How to Buy…a Down Comforter

woman in bed with book

It’s a winter essential—yet buying a good down comforter has gotten almost as complicated as picking a smart phone.

Whether you’re spending $200 or $1,200, here’s what you need to know:

Decide between down and down-alternative. Down is insulating without feeling heavy and tends to be better at regulating temperature than manmade fill. But if you suffer from allergies, you may want to opt for a synthetic fill.

Figure out your fill power, which indicates how much down per ounce. The higher the fill power, the more fluffy warmth (called “loft”). A fill of 500 or lower is better if you sleep in a warm room or in heavier pjs. A 600 fill or higher is good if your room is cool or you prefer lighter jammies.

Goose is (slightly) better than duck. Goose feathers are bigger and tend to clump less. A duck down comforter might get lumpy over time.

Color means nothing. Gray and white down is identical in quality and performance. Still, the gray feathers that occasionally poke through might be visible through the outer fabric, so if this bothers you, opt for white.

Look for a baffle-box construction. A grid stitch pattern keeps the down from moving and clumping, which can create cold gaps. Also, opt for an outer fabric with  300 thread count or higher, which helps keep all those little feathers from escaping.

Get a duvet cover. Your comforter will last longer if you protect it. Washing the duvet cover is also easier than cleaning the comforter itself.

Check out these Good Housekeeping Institute picks for best comforter buys:

Down alternative: Cuddledown’s Damask Stripe Synthetic ($139 to $219)

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