In this buying guide, I’m going to explain how to buy a down comforter. What you should be looking for when purchasing your next down comforter?
Down comforters come in a variety of different styles. Some of these construction styles are better than others. Here’s a couple of them as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these different construction styles.
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What you see is these rings that are quilted in the comforter itself. The problem with this construction style is that there’s these very large compartments that are not constrained, where the down is not constrained.
What happens with this down is that it can migrate from the center of the down comforter off to the edges, creating cold spots right in the middle of the down comforter where you want the warmth the most.
It’s just these long channels that run from the foot of the comforter to the head of the comforter. The problem with this construction style is the down can move around.
What happens is as you toss and turn, the down starts to migrate to the edges in the foot of the down comforter. That can be remedied by shaking it out and redistributing that down, but it’s an extra maintenance step that’s not required.
This is the one you’re going to see in most big box or department stores. What they do with this particular style of down comforter is they take two large pieces of cotton fabric, sew it around the edges, blow in down and then run it through a quilter.
The down will never migrate from one spot to another, but what happens is in these valleys, where stitches are, you get cold spots. There is no down. Much more down in one spot, zero down where it’s stitched. Not a bad comforter but there’s a better construction style.
This down comforter has compartments but where the down will never shift from one spot to another. But what it also has is a side wall.
This side wall is in each one of these compartment areas and what that does is allows the down to loft more fully. The loft in down traps air, like insulation in your house. The air holds in body heat. Down comforters don’t generate heat, they hold in body heat.
This one will have no cold spots in the down comforter. it’s a premium construction style, cost a little bit more, but I think it’s well worth it.
What to Look For in Buying a Down Comforter?
I am frequently asked which is the right comforter for me. The shorter answer is it depends.
There is no formula that goes through any type of calculation that can determine this, but there are some guidelines that will help you select the most appropriate down comforter.
Down comforters come in a variety of construction styles and fills. I recommend the baffle box construction, which is a premium construction.
There’s a couple of factors or variables that influence which is the most appropriate down comforter for you.
- ounces of down
- fill power
- room temperature
- body warmth
Some people sleep warm, some people sleep cold and some people are right in the middle.
Ounces of Down
With regard to ounces, you’ll find as you shop for down comforters there are a variety of different ounces available in down comforters.
Here is an example of a down. It is a 600 fill power and it’s about 1/10 of an ounce.
As you can see there’s quite a bit of down in this approximately a two liter container. A little bit of down goes a very long way.
Fill power is the grading classification of down and what it boils down to is one ounce of down is poured into a calibrated container and you measure the amount of cubic inches that that one ounce of down occupies.
In the market, you’ll find down comforters that range from about 400 fill power up to about 800 and sometimes a little bit more than 800 fill power.
However the higher the fill power does come with the cost. It does provide more insulating value but it does have some additional cost
For example eiderdown is overall the highest fill power down. It comes from the Eider duck which is found in Greenland and Iceland areas.
It is a protected species and the only way that they can gather or collect the down legitimately is after the female has nested. Individuals will go to those nests and pluck the down out of the nest once the baby ducks have moved on.
The cost associated with eiderdown is very, very expensive. Legitimate good eiderdown down comforter is going to cost you between $4,000 and $6,000.
Down does not generate heat. It only traps in body heat. It’s like insulation in your house, so the larger the cluster, the more insulating property or the more air traps and the better insulating property it provides.
One of the more important variables is body temperature.
As I said, some people sleep warm, some people sleep hot, some people are right in the middle of the bell curve.
This is a factor that influences the selection of comforter that you should make.
Let’s draw some baseline assumptions.
70 degree F room temperature. Then let’s take a 600 fill power down. It’s in the middle between 400 and 800 fill power range. It’s a nice light down, providing plenty of warmth. But it comes in a very reasonable cost.
Let’s take this as our baseline.
Now we need to talk about your body heat.
If you’re a person that’s cold, what I’m gonna recommend is that you look for a down comforter in a 600 fill power range that’s about 55 to 60 ounces in a queen, about 70 to 75 ounces in a king.
If you’re that person that is hot all the time, constantly kicking off your blankets or down comforter, you should look for something in the 30 to 35 ounce range in a queen size and then 40 to 45 ounces in a king size.
If you’re in the average body temperature, look for 42 ounces to 47 ounces in a queen size down comforter and about 60 to 65 ounces in a king size.
As you can see there are a number of different variables but hopefully this is a guideline that will help direct you the comforter that is most appropriate for you.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.