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6 Best Down Alternative Pillows – Soft and Cruelty-free

From AirFiber selections to shredded foam options, we’ve picked this year’s best down alternative pillows to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
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Last updatedLast updated: June 10, 2021
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One of the more comfortable pillow types is original down pillows. For many people, however, pillows made of animal products aren’t an option. This can be due to personal preference or even allergies. Fortunately, there are substitutes commonly referred to as down alternatives. But, how do you know which options are the best down alternative pillows?

Today we’re going to review 6 of the best down alternative pillows to provide you with a variety of options. We’ve also included our handy buyers guide to highlight the features you should consider when choosing the best option. Features such as size, material, and allergy-free choices will ensure you choose the best type of alternative to give you the most comfortable sleep!

Top 6 Down Alternative Pillows Review 2021

1.

Bear Cloud PillowEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Sizes: Standard and King
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Cover: 100% polyester
  • Allergy info: hypoallergenic
  • Maintenance: spot clean only
  • Firmness: soft

As a fluffy and feather-free pillow, this down alternative is available in standard and king-size options. Anyone suffering from allergies or asthma will be delighted to know this pillow is hypoallergenic. Since it contains no animal dander or products of any kind, it’s 100% allergen-free. Both the cover and fill are made out of polyester, so it’s not only breathable but provides a cool sleep for people who get hot when they sleep.

The polyester foam used in the filling makes this pillow amazingly comfortable for any sleeping position. This includes people who sleep in multiple positions throughout the night. It adds extra comfort, which aids spinal alignment.

What makes it stand out?

  • Despite being listed as a pillow with soft firmness, it's a very firm pillow and quite comfortable. Made from quality materials, this pillow is antimicrobial. Two size options mean you’ll easily find a pillow in the most comfortable size.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • The Bear pillow is considerably more expensive than other similar pillows in this category. The other issue we have with this pillow is its cooling feature. While this is an excellent feature for hot sleepers, it can be a bit off-putting for buyers who want a warmer sleep. Be sure to consider what your preference is before investing in this pillow.
Features
  • Sizes: Standard, Queen, and King
  • Material: down alternative polyester fill
  • Cover: 100% cotton sateen
  • Allergy info: not specified
  • Maintenance: not specified
  • Firmness: medium or firm

Made from 100% cotton sateen and filled with a polyester fill, the Plushbeds option is well worth considering. It’s available in sizes from standard to king, making it easier for buyers to find the perfect size for their comfort levels. The fill is hypoallergenic, making it a great choice for allergy suffers.

Since Plushbeds offers you the option of different firmness levels, it’s easy to find the pillow best suited to each sleeper’s individual needs. This pillow can easily be used for different sleeping positions.

What are our favorite features?

  • This pillow has the elegant and luxurious feel of a real down feather model but without exposure to animal dander. Plushbeds are committed to safety and quality and are GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. Different firmness levels are a huge plus to finding the ideal pillow. It’s easy to see why this pillow is often referred to as the best down alternative king pillow for vacation rental!

What could be better?

  • The loft (height) on this pillow might be too high for sleepers who prefer a lower pillow. It also doesn’t absorb heat as well as some of the other top-level pillows in this particular category.
3.

Nolah AirFiber™ PillowPremium Pick

Features
  • Sizes: Queen
  • Material: AirFiber™ filling
  • Cover: Cooling Outlast® material
  • Allergy info: not specified
  • Maintenance: not specified
  • Firmness: soft

The Nolah pillow is made of the same air foam material the company uses in its mattresses. It’s an open-cell foam that increases airflow and feels like a combination of memory foam and polyfoam. This makes it lighter and considerably more responsive.

All sleeper types will find this pillow comfortable. With the cooling feature, it’s super suited to hot sleepers who ordinarily struggle to stay cool during the night. It’s ideal for people who aren’t looking for a memory foam type of pillow.

What are its best features?

  • We liked the 120-night trial period that comes with each pillow. This gives buyers a full four months to completely test the comfort and breathability of the pillow. We enjoyed the cooling phase change material infused in the cover, which makes this pillow the best choice for keeping cool at night.

What could be improved?

  • We think the one-size option is a bit limiting. The queen size is longer than the standard option offered in other brands. Some buyers might consider this pillow too big. Offering a standard size could be an option the manufacturer should consider.
4.

Layla Memory Foam PillowMost Comfortable

Features
  • Sizes: Queen and King
  • Material: shredded memory foam (open-cell memory foam and poly fiber)
  • Cover: polyester fabric
  • Allergy info: not specified
  • Maintenance: machine washable
  • Firmness: adjustable

The Layla memory foam pillow is made from shredded memory foam, which is essentially open-cell memory foam and poly fiber. Not only does this adjustable pillow mold to your required shape, but it also stays cooler much longer. The cover is woven from polyester fabric, similar to the kind used in gym wear. This makes the pillow very breathable, ideal for people who sleep hot.

Side sleepers rate this pillow higher than other sleepers because the height of the pillow is perfectly suited to spinal alignment when lying on the side. Its adjustable filling makes it one of the best extra firm down alternative pillows available.

Why is it special?

  • We like that this pillow’s height and comfort can be adjusted in both height and comfort. Simply add or remove pillow fill to get the right loft and firmness. Getting the proper spine alignment is essential for a good night's sleep, and being able to adjust the pillow to your exact needs is great!

What are the flaws?

  • We thought it slightly disappointing that this pillow isn’t available in a standard size. While both the king and queen sizes are bigger than a standard, it’s not good news for buyers who prefer smaller standard-size pillows.
Features
  • Sizes: Standard, Queen, and King
  • Material: deconstructed latex and memory foam
  • Cover: not specified
  • Allergy info: suited to those who suffer from allergies or asthma
  • Maintenance: cover is machine washable, spot cleaning is recommended for an insert
  • Firmness: adjustable

Brooklyn’s foam pillows offer a gel-infused luxury cooling latex with a ventilated memory foam, making this pillow cooler than its competitors. Since the pillow arrives overstuffed, it’s easy for you to adjust it to the required size.

This pillow is ideally suited to people suffering from asthma or allergies who will benefit from a hypoallergenic option. Adjustability makes it easy to use no matter what position you sleep in. Its allergen-free feature makes it one of the best pillows with a down alternative filling!

Why did it make our list?

  • This pillow is very affordable, and with three sizes available, you're guaranteed to find the most comfortable size within your budget. We like that the covers are antimicrobial and hypoallergenic.

What is not ideal about it?

  • Despite the filling being adjustable, the options are either for a "high" or "low" loft (height of the pillow). This means any sleepers who would prefer something in between might not find this pillow comfortable. Another point we found somewhat disappointing is the pillow insert can only be spot cleaned, unlike the cover, which is machine washable.
6.

Puffy PillowBest Breathability

Features
  • Sizes: Standard and King
  • Material: blend of polyester and bamboo rayon blend
  • Cover: premium blend of bamboo rayon
  • Allergy info: completely hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
  • Maintenance: machine washable cover
  • Firmness: adjustable

The puffy pillow is made from a blend of polyester and bamboo rayon blend. Not only is it hypoallergenic but also dust mite resistant, making it ideal for allergy sufferers. This model offers maximum comfort as it easily aligns to the specific height of your neck and shoulders.

Since the pillow is adjustable, the Puffy pillow can easily support any sleeping position. If you enjoy the feel of memory foam without sleeping on a solid chunk of foam, this option is for you. Since the foam is shredded, you can fluff it out until it’s most comfortable.

What are its best features?

  • We liked the cooling provided by the bamboo rayon cover. It’s not only cool to the touch but offers outstanding breathability and comfort. We also liked that this pillow comes with an inner sleeve that allows you to add or remove the foam, making the foam level adjustable to your precise needs.

What could be improved?

  • We thought the cost of this pillow is somewhat higher than the other pillows in this category. Another concern we had stemmed from the filling moving around when you change position. Ultimately, this could become uncomfortable.

Things to Consider

Studies reflect that an average of 50% of all Americans will suffer from a varying degree of neck pain in their adult lives. A huge contributor to this is pillows that don’t support your head and neck correctly during sleep. This, in turn, results in tension in your neck muscles which leads to chronic neck pain. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to place a great deal of importance on your pillow choice.
Our handy buyers’ guide will highlight the features you need to consider ensuring your neck and head get the support you need to avoid unpleasant neck and shoulder pain. We’ll also list the advantages of alternative down pillows over their down and feather counterparts.

Advantages of Down Alternative Pillows

There are several advantages to choosing down alternative pillows over the original down options. Some of these advantages include the following:

  • Allergy-free option: Down alternatives are ideal for people who suffer from allergies to animal dander. Many down alternative varieties are also resistant to mold and dust mites.
  • Hot Sleeper: If you’re a person who sleeps hot, down alternatives will offer you some relief. Down alternative pillows are very breathable, adding extra comfort to people who get extremely hot when they’re sleeping.
  • Easy to maintain: Down alternatives can easily be maintained by washing them every six months. They’re also easy to dry since you can simply pop them into the drier after washing.
  • Environmentally friendly: All down alternatives are also made with non-animal products and many from recycled fibers. The techniques used to manufacture these pillows keep the environment in mind, making it a greener product all around!

Important Features

6 Best Down Alternative Pillows - Soft and Cruelty-free

Pillows have remarkably similar shapes and thicknesses. Out of a shelf full of pillows, you might be forgiven for assuming one pillow is pretty much like the next.

But there are a wide variety of different features that make some options better than others. Let’s have a look at some of the most important features to consider when you’re shortlisting your down alternative pillows.

Sizes

The size of your pillow depends primarily on what you’re most comfortable with. Down alternative pillows are primarily available in the following different sizes:

Standard: (20” x 26”) Standard pillows are the most universally purchased size. They’re the most compact and cheapest. For an example of this type of pillow, refer to the Bear Cloud Pillow.

Super standard: (20” x 26’) Generally, two inches longer than a standard pillow, these pillows are often referred to as Jumbo pillows. This is ideal for people who find standard pillows too cramped.

Queen: (20” x 30”) Queen-size pillow options are slightly longer than the super standard option and are a good choice for people who move around a lot while they sleep. The Layla Memory Foam Pillow is available in king and queen sizes. Another example of a queen-size-down alternative pillow is the Nolah AirFiber™ Pillow.

King: (20” x 36”) Commonly the longest of all the pillow types available, king-size pillows are perfect for people who toss and turn a lot. They can serve as back and headrests for people who spend a considerable amount of time sitting in bed. The Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow is available in this size.

Euro: (size varies, but the shape is always square) A Euro-size pillow is square-shaped and comes in a variety of sizes. These types of pillows also make adequate head and backrests.

Body: (20” x 54”) Body pillows are considerably wide and are specifically designed for people who need extra support on their abdomens or backs, such as pregnant women.

Material

The type and quality of a particular material ultimately determine its durability and ability to provide the correct neck support.

AirFiber™ filling: This type of material is an ultra-thin and exceptionally light spun polyester fiber that offers a considerable amount of support. Essentially it feels like your head is being kept afloat on a cloud of soft cooling fibers that molds to your comfort level. An example of this advanced material technology is the Nolah AirFiber™ Pillow.

Latex: Synthetic latex is primarily made from styrene-butadiene rubber that feels like natural latex but with less durability. Latex is naturally cooling and bouncy and is much softer than memory foam pillows. The Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow has a combination of latex and memory foam, providing you with the best of both.

Memory foam: Memory foam is essentially made from viscoelastic polyurethane. Originally designed for use in wheelchair seat cushions, this versatile material has eventually made its way to pillows! Memory foam is soft to the touch and adjusts around body pressure. Shredded memory foam is made of a combination of memory foam and poly fibers. We reviewed the Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow, which is made up of this combination.

Cover

6 Best Down Alternative Pillows - Soft and Cruelty-free

Down alternatives can have a wide variety of covers. Some of the most common include the following:

100% Cotton Sateen: This type of fabric is remarkably similar to satin and is made by weaving cotton yarns together instead of silk. Sateen has a sheen finish and a soft, silky feel. It doesn’t crease easily, drapes well, and looks elegant. The Plushbeds Sateen Down Alternative Pillow is an example of this.

Bamboo Rayon: Bamboo rayon is a material made from a bamboo plant. It’s often referred to as Viscose and is thermal regulating, anti-static, and anti-fungal. This type of cover makes the pillow drier, cooler, and odor-free. It’s also hypoallergenic and more breathable. A perfect example is the Puffy Pillow with its blend of rayon and polyester cover.

100% polyester: Also known as the world’s most popular textile, polyester is used in thousands of different applications in both consumer and industrial goods. Our review list features the Layla Memory Foam Pillow, which has a polyester cover. A perfect combination with the memory foam inner.

Cooling Outlast® material: This type of material is made of phase change materials that easily absorb, store as well as release heat providing optimal thermal comfort. Interestingly enough, this material was originally designed for use by NASA. The Nolah AirFiber™ Pillow has this fabric as its cover, making it uniquely comfortable.

Allergy info

Many people with asthma or general allergies related to animal dander prefer down alternative pillows. While there might be a slight possibility of dust microbes, the chances of being allergic to your down alternative pillow are very slim.

Down alternatives are a perfect choice for anyone looking for an allergen-free option. Aside from being hypoallergenic, down alternative pillows absorb much less body heat and, as a result, sleep considerably cooler.

This makes them a wonderful asset for people who sleep hot! When it comes to allergy protection, the Puffy Pillow isn’t only hypoallergenic but also dust mite resistant.

Maintenance

Ideally, you don’t want a pillow that requires a lot of maintenance. A big plus with down alternative pillows is that they’re machine washable. They don’t need dry cleaning and can be easily dried outside on the line. This makes them considerably cheaper to maintain than their original counterparts. The Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow has a machine washable cover with an insert that should only be spot cleaned.

There are, however, certain brands that you can spot clean only. One such example is the Bear Cloud Pillows which should only be spot cleaned.

It’s important to read the instructions on the label to ensure you correctly clean your pillow to increase its lifespan.

Firmness

Down alternative pillows that are packed with the filling will naturally have a firmer feel. Despite being characteristically fluffy, down alternative pillows can’t get much firmer. So, if you require a very firm pillow for neck support, you should opt for latex or even buckwheat pillows. The Bear Cloud Pillow has a firmness level of soft, as does the Nolah AirFiber™ Pillow. Some pillows have an adjustable firmness level. The Puffy Pillow and the Layla Memory Foam Pillow are two such examples.

FAQ

Many people enjoy the softness and comfort of down pillows but consider the whole harvesting of down feathers quite cruel to the birds in question. If you prefer a more ethical choice, down alternatives are a viable option to consider. Made from synthetic fibers, these types of pillows aren’t only allergy-friendly but also cruelty-free.

Since down alternative pillows are quite durable, they can easily last anywhere between 5 and 10 years. We recommend washing them every six months. Alternatives made of synthetic material should be replaced every 1 to 2 years. This is dependent on the type and quality of materials used.

Our Verdict

We trust that our review on the six best down alternative pillows has given you some insight into one of the crucial ways to avoid neck pain! For some, it might be as simple as ensuring you use the right pillow. Let’s recap our three favorites.

Firstly, we have our Editor’s Choice, the Bear Cloud Pillow, popular because of its comfort. This pillow also aids spinal alignment. Our best value option, the Plushbeds Sateen Down Alternative, is a firm favorite because it’s hypoallergenic and offers different firmness levels for maximum comfort. And lastly, the Nolah AirFiber is our premium pick because of its cooling phase change material which keeps hot sleepers extra cool!

Sleeping is the best way to rejuvenate your body and mind. So, ensuring you not only have a comfortable mattress but the perfect pillow is crucial. Choose the best down alternative pillow today, and you’ll have less neck pain and get the sleep you deserve!

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