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Down vs. Down Alternative - What’s the Difference?

Down and down alternative are made from different materials: down is a natural material that is made from goose or duck plumage (the fluffy stuff beneath the feathers), whereas down alternative is a synthetic fiber made to act like down. Some people opt for traditional down for its long tradition as the gold standard for temperature regulation and support, as well as its longevity and lightweight properties, whereas others go for the more allergy-friendly down alternative. 

After years of research and development by our Founder and Chief Designer Missy Tannen in partnership with Downlite–an expert on fill since 1983—we’re proud to offer both down and down alternative duvet and pillow inserts, which are sustainably sourced and hypoallergenic. No matter if you choose down or down alternative, you’ll make your bed more comfortable for years to come. 

If you’re curious about down and down alternative, we’ll let you in on all the key differences to help you make the best choice to customize your comfort. 

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What is Down?

Down is a natural filling used in pillows and duvet inserts. Down is particularly known for its softness and fluffiness, giving your bedding a lofty, light quality.   

Down usually comes in different densities to provide certain experiences, depending on the product. For down pillows, fill density is attributed to support. Ours come in soft, medium, and firm densities. For duvet inserts, fill density is attributed to temperature regulation. Ours come in lightweight, midweight, or ultraweight. These options in density offer customizability for sleep preference, and for both staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Where does down come from?

Down is the fluffy, light coating clustered beneath goose or duck feathers. Down naturally keeps birds warm and gives them insulation, and it does the same for you when you sleep with a down duvet insert. It has long been considered a superior product for pillows because of its soft, naturally pillowy nature. 

To perfect our down experience, Missy tried over 100 different down prototypes before choosing hypoallergenic duck feathers for our pillows and inserts. It’s International Down Standard certified, which means it meets global standards for sustainability and is ethically sourced. 

Our down is triple washed to be two times cleaner than the government standard, so you can ensure they’re clean and ready to be loved for years to come. 

Down is best for:

- Those who are not sensitive or allergic to animal feathers

- Those who want a warmer blanket

- Those who are looking for a fluffy blanket

- Those who are interested in an investment piece for their bedding

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What is Down Alternative?

Down alternative is a non-feather, vegan alternative to down filling. Down alternative is usually made of microfiber that evokes the feeling of real down. Down alternative varies in quality, so it’s important to do your research if you decide to purchase. 

How is down alternative made?

Down alternative can be made from many different synthetic materials. Our down alternative is made from PrimaLoft®, a premium, hypoallergenic fiber that mimics down in all the right ways—it’s squishable, bendable, lofty, and supportive.  

Down alternative is best for:

- Those who have allergies to down 

- Those who don’t want an animal-based product

- Those who are looking for soft, plush bedding at a more affordable price

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Choosing Between Down vs Down Alternative: Key Differences

If you’re still not sure if down or down alternative is right for you, here’s how each one stacks up in different categories.


Down Alternative

Fill power/ fluffiness






Cleaning/ maintenance







Fill power/fluffiness


Tie Both down and down alternative are fluffy and come in specific fill densities, so you can choose your preference. 


Winner: Down alternative 

Down might not be right for those who have goose or duck allergies. Down can also trap other allergens like dust, pet fur, and skin cells more than down alternative. 

Still, those with allergies may still be able to enjoy down that has been responsibly sourced, properly cleaned, and free of harmful chemicals. 


Winner: Down

Down is the winner when it comes to breathability. Down is naturally light and airy, whereas more down alternative is needed to achieve the same loftiness that down gives. 

Our down alternative is PrimaLoft®, a premium fiber that offers an experience as close as possible to down. Our fill ratios are precise to mirror the weight of down, so it’s as similar in breathability as possible. 


Winner: Down alternative

Down alternative can be easily washed in a standard washing machine, whereas some down inserts can only be dry cleaned. If easy care is important to you, down alternative might be a better fit for your lifestyle. 

Both our down and down alternative inserts can be machine washed safely on a gentle cycle for your convenience. Drying down inserts well is incredibly important. We recommend running several dry cycles and fluffing your down inserts between cycles. Our down and down alternative pillow inserts can also be refreshed by throwing them in the dryer.


Winner: Tie

Down is known for its durability. When down is cared for and maintained properly, it can last you for years. 

Similarly, a high-quality down alternative is designed to withstand the test of time, keeping its physical shape with washing and wear, and providing the same experience and temperature regulation as down. Commonly, generic down alternative fill can clump and relax its shape over time. We use Primaloft® Luxury Down Alternative® fill for our down alternative products, which most closely resembles the experience of regular down, making it more durable than most other offerings. 


Winner: Down alternative 

Down alternative is typically less expensive than down. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as high quality—our down alternative is still luxurious and soft, just like real down. 

Down vs. Down Alternative: Which is Best?

Both down and down alternative will give you a cushiony pillow experience and lofty temperature regulation, but each fiber brings its own unique benefits. Down is typically softer and more durable, but down alternative is vegan-friendly and more affordable. 

Our down is the highest quality available, as clean as we can get it, and ethically sourced. Our down alternative is the most down-like synthetic fiber available. Either choice will make your bed feel incredible night after night. Invest in your sleep and yourself with our duvet inserts and pillow inserts