? Feathers? Remember, a pillow that’s marketed as just “down” has to contain at least 70 percent down, while down alternative is a vegan alternative that can be made from different materials. Feathers are typically the filler used in down pillows that aren’t made of 100 percent down. The more down, the fluffier (and hotter) the pillow will feel.
- Fill ratio. Sometimes called fill power, this refers to how much space within the pillow one ounce of down takes up. These measurements commonly range from 600 to 850, with 850 being the fluffiest and most voluminous. Fill power affects the height and softness, so a higher fill power = taller and softer.
- Firmness. Firmness is how firm or soft the pillow is, and is typically dictated by the weight of the pillow. A heavier pillow will contain more down, resulting in a firmer feel. If you need decent neck and head support (we’re lookin’ at you, side and back sleepers!), a medium-firm or firm pillow is best.
- Shape. Some pillows come in a variety of shapes to suit different sleeping needs (like neck roll pillows or pillows with shoulder cutouts), but down pillows tend to come in your standard rectangular shape.
- Temperature regulation. Down is warm, and the softer, higher fill power pillows tend to be the warmest. If you get hot at night but still want a down pillow, go with a firmer pillow with a lower fill power. If you sleep realllly warm, consider going for down alternative instead.
- Moldability. This refers to how well you can fluff the pillow to change its shape. Down pillows tend to be very moldable. However, the softer they are the quicker they tend to lose that shape in general.
- Price. Down pillows are an investment, and the higher ratio of down in the pillow the more money you’ll be investing. Thankfully, most brands offer a limited in-home trial period after which you can return the pillow for a full refund if it’s not a good fit.
What’s the best down pillow for…
- Side sleepers? Look for medium-firm pillows with high loft and gusseting to provide neck and shoulder support.
- Back sleepers? A pillow with medium firmness and a high fill power will be soft and plushy without flattening into a pancake overnight.
- Stomach sleepers? Tummy sleepers can generally do great with a flatter, softer pillow. They may find high loft pillows awkward and uncomfortable.
- Combo sleepers? Look for mid-range everything — loft, firmness, and fill power — for added versatility.
- Hot sleepers? Choose a firmer pillow with a lower fill power (or down alternative) to stay cooler.
- Larger people? A firmer pillow with gusseting may help support your neck and resist flattening.
- Vegans? Down alternative all the way, in whatever configuration is most comfy for you.
- People with allergies? Choose certified hypoallergenic options with the loft, fill power, and firmness you prefer.
Pros of down pillows
- ultra soft and luxurious
- made from natural materials
- very moldable
- variety of firmness levels, fill powers, and loft heights available
- machine washable and dryer-friendly
Cons of down pillows
- not as firm as other pillows unless other materials are added
- tend to flatten where your head rests
- feathers can poke through the lining after a while
What is down?
Down refers to the soft and floofy (scientific term) feathers that can be found underneath a bird’s more firm and structured exterior feathers. In bedding, down provides luxurious softness. Down for bedding comes from geese and ducks, and we’re totally down with it (as long as it’s sourced responsibly).
Because down is literally on these birds’ bodies to keep them warm, down can sleep a little hot. This is a good thing for cold sleepers, but can lead to night sweats for the hotties out there.
What is down alternative?
Down alternative is a good pick if you tend to sleep hot, since it sleeps cooler than actual down.
Should I buy goose or duck down?
Goose down is generally more high quality than duck down because goose down clusters are larger, resulting in a higher fill power. But duck down is a less expensive alternative that still provides plenty of softness.
How can I tell if down is ethically sourced?
Look for down pillows that have a Responsible Down Standards (RDS) certification or other, similar down standard cert. RDS, for example, ensures that down comes from ducks and geese who haven’t been subjected to unwarranted harm or risk.
Are down pillows expensive?
They are more expensive than other types of pillows because they come from naturally sourced material. Down pillows with a higher ratio of down to other materials command a higher price.
How do I care for a down pillow?
Because they’re made with natural materials, down pillows wash exceptionally well — unlike less expensive pillows that can become permanently misshapen after one wash. When they become soiled, wash down pillows two at a time (to balance your washer) on cold with a gentle detergent. Tumble dry them on low. Not only will they be clean and dry, but they’ll be perfectly fluffed too.
How durable are down pillows?
A good down pillow can generally last for 2 to 3 years with regular washing. However, some of the common problems associated with down and feather pillows are feathers poking through and the down losing its fluffiness, causing the pillow to become flat. If you’re experiencing these issues, it may be time for a new pillow!