What Is Goose Down?

When shopping for a pillow, one has many options to consider.  For those who desire a soft pillow, goose down pillows are the way to go.  In this article we’ll talk about what you need to consider when choosing a goose down pillow.

What’s in the pillow?

Goose downJust what is down exactly?  Down feathers are the feathers found underneath the tougher exterior feathers of a bird.  Younger birds are covered in down feathers, as they have not had time to form tougher feathers.  Down feathers have a natural insulating property, and are used by birds for this reason.  Down feathers on birds contribute to helping them regulate their body temperature, and also to increase their buoyancy in water.

Because of their useful qualities, down feathers have been harvested and cultivated by humans for centuries.  In documents dating back to the 1600’s Russian merchants were recorded as selling “bird down” for the purposes of insulation.  As the years have gone on, they have become used in everything from jackets to sleeping bags.  The latest iteration of down products are down pillows.  Down is harvested in a variety of ways, but the most common way it is harvested is by removing the feathers from the bird post mortem.  Often times the feathers are removed from the birds while they are living, which has been denounced by animal welfare groups.  Check with the manufacturer of the product you are using to see how the feathers are collected before purchasing.

Why choose goose down?

So after all this, why is goose down a good filling for a pillow?  There are a variety of reasons.  To begin with, goose down pillows are extra lightweight, and extremely soft.  For people who enjoy a softer pillow and less firm, a goose down pillow is perfect.  Also, because they pack down easily, they make the perfect pillow for travellers and those who move around a lot.  They are also very quiet, so moving around at night won’t wake you or your significant other.  While there are a lot of plusses, however, there are also a lot of minuses.  For starters, goose down is very insulating.  It retains heat well.  This can be good for cold winters, but for those who like a cool pillow, it can be miserable in the summer.  Because goose down pillows are so soft, they don’t offer a whole lot of loft or support.  Those with back or neck problems will not fare well with them.  Goose down pillows also slowly lose their plumage, meaning they won’t last forever.  Coupled with their pricey initial cost, this can be a no-go for people on a budget.

When looking for down pillows, look to see what the pillow’s stuffing content is.  Products labeled as “100% goose down” will include only goose down, and nothing else.  These are the most packable pillows, but also the least supportive.  Products labeled as “goose down” generally contain around 90% goose down, and 10% other feathers.  These products will have more supportive regular feathers in the mix, that will give a little more loft to the final product.  Pillows labeled as simply “down” will be a mix of both feathers and fibers.