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.

photo of white feather and white down cluster

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

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.

Click here for our duvet buying guide.

 

 

 

 



Pillow Support

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.

Click here for our pillow buying guide

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.

Feather and Down piles with price tags and magnifying glass on blue backgroundHave questions about down and feather? We'd love to hear 'em below!

 

Illustrations by Amanda Nguyen

 

46 comments

Hi Glenda, It’s impossible to achieve 100% down, 0% feather with certainty in commercial applications. You would have to hand select and separate every single down cluster, which is nearly impossible! In Canada, the threshold is 75%. If a product is labelled as down, it must have a minimum of 75% down cluster. The remaining material could be down filament, feather filament, or feathers. The higher the loft, the higher the down cluster percentage tends to be, but it’s not an exact science – it’s a natural material with natural variance, but you can be assured that it is at least 75% down cluster.
That being said, you’re not going to feel feather quills in there. For all intents and purposes, it feels like an ‘all down’ product. All of the material we use is rendered hypoallergenic through the cleaning process, so most allergy sufferers can use any of our products without issue!

Canadian Down & Feather Company January 10, 2023

When your coverlets say down, are there any feathers in these, I have allergies to feathers.
Thank you!

Glenda January 10, 2023

Hi Krista, I’m afraid it doesn’t. We don’t feel that customers would be happy with the product. The reason is that the Hutterite down is very high loft and therefore has robust insulating properties. Just a little bit of this down goes a long way in terms of warmth. In order to create a summer weight with high loft down, we wouldn’t be able to fill it much and it would look and feel very flat. Although it’s possible to achieve the warmth level, it would be almost empty and not feel very luxurious. I will take this to our team though. If enough people are asking, we will definitely consider it!!

Canadian Down & Feather Company November 21, 2022

Does your Hutterite goose down come in a summer weight?

Krista November 21, 2022

Hi Chris, We don’t list gsm, but you should be able to do the calculation. If you click on Dimensions & Fill Weights (under the images on the product page), you’ll see all sizes and fill weights. Just convert inches to meters and calculate the square meters. Then convert ounces to grams. And then divide the grams by the square meters! If you’re looking for something plush, you’ll want to opt for a down alternative poly bed. Feathers have quills, and therefore create more of a firm topper, so if you already have a firm mattress, I would not opt for the feather bed. We have 2 down alternative poly beds that are almost the exact same except for the thread count! I hope this helps!

Canadian Down & Feather Company November 18, 2022

Hi my mattress is firm. I want a plushy thick feather or alternative mattress topper to sink into. You do not list the gsm on your products. Is there another way for me to know what is thick and plushy? Thanks

Chris November 18, 2022

Hi Pam, You can find delivery timelines on our Shipping Information page! This year, our holiday order cut-off date is December 17th. Order before then, and your items should arrive before Christmas (barring any unforeseen carrier delays, of course).

Canadian Down & Feather December 12, 2021

My daughter wants a true down pillow I think medium. And as well as my husband. Will you be able to send both before Christmas? If so sold a d a happy girl!!

Pam December 12, 2021

Hi Caitlin, The 850 Loft duvet is filled with down, yes! If you’re wondering if we mix feather or polyester in, the answer is no. But it’s actually illegal to advertise any down product as ‘all down’, ‘pure down’ or ‘100% down’, because it’s impossible to achieve! In order to label a product as ‘down’, it needs to contain a minimum of 75% down clusters. The higher the loft, the higher that percentage of down clusters tends to go. Although it’s not an exact science, and each batch of down is not the exact same, our 850 Loft goose down tends to be closer to 90% down cluster. I hope this helps!

Canadian Down & Feather Company November 29, 2021

Is your 850 Loft Hutterite Goose down duvet 100% goose down or do you use other fillers?

Caitlin November 29, 2021

Hi Maureen, We do have a few goose down duvet options. Our top seller is the 650 Loft White Goose Down Duvet in All Season Weight. However, if you’re looking to match your Pacific Coast duvet as closely as possible, we would need some more information, including fill weight, thread count, and any other details you can find. If you can email us a photo of the labels, that might help give us some clues!

Canadian Down & Feather October 24, 2021

I have had my duvet for about 20 years and it was a gift from my kids.The brand name is Pacific Coast and it is a four season I have never used another quilt or comforter. I think it is goose down and feathers very lite and so cozy warm.I would like to buy one very similar except a large queen what one would u suggest thank you

Maureen October 24, 2021

Hi Ganomia, Thanks so much for your inquiry! I’m afraid we’re not able to provide this service. We only use new material, and for cleanliness reasons, we’re not able to put used material through our machines. There may be someone out there who can help you with this, although I’m not sure who. However, I would expect that the amount you would pay for a custom job like this would be as much or more than a new feather duvet – feather duvets are relatively inexpensive!

Canadian Down & Feather July 01, 2021

Hi, I have 3 large feather fill baffled pillows from the back cushions of a canadian couch manufacturer (we replaced them with eco foam for improved comfort); I’m curious if you would be able to extract and reuse the fill, to make me a feather duvet? Would there be any savings in doing so?
thanks for the nice web site, and all…

ganomia June 15, 2021

Hi Kenneth, DNA testing isn’t necessary. Different species have different identifying features on their down and feathers. You simply need to look at a sample of the material under a microscope or similar machine to see those features. We are IDS and RDS Certified, which (among other things) means our down and feather is tested for species by a 3rd party (IDFL), is traceable throughout our supply chain, and is compliant with all labelling standards and regulations. So there’s no need for you to test on your own, but if you wanted to, I’m sure you could through IDFL for a couple hundred bucks!

Canadian Down & Feather May 24, 2021

How can I prove that the down in my pillow is GOOSE down and not from some other kind of bird? Would DNA testing on the down be conclusive?

Kenneth Athon May 24, 2021

I was unsure how a topper would be if it my new beautiful mattress . I did my tease arch and choose Canadian down and feather as the company was highly recommended by reviews. I also liked the high quality of all the products and all the information provided .
Well I will say it is better than the mattress!!! It is the icing on the cake!!
Right away in seconds I loved my topper.. it adds comfort softness luxury . It is now like the beat hotel bed on the world !! I have been to Europe across the states Canada and the world . Beat topper ever !! I highly recommend to purchase a topper to finish of your bedding .. also get a protector thou to protect you investment . Amazing!! I will always shop at Canadian down and feather the quality is the best😊❤️

Lydia June 24, 2020

Hi Danny, Certainly, we will give you a call shortly! In future, the best way to get in queue for a call back is to fill out the Request a Call form on our Contact Us page. Due to the pandemic, our phone lines are not manned with the usual number of staff, so we’ve set up this form to help us manage incoming inquiries so you don’t have to wait for us on the line! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company June 18, 2020

hello there i spoke with customer support on the phone last week with a girl named rosie. this was the best customer service i ever received because i had a complicated issue with my feather duvet and she treated it so quickly and was very nice about it. i now have two duvets and would like to return one to you in good faith. could you have rosie call me please? my name is danny and my phone number is 647-641-9820 as your phone lines seem busy yesterday. thank you this is a great company and i love my feather duvet

Danny June 18, 2020

Hi Susan, If you’re on a product page, click on the ‘Specifications’ tab (next to ‘Description’) to see fill weights! As a general rule, the lower the loft, the heavier the fill weight. This is because we need more fill to make up for the lower loft (less fluffy) down. Our White Down Pillow (pink) has the lowest loft of all our down pillows, and therefore the heaviest fill weight! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company June 18, 2020

What is the heaviest weight in a firm goose/duck down pillow? I don’t see weight of pillows at all?

Susan Uschner June 16, 2020

I am a side sleeper with a sore neck & back head ache, interested in a really good pillow in Queen size.
Will I still be able to get the 20% off if I order tomorrow? I will look forward to chatting tomorrow as live in
Calgary & you are now closed.

Patricia Syrette May 20, 2020

Hi Shiv, Great question! All of the down and feather we use is by-product of the meat industry that would otherwise go to the landfill. The down and feather is collected post-mortem – no live plucking, molt-harvesting, etc. Actually, the demand for meat is much higher than the demand for down and feather. You can read more about our commitment to ethical sourcing here: https://www.canadiandownandfeather.com/pages/our-commitment . I hope this helps!

Canadian Down and Feather Company September 24, 2019

Hi Shiv, Great question! All of the down and feather we use is by-product of the meat industry that would otherwise go to the landfill. The down and feather is collected post-mortem – no live plucking, molt-harvesting, etc. Actually, the demand for meat is much higher than the demand for down and feather. You can read more about our commitment to ethical sourcing here: https://www.canadiandownandfeather.com/pages/our-commitment . I hope this helps!

Canadian Down and Feather Company September 24, 2019

I have a question. How is the down and feather procured? Where does the industry get so much of this material to fill so many merchandise? Are the birds harmed when one gets this material from them?

Shiv September 24, 2019

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