The 8 Best Down Pillows of 2023, According to Our Tests

Our top pick is the Parachute Down Pillow for its soft yet supportive feel.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Person sleeping on the Ikea Gulkavle pillow
Real Simple / Monica Aguinaga

When it comes to creating your ideal bed, you can’t go wrong with a down pillow. While down pillows are known for their soft, cushiony quality, you can find them in varying degrees of firmness to provide a restful night’s sleep. Keeping in mind that each person has their own unique pillow preference, we evaluated the quality, airflow, comfort, durability, and value of 19 down pillows to help you find the perfect fit.

For expert advice on how to shop for down pillows, we consulted Dr. Alex Dimitriu of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, as well as Amy Hoban, Chief Creative Officer of Parachute. Our top pick is the Parachute Down Pillow for its great balance of fluff and support, which allows for the expected cloud-like softness of a down pillow without causing head or neck tension

Keep scrolling for more down pillow recommendations backed by our testing. You’ll also find tips on how to shop for a down pillow that matches your sleeping needs.  

Best Overall Down Pillow

Parachute Down Pillow

4.2
Parachute Down Pillow

Courtesy of Parachute

Who it's for: People who switch sleeping positions throughout the night.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer a thick and fluffy pillow.

The Parachute Down Pillow is the best down pillow because it’s “just right” in terms of firmness. After using the pillow to sleep on, our testers said that “it isn't too hard yet it is not too squishy—it’s in the middle,” and described it as being weightless and cloud-like. As such, it's a good pick for combination sleepers because it can seamlessly transition to different sleeping positions. Our testers also liked that this pillow had a nice bounce to it after lifting their head, but it was still pleasant to sleep on, saying “it already feels 'like home' upon first time use.”

The cover features a lustrous sateen weave and a double-stitched piping seam to create a durable pillow with a sophisticated look. Though if you prefer to use a pillowcase, our testers found that it easily fits into one. After a month of using this pillow, our tester said that this Parachute pillow is a “versatile pillow for all my sleeping positions throughout the night” and is cool to the touch, which they told us was important since they identify as a hot sleeper. This versatility, durability, and overall comfort has led to them getting better sleep. 

If you’re looking for a pillow that’s on the softer or sturdier side, this pillow comes with two other firmness levels to choose from as well. While the price is a little steep, Parachute offers a 60-day return policy, which gives you plenty of time to try it out and decide if it's the pillow for you. 

Price at time of publish: $129

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, firm
  • Fill Power: 750
  • Fill: European white down
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Dry clean or machine wash delicate
  • Certifications: RDS
  • Return Policy: 60 days
Parachute Down Pillow
Real Simple / Katelyn Chef

Best Budget Down Pillow

Three Geese White Goose Feather with Polyester Bed Pillow

4.3
Three Geese White Goose Feather with Polyester Bed Pillow

Amazon

Who it's for: Side and back sleepers who want a supportive pillow but aren't in a position to splurge.

Who it isn't for: People who want a pillow that's filled with 100 percent feathers.

While this pillow isn’t 100 percent down-filled, it gives the same level of quality and softness as a high-end pillow for a bargain. The Three Geese Feather & Polyester Pillow has a unique three-chamber design that combines a cushion-y inner layer of goose feathers with a firmer outer layer of polyester fibers, making it springy and supportive. Plus, you won’t have to worry about getting poked in the middle of the night with a feather. The fill is also certified by the Responsible Down Standard and Downpass to ensure it meets animal welfare standards, while the quilted outer shell is made from Oeko-Tex certified cotton.

This pillow stood out among other budget options because it maintained its shape after a night’s rest, and continued to do so for the month that our tester slept with it. They told us that it “does a great job of keeping an even sleeping surface throughout the night,” so much so that it has improved their sleep routine that was once negatively affected by “pillows with less support.” The Three Geese Feather & Polyester Pillow is available in a single or double pack, so if you’re looking to purchase new pillows for both sides of the bed you can do so for an affordable price. For a budget-friendly down pillow, this is a great pick—it looks good and stays fluffy and supportive.  

Price at time of publish: $27

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Fill Power: Not listed
  • Fill: 60% goose feathers, 40% polyester fibers
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Machine wash gentle, tumble dry low
  • Certifications: RDS, Downpass, Oeko-Tex
  • Return Policy: 30 days
Three Geese White Goose Feather with Polyester Bed Pillow
Real Simple / Kaya Abrahamson

Best Splurge Down Pillow

Down & Feather Co. Natural Nights 750 Fill Power Goose Down Pillow

4.4
Down & Feather Co. Natural Nights 750 Fill Power Goose Down Pillows

Down & Feather Co.

Who it's for: People who want a down pillow with a range of thickness options.

Who it isn't for: People who want a machine-washable pillow.

Testers immediately took note of the Down & Feather Co. Natural Nights Goose Down Pillow’s craftsmanship and fluffiness. It stands out because it’s an off-white color, and it has a green, double-stitched border which makes it more durable and adds a nice touch to its appearance. In terms of firmness, testers described this pillow as being very soft and “comfortable to sleep on while maintaining that fluffy look.” Its puffiness also prevents it from trapping in heat, helping it to stay cool throughout the night. In our tests, we found that this pillow does sink as it lost two inches of loft over several nights of sleep, but our testers still felt that their head was nicely cradled throughout the night. 

After a month of living with this pillow, our tester still stands by their original claim, telling us that it does a very good job at supporting their neck. They also liked that the pillow could achieve this without feeling super heavy or dense. Our tester is actually so pleased with this pillow that they could see themselves using the included travel bag and taking it with them on trips. 

Another benefit of this pillow is that it’s made with GOTS-certified organic cotton, as well as certified by RDS. Their down is rigorously tested by a third party to ensure that it’s hypoallergenic, making this pillow a great choice for people who have allergies.  In short, this pillow is exceptionally well-crafted and cozy, best suited for those who want to invest in a down pillow that will last for years. If you’re unsure due to the price, Down & Feather offers free pillow adjustments up to a year after purchase to ensure that your pillow has the perfect firmness for you. 

Price at time of publish: From $438

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, firm, or extra-firm
  • Fill Power: 750
  • Fill: Hungarian white goose down
  • Cover: GOTS-certified cotton
  • Care: Spot clean
  • Certifications: RDS, GOTS
  • Return Policy: 30 days
Down & Feather Co. Natural Nights 750 Fill Power Goose Down Pillow
Real Simple / Kaya Abrahamson

Best Firm Down Pillow

Kassatex European White Goose Down Pillow

4.5
Kassatex European White Goose Down Pillows

Kassatex

Who it's for: People looking for a plush yet structured down pillow.

Who it isn't for: People who sleep on their stomach.

Goose down is known to be lighter and fluffier than duck down, which makes the Kassatex European White Goose Down Pillow a cut above other pillows we tested in terms of luxury and comfort. Our testers described it as being “the best of both the down and non-down worlds,” and praised it for its marshmallow-like quality and durability. They found it felt comfortable to sleep on through the entire night and noted that it had good airflow as well. Out of all the pillows we tested, this one had the highest loft at eight inches. 

Our tester, who slept on this pillow for a month, told us that it has kept its shape quite well over time: “I appreciate that I never have to fluff it or flip it over, even in the morning when I'm making my bed,” they said. And even though they were using the soft version, they said it’s still firm, holds its shape, and lives up to the brand’s advertisement of being “an extremely full pillow.” 

One small drawback though: This pillow is filled with darker feathers, which can be seen through the pillow’s lining. If you want to display your pillow without a pillowcase, you’ll have to get a decorative pillowcase to go on top. However, this first-rate pillow is worth it. It’s plush, structured, and maintains the look and feel of a traditional down pillow. It’s machine-washable, making it easy to care for, and it has a 60-day risk-free trial so you can be sure it’s the ideal pillow for you. 

Price at time of publish: From $180

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, firm
  • Fill Power: 650
  • Fill: European white goose down
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Machine wash delicate, tumble dry low
  • Certifications: RDS
  • Return Policy: 60 days
Kassatex European White Goose Down Pillow
Real Simple / Kaya Abrahamson

Best Medium-Firm Down Pillow

Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow

4.2
Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow

Boll & Branch

Who it's for: People looking for down that's been thoroughly cleaned.

Who it isn’t for: Stomach sleepers who need a flatter pillow.

Right away, testers were impressed with the quality of this pillow. "As soon as it arrived on my doorstep and I opened it up, I could just see how high quality it was, and it wasn't even taken out of the box yet," one tester wrote. And to be sure, the Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow does have a lot of elements that make it remarkable when compared to an ordinary pillow. Its outer shell features a dense weave made with silky organic cotton—no need to worry about down feathers creeping out of the pillow—and it is filled with three chambers of down that's been triple-washed, surpassing U.S. standards.

When it came to sleeping on the pillow, testers confirmed that it was just as luxe as it looks. It wasn’t suffocating in the slightest, and it kept them cool throughout the whole night. However, they noticed that this pillow flattened quickly. After several nights of consistent use, our tester measured its loft and found that it shrank an inch. Still, our tester, who ended up using it for a month, told us that it was still more comfortable than pillows they previously used, which they described as “flat and not supportive.” They also told us that it remained firm and maintained its loft after initial testing, which goes to show you that it can keep its shape over time.

If you're looking for a pillow that will elevate your space with some posh elements, and you don't mind fluffing up your pillow regularly, this is a great pick. It's soft, luxurious, and looks good, but more importantly, it's extremely comfortable too.

Price at time of publish: From $158

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, firm
  • Fill Power: Not listed
  • Fill: Feather and down
  • Cover: Organic cotton
  • Care: Machine wash gentle
  • Certifications: IDS, RDS, GOTS, Oeko-Tex
  • Return Policy: 30 days
Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow
Real Simple / Andrea Cable

Best Soft Down Pillow

Nestwell White Down Soft Support Pillow

4.2
Nestwell White Down Soft Support Pillow

Bed Bath & Beyond

Who it's for: People who want their head to really sink into their pillow.

Who it isn't for: People who are looking for a machine-washable pillow.

The Nestwell White Down Soft Support Pillow is fluffy and soft, so it lets your head sink gently towards the back of the pillow instead of forcing it upwards. That said, it doesn’t let your head smush the pillow down entirely—it only lost a half inch of loft during our tests. This pillow features a 100 percent RDS-certified down filling, though our testers didn’t feel any feathers in the pillow and weren’t subjected to any poking in the middle of the night. They liked that it had a “luxe feeling” while sleeping on it, and were a fan of the pillow’s cool and crisp white exterior made with Oeko-Tex certified cotton. 

After a month of testing, our tester said that they recommend this pillow for anyone who prefers super soft pillows, like stomach sleepers. It worked great for them as a stomach sleeper, but they found that they had to fold the pillow in half while sleeping on their back and side to create more support. 

One inconvenient aspect of this pillow is that the insert is dry clean only. However, if you’re a stomach sleeper who needs a flat, soft pillow and you don’t mind going to the dry cleaner every now and then, this pillow could be a perfect match for your sleeping needs. 

Price at time of publish: $135

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft
  • Fill Power: 600
  • Fill: Duck down
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Pillowcase is machine-washable; pillow insert must be dry cleaned
  • Certifications: RDS, Oeko-Tex
  • Return Policy: 90 days
Nestwell White Down Soft Support Pillow
Real Simple / Katelyn Chef

Best Down Pillow for Side Sleepers

L.L.Bean Sateen White Goose Down Pillow

4.2
L.L.Bean Sateen White Goose Down Pillow

L.L.Bean

Who it’s for: People who need extra support to enable them to sleep comfortably on their sides all night. 

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to spend a lot on a down pillow. 

Side sleepers need extra support not only to sleep comfortably, but also to prevent neck discomfort. This L.L. Bean pillow boasts a 700 fill power, which gives side sleepers a firm cushion to lay their head on that will keep its shape as they switch sides throughout the night. Our tester, a side sleeper, who tested this pillow out for us for a month, told us that this was the best down pillow they have ever used. “It is the perfect balance of fluffy and firm and does a great job of maintaining its firmness throughout the night” they said. “[The pillow] has helped to eliminate any neck and shoulder pain. I find myself waking up less throughout the night with the need to re-fluff it, unlike other down pillows I have used.” 

This goose down pillow comes in three fill options (soft, medium, and firm), with the firm one being recommended for side sleepers. Take note that our tester said it was hard to find a pillowcase that was compatible with this thick pillow—a housewife pillowcase made the pillow too firm, and therefore they recommend a bag-style instead.

Price at time of publish: From $219

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, firm
  • Fill Power: 700
  • Fill: Duck down
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Machine-washable
  • Certifications: RDS
  • Return Policy: One year
L.L.Bean Sateen White Goose Down Pillow

Real Simple / Izzy Seely

Most Breathable Down Pillow

Tuft & Needle Down Pillow

4.2
Tuft & Needle Down Pillow

Who it’s for: People who tend to get hot while sleeping. 

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want a firm pillow. 

This pillow from Tuft & Needle was designed to be temperature-regulating, giving it the ability to wick away moisture and stay cool despite how hot you feel. Our tester confirmed that the brand’s promise is true—after one month of using this pillow, they told us that it’s breathable and didn’t heat up at all throughout the time they used it. Other perks of this pillow are that it’s machine washable, has met the standards set forth by Oeko-Tex, and features a high-quality and attractive piping. 

One thing that might be a downside, though, is that it feels quite firm. When our tester first tested this product, they told us it was too firm. Over time though, the firmness lessened and it molded to fit their head, but it still didn’t feel super soft and fluffy. This won’t be a problem for people who prefer very firm pillows, but those looking for soft, flatter pillows should look elsewhere. 

Price at time of publish: $140

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Firm
  • Fill Power: Not listed
  • Fill: North American down 
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Care: Machine-washable
  • Certifications: Oeko-Tex
  • Return Policy: 100 days
Tuft & Needle Down Pillow

Real Simple / Izzy Seeley

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Parachute Down Pillow because it’s versatile, durable, and supportive, and it doesn’t require constant fluffing. We also liked that it’s machine-washable and keeps cool throughout the night. For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend the Three Geese Feather & Polyester Pillow, which provides enough structure for a comfortable night’s sleep with its soft yet sturdy build and elegant look.

Our Testing Process

We sent out 19 down pillows to real-world testers, who slept on them for several nights each. Upon receiving their pillow, testers first took note of the quality of each pillow, examining the construction and materials. Testers then measured each pillow's loft (the height of the pillow at its fullest part), length, and width, before placing it into an appropriately-sized pillowcase and seeing how well it fit.

When using the pillow, testers took note of how supportive it was while keeping in mind that comfort is subjective. They also evaluated the pillow's breathability, and noted how hot or cool they slept with the pillow. In the morning they took note of whether or not they woke up to any discomfort during the night, and evaluated the support level after the pillow was slept on for several hours. After a few uses, testers washed and dried the pillows according to their care instructions. Afterwards, they checked for any changes to the pillow's fill and firmness. They also examined the pillow for any damages or shrinkage.

Finally, testers received the retail price of their pillow to better determine the pillow's overall value. They ultimately scored each pillow based on quality, airflow, comfort, durability, and value. Winning traits they focused on included durability after washing, minimal flattening, and no feathers poking out or moving around. Testing will continue long-term, with testers reporting on their insights after three and six months.

How to Shop for Down Pillows Like a Pro

Material

With down pillows, there are two areas to consider: the inner filling and the outer shell. Some down pillows use polyester or memory foam in their filling as well as down, which can change the firmness of the pillow and its airflow. Pillows filled with a combination of down and other materials are known to hold their shape better and prevent any accidental feather poking, but they may not be as soft and squishy as an all-down pillow. If you have allergies, look for pillows filled with washed and certified hypoallergenic feathers as well.

You should also look at the material used to create the pillow's outer lining, especially if you don't intend to put a pillowcase on it. Pillows made with Oeko-Tex or GOTS-certified cotton are made without harsh chemical additives, making them a viable solution for people with skin sensitivities or allergies.

Firmness

Down pillows come in different firmness options, so choose one that reflects your sleeping position. According to Dimitru, "side sleepers generally benefit from a stiffer pillow, which keeps the head and neck in line with the shoulders." For stomach sleepers, a soft, thin pillow works best as it will prevent you from propping up your neck at an awkward angle during the night. Dimitru recommends "softer, flatter pillows that won't kink the neck," for back sleepers. If you toss and turn throughout the night, it can be trickier to find the right pillow firmness. Generally, side and back sleepers prefer a medium-firm pillow, whereas stomach sleepers benefit from a slimmer pillow. Above all else, Dimitru advises to "make sure the pillow stiffness feels comfortable, and that your neck is kept straight with your spine."

Care

Many down pillows are machine-washable and dryer-friendly, but always check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure as some pillows are dry clean only. If you're afraid of ruining your pillow in the wash, consider purchasing a pillow protector bag to ensure that no snags will occur that will cause filling to leak out. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in dryer balls which will break up any clumps of down that may occur in the wash.

Certifications

Some manufacturers opt to have their pillows verified by a third-party organization to ensure the quality of each pillow's outer lining and down filling. When considering the outer lining of the pillow, the most rigorous certification is the Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS), which ensures that the materials used are organic, responsibly-sourced, and free from harsh chemical additives at every point during the manufacturing process. You may also see some pillows with an Oeko-Tex 100 certification, which verifies that the product has been made without harmful chemicals, but they don't verify the entire supply chain.

For the down filling, the main certification to look for is the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). "This means that the down comes from humanely treated ducks and geese and upholds The Five Freedoms of animal welfare," explains Hobart. You may also come across the International Down Standard (IDS), which ensures that the down does not come from a supply chain where the animals are subjected to any unnecessary harm, force-fed, or live-plucked. The IDS also vets the suppliers of brands that use RDS-approved down.

More Down Pillows to Consider

Puredown Down & Feather Blend Pillow: Our testers liked that the Puredown pillow provided great neck support and stayed bouncy throughout the night. However, they felt down feathers prickling through the pillowcase, which is why it's not as good as other budget pillows available.

Ikea Gulkavle Pillow: Our tester told us that this pillow is a great budget option, as it’s soft and stays cool while in use. However, they said that the pillow is so flat that it requires frequent fluffing, and they had to sleep with additional pillows for a comfortable night’s sleep. 

Questions You Might Ask

What is down?

Down feathers grow underneath a duck or goose's outer layer of stiff feathers, and it helps insulate the animals so they stay warm. Down is round and puffy, like the head of a dandelion, and doesn't contain quills like a traditional feather, so you won't get poked in your sleep.

What are the pros and cons of a down pillow?

Ultimately, it comes down to your preference. While some people prefer the soft, plushy feeling of a down pillow, others may prefer something with more support. Aside from individual preferences, "the biggest difference is whether or not you have allergies," according to Hobart. "Down can sometimes irritate those with seasonal allergies, so a down alternative pillow is better if you're sensitive to dust and other allergens." Additionally, there are concerns about animal welfare, especially when it comes to the plucking and sourcing of down feathers. If that's an issue for you, a down alternative pillow would be the best solution, or you could look into pillows that have been certified by the RDS or IDS.

How do you wash a down pillow?

Different manufacturers have different recommendations for their pillows, so be sure to double-check before sticking it in the wash. In general, you'll first want to inspect your pillow for any holes or rips that could cause the filling to leak out. Then, if you have a top load washer, place two pillows vertically on either side of the agitator to maintain balance. For front load users, add in a few towels instead. Water temperature will depend on your preference and on manufacturing instructions—cold water is gentler on pillows, but hot water will kill off bacteria and dust mites. It's also a good idea to add a second rinse cycle to ensure that any soap residue is washed away.

To dry, stick your pillow in the dryer on low heat, and throw in some dryer balls to break up any feather clumps. You'll want to pause the drying cycle every 15 minutes to fluff the pillows by hand and to make sure that they are completely dry so you can avoid mold growth.

How long does a down pillow last?

"With proper care, your down pillows can last three or more years," says Hobart. You'll know that your pillow needs replacing when it's unable to fluff up, even after washing.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Jen Woo, a freelance design, lifestyle, and culture writer and content strategist with over 10 years of experience. To compile this list, we tested 19 down pillows and evaluated them based on quality, airflow, comfort, durability, and overall value. For expert advice on what to consider when shopping for sheets, we consulted Dr. Alex Dimitriu of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, as well as Amy Hoban, Chief Creative Officer of Parachute.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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