The Best Comforters 2020 – Lightweight, Down Alternative, Down
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Buying a comforter is one of those things that you think is going to be simple, but ends up taking more time than you ever thought. From deciding what level of coolness you want, the amount of plushness, and the type of fill, the task can quickly get overwhelming. We’re here to make it a bit easier. After several weeks of testing, we’ve compiled all our favorites together so you can find the best comforter for you, no matter what your needs are.
What to Consider Before Buying a Comforter
Finding a comforter should be easy, right? In theory, yes, but in reality, there are a surprisingly vast number of choices. Depending on what type of sleeper you are and where you live, you’ll need to consider weight, fill, and material. Other considerations:
Down vs. Down Alternative
Down comforters: These are the traditional comforters you probably grew up with. They’re filled with down that’s found under the feathers of birds, usually geese and ducks. Because down is naturally insulating, down comforters don’t need as much fill to keep you warm, and they tend to last longer. That said, they’re typically more expensive and can trigger allergies in some people—not to mention there’s the ethical dilemma of using down.
Down alternative comforters: If you go the down alternative route, the options are improving. Nowadays you can find down alternative comforters that feel very much like the real thing, without the ethical concerns and allergic reactions. Depending on the fill material, down alternative comforters need a bit more filling because the synthetic materials aren’t as insulating and can also end up being less breathable. They are, however, typically much less expensive.
There are a plethora of other down alternative comforters on the market. You can find options made from Tencel fiber (a sustainable material made from the wood pulp of trees), wool, cotton, silk, and even bamboo. All of these are worth looking into, especially if you’re a hot sleeper or are trying to live more sustainably.
“Fill power” is the standard for measuring the fill of a down comforter. It refers to the volume of one ounce of down at its maximum loft. So, the higher the fill power, the higher the down cluster, which typically translates to higher quality, better insulation, and higher loft. However, fill power does not refer to the comforter’s weight—in fact, a higher fill power often means the comforter is lighter in weight. Most comforters fall between a fill power of 300-800. If you’re looking at a comforter that is not filled with down, you might see its weight measured by GSM, or grams per square meter. The higher the GSM, the heavier the comforter.
You’ll also want to think about weight, longevity, and ease of care. Remember that down comforters don’t need a ton of fill to keep you warm, so you might want to go for a lighter-weight down comforter if you sleep hot. Down comforters also tend to last longer, so you might decide the higher price tag is worth it for a longer-lasting product. If you have pets or kids, though, note that many down comforters cannot be thrown in the washer (although some can, so double check).
Finally, consider how you’ll use your comforter. If you want something that can be used all year round, go for a lightweight or medium-weight option. If you prefer to switch bedding with the seasons, go with a really heavy comforter for the winter. And of course, if you live in a warm climate, you might skip the down or down alternative options in favor of something more temperature-regulating.
Now let’s talk certifications. When it comes to down, look for comforters that are Responsible Down Standard certified, which confirms that the down comes from animals who have not been subjected to any harm. (Read more about RDS here.) Another word you’ll see a lot on this list? OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, which means the comforter is free of harmful synthetics and dyes. (Read more about this certification (and why it’s important.)
What We Look for in a Comforter
We tested a wide range of comforters for our list, judging them on the following criteria:
Note: All prices are listed in size Full/Queen or Queen.
Best Overall Comforter: Riley Home Goose Down Comforter
Riley Home’s down comforter has generated lots of buzz since it was launched in 2018, topping “best bedding” lists and getting featured in plenty of product guides. Knowing all this, we approached our Riley comforter with high expectations and a healthy dose of skepticism. After trying both the down and alternative comforters, though, we can confirm what everyone else already knows: This is a fantastic comforter, particularly the down version. Cozy and perfectly weighted, it feels totally luxe and keeps you at a stable temperature all night long. It’s definitely expensive, but if you’re ready for an investment piece that’ll last for years, this is your best bet.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want the luxury of down; those who have trouble staying at the same temperature through the night; those who want something that will last.
Best Budget-Friendly Comforter: Martha Stewart Essentials Reversible Down Alternative Comforter
Martha Stewart’s hugely popular comforter (available exclusively at Macy’s) is an AT reader favorite, and we just had to test it ourselves. We have to admit that we were a bit skeptical, since polyester isn’t the most breathable material, but we were pleasantly surprised by how soft and comfortable it feels. It’s lightweight enough for year-round use (you might need an extra blanket during cold nights) and comes in a range of colors and patterns if you want to skip the duvet cover. Commerce Editor Sholeen Damarwala wrote a more extensive review of it.
Who It’s Best For: Those on a budget; those looking for something suitable for year-round use.
Good to Know: Although it’s priced at $120, you can pretty much always get it on sale—we’ve seen prices go as low as $20! Keep an eye on it to take advantage of the best deals. You can see the entire collection, including all sizes and colorways.
Best Down Comforter: Alberta Down Baffled Comforter
The Company Store is famous for their down comforters, and after sleeping with one, we can confirm that they are well worth the hype. The retailer’s two most popular down comforters are the LaCrosse and the Alberta, with the main difference being that the Alberta has a higher fill power and is therefore more expensive. We tested both.
The Alberta is, in a word, luxurious. It’s heavy and warm but not in an uncomfortable way. Even with the windows open during the winter, this comforter kept us toasty all night long. The insulation is particularly notable—we felt cozy almost immediately after getting under the covers.
When testing the LaCrosse, we did something a little different. Instead of testing the regular comforter, we asked editor-in-chief Laura Schocker to test the LaCrosse Dual, which is designed so that each side has a different weight level—making it perfect for couples. She chose the down alternative version due to allergies and opted for the light/medium option. Laura, a cold sleeper, selected the medium weight as her side, while her husband, John, a hot sleeper, went for lightweight. After warring over previous comforters (with John kicking off the covers and Laura stealing them), this comforter met both of their needs.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want best in class; those who like to get bundled up while sleeping; couples.
Good to Know: The Company Store claims that their down has been cleaned and treated to be hypoallergenic, and they sell down alternative versions. There’s also a lifetime guarantee on all the comforters.
Best Down Alternative Comforter: Brooklinen Down Alternative Comforter
We tested Brooklinen’s down and down alternative comforters, in both lightweight and all season, and came up with some interesting findings. First (and most important), they feel exactly the same. Seriously—we could not tell the difference until we looked at the tags, and kept getting confused between the two. Both are standout options, but the down alternative is most impressive simply because it’s so similar in feel and weight to the down version. Second, there also isn’t too much difference between the two weights. The lightweight version is indeed lighter, but not by much, so you probably shouldn’t get it if you want something that’s barely there. If you need something cozy and warm, however, this is your best choice.
Who It’s Best For: Those who are against products made from animals; those with allergies.
Best Comforter for Hot Sleepers: Primary Goods Comforter
We’ve written a lot about Primary Goods before and have been wanting to try out their comforter for awhile—especially since it tends to sell out quickly. The final verdict? It’s cool, comfortable, and we’re in love. The key is the Tencel, an eco-friendly fiber that is made from the pulp of wood. When used in textiles, Tencel is known for its softness, strength, and moisture absorption. It’s a sustainable and breathable alternative to cotton, and it’s becoming more and more popular in bedding.
The other key feature is the addition of sheep’s wool to the fill. While this might seem counterintuitive, wool is actually a highly breathable material that is very good at regulating temperature and absorbing moisture. It gives the comforter a bit more weight, which we actually appreciated—it’s not often you find a comforter that’s heavy enough to feel cozy yet cool enough to sleep comfortably. It is expensive, though, which brings us to our Honorable Mention:
Who It’s Best For: Those who regularly wake up sweaty; those looking for alternatives to down and cotton.
Good to Know: There’s a 100-night trial period, so you can purchase worry-free. Also, it tends to sell out!
Best Lightweight Comforter: Snowe Down Comforter
Before embarking on this journey, we always thought down translated to heavy and stuffy. Boy, were we wrong. As it turns out, down is naturally breathable, fluffy, and, depending on the comforter, actually very lightweight. Such is the case for Snowe’s down comforter, which comes in two warmth levels: lightweight and all-season. We tested the lightweight option and were honestly shocked at how cloudlike it felt—it was almost like nothing was even there, except for the fact that it kept us warm and comfortable all night. It’s heaven for hot sleepers!
Honorable Mention: Allswell’s Year Round Down Alternative duvet, which is a fantastic budget-friendly option ($135), but is too big to fit into a regular full/queen duvet cover (it measures 130″ x 70″).
Who It’s Best For: Those who want the luxury and longevity of down but live in a warm climate or sleep hot.
Good to Know: Snowe also sells a down alternative version that costs $100 less and feels pretty much the same as the down version.
Best Organic Comforter: Coyuchi Climate Beneficial Wool Duvet Insert
For something different from the norm, Coyuchi is always a good idea, and their Climate Beneficial Wool Duvet seriously stands out from the rest. Instead of being filled with down, it’s filled with temperature-regulating wool—and not just any wool. Coyuchi sources Climate Beneficial wool, which means that the farm that sources the wool draws just as much (or more) CO2 into its soil as it emits into the ozone layer. AKA, the wool is carbon neutral, a huge deal if you want to support brands that practice sustainability.
Not only is the comforter eco-friendly, but it’s also quite luxurious. It’s on the heavier side, but doesn’t overheat thanks to the insulating qualities of wool, and is a dream to cuddle up with. Plus, it’s also non-allergenic and dust mite-proof, making it a solid choice if you have extra sensitive skin. It’s expensive, but a smart investment if you want something eco-friendly that’ll last for many years.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something made from sustainable materials; those who sleep hot.
Best Quilt: Parachute Cloud Cotton Quilt
So let’s say you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a duvet cover, or you like the more casual style of a quilt. If that’s the case, you can’t go wrong with any of Parachute’s alternative bedding options—especially the Cloud Cotton quilt. With its super soft, gauzy exterior and midweight feel, it’s honestly one of the best things we’ve ever added to our bedroom. One of the main issues with quilts is that they aren’t always warm enough on their own in the winter, but that’s not the case with this one. It’s totally dreamy, both in looks and in functionality.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something different from a traditional comforter but with the same cozy vibes.
Good to Know: Parachute also sells matching shams ($79) if you want to complete the look.
Nicole writes about shopping and products for Apartment Therapy, but her specialities are candles, bedding, bath, and pretty much anything homebody-friendly. She has been writing for AT for three years.