Down-alternative pillows are perfect for sleepers who love the feathery feel of down, but don’t want to sleep on the real thing. They’re soft, fluffy, and almost always more affordable than real down pillows. Plus, they’re eco-friendly and cruelty-free! But with so many options out there, how are you supposed to know which down-alternative pillow is best for you?
Well keep reading, folks, because my best down-alternative pillow review is here to help. In this guide, I’m presenting my top five favorites, along with some expert tips and tricks behind pillow shopping. Let’s get started!
Best Down-Alternative Pillows
- Best for Combination Sleepers – Saatva Pillow
- Best for Stomach Sleepers – Lagoon Puffin Pillow
- Editor’s Pick – Luxe Down Alternative Pillow
- Best Organic – Buffy Pillow
- Best Cooling – Nolah AirFiber Pillow
- Most Affordable – Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
Methodology: How Do I Shop For Down-Alternative Pillows?
Before we get into this round-up, let’s cover a few basics about down-alternative pillows. They’re known for being soft, fluffy, and compressible into a low loft. However, down-alternative pillows can take many different forms, and it’s important to pay close attention to materials, loft, and firmness in order to find the one that works for your sleeping position.
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 alternative 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 be blended with other materials in order to experiment with firmness and support. Sleepers on a budget might like to know that pillows filled with 100 percent polyester fiber tend to be more affordable.
- Proprietary Fibers – Obviously, 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. That said, it’s extra important 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.
Down-alternative pillows can be compressed into a low loft, which often makes them ideal for stomach sleepers (every pillow in this round-up is!). Remember — stomach sleepers need a soft, low-lofted pillow in order to maintain healthy posture throughout the night. 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, I 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 (and we’ll get to that next). Side sleepers need a lofty pillow with a firmer feel in order to keep neutral spine alignment, so I 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.
We’ll take a look at a wide variety of firmnesses and lofts in a moment, but here’s a pro-tip for back and side sleepers: Down-alternative pillows that incorporate shredded latex or memory foam are typically more supportive and firm.
Okay folks, with all of this in mind, we’re ready to dive into these pillows!
Best Down-Alternative Pillow for Combo Sleepers – Saatva Latex Pillow
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
First up, we have the Saatva Pillow, a great pick for sleepers of many styles.
Firstly, let me say that I am a true combo sleeper who enjoys every position equally. I’ve been sleeping with the Saatva pillow for over a year, and am still so impressed by how it supports me no matter which position I roll into. If you’re looking for a plush-yet-supportive pillow that can easily adapt to a little tossing and turning, I heartily recommend this one.
It features a dual-design wherein an outer pillow envelops an inner pillow for cozy, balanced support. The outer pillow is filled with a proprietary down alternative, the core is filled with shredded latex, and together they offer a buoyant, fluffable feel. And while I find it to be great for all positions, stomach sleepers should feel free to remove the middle insert for an extra soft, low-lofted pillow.
For the full scoop, be sure to check our full Saatva pillow review!
Price: $145-$165, with a 45-day trial period.
Perfect For: Combo sleepers looking for a pillow that blends down alternative with another material.
Best for Stomach Sleepers – Lagoon Puffin Pillow
Lagoon's pillow quiz pairs you with three pillow options based on your results, giving you 30 days to test them out and see which is best for you.
4.60 / 5Read Full Review
Next up is the Lagoon Puffin pillow, a great pick for stomach sleepers. These folks will want a pillow that’s plush, but still supportive enough to keep their neck and spine in the right alignment while they’re sleeping.
The outer cover of the Puffin pillow features a bamboo and polyester blended fabric that is breathable and helps keep you cool throughout the night, while the inner fill is made with “Next II Down” alternative microfibers that can be taken out to adjust the loft of your pillow. This down alternative is medium soft, which gives it a comforting fluffy feel while still offering support.
For more info be sure to check our full Lagoon pillow reviews!
Price: $89, with a 100-day trial period.
Perfect For: Stomach sleepers looking for a down alternative pillow.
Editor’s Pick – Luxe Down Alternative Pillow
Luxe Down Alternative Pillow
This pillow is made with polyester gel fiber that very closely mimics the feeling of down. It's a great choice for back and stomach sleepers.
4.00 / 5Read Full Review
Next on my list is the Luxe Down Alternative, a super fluffy pillow that feels just like real down.
Of all the down alternative pillows I’ve ever tested, I think this one feels the most like real down. In fact, I’ve tested this brand’s down pillow as well and, when I unboxed both accessories, I had a hard time determining which was which. So, if you’re looking for a down-alternative pillow that really mimics the feathery feel of down, this is a great way to go.
It’s filled with polygel fiber and covered in cotton, both of which are hypoallergenic materials. Polygel fiber is a synthetic polyester said to be extra resistant to mold and mildew, which might appeal to sleepers with sensitive skin. Keep in mind, though, that this pillow’s low loft and soft feel makes it not quite supportive enough for side sleepers. But if you’re a back or stomach sleeper looking for a fluffy, huggable pillow, I suggest you give this one a try!
For all the details on both the down and down-alternative options, check my full Luxe pillows review.
Price: $79-$99, with a 100-night trial period.
Perfect For: Back and stomach sleepers looking for a plush and huggable pillow!
Best Organic Down-Alternative Pillow – Buffy Cloud Pillow
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.
Sleepers looking to go green are sure to be compatible with the all-organic Buffy pillow.
From the cover fabric to the internal fill, the Buffy pillow is made entirely from sustainable materials. The cover fabric is spun from eucalyptus fiber, a plant-based material that feels silky to the touch. Eucalyptus is also known for its antimicrobial properties, which makes this pillow extra resistant to mold, mildew, and other allergens.
But the real eco-friendly action is happening inside the pillow, as it’s filled with a down alternative made from recycled plastic bottles! Make no mistake — this pillow’s stuffing is super fluffy and doesn’t feel anything like plastic. But every Buffy pillow is filled with about 25-30 plastic bottles that were airblown into soft, breathable fibers (neat, right?).
Additionally, the Buffy pillow comes in three different firmness options to accommodate sleepers of all styles.
For more information on this brand’s Earth-friendly products, check my Buffy comforter review!
Price: $50-$70, with a free 7-day trial period that doesn’t charge you a dime until your trial is up!
Perfect For: Eco-friendly sleepers looking for a super soft, organic pillow!
Best Cooling Down-Alternative Pillow – Nolah AirFiber
Nolah AirFiber Pillow
The Nolah AirFiber is a down-alternative pillow with a cool-to-the-touch cover.
4.70 / 5Read Full Review
Finally, we come to the Nolah AirFiber — a cool and breathable pillow for hot sleepers.
Filled with a proprietary down alternative and covered in cotton, this pillow is lightweight, airy, and soft. It has a big ol’ fluffy build, but can be easily compressed into a low loft to accommodate stomach sleepers. But what’s really cool about this pillow is the Phase Change Material that’s infused within the cover fabric.
Phase Change Material is a cooling textile that can make fabric feel uniquely soothing on the skin. That said, this pillow’s cover fabric is not made entirely from PCM, so it’s not going to feel icy-cool or slippery (as is generally the case with 100% PCM textiles). Instead, it offers a subtly cooling quality that’s enhanced by the breathability of the internal fill.
While the Nolah AirFiber is a little too soft for side sleepers, this brand makes a firmer option too!
And you can see what both pillows are all about in my full Nolah pillow review.
Price: $79, with a 120-night trial period
Perfect For: Back and stomach sleepers who run hot.
Most Affordable – Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
The Brooklinen Down Alternative pillow features a cotton shell and is filled with recycled PET fiber fill.
4.80 / 5
Here we have the Brooklinen pillow, a great pick for shoppers looking for pillows on a budget.
The Brooklinen is a microfiber pillow that comes in three firmness options: Firm, Medium-Firm, and Plush. This means that the Brooklinen will be a great fit for multiple types of sleepers. The microfiber fill in this pillow is hypoallergenic and shredded and shaved to give a down-like feel.
The outer cover of the Brooklinen pillow is made with a breathable cotton fabric, and though the cover isn’t removable, the filling doesn’t clump or fall flat easily, and the pillow is machine-washable on a gentle setting and can also be dry cleaned. The best part about this pillow, is that it only costs $65, and may be even less with coupons!
Price: $65, with a 365-day trial period.
Perfect For: People looking for a quality pillow that doesn’t break the bank.
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 4-inches to ensure they’re getting enough support.
Now that you’ve seen my top five favorite down-alternative pillows, you’re ready to pick the one that’s perfect for you. Just remember to consider all the details surrounding materials, firmness, loft, and cooling properties so you can choose the one that best meets your unique needs. Happy shopping!