Last Modified 24 August 2023  |  
First Added 09 July 2020

What’s the Difference Between Feather and Down?

When browsing for bedding, you may have seen the terms ‘feather’ and ‘down’ in your search. Plump bedding and cosy nights may come to mind, but how well do you know the difference between feather and down? And how do you determine is best for your bedroom? Together, we’ll answer those questions.

Let’s delve into the world of feather and down bedding and explore the benefits and qualities of both.


Feathers explained

Understanding the difference between down and feather starts with knowing that the feathers used in a duvet or pillow are typically sourced from either ducks or geese. They come from the outer layer of the bird, as opposed to down which is a deeper layer. Feathers are larger than down, heavier, and more robust for enhanced durability and support.

All our natural duvets are encased in a 100% cotton cover, offering lasting comfort. This durable outer layer ensures the filling remains evenly distributed, which means any cold spots are eliminated and quills are less likely to poke through.


Down explained: What is down feather?

Down is incredibly light and fluffy and can be found on the belly of the bird, underneath their protective layer of outer feathers. Its soft and airy properties make it by far the most prized and best performing bedding filling. Its superior natural insulating qualities is one of the many reasons why down duvets are so popular.

Down clusters have a round centre known as plumule from which thousands of tiny fibres radiate – a little like the head of a dandelion. The round shape means they naturally spring back into shape which it what gives the duvet or pillow ‘loft’. The general rule of thumb is the thicker the clusters, the better the insulation.


What is loft?

The ‘loft’ of a duvet or pillow refers to its fluffiness. The higher the loft, the better the insulating properties will be, meaning less down filling is needed.

The lofty structure of natural fillings such as feather and down allow moisture produced by the sleeper to evaporate. This works with the temperature-regulating qualities of the fillings to keep you cool and dry throughout the night.


The benefits of feather and down

Given that feather and down are both natural products, they are ideal for keeping you at just the right temperature. This is how they work for the bird and it’s no different when they’re in a duvet or pillow.

Natural fillings make the bedding light and fluffy due to their natural insulation and durability. The feather and down works to trap warm air around it, meaning bedding doesn’t have to be crammed full of filling to be effective.


Choosing goose or duck feathers and down

Deciding whether to opt for goose or duck bedding depends on a few key factors, including budget. Duck feathers or down are a firm favourite amongst many people; they’re extremely cosy and generally carry a smaller price tag than that of goose feathers or down.

As geese are bigger than ducks and tend to live in colder climates, goose feather or down is extremely insulating and therefore often more expensive. Geese have larger, high-quality down clusters, which makes these fillings oh-so luxurious.


When to replace your duvet and pillow

We recommend you replace your duvet every five to ten years to ensure it’s performing as it should. The tell-tale signs that your duvet needs replacing are discolouration, cold spots or lumpiness.

Feather and down pillows provide important support for your head and neck, and as such it's recommended to consider replacing them every two to four years. If your pillow is feeling droopy, lumpy or flat, or you’re experiencing neck ache, then it’s time for a new one.

Feather vs down: a detailed comparison

Feather fillings

Down fillings

Feathers are sourced from the outer layer of the bird, from their largest sections such as the wings and back.

Down can be found on the belly of the bird, in a cosy inner layer beneath the feathers, which enhances its insulating properties.

Feathers are typically heavier and flatter. Consider feather mixed with down for a plumper look.

Down is light and airy which makes it breathable as well as warm.

Feathers have a quill or spine, which can occasionally poke through the outer cover of your bedding. Our White Snow Duck Feather Pillow features a double layer of robust satin piping to minimise this.

Down is made up of fluffy clusters, with a round centre known as plumule – much like the head of a dandelion.

Feather fillings are less expensive whilst still being a cosy choice for bedding.

Generally considered the superior filling, down often carries a higher price tag.



Shop feather and down bedding

If you need further information on finding the best bedding for you, browse our Bedding Guide


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