Duck down vs goose down: what are the main differences and which is better for pillows, duvets, and jackets? The short answer is that if you’re on a budget, go for duck down because it’s cheaper. If money is not a problem and you want to sleep on a fluffy little piece of heaven and get cold easily, goose down is your warm companion. If you want to split feathers, then keep reading to see how these two seemingly same birds of a feather compare in appearance, odor, allergies, softness, and feel, fill power, and price.
Goose Down vs. Duck Down: Comparison Table
What is Down?
Down is a soft, light, and fluffy coating found in feathers of birds at their underbellies that functions as natural insulation to keep them warm.
Down is made up of soft filaments that radiate from its core, creating a three-dimensional cluster. This cluster shape is important because it aids in lofting.
Lofting is a process that allows the clusters to expand, or loft, a space and trap tiny pockets of air within the filaments to create thousands of insulating pockets.
It’s worth noting that down weighs less than feather and is warmer – these qualities that make it ideal for duvets and jackets.
Types of Down
Down is not just a one-category item. Prior to production, companies often receive more than one variety of down and feather when they acquire the raw materials as they make a huge difference in quality, price, and insulation.
In fact, there are three different types of down, namely: natal, body, and powder.
The name gives us an idea where natal down name originated. Natal down is a layer of down that appears in the early stages of development for baby birds. Similar to that of a human person who outgrows their baby teeth, these “feathers” will molt, and companies will collect them for bedding and clothing.
If you have ever held a cute baby chick in your hand, then you know how soft and fluffy they are. Natal down would make great pillows, but not much for keeping you warm and cozy.
Powder down, also known as pulviplumes, is a rare type of down that, allegedly, is found in a few species of birds. It is mainly because the feather and down the birds have will never molt.
Compared to natal and body down, this type of down is rarely sold at any bedding or clothing stores and it does not have the same impact and use similar to the former.
The two main reasons why this type of down wasn’t mass-produced is because it is hard to harvest and the powdery substance coating the down is known to cause allergic reactions.
Body down is simply the adult teeth when it comes to bird down. Body down is the most common type of down harvested for pillows, blankets, duvets, sleeping bags, and more.
However, keep in mind that not all body down is made equal, as there are a few differences that will be explained further down.
Goose Down vs Duck Down: Key Differences
Now that we have a basic idea of avian down and it’s properties, it’s time to determine the different qualities of down and what down would be best for you in any given situation.
Insulation: Maintaining Warmth
Between the goose and duck down, goose down is the best for keeping warm especially for duvets. Goose down has a slight advantage over duck down when it comes to insulation, making it good for jackets and duvets.
Comparatively, goose down is about 80 percent warmer than duck down.
Down is mainly a small cluster of fiber that stems from the core. Down is essentially microscopic fibers that cross with other fibers, it creates these little nooks and crannies that trap any warm air.
Goose and duck down are mostly white in color, but they often do come in muted and matted gray colors.
However, the colors may change when companies clean and disinfect them. They look like a whiter and softer version of a sea urchin, only less dangerous and inedible.
Appearance-wise, there is not much of a difference between duck and goose since the are stuffed inside, so I’d call this round a draw.
Since bird down is a natural product from animals, there are bound to be some unpleasant odors.
Companies take extensive measures to remove the odor and have a presentable product. No matter how much cleaning chemicals they spray, there could be a faint smell. On the bright side, that’s an indicator that the down is real and not nay of those synthetic hybrids.
Yes, some people are allergic to birds in general. Both mites and dander do come in contact with the down, but companies have become aware that this allergy to birds could hurt their products.
While their allergies vary from person to person, companies have made efforts in making their products hypoallergenic by treating the down with chemicals that kill any lingering mites and help the removal of animal dander during the cleaning process.
Softness and feel
Everyone knows that bird down is incredibly soft compared to their feathery counterpart, so judging the softness and feel will be a bit of a challenge.
However, geese are larger birds, so their down feels slightly more substantial compared to the ducks. In this category, the softness and feel are vital for pillows and duvets for a good night’s rest.
But not necessarily for jackets as it’s softness will help the warm air escape your body.
As mentioned earlier, geese are bigger birds, so they have an advantage as they are physically bigger. The goose wins the fill power category for jackets and duvets as it is vital for jackets if you want to keep warm on a chilly day and duvets for a restful night of sleep.
You don’t necessarily need to have stuffed goose down pillows as the elevation of your head might ruin your sleeping habits.
When it comes to availability, both geese and duck down are available in any market. However, the duck has a leg up on the competition since the majority of the raw materials originate from Asian countries that consume duck more than geese regularly. (Ever heard of Peking duck?)
This is the reason why it is the most used down in duvets, pillows, etc. For this round, duck wins.
Let me say from the get-go that duck wins the price round simply because of the law of supply and demand.
A quick refresher, the law of supply dictates that if the number of goods or supplies is less compared to the market or demand, then the price becomes higher.
As mentioned in Availability, duck is more common than geese,therefore, creating an abundance of raw materials makes duck affordable compared to geese.
Duck or Goose Down Duvet?
Goose down is better in general. But a high-quality duck down duvet is better than low-quality or even medium quality goose down duvet.
Goose Down vs Duck Down Jacket
When bracing cold weather, keeping your body warm is important which is why goose down is the better for jackets because goose down has the capability to maintain warmth for longer periods of time.
But if goose down is a little too expensive, a high-quality duck down jacket is a suitable option.
Duck or Goose Down Pillow
This largely depends on two important factors: one, the size of the pillow, and two, the fill power of the pillow.
Many articles have been published on the consequences of sleeping on pillows that are too large that it almost borders comical in size. Additionally, goose down is proven to be denser in volume compared to duck down.
Keeping those facts in mind, high-quality super standard-sized duck down pillows will provide you the comfort for a good night’s sleep sans the possible neck pains due to an overly large pillow.
Best-Selling Down Pillows in 2020
Siberian or Hungarian Geese?
Not to ruffle any feathers, but Siberian goose down is purely a marketing ploy. A lot of controversy surrounds Siberian goose down; the biggest one is that the commercial production, commonly referred to as “commercial point of origin”, in Siberia is nearly non-existent and most likely originating from China.
However, Hungarian goose down has been proven to be a commercial point of origin. With just the name alone, Hungarian goose down is levels superior than Siberian and, therefore usually, the better choice.
Pros and Cons of Goose and Duck Down
Pros of Goose Down
- High quality, durable, and long-lasting (if cleaned properly and frequently).
- The structure of the down fiber was designed to trap hot air to keep you warm.
- The larger tufts of down use less raw materials to fill a simple bed pillow.
- Soft, flexible, and easily pliable.
- Perfect for pillows, jackets, and duvets.
Cons of Goose Down
- Not always available.
- Needs to be dry cleaned
- It becomes expensive over time.
- May cause allergic reactions.
- May have odor (due to it being a natural animal by-product.)
Pros and Cons of Duck Down
- If cared for properly, it will last long.
- Down tufts are rounder therefore making them softer and fluffier.
- Inexpensive and good value for your money.
- Readily available.
- Requires more raw material to fill a simple pillow.
- May cause allergic reactions.
- May have odor (due to it being a natural animal by-product.)
Duck down vs goose down: And the winner is…
So, who is the evident (or should I say featherweight?) champion for the down category?
Keep in mind that many variables will affect one’s decision, but it all boils down to your specific needs and budget. If you’re on a budget then go for duck down.
If maintaining warmth is important and you want nothing but the best, go for goose down.
In general, goose down is better but it’s also more expensive. Keep in mind that a high-quality duck down pillow, duvet or jacket is better than a low-quality goose down product. Our recommended high-quality products: Egyptian Bedding Down Comforter, PureDown down pillow, down jacket by Orolay