Duck Down Vs Goose Down | Down Fill Power For Sleep & Outdoors

Down Fill Power Duck Down Vs Goose Down
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Quick Answer

Duck down and goose down are both extremely durable materials, offering greater insulation benefits over feather, or synthetic materials. Down Fill Power ratings are used to measure loft, the effectiveness of clusters of down to expand (loft) and trap air to create insulating pockets. When comparing duck down vs goose down, goose down tends to have higher Fill Power, providing greater insulation and lightweight properties. Understanding Fill Power, Fill Weight, and Down-To-Feather Ratio are useful for comparing down products to select the best option for your intended purpose.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Difference Between Down & Feathers

Difference Between Down & Feathers: Feathers

Feathers are the outer covering of ducks or geese, whereas down is more like underlying insulation. Feathers repel water, provide thermal insulation and are made up of a quill, shaft (rachis) and vane. When compared to duck down or goose down fill, feathers are not as soft and will have a shorter comfortable lifespan.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down Feathers

Difference Between Down & Feathers: Down

Down is found under the feathers of ducks, geese or other waterfowl, providing additional insulation protection from cold climates. A down cluster is a group of components, consisting of down nestling, down and plumule. Extremely light and fluffy, down creates warmth through a process called lofting. As clusters of down expand (loft), they are very effective at trapping air to create multiple insulating pockets. Since down is lighter than feathers, it makes a great filling for comforters, duvets, jackets and other lightweight insulated products.

Difference Between Down & Feathers: Application Comparison

Down from ducks and geese is very different from feathers when it comes to both comfort and insulation. Feathers are flat and will not provide nearly as much fluff as what down will. Feathers also have a sharp shell, which will periodically stick out and poke you, causing some discomfort. If you’re not overly concerned about insulation, such as with pillows, personal preference will be the deciding factor. If like me, you don’t like fluff that compresses when you place your head down, you may not enjoy goose or duck down pillows. Feathers, on the other hand, remain fuller, crisper and cooler, making for a completely different sleeping experience.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Why is down a good material?

Down is Very Warm

What is a good humidity level for your home? According to the environmental protection agency, the ideal home humidity levels are said to be between 30 percent and 50 percent, while ensuring it is kept below 60 percent. There are many reasons for this recommendation relating to health, sleep and comfort, also your home and belongings.

Lightweight

Down is the lightest form of insulation material available, which is why it is used in sleeping products and cold-weather clothing. Using down will help with insulation and warmth, without the additional weight. Duck down and goose down vary when it comes to maximum loft per cluster, as ducks are naturally smaller birds than geese.

Stopping Draught​​​​​​​

Duck down and goose down are lightweight and pliable, expanding after being compressed and effectively filling gaps. This ability for down to easily mold to any shape means no empty pockets are available for air to pass through, stopping the effect of draughts.

Down Can Breathe

Down can release unwanted moisture into the atmosphere, making it extremely breathable. This breathability means down is very effective at regulating temperatures, with the ability to keep you warm in winter, or cool in summer.

Extremely Durable

Down that is well cared for and maintained can handle repeated use with a very long lifespan. Both duck down and goose down are extremely durable, but because down is an organic product, durability may vary product to product. Fat and oil content, feed type, weather and the general condition of the duck or goose, all play a role. Also, if duck down or goose down is over washed during processing, the down can become brittle. 

Down Fill Power Rating Goose Duck

What is Down Fill Power?

Down Fill Power or Down Fill Power rating, relates to the amount of space a specific weight of duck down or goose down creates when maximum loft is achieved. Loft refers to the down cluster continuously returning to its natural shape and size. Fill Power space is usually measured in cubic inches, while weight is measured in ounces. Down with higher Fill Power is considered to be of higher quality because it will be larger in volume, given it is equal in weight. These larger down clusters provide better warmth to weight ratios, as they can trap more air by filling larger spaces. Large down clusters will generally come from larger, mature birds and last longer than smaller clusters or feathers. 

What Is An Ideal Down Fill Power Rating?

Down Fill Power rating is the figure which indicates the Fill Power space to weight ratio. For example;

  • 700 Down Fill Power means 1 ounce of duck down or goose down will fill 700 cubic inches of space
  • 600 Down Fill Power rating means 600 cubic inches will be filled

 

Ideally, you should look for products that contain a minimum of 550 Down Fill Power, as low Down Fill Power generally means lower quality, bulkier items. 

Commercial Down Fill Power ranges start from roughly 450 and can go beyond a 900 rating. Despite these ratings, it does not automatically mean that a 700 duck or goose down comforter, or jacket, is warmer than a 550 one, since the amount of down clusters needs to be taken into consideration. 

Down Fill Weight

It is possible to have a 550 goose down comforter or jacket that is warmer than one with a 700 rating if there is a large enough weight difference. For this reason, it is important to compare both the weight of the item and Fill Power rating when making a purchasing decision and comparing prices. If Fill Power of two items is equal, the heavier product will be warmer because there are a higher number of down clusters trapping air.

Down Fill Power & Blend Ratios

Blend ratios, or composition, refers to the percentage of duck down or goose down, compared to the additional blended filling, such as feathers. Feathers don’t have a Fill Power rating and tend to reduce insulation levels, as the feather to down ratio increases. I.e. As feather content increases, and down content decreases, overall insulation decreases.

Synthetic Blends

Duck down and goose down products can be blended through the entire fill of a product, or used in different parts of the product. Blended sleep and outdoor products tend to be bulkier and heavier, and are considered to be inferior quality. However, these synthetic blends will generally be cheaper, and more water-resistant than duck down or goose down items.

Down Cleanliness

Although generally not a drawback for the product itself, the cleanliness of duck and goose down has a minimum standard. Down (and also feathers) use high-temperature washing to remove impurities, while sterilization occurs during the drying process. A down processing plant requires a permit to sell both duck down and goose down within the United States. Cleanliness testing is made up of the following;

  • Oxygen number – determines foreign organic materials on the surface
  • Turbidity – monitors the amount of dust present
  • Special Bioburden Tests – checks levels of bacteria and harmful agents

Differences Between Duck Down And Goose Down

Goose Down Vs Duck Down: Comparison

Many factors contribute to the quality of duck down and goose down. Variations in bird breeds, variance in birds within a breed, and quality of down processing mean that comparisons are generalized.

Duck Down vs Goose Down: Fill Power & Loft

Goose down clusters are generally larger than duck down clusters, although some high-quality duck down may have larger clusters than poor-quality goose down. Since geese tend to live in colder climates, this contributes to the size of clusters they have, which in turn affects the loft, producing a higher Fill Power. A goose living in a warmer climate will usually have smaller down clusters, than the same goose living in cooler climates.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Weight

It can be said, the greater the Fill Power, the lighter the product. Generally, this means duck down tends to be heavier than goose down, when the two fills are compared with respect to identical levels of insulation. This point in question comes back to the Fill Power because it is the size of the clusters which dictates the ability to trap air.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Durability

Durability, in part, refers to compression and the ability the duck down or goose down has to return to maximum loft. Since goose down tends to be from older, larger birds, it tends to be longer-lasting and more resilient than duck down. 

Duck Down Vs Goose Down Light Durable Warm

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Insulation Level

Which is warmer duck down or goose down? We mentioned earlier that Fill Power is the major factor when it comes to measuring warmth and insulation level. However, when comparing a single duck to a single goose, goose down has a higher insulation level. Since geese, on average, are large birds, they produce a comparatively warmer down.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Odor

Goose down tends to be fresher smelling than duck down, as a result of a less diverse diet. Geese tend to eat a variety of grass, whereas ducks eat a varied diet of snails, worms, small crustaceans, aquatic plants, and insects, in addition to grass. Another factor that contributes to the difference in odor between duck down and goose down is the oils contained on the surface. Duck down mainly contains fatty acids, whereas goose down contains wax and is not subject to microorganism decomposition.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Price

Since ducks are more readily available than geese, duck down tends to be more affordable. Duck food products are also in higher demand than goose, therefore most duck down is a byproduct of the food industry. Geese also take longer to breed than ducks, and the basic economics of supply & demand mean duck down prices are going to be lower than goose down prices.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Popularity

Goose down tends to be more popular and sought after than duck down because of the odor factor mentioned above. The odorless quality of goose down (and also feather) makes it much more attractive to consumers, however, it is possible for duck odor to be reduced. Higher quality duck down, where loft is high and the down is thoroughly cleaned, will emit significantly less odor than low-quality duck down.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Exposure To Moisture

Although both duck down and goose down are compromised when wet, duck down tends to hold up a little better. Down clusters will stick together when exposed to moisture, which in turn reduces the level of insulation as less air can be trapped.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down: Usage

Bedding

When considering purchasing a duck or goose down comforter, Fill Power may not be your primary concern. You can achieve equal or greater warmth by increasing the thickness of the duvet or comforter you choose. The only real exceptions are if you don’t enjoy sleeping with extra weight on your body, or you are concerned with the lifespan of the product.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down Bedding Pillows Duvet Comforter

Bedding Casing

Duck down and goose down bedding casing is usually stitched in two ways; channel construction or boxed construction. Boxed is the most common type of system, as down (or feather) is completely sealed in each grid-like compartment, reducing or eliminating movement of the filling. Channel construction refers to vertical channels being sewn into the duvet, which let down move within the channel. Typically, down tends to settle at the bottom of your duvet, which will require shaking to redistribute the filling evenly again.

Pillows

It is less common to find pillows that are entirely down, meaning most are a blend of feathers and down. The benefits of duck down and goose down pillows are that they are moldable, soft and fluffy, durable and sustainable. The disadvantages of having down pillows are they require constant fluffing, are a challenge to clean, are usually restricted to soft options, and can be quite expensive.

Outdoors

Since space-saving and being lightweight are key criteria for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, Fill Power is a primary concern. Higher duck and goose Down Fill Power will translate to lighter and more compact gear to take on your adventures. The down will also last longer than synthetic materials since it is more durable and will take longer to lose its loft. 

Sleeping Bags

Both duck down and goose down are equally suited to sleeping bags and provide sufficient levels of insulation. There are many factors to consider when choosing a sleeping bag, such as spatial requirements, weight requirements, warmth while sleeping and breathability. Insulation is important to wield off the cold, however, sweat will add moisture to the bag. A heavy bag may trap the moisture, getting wet on the inside, leading to a cold night’s sleep. Some disadvantages of down sleeping bags include the higher price tag and its ineffectiveness if wet. Synthetic materials could be a better option for warmer climates, or when saving space is not an issue.

Down Fill Power Sleeping Bag

Jackets

When it comes to jackets, both weight and thickness play a part in overall comfort levels. When maximum warmth and minimum weight is essential, 900 Down Fill Power is the best option. When weight is less relevant, you have the option of balancing Fill Power and weight to achieve the warmth you are after. Since down loses its warmth with exposure to water, consider jackets that have a water-resistant outer layer for protection from light rain. If you intend on using your jacket in primarily wet conditions, duck down or goose down would not be your best option.

Fill Power As A Guide

Fill Power is a great indicator for measuring quality and insulation, but there are alternative methods of measuring warmth. With sleeping bags, for example, manufacturers use a temperature rating system to indicate how warm a sleeping bag is. However, ratings from one manufacturer to another may vary as there is no standardized method, so these comparisons are best used when comparing various sleeping bags within the same company.

Drawbacks Of Duck Down And Goose Down

Time To Dry

Depending on how dirty it gets, you only need to clean down every 2-5 years, however, cleaning down can be a challenge. Companies that sell down comforters recommend having down professionally laundered in commercial washing machines by a dry cleaner. They strongly suggest you launder the product, over having down dry-cleaned, because the harsh chemicals used with dry cleaning are not ideal for the product.

Cleaning Down

Duck down and goose down bedding casing is usually stitched in two ways; channel construction or boxed construction. Boxed is the most common type of system, as down (or feather) is completely sealed in each grid-like compartment, reducing or eliminating movement of the filling. Channel construction refers to vertical channels being sewn into the duvet, which let down move within the channel. Typically, down tends to settle at the bottom of your duvet, which will require shaking to redistribute the filling evenly again.

Duck Down Vs Goose Down Cleaning Drying

Hypoallergenic

Not all down is hypoallergenic, and any claims that a product contains hypoallergenic duck or goose down must meet certain criteria. Using the cleanliness testing mentioned above, to claim a product is hypoallergenic, the Oxygen Number Test must be 4.8 or lower and the turbidity must be 500 mm or greater. 

Cost

When compared to alternatives such as synthetic materials, duck down and goose down are expensive. The greater the percentage of down, the higher the cost of the product, while variables such as hypoallergenic features and high thread count fabrics will drive the cost up further.

For example;

So you will have to pay for the extra quality and benefits you receive with duck or goose down vs fiberfill or feather blends.

Final Word

When comparing duck down vs goose down, both are highly durable materials, but there are many factors that contribute to overall durability on a micro-level. Down Fill Power is used to measure loft and when comparing duck down vs goose down, goose tends to have higher Fill Power, offering both lightweight and greater insulation benefits. However, some duck down can also be very high quality, while some goose down can be very poor. Down is considerably different from feather and has much better application when it comes to softness and providing warmth. When searching for down products, understanding Fill Power, Fill Weight, and Down-To-Feather Ratio will help you select the best option to suit your requirements.

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