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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 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 background

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


Illustrations by Amanda Nguyen



Hi Maria, While none of our pillows are ‘cooling’, they shouldn’t really give off much heat or get too hot. Down and feather are more breathable materials and therefore, you may find them more comfortable than synthetic microfiber.

Canadian Down & Feather Company

I find my face gets very warm with regular pillows, so my rosacea acts up. If you were to rank your pillows which would stay cooler, retain less heat? FYI stomach and side sleeper, thanks for your time


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!

Canadian Down & Feather Company

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???


Hi Linda,
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!

Canadian Down & Feather Company



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

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


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

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!

Canadian Down & Feather Company

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).

Canadian Down & Feather

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!

Canadian Down & Feather Company

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!

Canadian Down & Feather

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!

Canadian Down & Feather

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!

Canadian Down & Feather

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

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! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company

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! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company

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

Susan Uschner

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

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: . I hope this helps!

Canadian Down and Feather Company

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: . I hope this helps!

Canadian Down and Feather Company

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?


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

Canadian Down and Feather Company

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


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

Canadian Down & Feather Co.

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


Yah, Diane, in full flight . . .

Charles Bernreiter

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

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


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

Just to make sure I am understanding your information properly. I plan to buy a duvet as a gift for my daughter who likes a heavy layer of blankets. It is not warmth that is an issue, (she has a heated mattress pad for that) but the weight of the covers that she likes. Would I be correct to think that a feather duvet would be more likely to suit her than a down one?


Hi Carryl,
That depends on the product! For example, our White Goose Feather Duvet is filled with imported feather, where our Hutterite Goose Down Duvet is filled with down farmed by the Hutterites in Alberta, Canada. If you have a question about the fill of a particular product, feel free to email or chat us :)

Canadian Down & Feather Co.

Do you use domestic Canadian birds or foreign birds?


Hi Jacquie, Thank you so much for asking! All of the down and feather we use is a by-product of the meat industry that would otherwise go to the landfill. We have zero tolerance for live-plucking as well as other inhumane practices, such as force-feeding, over-crowding and neglect. We’re happy to discuss any of this with you in further detail – just shoot us an email! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company

Could you please tell me how the down is harvested? I’ve heard some very disturbing things about the process.


Hi Lynn,

I would recommend the White Goose Down Pillow or the Hutterite Goose Down Pillow in soft or medium. It’s important that front sleepers don’t use too firm a pillow, so these options are soft and sinky. If you sleep only on your front, you may want the soft. If you sleep occasionally on your side or back as well, medium is best! I hope this helps! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company

What would be the best down pillow for a front sleeper?


Hi Tom, Great question! While it is normal to see the occasional feather or piece of down come out, down and feather should not leak out. The fabric of the shell must be 233 thread count or higher to retain down and feather, and you’ll notice we don’t use fabric under 233 TC. That being said, if you do find an unexpected amount of down or feather is leaking out, please let us know, and we’ll replace the product for you. I hope this helps! :)

Canadian Down & Feather Company

will the quills go threw the outer shell

tom w

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks so much for your comment. Generally, side sleepers need a lot of support. I would recommend the Down Perfect Pillow in Medium. It has a feather core which provides great support, surrounded by soft down. The Medium version should provide enough support for side sleeping, but shouldn’t be too firm for back sleeping. I hope this helps!

Canadian Down & Feather Company

Hi. I’m a side sleeper and sometimes back . I have bit of arthritis in neck so wondering which pillow would be best . I presently have a feather pillow which has been great but have had it 10 years and think time to replace . Could you recommend which pillow would be best . I’m worried down might be to soft? Maybe I need medium pillow for support for neck ?


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