Folks in the market for a down comforter quickly learn that there’s a tremendous amount of variety in the marketplace. The difference in quality and design translates into a significant variance in price. So what are the factors that go into a down comforter? If you’re looking to buy one, what makes for a good one?
Here are some of the main variables to consider about your down comforter. Whether you buy from us or from a different manufacturer, take these into consideration when evaluating different down comforters to see which one is the right fit for you.
Type of Down
Down are the softer, finer feathers located beneath the harder exterior feathers of waterfowl. However, not all down is considered equivalent for the purposes of bedding.
- Because they are more plentiful than geese, ducks are the more plentiful source of down, which means that duck down comforters tend to be cheaper since duck down is easier to find at a lower price (but not always – you’ll see an example in a second). In addition, duck down clusters are smaller in size, so they’re more likely to be used in comforters manufactured for warmer climates.
- Goose down is considered superior to duck down due to its larger cluster size, making it the preferred fill material for down comforters used in colder regions. Because it is harder to acquire, goose down generally costs more than duck down, which in turn tends to drive up the cost of goose down comforters.
- Down comes in a range of colors running from white to grey. While color has no bearing on the quality of the down itself, white down tends to command a higher price because it blends in with other materials (and because white is a preferred color for down comforters).
At Cozy Down, we use different types of down depending on the comforter in question. In the Eider Down comforter, we use down from Iceland’s Eider duck. While it is duck down, it’s also among the rarest and most prized in the world. For the Serenity, we went with Grand Siberian white goose down.
Thread count refers to the amount of thread used in the outer fabric of the comforter. The higher the thread count, the tighter the outer fabric, which means fewer of the tiny down feathers will work their way out of the comforter over time. Obviously, a higher thread count will drive up the cost of the comforter, but it also means substantially better durability.
For a down comforter, look for a bare minimum of 250 thread count. Anything less, and you risk losing too many feathers, especially with down filling. Our comforters all use a substantially higher thread count: the Serenity is at 380, and the Eider Down and Opulence both clock in at 450.
Fill power is a way to measure down density: it measures the amount of cubic inch volume taken up by one ounce of down. A higher fill power number indicates larger down clusters, which tend to trap more air and create a fluffier comforter. The higher the fill power, the less down required to fill the comforter, meaning it can be lighter while still providing the same amount of warmth.
Anything in this range should be considered run-of-the-mill quality: good, but not outstanding.
Above average. Comforters with fill power in this range are considered higher quality.
700 and up
Down in this range is considered exceptionally high quality and rather difficult to come by.
Due to our insistence on quality, Cozy Down comforters have some of the highest fill power numbers in the industry. Our entry-level products like the Jessie have fill power above 700. Our higher-end down comforters, like the Serenity and Opulence, are all in the 800 range.
Don’t think of a down comforter like a blanket – it’s really a long, wide bag of feathers. As a result, the way it’s stitched together will have a major impact on its overall performance and quality.
This is the cheapest construction approach in the industry. It treats the comforter like a big bag: there are literally no other stitches in the fabric beyond the outer edges. You’re unlikely to find it used much in the industry, precisely because it’s such a low-quality way to assemble a down comforter: the filling works its way into the corners of the comforter fairly quickly and easily.
This approach involves putting small ring-sized stitches at regular intervals through both sides of the comforter. It’s a better approach than a European bag, but still not widely used in down comforter construction.
This is what it sounds like – once the down is filled into the comforter compartment, squares are stitched into it at regular intervals to trap the down into individual boxes. This is a vast upgrade over either the European bag or ring stitch methods, as it keeps the down evenly trapped and contained properly over the life of the comforter. However, because the sew lines will contain much less down insulation, each sew line amounts to a loss of warmth, which makes this approach less than ideal for colder climates.
This is the preferred construction method for down comforters. The entire comforter is composed of smaller cloth boxes or compartments, each of which is filled with down. While this approach requires more material, time and labor, the finished product is vastly warmer and higher quality.
Most of Cozy Down’s products feature baffle box construction. For some entry-level comforters, we use box construction for affordability.
So what does all this mean for a person considering a down comforter? Depending on your budget, where you live and the level of weight you’re seeking, there are a number of factors that can influence the sort of product you need. Look carefully at the variables outlined here, and you’ll be much more equipped to make an informed purchasing decision.