If you love the soft, “pillowy” feel of natural down but you’re concerned about allergies or using materials sourced from animals, a down alternative could be right for you. These materials are designed to simulate the feel of natural down with few of its drawbacks. As an added bonus, down alternative pillows may be more affordable than natural down and they can be just as comfortable.
If a down alternative pillow sounds like the right choice for you, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the market research to bring you a shortlist of the six best down alternative pillows you can buy.
What is a Down Alternative Pillow?
Down is a natural material gathered from the undercoat of waterfowl like geese, ducks, and swans. It is known for being lightweight and fluffy, two qualities that make it a great temperature-regulating material for people who tend to sleep hot. The drawbacks of down have to do with it being a natural material derived from animals. It has been known to trigger allergies in some people and there are some concerns about it being ethically sourced.
Down alternative is a synthetic material designed to simulate the feel of natural down. It is typically made from polyester microfiber which gives it a lofty feel but it is hypoallergenic and machine-washable. Down alternative is also more affordable than natural down.
Down Alternative Pillow Reviews
Down alternative pillows are popular among people who like a soft, fluffy pillow. There are plenty of down alternative pillows to choose from, but we’ve done the research to help you narrow down the options.
Here are our top 6 picks for the best down alternative pillows:
Best Overall: Fern and Willow Premium Down Alternative Pillows
Available in Queen and King sizes, these premium down alternative pillows come in a set of two. You’ll enjoy the silky feel of down without the risk for allergies that comes with animal-derived materials. In addition to being supremely comfortable for those who like a softer pillow, these pillows have attractive piping around the edges which gives them a sleek and modern look.
These Fern and Willow down alternative pillows are ideal for back and side sleepers, but they are adjustable which makes them a perfect pick for all sleepers. To adjust the firmness or loft of the pillow, simply unzip the cover and add or remove filling according to your preferences. Just be sure to massage the pillow after adjusting the filling to make sure it is even.
Another benefit these down alternative pillows offer over natural down is that they are 100% machine washable. To retain the natural loft of the down alternative, however, it is recommended that you air dry them – do not put them in the dryer.Buy at Amazon
Runner-Up: Sleep Restoration Down Alternative Pillows
Designed for breathable comfort and bounce-back support, these down alternative pillows come in Queen and King sizes. You’ll get two high-quality down alternative pillows made with 100% cotton covers, filled with a gel-infused down alternative material. The gel-infused material helps dissipate body heat, giving you a cooler night’s sleep than you’d get with other materials like memory foam.
These down alternative pillows from Sleep Restoration boast a 250-thread count 100% sateen cotton cover which, in addition to giving the pillows a luxury look and feel, makes the covers easy to clean. Simply throw the entire pillow in the washing machine and tumble dry on low or no heat. Because they are dryer friendly, you can also use the dryer to refluff your pillows if they start to get lumpy.Buy at Amazon
Premium Pick: Original Casper Pillow
When only the best will do, we recommend the Original Casper Pillow. Designed by one of the most popular online mattress brands, this Casper pillow comes in Standard and King sizes – you can also choose between low loft and mid loft. The low loft design may be best for back and stomach sleepers while side sleepers may prefer a slightly higher loft to relieve pressure from the shoulders and neck.
This Casper pillow is filled with lightweight down alternative materials with a unique pillow-in-pillow design. This unique design essentially incorporates a padded removable cover over another pillow. This design helps the pillow respond to your movements without going flat, keeping you comfortable through the night. Both the inner pillow and the outer cover are machine washable for your convenience and the materials are breathable to keep you cool.
Casper offers free shipping and returns on orders within the contiguous United States. You’ll also enjoy a 1-year warranty on your Casper down alternative pillow.Buy at Casper
Budget Pick: Bedsure Premium Down Alternative Pillows
While down alternative is generally more affordable than natural down, pillows can get expensive. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, we recommend these Bedsure Premium Down Alternative Pillows. Choose from three sizes (standard, queen, or king) and two firmness levels.
These down alternative pillows are generously filled with 100% down alternative polyester filling which gives them a fluffy feel ideal for side and back sleepers. The down alternative material is encased in a microfiber cover which provides a smooth, comfortable feel. These pillows are machine washable and can be tumbled dry on low heat. Placing the pillows in the dryer is also a great way to re-fluff them.
One thing to keep in mind with these pillows is that they are vacuum-packed for shipping. You should allow 24 hours for the pillows to expand before use. Once fully expanded, the no-shift construction will help the pillows retain their shape for optimal head and neck support.Buy at Amazon
Best Down: Brooklinen Down Pillow
Down alternative pillows are a great option for allergy sufferers and sleepers on a budget, but sometimes you can’t beat the real thing. This Brooklinen Down Pillow is filled with Canadian down and feathers that are ethically sourced from Hutterite Farms in Canada. These pillows are made with a 100% cotton sateen shell that is smooth and soft for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Everyone has their own unique preferences for loft and firmness when it comes to bed pillows but many companies offer limited options. Brooklinen not only provides two choices for size (standard or king) but their down alternative pillows come in three levels of firmness as well: plush, mid-plush, or firm.
Brooklinen’s down pillows are soft but supportive, making them an ideal choice for stomach sleepers. Side sleepers may prefer the firm pillow for its added support, but sleepers of any kind generally find that the mid-plush pillow offers an agreeable combination of comfort and support. All three firmness levels come with the same sateen shell featuring double-stitched edges for added durability. Brooklinen’s pillows are also treated with ultra-fresh antimicrobials for safety.Buy at Brooklinen
Best for Hot Sleepers: Slumber Cloud Core Down Alternative Pillow
Temperature regulation is a problem with many pillow materials, especially denser options like memory foam. Down alternative is naturally very lightweight and fluffy which supports airflow through the pillow, helping keep you cooler at night. This Slumber Cloud Core Down Alternative Pillow is particularly well-suited to hot sleepers because the breathable cotton cover incorporates NASA-approved Outlast lining on both sides that helps dissipate heat.
This down alternative pillow ships free and comes with a 60-night in-home trial. You can choose from two different sizes (standard or king) and two firmness levels (soft/medium or medium/firm). Stomach sleepers generally prefer the softer pillow while side and back sleepers may prefer the medium/firm pillow. Both models feature the same temperature-regulating materials and machine washable convenience.Buy at Slumber Cloud
Benefits of a Down Alternative Pillow
Compared to natural down, down alternative pillows are typically more affordable, easier to clean, and less likely to trigger allergies. That being said, down alternative isn’t as supportive as other materials and it can become lumpy over time. This material is less durable than more structured materials like memory foam and it doesn’t conform as closely to the body which can affect pressure relief.
Here are some of the benefits of a down alternative pillow:
- The materials are very soft and lightweight – sleepers find it easy to move and reposition the pillow as needed throughout the night.
- Down alternative is a more ethical choice than natural down, though natural down can still be ethically sourced.
- Because they are generally machine washable and dryable, down alternative pillows are pretty easy to clean and maintain.
- Compared to natural down, down alternative pillows are usually much more affordable, though pricing depends on quality.
- Down alternative pillows are usually fairly soft and moldable – you can punch or press them into the desired shape and they will bounce back after.
- Because it is made from polyester microfiber or cotton, down alternative has less odor than some materials and is less likely to trigger allergies.
- Down alternative is a fluffy material that allows for plenty of airflow through the material – it traps less heat than denser materials like memory foam.
Though down alternative pillows aren’t right for everyone, they are generally a good choice for all kinds of sleepers because they can be adjusted for firmness and loft. Hot sleepers may find down alternative pillows more comfortable than memory foam in terms of temperature regulation and sleepers who suffer from allergies may prefer them to natural down.
Down alternative may not be the best material for sleepers with neck pain because they aren’t the most supportive and they are somewhat lacking in contouring ability and pressure relief. Very heavy sleepers may also find that down materials simply aren’t firm enough.
What to Look for in Down Alternative Pillows
No matter what kind of material you’re looking for, there are certain factors you should consider. First and foremost, consider your personal preferences for things like firmness and loft. If you’re looking for a down alternative pillow, you should also think about the shape, moldability, and quality of the materials.
Here are some things to consider:
- Firmness – The more filling a down alternative has, the firmer it will be, though a fluffy material like this can only get so firm. Down alternative pillows are generally fairly soft.
- Loft – This term refers to the height of the pillow and it is a factor you should consider in combination with your preferred sleeping position. Side sleepers generally prefer a pillow with a higher loft than back or stomach sleepers.
- Support – The degree of support a down alternative pillow has to offer depends on its loft and firmness. Most down alternative pillows offer a medium level of support.
- Shape – While some pillow materials can be molded into various shapes, down alternative pillows typically come in the classic rectangular shape. Because the material is so soft and airy, however, you can easily fold or flatten the pillow as desired.
- Quality – The quality of the down alternative materials impacts its quality. If you’re concerned about durability, you may want to consider a pillow filled with a combination of materials like down alternative and shredded memory foam.
- Moldability – A down alternative pillow lends itself well to sleepers who like to mold the pillow into a certain shape. The added benefit is that down alternative generally springs back after.
Generally speaking, down alternative pillows are more affordably priced than natural down, but you’ll still find pillows at all ends of the pricing spectrum. Decide whether you’re looking for something economical or whether you’re willing to pay a bit more for luxury features and high-quality materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are down alternative pillows hypoallergenic?
Yes. While natural down is derived from bird feathers, down alternative is a synthetic material. Not only is it less likely to trigger allergies, but it is less likely to collect other bedroom allergens like dust and pet dander.
Are down alternative pillows expensive?
No. Down alternative pillows are actually more affordable than natural down and they have the benefit of being machine washable as well.
Do down alternative pillows retain heat?
If you’re a hot sleeper, you may actually prefer natural down because it is very lightweight and breathable. Down alternative pillows may require more filling to achieve the same feel as natural down, so they may retain more heat.
Table of Contents
- What is a Down Alternative Pillow?
- Down Alternative Pillow Reviews
- Best Overall: Fern and Willow Premium Down Alternative Pillows
- Runner-Up: Sleep Restoration Down Alternative Pillows
- Premium Pick: Original Casper Pillow
- Budget Pick: Bedsure Premium Down Alternative Pillows
- Best Down: Brooklinen Down Pillow
- Best for Hot Sleepers: Slumber Cloud Core Down Alternative Pillow
- Benefits of a Down Alternative Pillow
- What to Look for in Down Alternative Pillows
- Frequently Asked Questions