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Best Down Alternative Pillows: 8 Comfortable Options for Any Sleep Style

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updated: December 20, 2023

There’s nothing more personal or comforting than finding the best pillow. If you’ve ever shopped around to find this bedroom staple, you know it can get overwhelming with so many choicesFor instance, do you want one filled with feathers (down) or a down-alternative, such as a pillow made of polyfill or gel fiber? Feather pillows can feel fabulous, but many people are either allergic to down, prefer not to purchase a product sourced with feathers, or want something more supportive than down. Here, a list of our favorite down alternative pillows based on personal testing and extensive research, so you can quickly find your perfect feather-free pillow.

How to choose the best down alternative pillow

Material

The material selection (what’s both on the inside and outside of the pillow) is one of the most critical elements. Starting with the outside, look for a soft, breathable material, such as cotton. This not only adds comfort, but can keep your pillow from getting too hot.

It may be tempting to purchase a pillow filled with lower quality materials (such as cotton and polyfill) on the inside because it typically makes them less expensive. However, by investing in a premium material such as memory foam, microfiber, or gel fiber, you may be able to get a longer life out of your pillow along with a greater amount of head and neck support. To know more about the differences, read our guide to types of pillows.

Allergens

You may assume a down alternative pillow is allergy-friendly, but it’s essential you verify the contents of the pillow to make sure it’s not made with allergy-inducing materials. You can also look for machine-washable pillows which can help keep allergens to a minimum.

Loft

Loft refers to how high the pillow is, which is an important factor depending on your sleep position. If you’re a back or side sleeper, then look for pillows with a higher loft. However if you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll need a lower loft so it doesn’t interfere with breathing.

Firmness

Not only is the firmness of your pillow a personal preference but the right firmness level also depends on your sleep position. Side sleepers may prefer higher firmness while stomach sleepers may need a softer level, while back sleepers can benefit from something in-between.

Our top picks for down alternative pillows

Best value down alternative pillow: Ostrichpillow Memory Foam Bed Pillow

While the Ostrichpillow Memory Foam Bed Pillow costs more than many down alternative pillows on the market, it offers incredible value. For starters, it features memory foam made from recycled polyester. I’ve personally tested this pillow and so has my family, and we all agree it conforms to your head and neck and provides exceptional support—no matter what type of sleeper you are. (If you’re looking for more focused support, check out our list of the best pillows for neck pain.)

Additionally, it includes a two-year warranty and 100-night trial, plus you can easily wash it. As an added bonus, it also includes a travel bag and I can confirm you can easily pack this pillow in your suitcase or carry-on. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Recycled polyester, memory foam
  • Cover: Modal
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $120

What we like:

  • Giving, but supportive
  • Outer cover is extremely soft
  • Stays cool, even if you’re a hot sleeper
  • Works for every sleep position

What we don’t like:

  • May be over the budget
  • Only comes in one size

The bottom line:

It’s hard to compare the softness and support this pillow offers and it’s an amazing ergonomic option for almost any type of sleeper.

Best value down alternative pillow
Ostrichpillow Memory Foam Bed Pillow

Ostrichpillow Memory Foam Bed Pillow

Best down alternative pillow for side sleepers: Beckham Hotel Pillow

The Beckham Hotel Pillows are the darling pillows of Amazon. I also own these pillows and am impressed with not only how supportive they are—especially for side sleepers—but how easy they are to clean. You simply machine wash and dry them and they’re as good as new.

These pillows are soft on the outside with 250 thread count, and offer breathability, a must for side sleepers. Plus, they somehow stay cool. I’ve had these pillows for a couple of years now and am impressed with the durability they offer, not only because the material has held together, but also because the fill hasn’t shifted at all. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Microfiber
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX Certified (made with safer chemicals)
  • Price: $39.39

What we like:

  • Durable and doesn’t shift over time
  • Soft outer material and stays cool
  • Supportive for side sleepers
  • Incredible value, comes in a two-pack

What we don’t like:

The bottom line: 

Side sleepers can rejoice with the breathability, support, value, and softness this pillow offers.

Best down alternative pillow for side sleepers
Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows Standard / Queen Size Set of 2 - Down Alternative Bedding Gel Cooling Pillow for Back, Stomach or Side Sleepers

Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows Standard / Queen Size Set of 2 - Down Alternative Bedding Gel Cooling Pillow for Back, Stomach or Side Sleepers

Best for back sleepers: Miracle Bamboo 3-in-1 Pillow

If you’re a back sleeper and looking for a down alternative pillow with firm support, then consider the Miracle Bamboo 3-in-1 Pillow. While these pillows are soft and squishable, they still offer firm support. I’ve personally tested thes and found they were too firm for side sleeping, but work well for sleeping on your back. They’re also machine washable and have a soft viscose (material made from bamboo) lining, which makes them easy to care for. If you like the feel of bamboo, shop our list of the best bamboo sheets to upgrade your bedding. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Shredded polyurethane foam
  • Cover: Viscose from bamboo
  • Firmness level: Medium to firm
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $28

What we like:

  • Medium to firm support
  • Soft outer layer
  • Easy to clean
  • Filling stays in place

What we don’t like:

  • May be too firm
  • Can get hot

The bottom line: 

A hypoallergenic alternative to down or down feathers that’s easy to care for and provides excellent head and neck support.

Best for back sleepers
Miracle Bamboo, White, Standard

Miracle Bamboo, White, Standard

Best down alternative pillow for stomach sleepers: DOWNLITE Extra Soft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Bed Pillow

Stomach sleepers have their own unique pillow needs, mainly with a pillow that has extremely low loft and softness so you can still get breathability. The DOWNLITE Extra Soft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Bed Pillow is a great option because it features an extremely low loft, plus super-soft fill and thread count. They’re machine washable and feature a soft 500-thread count cotton cover. (To get to know the ins and outs of thread counts, read our guide to the best thread counts for sheets, which can apply to this purchase as well.) The filling is also cotton, which is how you get the softness while remaining hypoallergenic. Stomach sleepers aren’t the only ones who may benefit though—many reviews say it helps relieve neck pain, too.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Cotton
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Firmness level: Low
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX Certified (made with safer chemicals)
  • Price: $45

What we like:

  • Flattens and stays soft, perfect for stomach sleepers
  • Machine washable and dryable
  • Flat, but moldable

What we don’t like:

  • Many reviews complain of how hot it gets—so if you run hot, take a look at our list of the best cooling pillows

The bottom line: 

Stomach sleepers need low loft and softness and the DOWNLITE Extra Soft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Bed Pillow offers a great solution.

Best down alternative pillow for stomach sleeper
DOWNLITE Extra Soft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Bed Pillow - Stomach Sleeper Pillow (Standard/Queen)

DOWNLITE Extra Soft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Bed Pillow - Stomach Sleeper Pillow (Standard/Queen)

Best cooling down alternative pillow: SLUMBER CLOUD UltraCool Pillow 

The SLUMBER CLOUD uses premium NASA-approved Outlast fabric on both sides of the pillow to fight off heat and stay cool. This specialized fabric absorbs, stores, and then releases the heat so hot temps don’t stand a chance. Then it includes a silk cover, to add further cooling comfort to the pillow. This pillow also comes in various firmness levels, so you can find the right firmness and size for your needs. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Fiber-fill
  • Cover: Silk
  • Firmness level: Medium (several firmness levels available)
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX Certified (made with safer chemicals)
  • Price: $69

What we like:

  • Includes cooling fabric and silk outer shell
  • Machine washable and dryable
  • Hypoallergenic

What we don’t like:

  • May not be soft enough for stomach sleepers
  • A little on the longer side, so it may stick out of pillows

The bottom line: 

If you need a cool place to lay your head at night then this may be your best bet with its cooling technology.

Best cooling down alternative pillow
SLUMBER CLOUD UltraCool Pillow - NASA Temperature Regulation Technology - Down Alternative Cooling Pillow Medium/Firm Standard

SLUMBER CLOUD UltraCool Pillow - NASA Temperature Regulation Technology - Down Alternative Cooling Pillow Medium/Firm Standard

Best hybrid down alternative pillow: Casper Hybrid Pillow

A hybrid pillow uses more than one type of filling and the Casper Hybrid Pillow offers the support of both fiber-fill and memory foam—ideal for those who want softness and support. This pillow offers so much support, you never have to worry about fluffing it, making it ideal for anyone who prefers a low-maintenance option. The three layers offer a squishy, huggable feel, but still firm enough to support your neck. You can also try it out for 30 days and see if it works best for you. Because of the firmness level of this particular pillow, it will work best for side sleepers. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Polyester fiber and polyurethane foam
  • Cover: 92% polyester, 8% spandex
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $74.25

What we like:

  • Two types of materials for added support 
  • Moldable, gel-like fill
  • Includes ultra soft memory foam too
  • No need to fluff

What we don’t like:

  • Not machine dryable

The bottom line: 

If you’re a side sleeper who wants both softness and firmness, then you may love Casper’s Hybrid Pillow where you get the best of both worlds. 

Best hybrid down alternative pillow

Best sustainable down alternative pillow: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

If you prefer 100 percent organic cotton closer to your skin then you might want to give the Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow a closer look. (You may recognize the name Boll & Branch from our list of the best places to buy pillows.) Not only does it include a soft, 100 percent organic cotton outer shell, you can choose between the three firmness levels: Soft, medium, and firm. The density is from material made from hypoallergenic down alternative fiber fill, which mimics the feel of down without the added concern of allergens. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: PrimaLoft® Luxury Down Alternative®
  • Cover: 100 percent organic cotton
  • Firmness level: soft, medium, or firm
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine wash and dry
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX Certified (made with safer chemicals)
  • Price: $89

What we like:

  • Features luxurious, supersoft 100 percent organic cotton
  • Fiber-fill mimics regular down
  • Can select how firm you want your pillow
  • Machine washable and can tumble dry low

What we don’t like:

  • Pricier option

The bottom line: 

If you want to sleep on organic cotton and like the feel of down, then the Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow may be just what you need.

Best sustainable down alternative pillow
Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Softest down alternative pillow: Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow

If you’re after softness and breathability, the Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow is for you. It features 100 percent TENCEL™ Lyocell for both the fill and liner, which is an incredibly soft, sustainable fabric which is made from the pulp of FSC & PEFC-certified eucalyptus wood. Not only is this a sustainable material, but it’s also naturally moisture-wicking, so you can enjoy a soft touch and density, without your pillow getting too hot.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: 100 percent TENCEL™ Lyocell
  • Cover: 100 percent TENCEL™ Lyocell
  • Firmness level: Soft
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine washable and tumble dry low
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX Certified (made with safer chemicals)
  • Price: $56

What we like:

  • Made from sustainable fabric
  • Bacteria-resistant and anti-microbial
  • Ultra soft and moisture wicking

What we don’t like:

  • May not offer enough support

The bottom line: 

Whether you’re a stomach sleeper or prefer a soft density, the Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow offers an allergy-friendly option that also keeps you cool. 

Softest down alternative pillow
Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow

Sijo FluffBase Eucalyptus Pillow

How we selected the best down alternative pillows

Selecting the best down alternative pillows involved a combination of testing and research. Not only did I personally test many of the brands added to the top picks, but I reviewed several products online for comparison, and poured through customer reviews to find common themes with each product.

What's the difference between down and down alternatives?

Down refers to a pillow made with down feathers, which come from the underside (or protective layer) of waterfowl, such as goose and duck. Many sleepers prefer down pillows because they’re lightweight, airy, and last for years. 

Down alternatives offer another option for anyone who suffers from a respiratory illness or an allergy to down. Down alternative pillows can be filled with a variety of synthetic materials, including polyfill or microfibers.

Who is best suited to a down alternative pillow?

Naturally, anyone who is allergic to feathers will need to look for a down alternative pillow if they want to avoid a potential irritation. However, if you’re a hot sleeper, you may prefer a down alternative pillow even if you don’t suffer from allergies, as these pillows are often cooler and more breathable.

Which down alternative pillow sizes are available?

You can find down alternative pillow sizes in virtually any shape and size, from small square accent pillows to the larger king size.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are down alternative pillows any good?

You can find numerous down alternative pillows that offer an everyday solution for sleeping compared to down or down-feather pillows. With proper care and maintenance, a quality down alternative pillow can last for years.

What does down alternative mean in pillows?

Down alternative simply means it’s a pillow filled with a material other than down or down feathers. Down alternative is a broad category and includes pillows filled with polyfill, gel fiber, microfiber, or other non-feather materials.

What are the disadvantages of down alternative pillow?

While down alternative pillows offer many benefits, they require much more filling to make it loftier, which means the pillow can stay hotter. Some alternative filing isn’t as durable compared to down, so you may not get as many years of use out of them.

Can you wash down alternative pillows?

You can purchase machine-washable down alternative pillows. Not all pillows are washable, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. For general advice, read our guide to how to wash pillows—and how often to replace pillows.

Are down alternative pillows eco-friendly?

Not all down alternative pillows are eco-friendly, since some are made with synthetic fibers like polyester. However, you can look for pillows made with eco-friendly materials, such as those made from recycled plastic bottles.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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