Down vs. Feather Pillows

November 18, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

When it comes to creating a sleep environment that’s both soft and supportive, your mattress isn’t the only star player for bedding products. You also need top-of-the-line pillows

Down pillows and feather pillows are two of the softest options available for a bed pillow, but which is right for you? In a head-to-head comparison of their head-cradling abilities, which bed pillow comes out the sleep-supportive superstar? 

Ultimately, the answer is dependent on personal preference for your sleeping position, but in this guide, we’ll go over the main differences between these two types of pillows so you can feel better prepared to choose your comfort winner. 

Whether you desire down, foam, or down alternative, our selection of pillows come with the perfect blend of softness and support for a good night’s rest.

What is the Difference Between a Down and Feather Pillow? 

When determining the best place to lay your head at night, it’s helpful to know the difference between down vs feather pillow. Is one more soft than the other? Does one offer more support? Is there a clear champion? These are questions you need to know to figure out how to choose a pillow.

We’ll dive into the two further but a down pillow is made with quill-less feathers from the chest and underbelly of a duck or goose, while a feather pillow is made of feathers with quills from the wings and backs.

Sleep-lovers, it’s time for a pillow fight. Combatants take your corners: Let the battle of down vs feather begin. We’ll explain more about each type so you can choose what’s best for you.

What Is a Down Pillow?

In this corner, we have the luxurious talk of the pillow world: the down pillow. But what is a down pillow?

Down is a soft pillow filling fiber taken from the underside of a duck or goose.1 These fibers create fluffy clusters that are spherical and look like the head of a dandelion.2 

Down is a prized material for bedding because it offers many desirable qualities, including:

  • Softness – Down’s natural softness creates the sensation of lying on a cloud.
  • Durability – Because down naturally wants to return to its three-dimensional shape, it won’t easily collapse and flatten after use.
  • Insulation – Because it’s highly insulating, down allows for warmth while remaining breathable. In fact, down is the world’s most efficient natural insulator.3

Made with 100% ethically sourced down, the Casper Down Pillow is our fluffiest pillow yet. The cozy softness is exactly what you need to rest your head on every night.

What Is a Feather Pillow?

two-white-feathers

In the opposite corner, we have the feather pillow.

Unlike down, feathers are taken from the back and wings of a duck or goose. 4You’ve likely even seen these before—they’re the type of feathers you see shed on the ground or used for old-fashioned quill pens. 

Although they provide a very soft filling, there are some drawbacks to feathers:

  • They still contain quills, which may poke you.
  • Their flatter shape makes them more likely to collapse, meaning they’ll likely need more frequent fluffing.
  • They’re not as durable as down pillows and may need to be replaced sooner.

However, there are also advantages to feather pillows, particularly in terms of: 

  • Price – Feather pillows are generally less expensive than down pillows, while still being a great soft option. 
  • Sleep position Side sleepers and stomach sleepers may prefer feather pillows, as you can fold a feather pillow more easily to make it fit around your head and neck. 

Comparing Down vs Feather

Now that we have a sense of both down and feather, let’s see how each performs in the following four categories:

  • Softness
  • Support
  • Loft
  • Care

Softness

Both pillow options are incredibly soft, though each will offer a slightly different feel. 

Down will compress while still maintaining some of its original shape, giving that cloud-like sensation. Feather, on the other hand, is more likely to collapse, which may feel softer to some.

Support

Simply put, neither pillow is the more supportive. Because of the three-dimensional shape of down, it’s less likely to flatten than a feather pillow, but it’s still a pillow for someone interested in softness over support.

If you are looking for a more supportive pillow option, our Casper foam pillow is designed to support proper neck alignment throughout your night’s sleep. Wondering how foam compares? Check out our comparison of memory foam vs down pillows.

Loft

Loft refers to the height of your pillow while you’re resting on it. The loft of either type of pillow will vary depending on how filled they are. The more filling, the more loft.

Both down and feather pillows will lose their loft over time, with feather pillows being especially likely to flatten. However, you can minimize these effects by fluffing your pillows after each use.

Care

Both down and feather pillows are surprisingly easy to care for. Once removing the covers, both are machine washable on a gentle cycle.5 They can even be dried in the dryer, though there are some tips to keep in mind regarding how to wash pillows of these types:

  • Remove excess water – Place your pillow between two towels and gently press down on it to reduce drying time. Don’t twist or wring your pillow as this could damage the filling.
  • Use no or low heat – No heat will take longer to dry your pillow, but it’s the safest option to ensure the filling isn’t damaged. 
  • Use dryer balls – These will help keep your pillows fluffy.

So, What Pillow is Best For You?

You spend a good portion of your life snuggled up in bed with your all-star comfort companions—your mattress and your pillow. That’s why it’s important to find the right type of pillow for your needs. Down and feather are both great options for soft, luxurious-feeling pillows that are easy to care for, although down may provide more durability, while feather may better suit your budget.

Fortunately, Casper makes it possible to get the best of both worlds. Our Casper down pillows use a combination of down and feather to provide a dreamy blend of softness and support at an affordable price. You can find them in any pillow size you need. With Casper offering the best of both worlds, the real winner is you. 

Sources: 

  1. Business Insider. The 5 best down pillows in 2021 for side, back, and stomach sleepers. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-down-pillow#down-pillow-and-down-faqs-9 
  2. Down & Feather Company. Down Vs. Feather: What’s the Difference? https://www.downandfeathercompany.com/pages/how-to-choose-down-vs-feather 
  3. American Down and Feather Council. Frequently Asked Questions. https://downandfeathercouncil.com/what-is-down-feather/frequently-asked-questions/ 
  4. Sleep Advisor. Down vs. Feather Pillows. https://www.sleepadvisor.org/down-vs-feather-pillow/ 
  5. Peacock Alley. Guide to Washing Down and Feather Pillows. https://www.peacockalley.com/pages/pillow-care-guide