Down and Feather - What's the Difference?

April 05, 2017 6 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.

Click here for our duvet buying guide.




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!


6 Responses

Canadian Down & Feather Company
Canadian Down & Feather Company

November 24, 2017

Hi Audrey,

I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. I sent you an email with some duvet recommendations. Let me know what you think.

Audrey Henderson
Audrey Henderson

November 24, 2017

I love your Duvets! I just can’t afford a new one right now. I am a registered nurse for 27 years and was very badly injured and have been off work now for 3&1/2 years,& still doing physiology,& cortisone treatments every 4 months or so. I’m wondering do you have contests? Is that what the voucher # is about.?

Canadian Down & Feather Company
Canadian Down & Feather Company

June 14, 2017

Hi J, Awesome question! According to government labeling regulations, down products must contain at least 75% down content to be labelled and called a “Down” product. It’s actually illegal to state that a product is “All Down,” Pure Down," “100% Down,” etc. In short, all of our down products contain at least 75% down clusters. Our more expensive down duvets and pillows generally contain closer to 90% down clusters. The remaining percentage may be made up of feathers, down filaments, feather filaments, etc. I know this wasn’t exactly a simple answer! We’ll send you an email to follow up. Be sure to let us know which product you’re looking at and we can give you a better percentage estimate.

J mccann
J mccann

June 13, 2017

Are your down duvets 100% down ? Same question about the pillows . I bot a silk duvet , but not satisfied..

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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