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Down & Down Alternative Buying Guide

What does pillows, comforters, and mattress pads have in common? They are filled with down or down alternative to cushion and insulation. The biggest debate we hear amoungst experts and consumers is, which is better? Down foul feathers or down alternative polyester? This buying guide will not end this debate, but it will give you a better insight into which works for you.

Down Filling

Down is pulled from under the protective top-layer of quill from a water foul (geese, duck, ect...). Down is really fluffy, thus trapping air and offering great insulation and resilience. Down is expensive to harvest and expensive to buy. This causes most down filled items to be more expensive than their alternative counter-parts. Down's quality is measured by fill power. The higher the fill power, the more air is captured by the down. Vice versa, the lower the fill power, the less air is captured. Standard fill powers range from 500 to 700+. Down with a fill power of 700 or more can create excellent light weight comforters with great insulation qualities. The biggest downside of down applies to those with allergies. Down carries allergens easily and will not be a great fit for someone with worse than average allergies.

Down Alternative Filling

Down alternative is a synthetic alternative, usually comprised of polyester cluster fibers, to down. Down alternative is hypoallergenic (does not carry allergens). There is a loss of loft with down alternative, but more filling can fix this. Overall, down alternative is a great alternative to down and is way less expensive.

In the end, the down or down alternative filling can make the difference between a $30 pillow and a $120 pillow.