This post was most recently updated on March 21st, 2019
Take a look at this goose down alternative pillow and see if you can spot the difference between it and an actual goose down pillow (besides the price of course). Click the blue link and then come back for the answer.
If you guessed that it’s a duck down filled pillow, you are correct! And it’s more affordable than a goose down pillow right? Probably a lot more affordable than you may have thought.
Assuming that you aren’t allergic to down, and that you actually like down pillows (but not the high cost), duck down pillows are the best – and more affordable – alternative.
If you’re still skeptical, check out this link for a traditional white goose down pillow.
Quite a price difference huh?
What if I were to tell you that these two pillows feel and perform the exact same way. Would you believe me?
Maybe, maybe not. After all, you get what you pay for, and you’re paying much more for white goose down right?
Well, the answer might surprise you. For all practical (pillow) purposes, duck down is basically the same as goose down.
Down, regardless of bird type, comes from the soft belly feathers of that bird.
Here is an example of goose down:
And here is an example of duck down:
As you can see, they are very similar in terms of shape, size, and texture. When you put a cluster of these into a bag – and call it a pillow – they behave and perform exactly the same way!
Duck down is just as fluffy as goose down. It smells the same, looks about the same, and feels the same.
So how are they different? They are different in two and only two ways: Fill power capability, and color. To answer that question more clearly, let’s first understand what fill power actually is.
One of the reasons why down is used in jackets, comforters, pillows, etc., is it’s capability as an insulator. Down is prized for its ability to hold on to heat.
Fill power essentially measures how much heat a particular cluster of down can hold. To be exact, it measures the size of each particular cluster. You may have seen a comforter or pillow being described as being of “500 fill power” or “600 fill power”. That is a description of the kind of down contained inside.
So….a pillow described as “500 fill power” is only filled with 500 fill power down, and so on.
The higher the fill power, the more warmth that the particular type of down can hold on to.
Here is a chart that illustrates that point:
As you can see, the 500 fill power cluster is about half the size of the 900 fill power cluster. Which means it will hold on to about half the amount of heat that the 900 FP cluster will.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what this fill power business has to do with pillows. The short answer is: Very little. Fill power by definition has very little to do with the properties we look for in a pillow.
The long answer is: White goose down is capable of a higher fill power than duck down. While white goose down can approach 1000 FP, duck down tops out around 650. But here’s the catch – down of a certain fill power is identical, regardless of which animal it comes from.
So, 600 fill power goose down, is identical to 600 fill power duck down – they will behave in exactly the same way.
To make fill power even more insignificant (as it pertains to pillows); fill power measures how much heat that down can hold on to. But we don’t use pillows for warmth. We don’t cover ourselves with a pillow. So fill power is absolutely meaningless when it comes to pillows!
In other words; the major way that goose down is superior to duck down isn’t relevant AT ALL when considering a pillow.
The second difference, is that white goose down is white in color, and duck down is usually grey in color. Unfortunately, the white color of goose down makes it more “valued” because of its appearance. Which is of supreme insignificance when it comes to a pillow, because unless your pillow springs a leak, you will never see the down fill anyways.
The picture below shows both kinds of down clusters. Grey is sown on the left, and white is on the right.
The moral of the story being – when it comes to pillows, duck down is exactly the same as goose down. Goose down just has a better PR agent. That’s right – you’re paying more because goose down has a more popular “brand name”.
Why spend more for a goose down pillow, when a duck down pillow will look, feel, and perform the exact same way!
In Depth Look
If you haven’t already, click on the blue link at the top of the page, and let’s take a deeper look at that duck down pillow.
This particular pillow is from Pinzon; which if you didn’t already know, is Amazon’s house brand for bedding.
Like most down pillows, these are available in Soft, Medium, and Firm. They are available in the following sizes:
The outer cover is made of 100% cotton, with a 300 thread count. They also have piping all around to make them durable, and keep the down in, where it belongs.
If you’ve ever had a down pillow leak, it’s almost always from a poorly constructed pillows. Sewn seems of a pillow tend to break after a certain amount of washings, whereas piped seems do not.
As far as allergies are concerned, the down used in these pillows has been sanitized. The sanitizing process alleviates 90% of allergy issues.
Some final thoughts
Even though duck down pillows are a bargain, spend a few extra bucks and buy a pillow protector. No need to get fancy, even a $5 protector will go a long way.
A pillow protector is the single best investment you can make, other than the pillow itself. A good protector will keep out dust mites, and perspiration – the two things which damage down the most!
Consider the person, not just position
Also, consider who will be sleeping on the pillow, instead of going with the rule of thumb, which states:
- Stomach sleepers use a soft pillow
- Back sleepers use a medium pillow
- Side sleepers use a firm pillow
A petite person, will always benefit from a softer pillow, whereas a larger person will appreciate a firmer pillow. So, for a petite side sleeper, a medium might work better. Whereas for a large person sleeping on their back, a firm pillow will be a better option.