Many sleepers enjoy down pillows because of their soft yet supportive construction. However, many don’t want to buy a down pillow for a variety of reasons, such as ethical concerns, allergies, or pricing. Luckily, there’s an entire market for down-alternative pillows. Down-alternative pillows are designed to mimic the feel of down without using actual bird feathers. These pillows can give you the down comfort you crave while still accommodating your personal preferences.
In this guide, we’re rounding up our top seven picks for the best down-alternative pillows. We’ll break down all the essential details about each pillow and provide a guide to who may love this style of pillow and who might want to avoid it. We’ll then cover everything you’d ever want to know about down-alternative pillows to keep you extra informed during your buying process.
Best Down-Alternative Pillows
- Saatva Latex Pillow – Best for Combination Sleepers
- Buffy Cloud Pillow – Best Eco-Friendly
- Purple Cloud Pillow – Best for Side Sleepers
- Lagoon Chinchilla Pillow – Best for Stomach Sleepers
- Cozy Earth Silk Pillow – Best Luxury
- Birch Eco-Rest Pillow – Best Soft
- Helix Adjustable Pillow – Best for Back Sleepers
Saatva Latex Pillow – Best for Combination Sleepers
Saatva Latex Pillow
A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers.
4.80 / 5Read Full Review
The Saatva Latex Pillow is a hotel-quality plush pillow with a shredded natural latex core. This pillow is offered in two loft options, which makes it a good choice for a variety of sleepers — you can choose the loft that works best for your sleeping position.
We particularly like this pillow for combination sleepers because of the responsive natural latex fill. The buoyant latex gives this pillow just enough bounce to help combination sleepers switch sleeping positions without feeling stuck in the pillow. This pillow is also great for relieving pressure in the neck due to its balanced support, so combination sleepers can wake up pain-free.
Who the Saatva Latex Pillow is Best for
- Hot sleepers: This pillow is covered in breathable Fair Trade Certified cotton that is soft and breathable.
- People with allergies: During production, the Saatva Latex pillow goes through a special washing process that removes allergy-causing proteins. This makes the pillow hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and mildew.
- Most sleep types: This pillow is offered in a standard loft (four to five inches) and a high loft (six to seven inches). Sleepers with loft preferences are able to choose the one that works best for them.
Who Should Avoid the Saatva Latex Pillow
- Budget shoppers: A queen size pillow is currently priced at $165 at full retail, which may be too expensive for some shoppers.
- Stomach sleepers: Stomach sleepers typically need a soft, low-loft pillow. Even the standard loft option may be too high for stomach sleepers and cause their neck to crane upwards.
Want to learn more about the Saatva Latex pillow? Head over to our full review.
Buffy Cloud Pillow – Best Eco-Friendly
Buffy Cloud Pillow
One of the most popular names in online bedding, Buffy now makes pillows as well! The Buffy Cloud is made from eco-friendly plant based and recycled materials, they have a great cooling feel.Read Full Review
The Buffy Cloud pillow is a soft yet supportive pillow offered in three density options – Soft, Medium, and Firm. We tested the Soft pillow and found it had a super plush feel, while the Medium is designed for a balanced feel and the Firm is made to provide extra support.
Buffy prides itself on keeping its products eco-friendly and sustainable, and this pillow is no different. The pillow cover is woven from earth-friendly TENCEL lyocell fiber. This is Buffy’s signature fabric derived from eucalyptus, always harvested from sustainably managed forests. The pillow is also Global Recycle Standard certified and Bisphenol-A free. The fill is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fill, which is made from approximately 24 to 30 recycled plastic bottles.
Who the Buffy Cloud Pillow is Best for
- Hot sleepers: The TENCEL lyocell shell naturally absorbs moisture, which hot sleepers can appreciate, as well as maintains a cool temperature.
- Stomach sleepers: The soft-density pillow is soft and squishy, which is great for stomach sleepers.
- Budget shoppers: This pillow is only $50 at full retail, making it a great choice for shoppers on a budget.
Who Should Avoid the Buffy Cloud Pillow
- People seeking easy cleaning: This pillow is not machine washable and can only be spot cleaned or dry-cleaned.
- Side sleepers: Although this pillow is offered in a firm density, we think it may still be too soft for side sleepers who need a very firm pillow to support their head and neck.
Think the Buffy Cloud pillow is right for you? Check out our full review.
Purple Cloud Pillow – Best for Side Sleepers
Purple Cloud Pillow
The Purple Cloud pillow is a down alternative pillow filled with gel fibers coated in silicone.
4.10 / 5Read Full Review
The Purple Cloud pillow is made by Purple, a company known for its revolutionary hyper-elastic polymer grid construction. However, this pillow differs from the Purple norm and provides a more plush, cloud-like feel. The pillow is covered in breathable cotton and filled with 100 percent gel fiber. This material is engineered to mimic the feeling of down. Each gel fiber is coated with silicone, which makes this a durable pillow that won’t fall flat over time.
The plush cushioning in this pillow is particularly great for side sleepers, who can appreciate the high loft as well as the moldable construction that provides extra head and neck support. While still feeling soft as a cloud, the pillow is firm enough to be a great choice for side sleepers.
Who the Purple Cloud Pillow is Best for
- People with allergies: This pillow is hypoallergenic and made with recyclable, food grade and food contact grade material. It’s also non-toxic and has a CleanAir GOLD certification from Intertek, a third-party quality assurance company.
- Budget shoppers: Purple has a reputation for having pricey products, but this pillow retails for only $59.
- People seeking an easy clean: This pillow is machine washable. No trip to the dry cleaners is required!
Who Should Avoid the Purple Cloud Pillow
- Purple grid lovers: If you love the feeling of Purple’s signature grid design, you won’t find it here. However, Purple does sell a pillow with the elastic grid, which you can shop for here.
- Stomach sleepers: This pillow may be too lofty and firm for stomach sleepers, who will likely feel their neck uncomfortably crane upwards.
Sold on the Purple Cloud pillow? Read our full in-depth review!
Lagoon Chinchilla Pillow – Best for Stomach Sleepers
Lagoon Chinchilla Pillow
Lagoon designed this pillow to be extra-soft and luxurious.Read Full Review
The Lagoon Chinchilla pillow is a soft and snuggly pillow that’s super light and airy. The fluffy, 100 percent polyester’ down-alternative fiber fill gives the pillow a plush, luxurious feel. This pillow is also adjustable – you can remove the filling to create the perfect height for you. Stomach sleepers in particular can appreciate this pillow due to its low loft and soft feel, which should prevent stomach sleepers’ necks from craning. Stomach sleepers can also remove fill to achieve the perfect loft for them.
Who the Lagoon Chinchilla Pillow is Best for
- Soft pillow lovers: This pillow is super soft, plush, and fluffy. It feels super similar to down, which is great for anyone who likes that feeling.
- People seeking an easy clean: The Lagoon Chinchilla pillow is machine washable, which makes for a quick and easy clean.
- People with neck pain: The adjustable construction allows sleepers to customize the pillow to the perfect height to promote back and neck alignment and wake up pain-free.
Who Should Avoid the Lagoon Chinchilla Pillow
- Side sleepers: Even at maximum fill, this pillow is likely too soft and low loft for side sleepers, who usually sleep best on a more firm pillow.
- All-natural shoppers: The use of polyester in the pillow’s cover and filling prevents it from being all-natural, which may be important to some shoppers.
Need more information on the Lagoon Chinchilla pillow? Head over to our full review.
Cozy Earth Silk Pillow – Best Luxury
Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
Made with 100 percent silk for the filling, this pillow will provide combination sleepers with a soft, luxurious feel.
4.90 / 5Read Full Review
Cozy Earth is known for its natural luxury bedding, and its silk pillow certainly falls into this category. The cover is made from 100 percent bamboo viscose, which makes this pillow feel luxuriously soft. This fabric is known for being temperature-regulating and hypoallergenic. The pillow is filled with 100 percent mulberry silk, which offers a soft and plush feel similar to down. Silk is also great for temperature regulation and the fill makes the pillow easily moldable.
What our tester says: “The Cozy Earth Silk pillow offers a soft, plush, and cooling feel. Its softer feel and low loft make it a great option for stomach sleepers, but it can also work for some back sleepers.” – Amelia Jerden, senior staff writer
Who the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow is Best for
- Stomach sleepers: This pillow is very soft and compressive, which makes it a good option for stomach sleepers. It allows for the head and neck to sink in without being strained upwards.
- Hot sleepers: This pillow sleeps cool and is naturally breathable and moisture-wicking, which hot sleepers can definitely appreciate.
- People seeking durability: Cozy Earth designed this pillow with an enhanced weave to combat pilling and filling shifting, so the pillow can last longer. The pillow also comes with a 10-year warranty.
Who Should Avoid the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
- Side sleepers: This pillow has a pretty low loft, which will likely be uncomfortable and not supportive enough for side sleepers. These sleepers may sleep better on a firm pillow with a higher loft.
- Budget shoppers: This pillow is currently priced at $299 at full retail, which may be out of the price range for many shoppers. After all, it is a luxury option.
Want to learn more about the Cozy Earth Silk pillow? Head over to our full review.
Birch Eco-Rest Pillow – Best Soft
Birch Eco-Rest Pillow
The Birch Eco-Rest is made with an organic cotton and recycled down alternative fill.Read Full Review
The Birch Eco-Rest Pillow is plush and super soft. This pillow is created with natural and certified organic materials that are sustainably sourced and produced in the U.S. The outside cover is made with breathable organic cotton that feels soft and smooth and is also wrinkle-resistant. The filling is recycled polyester, which gives the pillow the soft and cozy feeling of down. This pillow is among the softest we’ve ever tested, making it a great choice in particular for stomach sleepers.
What our tester says: “I think this pillow is very well-suited to stomach sleepers, as it is soft and compresses beneath you while lying on your stomach. It’s very fluffy and easy to sink into, and doesn’t cause the neck to crane upwards.” – Amelia Jerden, senior staff writer
Who the Birch Eco-Rest Pillow is Best for
- Stomach sleepers: This pillow is soft, compressive, and has a low loft, which makes it a great pillow for stomach sleepers who need to prevent neck strain.
- Eco-friendly shoppers: This pillow is filled with 100 percent recycled materials that are sustainably sourced and produced. The pillow is also GOTS certified and made with Fair Trade cotton.
- Hot sleepers: The cotton cover makes this pillow breathable, which is ideal for sleepers who run hot at night.
Who Should Avoid the Birch Eco-Rest Pillow
- Side sleepers: This pillow is not supportive enough for side sleepers, who need a firm and higher loft pillow to properly support their head and neck in this position.
- People seeking an easy clean: This pillow cannot be machine washed or dried and can only be spot treated. This may be a deterrent for anyone wanting a machine-washable pillow.
Want to learn more about the Cozy Earth Silk pillow? Head over to our full review.
Helix Adjustable Pillow – Best for Back Sleepers
Helix Adjustable Pillow
The Helix Adjustable Pillow is made with a removable support insert layer so you can adjust the height of the pillow and find your most comfortable loft.
4.30 / 5
The Helix Adjustable pillow is a great choice for sleepers seeking a personalized feel. Unlike some adjustable pillows that have removable filling, the Helix Adjustable pillow has a removable support insert layer. The height of the pillow can be adjusted for different sleeping positions and body types. We particularly like this pillow for back sleepers, who can enjoy the medium-firm feel when the support layer is inserted. The gel microfiber fill gives the pillow a decent amount of sinkage while still being super supportive.
Who the Helix Adjustable Pillow is Best for
- Stomach sleepers: In addition to back sleepers, we think stomach sleepers can also really enjoy this pillow due to its low loft when the support layer is removed.
- Hot sleepers: The shell cover is made from 100 percent cotton, which makes this a breathable pillow. In addition, the gel microfiber fill shouldn’t trap too much heat.
- People unsure about a down-alternative pillow: Helix offers shoppers a 100-night sleep trial with this pillow, which is great if you’re unsure about down-alternative pillows and want to try one out.
Who Should Avoid the Helix Adjustable Pillow
- Side sleepers: This pillow is likely too soft and not supportive enough for side sleepers, even when the support layer is used.
- Combination sleepers: Combo sleepers may be frustrated by the all-or-nothing nature of this pillow, which doesn’t allow them a middle-ground feel that works for multiple positions.
Want to learn more about the Helix Adjustable Pillow? Check out our full review!
What to Look for In a Down-Alternative Pillow
Now that we’ve gone over our top picks for down-alternative pillows, lets break down some of the essential factors you’ll want to consider during your shopping process. Down-alternative pillows are known for being soft, fluffy, and compressible into a low loft, but these pillows can take many different forms. Looking at the pillow holistically and considering every facet will help you make the most informed decision.
A “down alternative” is any material that was crafted to replicate the feel of real waterfowl feathers without actually using any down in the process. The most common down alternative is synthetic polyester fiber, though some brands use proprietary blends, or even combine down alternatives with other materials to create a firmer feel.
- Polyester Fiber – Polyester fiber is a synthetic material designed to mimic the lightweight, feathery feel of real down. It can be used by itself or blended with other materials to experiment with firmness and support. Pillows filled with 100 percent polyester fiber tend to be more affordable.
- Proprietary Fibers – Proprietary down alternatives are unique to each bedding brand. Sometimes, they’re treated with a gel to make the down alternative feel more feathery, while other brands add cotton to the mix for a cushier kind of support. Remember to pay attention to the “materials description” in order to get as much info as possible. After all, every brand’s proprietary formula is going to feel different!
- Material Combos – Because down alternatives are typically very soft, sleepers in search of firmer support might want to aim for material combinations. Shredded memory foam, latex, and cotton are all examples of materials that are frequently blended with down alternatives to create a firmer, more supportive feel.
Loft refers to the height of a pillow. Down-alternative pillows can be compressed into a low loft, which often makes them ideal for stomach sleepers. Remember, stomach sleepers need a soft, low-lofted pillow in order to maintain a healthy sleep posture and prevent their neck from craning upward. But don’t worry, back and side sleepers, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to find a loft that works for you:
- Back Sleepers – Back sleepers are typically most compatible with a medium loft of three to four inches. Since down-alternative pillows compress under pressure, we suggest compensating for that with an extra lofty profile. For example, if you’re shooting for a 3-inch loft, pick a pillow that advertises a loft of four to five inches.
- Side Sleepers – The above rule applies to side sleepers too, though they’ll need to put more focus on firmness, while still paying attention to loft. Side sleepers need a lofty pillow with a firmer feel in order to keep neutral spine alignment, so we recommend picking a loft of at least five inches when you’re shopping for down-alternative pillows.
It’s important to note that a pillow’s loft is directly affected by its firmness, as softer pillows are more likely to compress into a lower loft. Again, stomach sleepers are most compatible with a soft, low-lofted pillow, which makes down-alternative a great choice for this sleeping style.
However, back and side sleepers should make sure that a down-alternative pillow is firm enough to maintain its loft throughout the night. Side sleepers, in particular, should aim for pillows that advertise a firm level of support, while back sleepers are usually most compatible with something in the medium firm range.
As we mentioned above, your sleeping position largely determines which pillow could work best for you. Ideally, you’ll want a pillow that is both comfortable and supportive of your head and neck. Different sleeping positions place your neck at different angles, so it’s important you find a pillow with the perfect density for ultimate pressure relief. Down-alternative pillows can often be molded and fluffed into different shapes, so this is good to remember as well. If you’re still not sure what kind of down-alternative pillow is best for your sleep position, here is a quick guide:
- Stomach Sleepers: Down-alternative pillows are often great choices for stomach sleepers because they’re plush and compressible. When choosing a pillow, we suggest stomach sleepers choose the softest one offered. Having a soft, low-lofted pillow is a great way for stomach sleepers to guard against neck craning.
- Back Sleepers: Back sleepers are typically most compatible with a medium level of loft and firmness. We suggest picking a high-density pillow with a soft to medium firmness rating, as these traits can complement each other to create a balanced feel. If you really want a firm pillow, it’s best to choose one with a low loft to prevent the head from craning forward.
- Side Sleepers: Down-alternative filling is very soft and compressible, so we suggest side sleepers pick the firmest, loftiest down pillow they can find. Remember, down is always going to compress at least a little bit, but side sleepers can compensate for that with an extra-firm feel.
You may have noticed many of these down-alternative pillows come with certifications. If you’re unfamiliar with these certifications, you may be confused about what they mean and why they may be important. Here are a few common ones you may come across:
- Fair Trade Certified: This certification means the materials in the product were produced in a way that follows Fairtrade International’s environmental, economic, and social standards.
- Global Recycle Standard (GRS): According to Control Union Certifications, the GRS is standard for products that designate “requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.”
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) free: BPA is a chemical used in certain plastic manufacturing. Some studies suggest that it can have links to health issues, so this certification just means the chemical is not used in the mattresses that contain recycled plastic.
Learn more in our guide to mattress and bedding certifications.
Just like with mattresses, you’ll want to think about your sleeping temperature when purchasing a pillow. Many people tend to sleep hot at night and can wake up sweaty. To combat this, look for a down-alternative pillow that is made with breathable materials, like cotton or latex, that promote airflow. You can also look for ones that are moisture-wicking to help with night sweats.
For many, easy cleaning is a high priority. Luckily, many brands make machine-washable down-alternative pillows. If this is important to you, read the fine print under “care instructions” to ensure your pillow is easy to clean. Some pillows are spot treatment or dry-clean only.
Price is one of the most important factors for a lot of shoppers. Down-alternative is usually much cheaper than real down, so you’re already saving money by choosing a down-alternative. However, some pillows can be pricy. In this roundup, the pillows range from $50 to $165 for a standard/queen size, with an average price of about $95.
Pros and Cons of Down-Alternative Pillows
There are many reasons why someone might choose a down-alternative over a down pillow, and vice versa. If you’re conflicted between the two, here are a few pros and cons of down-alternative pillows.
- Vegan-friendly: No real birds are used in these pillows, which is a perk for shoppers who want vegan or cruelty-free products. They’re also usually made with hypoallergenic, allergy-friendly materials.
- Less expensive: Down-alternative pillows are almost always cheaper than real down, which can get expensive due to the use of real bird feathers.
- Easier to clean: Many down-alternative pillows are made with materials that are machine washable for a quick and easy cleaning process.
- Heavier: Because these pillows are not made with real bird down, they’re usually not quite as lightweight due to heavier materials.
- Less durable: Down-alternative pillows typically need to be replaced more frequently than down pillows.
- Less supportive: Although down-alternative tries to replicate the feel of real down, the materials used tend to not be as supportive.
What is down alternative?
Commonly referred to as “faux down,” down alternative is any material designed to replicate the feathery feel of real down. They can take many different forms, but are usually made from synthetic polyester fibers.
Do down alternative pillows go flat?
The short answer is yes, down alternative pillows have the tendency to go flat over the course of a few nights. However, throwing a down alternative pillow in the dryer or fluffing it with your hands is a quick and easy way to restore its original loft and shape.
Are down alternative pillows good for side sleepers?
Because down alternative pillows are typically soft and compressible, they’re not always supportive enough for side sleepers. That said, side sleepers can shop specifically for firm down alternative pillows with a loft of at least four inches to ensure they’re getting enough support.
What’s the difference between down and down alternative?
Down pillows use real down from birds while down-alternative pillows use materials designed to mimic the feel of down.
What is the best down alternative pillow stuffing?
It depends on your personal preference and sleeping position, but the most popular fillings are polyester fibers, gel fibers, and shredded latex.
What is an alternative to feather pillows?
Down-alternative pillows made with synthetic materials are the closest product to real feather pillows.
Are down-alternative pillows good for stomach sleepers?
Yes! The soft feel and low loft of down-alternative pillows make them a good choice for stomach sleepers.
Bauer, Brett A. “What Is BPA, and What Are the Concerns about BPA?” Nutrition and Healthy Eating, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2023, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331.
“Fairtrade Standards.” Fairtrade America, Fairtrade America, 2023, https://www.fairtradeamerica.org/get-certified/the-certification-process/#:~:text=What%20does%20it%20mean%20to,third%2Dparty%20auditor%2C%20FLOCERT.
“GRS – Global Recycle Standard.” Certifications, https://certifications.controlunion.com/en/certification-programs/certification-programs/grs-global-recycle-standard.