Down and Feather - What's the Difference?

Posted on April 05, 2017 by Heather Walker | 2 Comments

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 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.

Pillow Support

Down provides some head and neck support in pillows, especially if it is very lofty. Pillows containing feathers 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.

Have questions about down and feather? We'd love to hear 'em below!



2 Responses

Canadian Down & Feather Co.
Canadian Down & Feather Co.

April 10, 2017

That’s a great question! Thank you! All the down and feather used in our products are by-products of the meat industry that would otherwise go to the landfill. We do not condone live plucking. Birds are not alive when down and feather are harvested. We’d be happy to discuss this with you in greater detail! We’ll send you an email shortly. Have a wonderful week!


April 08, 2017

Are the birds alive when the down and feathers are removed?

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