the down lowdown…
getting comfy with the basics

down lowdown

Fall is just around the corner and that means it’s almost time to break out the warmer bedding. What could be more comfy and cozy on a cool night than a fluffy down comforter? Well, nothing, as far as we’re concerned. Down can be a perfectly sustainable option, and with the right choices, can stay on your bed all year long. But how can you choose the right comforter or pillow and what exactly is fill power, and what are all those numbers? We’ve got the basics broken down, keep reading for the down lowdown.First, what is down? Simply put, it’s the fluffy layer underneath the feathers on waterfowl that help keep warm air in and cold air out. It’s also nature’s most efficient insulator. Duck and goose down are both common, and come in white, or gray. Do be careful that your white down has not been bleached white, otherwise color is no indicator of quality, it’s simply a matter of aesthetics.

Down terminology

Fill power

This is a term for the amount of cubic space that one ounce of down will fill. One ounce of 750-fill power will take up 750 cubic inches of space and one ounce of 550-fill power will take up 550 cubic inches of space. The higher the fill power, the lighter, and fluffier the comforter will be. It’s all about cluster size.

Cluster size

This is simply the size of the individual down, and generally speaking, the larger the bird, and the colder the climate, the larger the down cluster and higher the fill power will be.

Ounce ratings

It’s not uncommon to see a total ounce rating as well, that indicates the total weight of down in the product. You can have an 800 fill power comforter that is not as warm as a 700 fill power comforter, simply because there is less down in it. Colder weather comforters will have more down, and a higher ounce rating, than warm weather or year round ones.


Baffles are simply stitched lines in a down comforter to help keep the down evenly distributed. Sometimes, particularly in winter-weight comforters, rather than stitching the top of the comforter to the bottom, there will be a panel sewn in, creating a waffle-like appearance and deeper pockets to prevent thin spots.

Other things to consider

Thread count

You want a high thread count with down. The higher the thread count, the softer, silkier and cozier your comforter will feel, and the less down will escape.


Down comforters can be cleaned, but that requires a lot of time and effort, and reduces the life of the product over time. To reduce the frequency of cleaning, use a duvet – basically a big pillowcase for your comforter – that is easier to wash. It will protect your comforter and prolong its life. Plus, they look cool.

The right comforter for you

What temperature is the room you sleep in? How warm of a sleeper are you? Those are all questions you need to ask before deciding on a comforter. If you sleep in a room that stays fairly warm even in winter and you are a warm sleeper, a summer weight comforter might be all you need. If you are a colder sleeper, or your room is chillier, opt for a heavier, year-round comforter instead. Lighter, summer weight comforters can be layered in colder months to maintain comfort all year long.

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