The Lowdown on Down

The Lowdown on Down

2019 Jan 4th

Down is a time-tested bedding staple – but how do you find the feather for you?

There are a few things to consider when shopping for down bedding. Master these key points and you’ll be an expert in no time!

What’s in there?

First things first: what is down? Down is the light, fluffy undercoating that geese, ducks, and other waterfowl grow to keep warm. It consists of clusters of filaments growing from a central quill point without a quill shaft, making it softer and lighter than feathers. It looks much like a dandelion pod.

Every ounce of quality down has about 2 million fluffy filaments that interlock and overlap to form a protective layer of still air that keeps warmth in and cold out. Because of down’s ability to re-loft, a down duvet can be crumpled or flattened and then return to its natural shape with a good shake.

Duck, duck, or goose?

Generally speaking, the best down comes from larger, more mature birds. In general, goose down is better than duck down, and white goose down is better than grey goose down. A high quality white goose down cluster has an extraordinarily high warmth-to-weight ratio. A duvet filled with this down will be very light and incredibly warm, and will last for decades.

How hot?

The insulating power of a down duvet is measured by “fill power”. Fill power denotes the loft (or “fluffiness”) of a down cluster. The higher the fill power, the larger the clusters, and thus, the more air that is trapped between the clusters. For cold climates and snuggly sleepers, look for a higher fill power. If you’re looking for more lightweight warmth, go lower.

What’s holding it all together?

The final thing to consider when picking your down duvet is the construction. If insulation is your priority, go for a baffle box construction. For lightweight breathability, a box stitch will do the trick.

Baffle box construction consists of a series of evenly spaced square compartments, separated by vertical walls of fabric stitched inside the duvet. This allows the down to loft fully and spread evenly through each compartment, improving insulation and eliminating cold spots.

Box stitch duvets are filled with down first, and then square compartments are stitched directly through both layers of fabric. The result is a lighter weight duvet with less down along the stitching line and limited loft. Box stitch duvets are ideal for summer use and/or warm sleepers.

And now you're an expert! Still not sure which down duvet is right for you? Head to your nearest QE Home store, and one of our expert stylists will be happy to help with the final decision. Sweet dreams!