Shopping for a Down Alternative Pillow?
Well, you are in the right place!
If you are tired of sleeping on your limp, lifeless pillow, now is the time to invest in a comfy upgrade. And if you want an alternative to traditional down pillows, then we have you covered.
Whether you are vegan, suffer from allergies, or just do not prefer pillows with feather fillings, you are sure to find a unit that suits you perfectly from our list of best-down alternative pillows.
What's In This Buying Guide
In this guide, we review some of the best down alternative pillows in the market today in order to make it easier for you to compare the various options available. We also include a detailed buying guide highlighting the features you should keep in mind when choosing the best option.
Towards the end of this article, we answer some frequently asked questions to ensure that you choose the best down alternative pillow to give you the most pleasant sleep!
The Best Down Alternative Pillows
- Best for All Sleep Positions: TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro Pillow
- Best for Side Sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Pillows
- Most Luxurious Feel: Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
- Most Elegant: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillows
- Best Cooling: GhostBed GhostPillow – Faux Down
- Hypoallergenic: Saatva Down Alternative Pillow
|Award||Firmness options||Sleep Positions||Warranty|
| TEMPUR-Cloud||Best for All Sleep Positions||Lo, Hi||All||5-years|
|Parachute||Best for side Sleepers||Medium Soft||Side||1-year|
|Brooklinen||Most Luxurious Feel||Plush, Mid-Plush, and Firm||All||1-year
|Boll & Branch||Most Elegant||Soft, Medium, and Firm||All||-|
|GhostBed GhostPillow||Best Cooling||Medium Soft||All||5-years|
|Saatva||Hypoallergenic||Medium||Side and Back||1-year|
1. Best for All Sleep Positions: TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro Pillow
The TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro Pillow is designed with a layer of cooling gel that helps to keep you more relaxed. It is available in multiple height profiles, so all sleep positions can easily find a perfect fit.
- Suitable for all sleep positions
- Dual-sided cooling gel
- Excellent pressure relief
- Removable and washable cover
- Cradles neck and shoulders
- Adapts to your shape
- 5-year warranty
Constructed with unique TEMPUR material, this pillow does not flatten over time or lose its shape. It is available in several profiles and is suitable for any kind of sleeper.
The TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro-Hi features a higher profile and a medium feel, making it best for people with larger frames and side sleepers. Meanwhile, the TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro-Lo features a lower profile and a medium feel, making it ideal for stomach and back sleepers or people with smaller frames.
This TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow also features two layers of cutting-edge cooling gel that keep you cool, making it easier for you to fall asleep. It also comes with a removable and washable cover.
2. Best for Side Sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Pillows
The Parachute pillows are designed with a 3.5-inch gusset that offers the perfect plushness and unparalleled support to remove the strain from shoulders and neck, making them perfect for side sleepers.
- 100% Hypoallergenic microfiber fill
- Constructed with a 3.5-inch gusset
- 100% sateen cotton shell
- Reinforced with a double-stitched piping seam
- 3-year warranty
- May need a couple of days to adjust
The Parachute pillow maintains its thick, dense shape despite the extra-plush feel of the fill, thanks to the 3.5-inch gusset.
Side sleepers need more loft to avoid pains and aches around their neck and to feel more comfortable. This pillow comes with the ideal thickness that makes it very well-suited for side sleepers.
This Parachute pillow contains gel-infused microfibers encased in a pure cotton sateen cover. This helps sleepers to sleep cool without any heat buildup.
Special attention has been given to the construction of this pillow. Each seam has double-stitched piping to hold the Parachute pillow together and contain the fill. This ensures that the pillow lasts for a long time.
Since it is completely washable, this pillow is very easy to care for and maintain. The 100% hypoallergenic down alternative fill ensures a deluxe sleeping experience.
Lastly, the Parachute pillow is available in two sizes, standard, and king, and comes with a 3-year warranty.
3. Most Luxurious Feel: Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is very soft and luxurious. It is made with unique shaved microfibers, allowing it to mimic the exact feel of down pillows.
- 100% Polyfill and a 100% Cotton Sateen Shell
- Durable, double-stitched edges
- Perfect support and balance
- Soft and fluffy
- Vegan and allergy-friendly
- Three levels of support
- Synthetic fibers in the pillow produce noise while switching positions
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is one of the best options available as it not only offers a luxurious feel but is also very cost-effective. It provides the perfect balance of comfort and support that ensures a restful sleep.
The Brooklinen pillow is available in three firmness options: Plush, Mid-Plush, and Firm.
The Plush Pillow is ideal for stomach sleepers as it is very soft and fluffy.
The Mid-Plush Pillow is the most versatile as it offers a perfect balance of support and softness.
And the Firm Pillow is very supportive and is recommended for side sleepers due to its high-quality firmness.
The Brooklinen pillow is encased in a 100% ultra-soft cotton sateen shell, making it best for hot sleepers.
4. Most Elegant: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillows
The Down Alternative Pillows from Boll & Branch are ideal for environmentally-conscious people. They come with a 100% organic cotton cover. Luxurious details like the embroidery on the cover and piped edges give this pillow a stylish look.
- Accommodates people with various comfort preferences
- Lightweight PrimaLoft fiberfill
- Breathable organic cotton cover
- It retains its shape well
- Suitable for people who suffer from neck pain
- Produces a crunching sound when shifting position
Boll & Branch pillows are created by using sustainable manufacturing techniques. They are filled with PrimaLoft, an allergy-friendly premium synthetic fiber that retains its shape well.
These pillows are moisture-resistant, which allows you to stay comfortable and cool without trapping any heat. These PrimaLoft fibers mimic the feel of down pillows to provide you with a gentle, allergy-free loft.
The organic cotton cover ensures a safe night’s sleep. You can choose between various firmness levels that suit every sleeper type.
Firm pillows are ideal for side sleepers as they offer sufficient support to prevent the shoulders from scrunching.
On the other hand, stomach and back sleepers will find the lower loft more suitable as it ensures correct alignment of the spine and neck.
This Boll & Branch pillow is available in king and standard sizes and comes with a 30-night sleep trial.
5. Best Cooling: GhostBed GhostPillow – Faux Down
The GhostBed GhostPillow Faux Down is designed to help sleepers sleep exceptionally cool. This pillow is filled with microfibers infused with cooling gel to ensure a more comfortable and cooler night’s sleep.
- It offers the luxury and comfort of traditional down pillows
- Microfiber Gel Fill
- Breathable inner cover
- Zippered outer cover
- Perfect for all types of sleepers
- Fully washable
- Huggable and soft
- Naturally contours the neck, head, and shoulders for spinal alignment
- It doesn’t encourage fine lines and wrinkles
- 101-night sleep trial
- 5-year warranty
- Uncomfortable to sleep on the side with the embroidered logo
The unique properties of the GhostPillow Faux Down make it perfect for sleepers who want the luxurious feel of a down pillow without paying an excessive amount.
The microfiber fill is infused with cooling gel, and the cover is made from a fabric blend that helps regulate the surface temperature and dissipate body heat.
The microfiber gel clusters offer excellent support while contouring and cradling the head, neck, and shoulders. This pillow gives you that cozy, moldable feeling without the clumping and shifting of other pillows.
The inner cover of the GhostPillow is made from a 300 thread-count cotton scrim, while the outer cover is made from ultra-plush cotton velour. This silky soft outer cover is conducive to snuggling and allows you to get the most out of your beauty sleep.
Since this pillow is entirely breathable, it is particularly well-suited to hot sleepers. It is also hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, making it highly suitable for allergies.
Cozy and plush, the GhostPillow Down Faux works with all types of sleepers. People with hip or lower back pain may place this pillow under their legs or knees to find relief.
The best thing about the GhostPillow is that you can throw it in the washing machine without a problem. It is very reasonably priced and comes with a 5-year warranty for complete peace of mind.
6. Hypoallergenic: Saatva Down Alternative Pillow
The Saatva Down Alternative Pillow is constructed with two layers of hypoallergenic down alternative fibers, supportive memory fibers, and a MicroDenier down alternative.
Wrapped in 100% organic cotton, this pillow provides greater support while recreating the luxurious plushness of real down pillows.
- Ideal for people who prefer products made with organic components
- Hypoallergenic dual-layer down alternative fill
- Breathable organic cotton cover
- Conforms to the head and neck
- Greater support and durability
- 45-night trial
- 1-year warranty
- Not suitable for stomach sleepers
The Saatva Down Alternative Pillow utilizes a layering technology to offer variable sleep surface comforts. The pillow-in pillow technique allows you to change the overall firmness and pillow height to suit your preference.
The use of both latex and fiberfill delivers a premium plush feel and greater support to keep your neck and head on an even plane.
The inner pillow insert is made from natural shredded Talalay latex, offering excellent response without sacrificing support. Latex is also highly breathable and has instant bounce-back. It is not only best for hot sleepers but is also dust-mite resistant, mildew proof, and hypoallergenic.
The outer Saatva pillow is filled with MicroDenier polyester fiberfill and has a cotton cover.
The zipper along one edge of the cover makes accessing the inner latex insert easier. The polyester fiberfill is not just breathable and durable but also allows for an extraordinarily soft, almost down, and feather-like feel.
The Saatva Down Alternative Pillow has a sandwich-like design. You can pull out the inner insert or place it back inside to adjust the loft and support according to your preference.
The 100% organic cotton cover is both soft and breathable. The thin piping along the seams helps prevent tears and rips to keep the fill inside. The mid-level thickness is best for back and side sleepers who do not require much loft.
What is a Down Alternative Pillow?
The term ‘down alternative’ describes a polyester microfiber material used in bedding and pillows. The main characteristic of this material is that it is designed to mimic the softness and lightness of authentic goose or duck down.
The best thing about the down alternative is that it is completely hypoallergenic, and unlike real down, it is unlikely to trigger allergies for some individuals. Down alternative products are typically less expensive than authentic down products, making them a more suitable option for people on a budget.
Most down alternative pillows are filled with microfibers or fibers made from polyester or/and cotton. These soft, puffy fibers are similar to authentic down in softness. Most down alternative pillows vary in firmness from soft to medium-firm and are medium-loft.
Some down alternative brands also feature siliconized or gel fibers, which are much softer than conventional down alternative material. Unlike authentic down pillows, no animal products are used in down alternative pillows.
There is a wide range of down alternative units available. In addition to being extraordinarily soft, these pillows absorb minimal body heat and, as a result, sleep very cool. They are highly moldable and are ideal for people who like to cuddle with their pillows.
Although down alternative pillows do not conform as closely as latex or memory foam pillows, sleepers find them very comfortable and report fewer pressure points and aches after using them.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Down Alternative Pillows
A good-quality pillow is essential for a good night’s sleep. It supports your head, keeps your neck straight, and keeps your spine aligned. Down alternative has become a popular option in recent years. However, it comes with its pros and cons.
- Price: Down alternative pillows are pocket-friendly. They typically cost between $20 and $30, which is considerably lower than the price of authentic down pillows.
- Allergies: Down alternative pillows are suitable for allergic sleepers who are allergic to genuine down as they are made from materials that do not provoke allergies. Although there is some chance of allergies due to dust microbes present in these pillows, this is quite minimal.
- Customizable: You can remove or add filling in your pillow to customize the firmness and loft according to your sleeping position. Down alternative pillows are fairly scrunchy and highly moldable to provide optimal loft for different sleepers.
- Sleep cool: Down alternative pillows made of cotton or polyester tend to retain less body heat. Their fluffy composition allows room for airflow, allowing you to sleep cool.
- Soft and lightweight: Down alternative pillows are similar to authentic down in softness. They also do not weigh much, making it easier to move them.
- Cruelty-free: For people who prefer the softness of down but want a pillow made without harming animals, down alternative provides a more ethical choice.
- Position variety: The various moldability and firmness options make down alternative pillows suitable for all side, back, and stomach sleepers.
- Odor: New authentic down pillows sometimes have an unpleasant smell, whereas there is hardly any smell in down alternative products.
- Availability: Down alternative pillows are more readily available than authentic down and feather pillows.
- Easy to care for: It is very easy to care for down alternative pillows as they are machine-washable.
- Short Lifespan: The average life of most down alternative pillows is 2 years. They are less durable than other pillow types.
- Poor Support: Down alternative pillows are known to compress under the sleeper’s head significantly. They do not provide long-lasting support, and as a result, side sleepers and people who weigh above 230 pounds report neck and shoulder pain.
- Noise: Authentic down pillows are virtually silent, whereas down alternative pillows make some noise when compressed. This can disturb your sleep, especially if you are a light sleeper.
- Loose conforming: These pillows do not conform as closely as memory foam. This may affect the pillows’ ability to offer pressure relief to users with more special needs.
- Lumpy: The contents of down alternative pillows often clump together, which may become quite uncomfortable for sleepers.
Who Should Use a Down Alternative Pillow?
Down alternative pillows have become quite popular in recent years as they are a suitable option for various sleepers. These include people who:
- Sleep in different positions: You can adjust these pillows for loft and firmness, making them well-suited for back, side, and stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers can use low-loft pillows to reduce neck pain, while firmer, high-loft pillows can be compressed to provide a varied sleeping style for side and back sleepers.
- Are allergic to down pillows: Down alternative pillows are an excellent option for people allergic to animal dander. Most options available are resistant to mold and dust mites.
- Sleep hot: These pillows help keep the temperature neutral by allowing room for airflow, making them highly popular with people who sleep hot.
- Are against animal cruelty: Down pillows are comfortable and soft; however, they are not practical for people who avoid animal products. This is where the down alternative pillows come in. They deliver the same benefits minus the moral dilemma.
Down alternative pillows are not suitable for those who:
- Suffer from neck pain: These pillows lack the conforming capability of memory foam, and they do not stay put like latex. This makes them unsuitable for people suffering from neck pain as they need sturdier support to keep their neck, head, and spine aligned.
- Have sleep apnea: Sleep apnea patients or people who snore should use a pillow that keeps their heads elevated. This opens nasal airways and helps prevent restricted breathing. However, most down alternative pillows do not offer enough support to keep the head in this position. Also, it is difficult to accommodate these pillows with CPAP machines.
- Weigh over 230 pounds: Down alternative pillows are not suitable for people over 230 pounds as they compress under weight and fail to provide decent support.
Down vs. Down-Alternative Pillows
Down pillows are filled with quill-less feather clusters of the underbelly and chest of ducks and goose. They are different from feather pillows as the feathers used in them do not have a stiff shaft that pokes through your pillow.
Down is a fluffy and light fill; that is why luxurious down pillows are lightweight, plushy, and squishy and have a high loft. They can be scrunched, and you can alter their shape to personalize your support.
However, down pillows collapse more, which makes them unsuitable for people who prefer firmer support.
Down alternative, as the name suggests, is made to feel like down. These pillows are filled with polyester, a petroleum-based fiber, which means they are entirely synthetic.
Although they are flexible and supple and can be easily customized by moving around the fill clusters, down alternative pillows are not as crunchable and squishy as down.
These pillows offer more substance and firmer support than down.
Sleeping on down alternative feels like sleeping on cotton balls, whereas sleeping on down feels more like sleeping on cotton candy.
Sleepers looking for more support may find a stiffer down alternative more suitable, while sleepers who prefer more customization will prefer an actual down pillow.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Down Alternative Pillow
It can be hard to find distinguishing features in most down alternative pillows at first glance. Companies also often use confusing terms to vaunt their product’s performance, making it difficult to compare the qualities of various pillows. As a result, choosing a suitable product becomes very difficult.
By understanding the primary factors that influence the performance of a pillow, you can easily know what attributes to look for. These factors include:
A down alternative pillow is made from any material that mimics the feel of genuine waterfowl feathers. The most common material used in down alternative is synthetic polyester fiber; however, some brands use a combination of materials to offer a firmer feel.
- Polyester Fiber: This synthetic material replicates genuine down's lightweight, feathery feel. It can be used alone or mixed with other materials to deliver various degrees of support and firmness. Also, these pillows are more affordable and can fit every budget.
- Proprietary Fibers: Each bedding brand has its own unique proprietary down alternatives. Some brands use gel to make their product feel more feathery, while others add cotton to provide cushier support. It is vital to pay attention to the description of the materials provided on the product to find out which proprietary fibers are best for you.
- Materials combos: Down alternative pillows are generally very soft. Sleepers who want firmer support may find a pillow made with a material combination more suitable. Cotton, latex, and shredded memory foam are some examples of materials commonly blended with down alternatives to create a more supportive and firmer feel.
Stomach sleepers require a soft, low-lofted pillow to ensure spinal alignment throughout the night. As down alternative pillows can be scrunched into a low loft, they are ideal for stomach sleepers.
On the other hand, back and side sleepers need a firmer option, so they should look for a down alternative pillow with a 4-5-inch loft.
Down alternative pillows are available in several sizes. These include:
- Standard: Standard size is not only the most commonly sold but is also the cheapest and most compact.
- Super Standard: Two inches longer than Standard pillows, Super Standard pillows are also known as ‘Jumbo’ pillows. These pillows are best for people who find Standard pillows too compact.
- King: Typically the longest pillows available, King-size pillows are best for people who toss and turn. Their long size serves as proper backrests and headrests for people who like to watch television or read while sitting up in bed.
- Queen: Queen-size pillows are longer than Super Standard pillows and are ideal for people who prefer a larger surface area to move their heads freely.
- Body: These pillows are exceptionally wide, and they are suitable for sleepers who want a pillow to snuggle with throughout the night.
- Euro: Available in a wide range of dimensional measurements, these unique pillows are square-shaped. Larger Euro-size pillows also serve as suitable backrests and headrests.
Care & Maintenance
It is easier to maintain a down alternative pillow than a down pillow.
Most down pillows can only be dry-cleaned and are more prone to clumping. Even washable pillows need to be soak-washed in a bathtub with a detergent or in a washing machine without an agitator to prevent clumping. Down pillows can also not be heat-dried.
On the other hand, down alternative pillows can be tossed in the washing machine with a regular detergent and dried on low without worrying about any damage.
Down alternative fill has a firmer feel, while down pillows are not very firm even though they are incredibly fluffy. If you are looking for a firm pillow that provides neck support, it’s best to go for a buckwheat or latex pillow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get non-flattening down alternative pillows?
Typically, pillows made with natural materials tend to last longer than those made with synthetic materials.
Down and feather pillows can retain their support and comfort for almost 10 years, whereas down alternative pillows usually last for a couple of years without losing support or significantly degrading if properly cared for.
How long is the typical service life of a down alternative pillow?
These pillows are not designed to last a lifetime. However, some high-quality units can serve you for around five years.
Do down alternative pillows have a distinct smell?
Down alternative pillows are typically made with cotton or polyester microfiber, and neither of these materials has a strong or repugnant smell.
What kind of pillows do hotels offer?
Hotel pillows feel softer and more luxurious because they are made from the highest quality fill material. Some use pillows made with real feathers and/or down, while others use polyester or microfiber down alternatives.
However, in finer hotels, it is common to find goose-down pillows. These are offered as a crowd-pleasing option and are typically available in firm and medium densities.
Final Verdict: Which is the most popular down alternative pillow on the market today?
Down alternative pillows are an excellent alternative for people who suffer from allergies or are worried about the ethics of using animal products. These versatile units can be used for any sleeping position and help you sleep cool.
However, no one pillow fits all. With continuously evolving technologies and innovative approaches, it can be the case of trial and error before you find the one pillow that offers you the most comfortable night’s sleep.
For us, the Saatva Down Alternative Pillow is the best option. It is made from hypoallergenic materials, and it offers excellent spinal support and breathability, so we’d recommend that you definitely give this pillow a try.
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