Down Comforters vs. Down Alternative Comforters
Down or Synthetic Fill
Down comforters are made of the little bits of fluff that sit underneath a bird’s feather rather than a full feather, which is often harvested from ducks and geese. Its natural ability to keep birds warm in icy water and cold temperatures makes it valuable for filling comforters that will hold plenty of warmth. The quality of natural down is determined by fill power, which measures how many cubic inches one ounce of down can fill. For example, one ounce of goose down that is 800 fill power is capable of filling 800 cubic inches. A higher fill power usually indicates a larger down cluster.
Down alternative comforters, in contrast, feature a mixture of synthetic materials such as rayon or polyester in an effort to mimic down. Down tends to breathe more and be warmer, while down alternative tends to be more affordable and more comfortable for people with allergies.
Types of Down
If you opt for down, you have several types of down to consider. The most popular options are geese and duck down. Geese are wild, and when captured, their down tends to be tightly clustered and very warm. In contrast, ducks are often farmed. As a result, their down may be harvested before it is well clustered, but that often makes bedding filled with duck down cheaper.
It’s important to note that down is usually white or grey. White down comforters only have white down, and as a result, you don’t have to worry about the grey down showing through the comforter.
Once you select the filling of your comforter, it’s time to consider the comforter’s exterior. Down tends to be paired with other natural materials including silk, cotton, Egyptian cotton, and pima cotton, which is luxury cotton from Peru. However, it can also be encased in microfiber, which resists spills and stains. Synthetic down comforters, in contrast, have a wider range of natural and synthetic exterior fabrics. These include a range of cottons and polyester, fleece, and Tencel, which is a synthetic fabric made of wood. Ultimately, choose the material you prefer against your skin.
Generally, down comforters tend to be warmer than their synthetic counterparts of the same weight and size, but if you shop for your comforter based on warmth rating, these differences are accounted for in the classification. To illustrate, if you choose a comforter with an extra warm rating, the down and the down alternative comforters in that category provide almost equal levels of warmth, but the down comforter may be less bulky to achieve the same level of warmth.
Comforters come in extra warm, medium warm, and all season. Extra warm works for winter, while medium warm is ideal for fall and spring but may require reinforcements on particularly cold winter nights. All season comforters, including light down comforters, offer the versatility you need to sleep all year long.
Both down and down alternative comforters come with a range of care instructions. If you want a bedding set that is easy to care for, opt for machine wash. If you already outsource your laundry or take regular trips to the dry cleaner, you may prefer a dry-clean-only comforter.
Last but not least, spend some time thinking about style. Down and down alternative comforters are available in a range of colors, with a variety of quilting styles including the very popular baffle-box style. This style has stitching that runs vertically and horizontally through the comforter, creating a quilt-like effect. They often come in white, which is ideal if you like a clean, simple look in your room. You can display white-colored down comforters as they are, or put them inside a duvet cover to add color, patterns, and versatility.
More Ways to Shop
- Bedroom Guides