Down and Feather - What's the Difference?
There’s a common misconception among consumers that down and feathers are the same thing. In fact, they’re quite different. In this post, we break down the main differences between these fill types.
Look and Feel
Down is the soft undercoating of geese and ducks. It consists of clusters of light, fluffy filaments growing from a central quill point. A single down cluster is three dimensional and looks similar to a dandelion pod.
Feathers are the plumage, or outer growth, of birds. Feathers consist of a hard quill shaft (or stem) with a series of fibres extending from each side.
Loft is the measure of the fluffiness of down and is also a great indicator of its overall quality and performance. It is widely used as the most important factor in determining down quality and insulating power. While the loft of feather can be measured (small feather typically hits about 350-450 loft), it is not generally listed for feather products, and feather length or size is more commonly used.
Duvet Warmth and Weight
Down is the best insulator per ounce over any other fill, natural or man-made. Down provides much more warmth per ounce than feathers. For this reason, feather duvets contain significantly more fill and are heavier than down duvets. They require more fill to achieve the same level of insulation and warmth.
Down provides minimal head and neck support in pillows. Pillows containing feather provide more resilient support and firmness due to the springy feather quills/stems.
Scarcity and Price
Down is more expensive than feathers. Due to its luxurious feel and excellent insulating properties, down is more prized than feathers by consumers. Down is also scarcer – each bird yields much more feather than it does down.
Have questions about down and feather? We'd love to hear 'em below!
Illustrations by Amanda Nguyen