Difference between Down and Feather Pillows

With a plethora of options to choose from, pillow shopping can be somewhat daunting; this is because often, it is hard to find the right fit. A great start to this, would be doing your homework and finding out the options you have. Two good options are down and feather pillows.

Since some pillows are often marketed to have used both down and feathers in their manufacturing, often it is confused for being one and the same. Even though they are composed of similar constituents (having come from the same animal), there is a difference between their shapes and feel.


Composing primarily of soft grouping fibres—mostly from geese, swans or ducks—it is often considered as the undercoating of a bird. This is because it is the closest resemblance to a bird’s skin and taken primarily from the chest. They further have insulating qualities aided by the soft fibres that fan out of a focal point in a 3-D way that traps air.


A feather pillow is primarily composed of feathers that are taken from the back feathers and wings of ducks or geese. It also extends a fluffy, comfortable feel, but is known to retain shape longer than that of down. Where down is more of a cluster, feather has a quill running towards the middle of the pillow, which can be felt poking out of the pillow occasionally.

Additionally, it is more flatter and heavier in nature. A common misconception is that the quills in feather pillows and its ability to retain its shape, make feathers a good option for decorative pillows. Often, the opposite is true, wherein it renders a major pain if used in basic bedding, as it does possess the nature to poke through the pillow, or duvet coverings.

What to Look For?

Knowing what you like is key. Oftentimes, feather pillows contain a small proportion of down, and vice versa, even if it is as less as 5%. It is vital to check these ratios, especially when considering feather pillows. This is because pillows containing higher proportion of feather than down is often less expensive. But more down in a feather pillow can prevent the pillow from becoming completely flat and help increase its loft.

Fill Power?

This terminology is only applicable for down pillows; it is essential to help find out the quality and longevity of a down pillow. In simpler terms, it is the volume that an ounce of down takes up. Evidently, as the fill power increases, the down cluster becomes larger.

With a larger cluster, more air can be trapped within the ounce of down, providing the customer with more loft and insulation. Taken from geese and ducks, both of them promote good insulation and loft; even so, a higher fill power can be rendered from using geese than ducks, because they are larger animals. This equates to larger clusters, which means higher fill power.