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 a measure of the fluffiness of down and is also a great indicator of its overall quality. The loft measurement is not used for feather.

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

 

38 comments

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

Hi Krista, the White Down Duvet is filled with duck down. I hope this helps! :)

Canadian Down and Feather Company September 24, 2019

Hi, can you tell me is your down made of duck or goose? I’m specifically looking at the regular weight white down duvet. Thanks

Krista September 24, 2019

Hi Kim, Our most popular duvet is the Hutterite Goose Down Duvet (purple packaging). It’s light, lofty and warm!

Canadian Down & Feather Co. November 21, 2018

I’m looking for a fluffy nice warm duvet. Recommendations?

Kim November 21, 2018

Yah, Diane, in full flight . . .

Charles Bernreiter November 18, 2018

Hi Domanique, Without knowing too many details, I’d recommend the Down Perfect Pillow in Medium. The feather in the middle provides great support, while the down in the outer chambers provides softness. The Medium weight should provide enough support for side sleeping, but not so much support that you’ll be uncomfortable on your stomach. We can always work with you to adjust the pillow by adding or removing fill after you’ve tried it out! I hope this helps :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company October 10, 2018

I have major joint issues (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) and need pillows that can support me yet be soft enough that my joints aren’t at awful angles while I toss about during my sleep. What is your recommendation? (I fall asleep on my front/side, but that all goes out the window once I’m asleep haha) x

Domanique October 10, 2018

Hi Anne,

You’re absolutely right! Our heaviest duvets are White Goose Feather, Microfiber and Gel Microfiber. Perfect for those that like a weighty blanket! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company September 25, 2018

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