Most Affordable Alternative to a Goose Down Pillow

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

Take a look at this goose-down alternative pillow and see if you can spot the difference between this and an actual goose-down pillow (besides the price of course).



a Downlite duck down pillow

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.

Let’s discuss…



Duck vs Goose Comparison

Down, regardless of bird type, comes from the soft belly feathers of that bird.

Here is an example of goose down:


a goose down feather


And here is an example of duck down:


a duck down feather

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.



Fill power

One of the reasons why down is used in jackets, comforters, pillows, etc., is its 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 is 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. This means it will hold on to about half the amount of heat that the 900 FP cluster will.


a comparison of different fill power levels of down


Fill power of a pillow

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 feathers at any specific fill power are 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 specific type of 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. This is insignificant when it comes to a pillow, because unless your pillow springs a leak, you will never see the down fill anyway.

The picture below shows both kinds of down clusters. Grey is sown on the left, and white is on the right.


a comparison of grey and white down feathers


The moral of the story is – 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 on 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.


features of a quality 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:

  • Standard
  • Queen
  • King

The outer cover is made of 100% cotton, with a 300 thread count. They also have piping all around to make them durable and to keep the down inside the pillow, where it belongs.

If you’ve ever had a down pillow leak, it’s almost always from poorly constructed pillows. Sewn seams of a pillow tend to break after a certain amount of washing, whereas piped seams do not.


feathers leaking out of a pillow


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


Use protection

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 inside of a protector


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 the 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.

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