When it comes to your bed, there’s nothing quite like sleeping with a down comforter. They’re soft, comfortable, and warm!
But shopping for a down comforter can be confusing. Just click on that link and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll see terms like fill power, weight, seasons, etc.
But what do these terms mean?
Comforter shopping doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience – especially if you understand the terminology.
Down Comforters 101
In case you’re new to bedding, let’s get the basics out of the way first.
A down comforter is a comforter filled with the down of geese or ducks. Down is the soft fluffy feathers from the belly of these birds.
Specifically, this is what a down cluster looks like (magnified):
Down is a highly desirable stuffing because these clusters are ultra-lightweight, and hold heat extremely well.
A natural down comforter is also more expensive than other fill types such as polyester or Primaloft. But you get what you pay for.
A down comforter is more comfortable, and usually lasts longer than a polyester version.
Fill power indicates the size of the down clusters. The larger the fill power, the larger the clusters. Fill powers range from 300 to 900, but comforters with a fill power of 400-750 are most common.
The fill power is important because it directly relates to the amount of warmth that the comforter will provide. Larger clusters hold more heat, smaller clusters hold less heat.
Comforters containing larger clusters are also fluffier.
The image below shows 550 through 900 fill power. As you can see, the 550 fill power cluster is about half the size of the 900 clusters.
Naturally, you will need less of the 900 fill power to get the same warmth as a 550 fill power comforter.
The fill power number is a measurement of how much space one ounce of down will fill. For example, 550 fill power down will take up 550 square inches; whereas 900 fill power down will take up 900 square inches.
As you can see in the image below, one ounce of 550 fill power down takes up a little more than half the space that 900 fill power fills:
You might be thinking…”So why not just get the highest fill power?”
Mainly two reasons:
1.) Cost – higher fill power is also more expensive
2.) It really depends on the weight of the fill
For the average person, a 600 fill power comforter is sufficient. For warm climates, 550 and below is preferred. And for colder climates, 650-700 is usually the choice.
This brings us to…
You don’t necessarily need a high-fill power comforter. It depends on how much warmth you need – specifically, the temperature of your room, and how cool you need the bed for a comfortable night’s sleep.
You’ll typically find the weight of a comforter described in one of two ways (and usually both):
1.) The amount of down (in ounces) that a comforter contains
2.) A general weight rating (in terms of warmth)
Typically, a comforter (depending on size, and warmth desired) will contain around 20-50 ounces of down.
For general weight ratings, you’ll find lightweight, medium (or all-season), and heavyweight. With these general ratings, fill power works in parallel with the specific weight that the comforter contains.
For example, a 600 fill power lightweight comforter will usually contain around 35 ounces of down, whereas a 700 fill power lightweight comforter will contain about 25 ounces. Even with the discrepancy in down weight, both comforters will provide the same amount of heat.
So ultimately, it comes down to this: Ignore the fill power and ounce weight, and just focus on the general weight rating!
Use this as a general rule of thumb, of course, to find the correct weight for you:
If you live in a cold area a heavier comforter is nice to have in the winter. A lighter comforter is nice in the summer or if you live in an area with a warm climate.
For most people, a medium weight, or all-season comforter is the ideal choice. A medium comforter won’t overpower you during the summer, but will still provide warmth during the winter.
Some more terms to consider
Baffled box construction
This used to be an option for fancy comforters. But most comforters these days (not including decorative comforters) are made with baffle box construction.
When you’re shopping for a comforter, you’ll notice that it has a diamond or square-shaped stitching. This creates baffled boxes.
This kind of construction keeps the down evenly distributed. Down tends to cluster up, and without the individually sewn baffles, the down would all clump up towards one corner.
In lighter-weight comforters, you might also see “sewn-thru” or Bavarian construction”.
This is essentially the same thing. The walls of the baffled boxes allow for more down within each box, which is why they are more commonly used in heavier comforters that contain more down.
For a fluffier comforter, opt for baffled box over sewn-thru construction.
Just like with sheets, you’ll often see the thread count of the outer fabric mentioned. The higher the thread count, then the more expensive the comforter will be. A high-thread count comforter is a waste of money!
If you’re like most people, you put your comforter inside of a duvet cover to keep it clean. This means other than when you take it out of the duvet cover, you’ll never actually feel the fabric of the comforter itself.
It could be covered in sandpaper, and you’d never know!
Speaking of duvet covers, if you don’t already have one, get one!
A duvet cover is like a big pillowcase for your comforter. Just like a pillowcase does with a pillow, a duvet cover keeps your comforter clean, so you don’t have to wash it as often. The more often you wash a comforter, the sooner it will break down.
A duvet cover also offers you the option of colors, styles, etc. – so you’re not left with a plain boring white comforter.
Some people, of course, are allergic to goose or duck down. If you are too, there’s still hope. Look for comforters that contain “EcoDown” or “Ultra pure” down fill.
This kind of down have been washed and purified, to remove most allergens. For most people suffering from down allergies, it’s not the actual down that bothers you, but the dust and dirt contained within.
Where should you buy one?
I would suggest you check out Downlite’s store on Amazon. Downlite is a company that manufactures down pillows and comforters.
You’ve most likely come across Downlite products without realizing it.
Downlite manufactures bedding products for popular hotel chains like Sheraton, Marriott, etc,. So when you sleep in a hotel bed, you’re most likely using a Downlite pillow or comforter.
Downlite also makes pillows and comforters for major chain department stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s. For example, have you seen Vail comforters at Macy’s?
Or a “My Down Comforter” at Bloomingdale’s for instance? Yep – those are both made by Downlite.
The benefit of a Downlite comforter is that you get the same quality product; at a great price, by cutting out the middleman.
Sleeping under a down comforter is definitely a luxury. And you don’t need the most expensive down comforter to get a great quality product.
Take care of it like you would any other bedding product, and it will provide you with a great night of sleep for years to come!