Why You Should Trust Us
Our diverse team of sleep experts with a range of body types and preferred sleep positions has personally researched and tested hundreds of pillows over the years. Using standards similar to our mattress testing methodology, we tested each pillow in our sleep lab to provide a carefully vetted selection of the best down alternative pillows across a variety of product categories.
What Is Down Alternative?
Traditional down pillows are filled with the soft inner layer of fine feathers from the chest and underbelly of ducks and geese. These feathers combine into the fluffy clusters that give down pillows their signature loft. When compressed by a sleeper’s body, the feathers deliver soft support to the head and neck.
Down alternative is a synthetic fill that mimics the performance characteristics of down. It is most often made from ultrafine polyester fibers or microfibers, as these most closely resemble the loft and supportiveness of natural down. Occasionally, you can also find down alternative pillows filled with cotton, kapok, or wool.
Down alternative does not come from animals, nor does it trap allergens like regular down tends to do. The vegan-friendly, cost-effective, hypoallergenic fill is a good choice for people with allergies, shoppers on a budget, and those concerned about animal welfare.
Down Alternative vs. Down in Your Pillows
Down alternative performs very similarly to down by design. However, each material has its own characteristics that can affect the way it performs inside a pillow. Down is natural and durable with lightweight loft and support. Down alternative is heavier and less durable, but it is also hypoallergenic, vegan-friendly, and often machine-washable.
Down Alternative vs. Down