Down vs Down Alternative

Down vs Down Alternative: Differences [Comforter, Pillow & Mattress Pad]

Down vs Down Alternative – what are the key differences and which filling is best for comforters, pillows, mattress toppers, and jackets? The short answer is that both products are comfortable and offer you warmth and that soft feel. Down is natural and usually from ducks or geese. Down alternative is synthetic, made from rayon, polyester or cotton.  Keep reading to find out how these two compare in insulation, fill power, appearance, odor, allergies, softness and feel, availability and price. 

In a hurry? Below are the top-rated down and down alternative products in 2023.

Down vs Down Alternative: Comparison Table

  • Provides great warmth and comfort
  • Has great fill power
  • Is breathable and allows a cool feel
  • Very durable and lasts for very long
  • Can cause allergies
  • Not very easy to wash
  • A high price of purchase
  • Smells more than down alternative
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Down Alternative
  • Provides warmth and comfort
  • Has a lower fill power as compared to down
  • Can be easily washed and dried
  • It is hypoallergenic and is the best fit for allergic sufferers and asthmatics
  • Costs less than down
  • Has less odor
  • Doesn’t last for long and deteriorates fast
  • Has poor breathability and can leave you feeling sweaty
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What is down alternative?

Down alternative is a filling material used in many comforters, pillows, mattress toppers, and jackets. It tries to emulate actual down in fluffiness and provision of warmth.

It can be made from rayon, polyester or cotton, depending on the brand. Down alternative is a great choice for allergy sufferers or those who are on a budget.


  • Suitable for use by allergy sufferers and asthmatics
  • Easy to care for
  • Less expensive than the original down version


  • Not as warm as down
  • Heavier than down
  • Quality deteriorates faster
  • Poor breathability so you feel sweaty after use

What Is Down?

Down is filling material that is gotten from birds and lies beneath the feathers, usually on the belly of a bird. It is very light and fluffy and is a very good insulation material.

Birds of choice for down are either ducks or geese. Down provides great warmth and are pretty lightweight when compared to a down alternative material of similar thickness.

Due to its great breathability, down doesn’t make you clammy as you lay underneath it.


  • Provides good warmth
  • Lightweight
  • Good breathability, preventing a clammy feel
  • Lasts longer than down alternative


  • More expensive than down alternative
  • Prone to causing allergic reactions
  • Not as easy to keep clean and care for
differences down alternative

Down vs Down Alternative: Differences

Insulation – Maintaining Warmth

Fill power is directly proportional to the quality of insulation the materials provided. Down has a higher fill power than down alternative.

This means that down will provide better insulation and keep you warm while needing less stuffing of the fill material. In other words, your comforters or pillows can be lightweight and provide you with adequate warmth.

Since down alternative has less fill power, it doesn’t provide as much insulation and warmth as down. In order to improve the insulation of the product, more quantity of down alternative is used, making it heavier. 

For an equal amount of stuffing, down provides more insulation than down alternative.

Fill Power

Fill power measures the number of cubic inches an ounce of down or down alternative expands to. The greater the fill power, the greater the fluff and insulation quality.

Down has great fill power and down alternative has a lower fill power.


Down is fluffy and soft and has a short shaft, few barbs and barbules that lack hooks. While down alternative has the appearance of the materials they are made from synthetic materials like polyester, silk, wool, hypo down or PrimaLoft.


Down is natural and from birds. It is bound to produce odor and that is why it is properly treated so as to get rid of the odor from the material and allow for comfortable usage.

Down alternative, on the other hand, is made from synthetic materials and as such, produce way less odor than down.


Down has the ability to trap down allergens like dust mites and other particles even though it has high breathability.

This exposes users with allergies to have a reaction and so down is not the best for you if you have allergies.

Down alternative is a better option to those with allergies as it offers you the fluffiness and softness of down but without the allergies.

Softness and Feel

Down gives a fluffy and soft feel while down alternative is made with materials that tend to mimic the fluffiness and softness of down.

So it is safe to say that both materials have a similar feel, softness, and fluffiness.


Down is difficult to source as it is gotten from birds, and is not as easy to come by when compared to the down alternative which is produced in the factory.

Despite the ready availability of one and the scarcity of the other, products made with both filling can be found easily in the market.


Down is more expensive than down alternative. So if you are a shopper on a budget, you should tread towards down alternative as it is way cheaper and affordable.

down comforter mattress

Down vs Down Alternative Comforter

Down comforters

Down comforters have the light, fluffy and insulating down as their filling material. Due to the high fill power of down, down comforters keep you warmer and possess better insulation.

They do this despite being lightweight. A down comforter usually lasts longer and even though it costs more to purchase, it is cost-effective in the long run. 

Allergy sufferers are not to make use of down because dust mites and other allergens can easily get trapped inside and cause allergic reactions for you.

Some down comforters are usually washable with a machine, but most times you keep it clean by dry cleaning. It is not very easy to care for down comforters generally.

Best Selling Down Comforters in 2023 on Amazon

Down Alternative Comforter

Down alternative comforters are made with synthetic materials that try to provide the fluffiness and softness of down.

Its lower fill power means it doesn’t keep you as warm as a down comforter, and so requires more material for insulation thereby making it heavier.

It is the perfect choice for allergy sufferers and allergies are the main reason for the making of down alternative.

It is way cheaper than down and is the choice for you if you are tight on the budget. It is easy to clean and you can better care for it.

Best Selling Down Alternative Comforters in 2023 on Amazon

down alternative pillow

Down vs Down Alternative Pillow

Down Pillow

A down pillow is filled with down from birds. They are soft and fluffy feel but are highly durable, retaining their comfort and support for longer periods when compared with down alternative pillows.

The price for a down pillow is higher but it is a good investment as the product you get will last you for a long time without the need for replacement.

If you desire warmth, this is the right pillow for you as it retains heat. Sleepers with allergies should consider down alternative pillow as down can accumulate dust mites and other allergens, leading to an allergic reaction.

Best Selling Down Pillows in 2023 on Amazon

Down Alternative Pillow

Down alternative pillows are made with synthetic fills that try to give the same features of a down pillow.

It is the best choice for those with allergies as it is hypoallergenic. Since it is made from synthetic materials, it tends to get degraded fast and needs to be changed quickly when compared to down pillows.

You can purchase down alternative pillows at a cheap price and is ideal for you if you have a tight budget.

Best Selling Down Alternative Pillows in 2023 on Amazon

Down or Down Alternative Mattress Topper

Down Mattress Topper

Mattress toppers play an important role in your comfort as you lay on your bed. It is like a modification to the nature of your mattress so as to make you more comfortable as you lay on it.

Down mattress topper is stuffed with down and offers you great softness and comfort. It is used if you feel your mattress is too hard and uncomfortable for you to lay on.

It gives you a comfortable sleep of you don’t suffer from allergies and asthma. 

Top Rated Down Mattress Toppers

Down Alternative Mattress Topper

Down alternative mattress topper is the best choice option for users who love the softness, warmth, and feel of down but have allergies.

It is less pricey than down toppers and very affordable.

Best Selling Down Alternative Mattress Toppers

Down or Down Alternative Jacket

Down Jacket

Down is the perfect material for use if you desire insulation and warmth in very cold weather. It makes you comfortable as you use because of its breathability, which allows humidity to be on the check.

Down jackets offer great warmth even with its lightweight as compared to the number of materials down-alternative jackets require to provide an equal level of warmth.

Down jackets are known to retain their shape and thickness properly and can last for a very long time before getting bad.

The bad sides of down jackets are the facts that it loses its property of insulation when wet and takes a long time to get dry.

Cleaning is not easily done, and it can cause allergies so it is not fit for those who are prone to having allergic reactions. As you must have guessed already, down jackets cost more than down alternative jackets.

Best Selling Down Jackets 

Down Alternative Jacket

Down alternative jackets are made with synthetic fills and offer warmth at less expense. You can make use of them in wet conditions as they dry easily and keep you warm even when wet.

They do not cause you to have allergies with their usage and it is very easy for you to wash them and keep them clean.

They, however, provide you with warmth but require more stuffing and so are usually heavy. It is meant to be worn only occasionally and not at all times because it doesn’t last for long and with much usage, will get worse and need replacing.

It is not very breathable and with use can give you a sweaty and humid feel.

Top Rated Down Alternative Jackets 


Is down alternative vegan?

Yes, down alternative is vegan. They are made from synthetic materials that mimic the softness and comfort of down, and not down itself.

Is down alternative cooler than down?

No, down alternative is not cooler than down. This is because down offers more breathability than down alternative and so has more air circulation.

Can you wash a down alternative comforter?

Yes, you can wash a down alternative comforter. They are very easy to wash and clean so you have no problem maintaining proper hygiene with these products.

Is down alternative hot to sleep on?

Down alternative is made with synthetic materials and these materials have poor breathability, especially when compared with down. For this reason, they are hot to sleep on.


Down vs down alternative: And the winner is…

Both down and down alternative have their own pros and cons and depending on what appeals best to you, you can make your choice of a comforter, pillow, mattress topper and jackets with any of the filling materials.

Generally, they offer great comfort and warmth so there is going to be no regrets with the purchase of any one of them.

So when next you consider buying products that have stuffing of either down or down alternative, ask yourself what you want from the product and which fill material would best give it to you.

This way you get to enjoy your product as you get exactly what you want.