In the market today, Down and Feather products have thread counts that start around 200 and go as high as 800. There are a few different benefits to having higher thread count. These may include softer, smoother fabric and less noise from the shell. However, lower thread count products are not worse than higher thread count products and will last just as long. Even though higher thread counts are not directly felt by the consumer once placed inside a cover, the softness can be noticed through high quality covers. Higher thread count products will be more expensive, but the shell is usually not the most significant factor in determining price and quality.
Duvets are created with different types of construction, including box and channel. Box construction divides the duvet into, usually equal size squares, trapping down and/or feather in each of the boxes, preventing it from moving from one area to another. Sizes of squares vary depending on the particular manufacturer.
Box Construction is preferred to channel as it keeps the down and/or feather evenly distributed throughout the duvet. Without this, the duvet would have areas with little or no fill, leaving an area without insulation for heat to escape.
Sizes of boxes range from about 5" to as much as 20" in the length of one or both of the sides. Smaller boxes prevent down from lofting to its full potential and not trapping as much air. This proves to be less beneficial for insulating purposes. Larger may boxes may not be adequate either as they allow the down to shift within the box, perhaps leaving areas without insulation. Ideal size boxes range from about 150 - 225 sq. in. or 12" x 12" to 15" x 15".
Whether duvets have boxes or channels, they are either sewn directly through, from the top fabric to the bottom, or sewn with Baffles. A Baffle is a piece of fabric sewn in a perpendicular manner between the top and bottom fabric of the shell, similar to a wall, between compartments, creating a three-dimensional space.
Baffles and the resulting three-dimensional space allows down the room to loft up to its maximum potential. This in turn traps more air, providing better insulation and more warmth.
Between compartments without baffles, where the top and bottom fabrics are sewn together, there is not a lot of room for down. There is therefore a region without insulation, creating a "cold spot." With a baffle construction, down is able to fill the compartments on both sides of each wall, leaving no area for heat to escape.
WATERFOWL vs. LANDFOWL
Waterfowl are birds that are accustomed to and spend a substantial amount of time in water such as geese and ducks. Landfowl are birds that live only on land such as chickens, turkeys, and sparrows. Both waterfowl and landfowl birds produce feathers, but only waterfowl produces down.
Canadian Down and Feather uses only Waterfowl fillings in its products as it is of better quality.
Down is the soft undercoating of Waterfowl (Geese and Ducks), consisting of clusters of light, fluffy filaments growing from a central quill point, without a quill shaft. A single down cluster is three dimensional and looks much like a dandelion pod. Down provides geese and ducks warmth and insulation, yet keeps the birds dry by allowing water and moisture to escape from the body of the bird, through the down, and into the air.
Down filled products are extremely resilient and insulate very well. In duvets, down is the best insulator per ounce over any other fill, natural or manmade. For pillows, down provides incredible re-lofting capabilities, yet is soft and comfortable.
There are many factors that affect the quality of down and its price.
Feathers are the plumage or outer growth, forming the contour and external covering of birds. Feathers are generally characterized as two-dimensional, with a hard quill shaft running from one end to the other with a series of fibres extending to each side. Feathers come in different sizes and shapes and include small flight feathers, larger flight feather, and body feathers.
Consumers are best served when products are manufactured from smaller feathers, allowing them to trap more air and be less "crunchy." Small flight feather and body feathers are perfect for this use. Body feathers are even better as they shaft tends to be curled giving them a spring which makes them suitable in pillow and featherbeds. Large flight feathers are sometimes used, but tend to be chopped first for use in lower quality products.
Canadian Down & Feather Company never uses chopped feathers and only uses body feather no larger than 3-5 cm. Even though they may be slightly more expensive, these feathers are optimal for pillows, duvets, and featherbeds, over other types of feathers.
"PURE" vs. BLENDS
According to Canadian Government labelling regulations, down products must contain at least 75% down content to be labelled and called a "Down" product. It is illegal to state that a product is "All Down," Pure Down," "100% Down," or anything else of the sort. Down & Feather blends will range from 95% down to 5% Down. Obviously the higher the down percentage, the more expensive it usually is, given other quality factors remain the same. Different combinations of Down & Feather are used to achieve a desired level of comfort and price.
GOOSE vs. DUCK
The two most common types of Down & Feather used in natural filled products are Goose and Duck. Goose Down and Feather is more expensive and generally of higher quality than similar Duck Down & Feather, respectively.
One of the major reasons that Goose Down & Feather is more expensive and more sought after, is that it does not have any odour and has slightly better insulating qualities than does Duck Down & Feather. There are some companies that debate this fact, saying that if cleaned properly, Duck Down & Feather does not have any odour. The fact remains, Duck Down & Feather products, even from these companies, tend to have a slight odour. In some cases there may not always be an odour, but if exposed to the slightest bit of moisture or humidity, the odour can be reactivated.
For these reasons, majority of products manufactured by Canadian Down & Feather Company are created using the highest quality Goose Down & Feather. Duck Down & Feather products may be introduced as a promotional, less expensive, alternative.
The colour of Down & Feather ranges from very white to almost black. Generally though, majority of the down and feather available is off white or dark grey and the colour depends on the exact species of bird the Down & Feather originated from. Some common names for darker Down and Feather are "silver," and "grey."
Colour does not affect the quality, including warmth and insulating properties, of down and/or feather. In fact, some of the best qualities of Down & Feather are only available in a darker colour. However, most people still prefer white fill because of the fact that it does not show through and darken a light coloured duvet cover.
Due solely to supply and demand factors, there is a premium for duvets and pillows containing such fill. In a case where a consumer knows that they will not be using a translucent covering, they may want to consider the darker colour for cost savings.
Loft is the measure of the fluffiness of Down. Loft specifically refers to the number of cubic inches that one once of down will fill. This measurement is done under and with specific, internationally accepted specifications and methods. The test is conducted in a Plexiglas cylinder under exacting conditions of temperature and humidity. The larger, more mature the bird, the higher the loft of its down, when harvested.
Good quality products start with a loft factor of the down at about 550 cubic inches per ounce. The fluffier the down or the higher the loft, the warmer it will keep you, and the less it takes to fill a duvet or pillow. Therefore a high quality product will be lighter and still very warm and / or resilient.
Loft of down can be anywhere from about 300 to 800 cubic inches per ounce. Loft of down is probably the largest factor in determining the price of a down product. Generally higher loft products will also last much longer as the down has grown closer to full maturity and its filaments are much stronger. Lower quality loft products have weak and brittle down and will require replacing much sooner.
True allergies to Down & Feather are, in fact, quite rare. Canadian Down & Feather Company uses only Down & Feather which goes through a rigorous cleaning process and uses a special treatment to render the fill hypo-allergenic.
Some people may be allergic to dust, pollen, and bacteria that resides in Down & Feather before it is cleaned and sanitized. Unlike products that are not properly sanitized and cleaned or products from decades ago that may not have had any cleaning process, all Canadian Down & Feather Company products meet and exceed all government and industry standards and regulations. There is still a possibility that individuals may be allergic to dust mites that inhabit bedding products while in use. Using a mite proof protector on new or newly cleaned duvets, pillows, and featherbeds will eliminate most of these problems.
Many people are under the impression that polyester is a better choice than down and feather products for those who suffer from allergies. However, two different studies printed in the British Journal of Medicine have concluded that this is not the case. The studies show that polyester pillows support dust mites to a greater extent than do down pillows. One of the studies went as far as stating that asthmatics did better with down bedding than with polyester.