The Best Down Pillows Range From Super Soft to Surprisingly Firm
Fill power is the term to know.
Published Jun 25, 2022 11:03 PM
Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit ‘add to cart.’ That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Buying pillows online can feel like a shot in the dark. Does the photo do the loft justice? How does the cover actually feel? Is it squishy or firm, actually really? That’s where we come in. This extensively researched list of the best down pillows includes a range of sizes, prices, firmness, and sleep support specifics. You’ll be sure to find the most harmonious headrest for your personalized slumber habits and desired level of softness (yes, there are even down pillows out there for you side sleepers in need of extra bolstering). In addition to sourcing our faves, we’ve thrown in tips for caring for and cleaning your feather-filled possessions, and how to seek sustainably-crafted and humanely-raised down. Plus, there’s advice on creating that perfectly “fluffed-up” look from interior designer Marie Flanigan. Here are the dos and don’ts of all things down—and our top picks.
- Best sustainable: Coyuchi Down Pillow
- Best value: Pacific Coast Touch of Down Pillow Set
- Best soft support: Serena & Lily Goose Down Pillow
- Best firm support: Brooklinen Down Pillow
- Best for side sleepers: Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow
- Best temperature regulating: Tuft & Needle Down Pillow
Best Sustainable: Coyuchi Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, queen, king | Firmness: Soft | Fill: Double-washed, organic down | Sustainably sourced: ethically-sourced from humanely-raised ducks + GOTS-certified organic cotton
What we like:
- Industry leader in sustainability
- Fluffy feel
- Made in U.S.
- Takes about 2 months to compress down to its intended fullness
Why we chose it: Coyuchi uses some of the cleanest and most sustainable down out there.
Here at Domino, we’re big fans of Coyuchi’s sustainable initiatives. They source all their down from a single supplier in Indiana, an organic duck farm that goes through regular and rigorous standards audits. Keeping production within the U.S. inherently lowers the brand’s carbon footprint and allows for greater transparency throughout the process, meaning you can rest easy knowing your down is non-toxic and supportive of your well-being. This pillow offers light support with a very airy feel, despite its thick loft.
Best Value: Pacific Coast Touch of Down Pillow Set
Sizes: Standard | Firmness: Medium | Fill: Goose down | Sustainably sourced: No
What we like:
- Medium support, suitable for all sleeping positions
- Allergy-free warranty + 30-night sleep trial
- Machine wash + dry
- Not sustainably-sourced
Why we chose it: A set of two (!) for less than all our other picks.
Ever left a hotel after the best night’s sleep of your life and wondered where they’re buying their pillows? Well, in many cases, they’re likely from Pacific Coast. Not only are they a leading supplier to the luxury hospitality industry, but their “Touch of Down” collection is actually designed to emulate the feel of plush hotel bedding. This set grants you that desired sink-in softness, while still providing the medium-firm support that is ideal for a variety of different sleeping positions. Plus, you get two pillows for a lower price than the rest of single-product recommendations on this list—seriously. But if you care about where your feathers come from, do note that the fill of these is not sustainably sourced; you’ll want to look elsewhere on this list if that’s an important attribute.
Best Soft Support: Serena & Lily Goose Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Varies | Fill: Premium European white goose down | Sustainably sourced: Responsible Down Standard-certified, Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex certified
What we like:
- Ideal for stomach sleepers
- Comes with pillow protector
- 60-day sleep trial
Why we chose it: A luxuriously plush pillow that won’t lose shape.
Though Serena & Lily’s down pillows are on the pricier end of our spectrum, their 650 fill power means they’ll last for years. (Hey, you’re making an investment in your sleep after all.) They use the highest quality materials—their down is cleansed double the requirement and their cotton is 230 thread count—to cultivate a luxe bedtime experience. This pillow comes in three different densities, but we’re recommending the soft support version because it’s rare to find a pillow this light that’ll retain its shape and fluff over time. It’s a real dream for stomach sleepers.
Best Firm Support: Brooklinen Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Varies | Fill: Dual-core, down clusters + feathers | Sustainably sourced: Ethically-sourced down from Hutterite Farms in Canada
What we like:
- Firm support that still feels fluffy
- Also available in plush + mid-plush densities
- Returns accepted for 365 days
- Dry clean only
Why we chose it: The firm support your body needs, plus the plush feel .
If you struggle to get comfortable at night, sleep experts often recommend switching to a firmer pillow. Though they may not seem like the coziest choice at the outset, they do provide the most back, neck, and head support to keep your entire body happy come morning. Good news for you is that we’ve found a firm pillow that also happens to feel quite plush. The Firm Brooklinen Down Pillow boasts a higher ratio of feathers than down clusters to create that perfect balance.
Best for Side Sleepers: Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Medium | Fill: Premium European white down | Sustainably sourced: Responsible Down Standard certified, Oeko-Tex certified, Climate Neutral certified
What we like:
- 750 fill power
- Made in U.S.
- Free, carbon-neutral shipping + returns
- Not designed for stomach or back sleepers
- Regular pillow cases may fit awkwardly
Why we chose it: Side sleepers, say goodbye to re-fluffing your pillow all night long.
This down pillow from Parachute was specifically designed to help side sleepers achieve the ultimate nighttime alignment. Its rectangular shape features a 3.5 inch gusset that mimics the empty space in between your shoulders and neck, keeping your head sufficiently propped. Its 750 fill power (composed of 85% down and 15% down / feather blend) means it’ll retain its fluffy shape without losing support throughout the night, or even over the years. And with Parachute’s numerous sustainability certifications (hello, climate neutral!), your pillow can be a purchase both your body and mind feel good about.
Best Temperature Regulating: Tuft & Needle Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, king | Firmness: Medium | Fill: Cruelty-free North American white duck down + feathers | Sustainably sourced: Responsible Down Standard certified, Oeko-Tex certified
What we like:
- Lightweight feel
- Best for side sleepers
- Machine wash + dry
- Feather core, down outer layer
- Thicker than other options
Why we chose it: Cozy meets cool in this down pillow.
If you’re a sleeper that runs hot but you’re still looking for a down option, you’ve come to the right place. More so than down alternative or other synthetic materials, down’s natural breathability makes it your best choice right off the bat. And Tuft & Needle’s Down Pillow provides extra assurance of sweet, cool dreams. Its moisture-wicking fabric and feather core will help with those pesky night sweats, keeping your bed feeling like an alpine oasis. Note that while this pillow is very lightweight, its 650 fill power renders it thicker than others—it feels extra luxe, but it may be too tall for some.
How We Chose These Products
We’re big fans of sleep over here. When it comes to pillows, we have exhaustively scoured the internet—from sustainably-focused indie brands to mass-market big-box retailers—for the latest and greatest in all things down. From soft support to dense firmness and every shape and size, we’ve carefully selected our top picks. With a focus on organic materials, ethical production practices, and positive brand reputation, our recommendations are ones you can feel good about. And especially because down is an animal product, we took extra care to confirm these companies follow proper cleanliness guidelines, reduce allergens at every step, and prioritize wellbeing.
Our Shopping Checklist
Most down pillows come in ordinary pillow sizing—standard or king. Occasionally, you’ll find products in the queen size, but they’re not as common. Most down pillows will be 20 inches wide, while length varies depending on size choice. For any bed size smaller than a king, standard pillows should work just fine.
Fill material for down pillows is derived from ducks and geese. It’s important to look for brands that exclusively source from animal welfare-vetted farms (live-plucking is a major no!). Not only does this pertain to ethical production, it’s also crucial for your own health and safety outcomes—just think, you are bringing these products into the most intimately-used spaces of your home.
People are often surprised to learn that not all down pillows are super soft and plush. They can range on the firmness scale and many brands offer different density options. For example, side sleepers often shy away from down pillows because they require a more solid loft. Yet, there are absolutely down options out there for them (and several on this list).
“Fill power” is an industry measurement for volume, commonly cited across product descriptions, that can help you decipher a pillow’s fullness. The higher the fill power number, the fluffier the product.
Care and Maintenance
While some down inserts are machine washable and dryable, others must be spot-treated or dry cleaned. If you’re drying your pillow at home, let it run for multiple cycles on low heat (and throw in some wool dryer balls to help knead out the water). To ward off potential mildew buildup or bacteria growth, it’s paramount that all your down clusters are completely dry. Even if the pillow’s exterior feels dry to the touch, be sure to go that extra mile to make sure the inside is as well. The best way to preserve the lifespan of your insert is to keep it covered with a pillow protector.
Q: Are all down pillows filled with feathers?
There’s a minor difference between the feathers that are called “down” and non-down feathers. Down is made from quill-less feathers that come from the underside of a duck or goose. They create a light cluster effect that ultimately forms the softness we’re accustomed to feeling with down. Most utilize a mixture of down and feather materials, with the denser, more firm options likely exhibiting a higher ratio of feather to down.
Q: How can I know if the fill of my pillow was sustainably sourced? Any certain certifications I can keep an eye on?
The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is a simple and universal certification that safeguards best practices for the humane treatment of ducks and geese. The down industry’s governing body in the United States, The American Down and Feather Council, is firmly against the harvesting of feathers from live birds. RDS goes beyond that, though, only promoting farms that do not force feed and do not inflict unnecessary harm. And while most reputable brands these days source RDS-approved feathers, it never hurts to double check a company’s sustainable commitments. Beyond that, we look for OEKO-TEX certification when it comes to purchasing any textiles or fabrics.
Q: Do I need to replace my down pillow if it’s starting to look a little flat?
A good down pillow should last you anywhere from three to five years. If yours is starting to look flat, you can try fluffing by hand or cleaning it more frequently (every four months is a good rule of thumb). In between washes, air out your pillow in the sun to retain freshness. Some of the brands we mention above offer multi-year warranties. If you think something is wrong with your pillow, check out your policy and contact customer service.
Q: How do I get that textured and “fluffed-up” look when styling my pillows?
According to interior designer Marie Flanigan, look for a malleable fill that will hold its shape. “A good down insert will allow you to make the pillow sit in a way that appears luxurious and inviting, whether you want it to stand up straight or have a lived-in crease,” she says. When styling a bed, Flanigan opts for layers to create a rich look. “I love starting with a clean palette, a neutral-colored duvet and shams, often in a linen, and then adding stunning texture by incorporating velvets, matelassé, or embroidery in the throw pillows,” she advises. Her favorite color combos involve muted gem-tones and mineral-rich hues inspired by nature, while her go-to bedding brand is Annie Selke (she has a collection with them launching in September!).
The Last Word
The best down pillows are beloved for their soft, fluffy feel. What’s less-commonly known is that they come in a variety of densities and levels of firmness. So, if you’re a side sleeper or in need of more thorough support, there’s a down pillow out there for you, too. Because down is technically an animal product, it’s important to choose a reputable brand that prioritizes health and wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to spend a bit more than expected—it’ll ensure proper quality and longevity.
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