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.
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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.
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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
Hi Eileen, The least warm weight we offer is Summer Weight! There are 4 duvets that come in Summer Weight – see the product comparison chart for guidance!
I bought my present duvet from you and am looking for another one. My bedroom is usually quite cold, way past cool.
My body temperature is very very warm. I prefer to just sleep with the Sheets and just a light Duvet, I am curious as to which is your lightest weight???
Any of our down pillows are very soft, sinky, and malleable. If you don’t want too much puffiness, you may want to go with Medium. It sounds like you need a bit of gentle cradling, so I wouldn’t go with Soft, which is a flatter style pillow. Down pillows are soft and squishy in nature. Just steer clear of polyester or feather if you don’t want too much height or firmness!
I CURRENTLY HAVE SOFT GUSHIE DOUBLE SIZE PILLOW. I AM A BACK SLEEPER. I LIKE MY PILLOW NOT TO BE FIRM OR HIGH IN LOFT. DO YOU MAKE DOWN PILLOWS THAT WILL SINK & FORM AROUND MY NECK TO CRADDLE IT. WHAT DOWN PILLOW DO YOU RECOMMEND?
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!
When your coverlets say down, are there any feathers in these, I have allergies to feathers.
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!!
Does your Hutterite goose down come in a summer weight?
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!
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
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).
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!!
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!
Is your 850 Loft Hutterite Goose down duvet 100% goose down or do you use other fillers?
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!
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
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!
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…
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!
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?
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😊❤️
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! :)
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
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! :)
What is the heaviest weight in a firm goose/duck down pillow? I don’t see weight of pillows at all?