How To Choose The Right Comforter?

C omforters are soft blankets (filled with natural or synthetic fibers) that provide warmth and protection at night. Snugly and delicate comforters have vanquished other bed coverings to be the best of all. It complements the linens and gives a layered outlook to the bed. 

When choosing the right comforter, one should review its weight, quality, filling, stitching, etc thoroughly. An ideal comforter should provide proper warmth and is well-seamed for longer durability. This blog post is created to help you find the right comforter.

I. Basic Properties 

1. Difference between duvets and comforters

Is it a comforter or a duvet? It gets tough to differentiate due to their similar characteristics. Just like comforters, duvets serve as bedding to keep you warm.

But, duvets are more of an insert rather than a stitched blanket. They are secured in a duvet cover or coverlets (similar to how pillows are secured in pillowcases!). Its filling contains down, synthetic fibers, and feathers.  

Comforters, on the other hand, are fully stitched blankets. It's not necessary for a comforter to have an outer covering.

02. Materials in a nutshell

Comforters are filled with either down or down alternatives. Both of these fillings provide a delicate and lofty feel to the comforter.

Down: Down filling, as its name suggests, consists of natural materials like down and feathers present in ducks and geese. They are soft, light-in-weight, and comfortable quilting that provides adequate warmth to the sleeper.

Down Alternative: Contrary to down comforters, the down alternative is filled with synthetic and natural materials such as polyester, cotton, silk, bamboo and rayon. They are mostly hypoallergenic and can be as fluffy or more dense compared to down comforters. 

03. Construction 

Comforters are made by sewing top and bottom fabrics and filling the central area with a down or down alternative material. There are different types of construction styles for comforters which we will discuss moving forward.

II. What to consider when buying comforters? 

01. Down

- Understand the Fill Power

Fill power depicts the total area occupied by one ounce of down per cubic inch. It provides firmness to the comforter and keeps it airy for adequate insulation. If the fill power is high, the down comforter will be softer, puffier, and better in quality. Comforters with high fill power are suitable for winters.

The ideal fill power range for winter comforters is within 600-800 (800+ for extreme conditions). For summer, a fill power of 400 or below is perfect. Comforters with a fill power of 400-600 are appropriate for all climates. 

- Understanding the Fill Weight 

Fill weight is the quantity of down present in the comforter. It varies as per the density, thickness, and size of the same. 

- Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certificate

RDS was introduced by a non-profit trade organization called Textile Change to ensure relevant animal welfare practice in down manufacturing. RDS aims to determine that the downs and feathers are derived from an animal-friendly source. They ensure that no live-plucking or force-feeding is involved to produce the materials. 

- Construction and stitching 

Generally, there are two types of construction styles for down comforters: Sewn-through and Baffle-box.

Sewn-through down comforters are made by stitching two covers without pockets. The role of pockets in a comforter is to hold and maintain an even filling.

Likewise, the Baffle box down comforters are made by sewing the covers along with pockets. It has a thin layer of fabric between two covers that forms a three-dimensional box.

The filling is proportionally distributed within these boxes to make a fluffy comforter. Baffle is superior than box construction for most down comforters because it provides greater loft, sustain heavy fill materials and helps comforters stay fluffy overall. Channel and gusseted are some other construction styles for down materials.

Pros and cons: down feather duvet is light weight and provides excellent insulation. However, it is not breathable, which can be a concern for hot sleepers. The material is also more likely to cause allergic reactions. 

02. Down alternative 

- Polyester: it is a typical down alternative filling with long-lasting properties. It is light in weight and mimics the natural softness of conventional down comforters. Some more sustainable variations of polyester fibers are made out of recycled plastics. 

  • Pros: low in cost and easy to maintain. 
  • Cons: tend to trap heat. 

- Bamboo or eucalyptus fiber: both materials are soft and breathable with hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and thermal-regulating properties. Their moisture-absorbing potency makes them ideal for hot and humid climates.  

  • Pros: temperature-regulating, hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial. 
  • Cons: requires delicate care. 

- Silk: it is a natural fiber that gives a smooth and warm touch to the comforter. The material is temperature-regulating and keeps you fresh for a goodnight's sleep. 

  • Pros: temperature-regulating.
  • Cons: expensive and high maintenance. 

- Soybean Fiber: it is another natural and renewable material that makes a soft and cozy comforter. It provides adequate insulation and heat retention. 

  • Pros: easy to care, vegan option, and provides great insulation.
  • Cons: less potent than other materials.

Some other common materials not discussed here are such that cotton, wool and rayon. 

- Fill power/weight 

As comforters with down alternatives are made with a wide range of materials, the concepts of fill power and weight require more elaboration. In general, fill power is used for down duvet, but it’s also applicable for polyester or microfiber fills made to mimic down feather.

For other types of down alternatives, however, fill weight or gram per square (gsm) makes a more appropriate descriptor. Typically a duvet with fill weight less than 250gsm is ideal for summer while above 250gsm is great for all season uses. 

- Construction 

For down alternatives that mimic the properties of down feather, a baffle construction is considered better for a fluffy finish. For others such as silk or bamboo, however, sewn-through would be more than sufficient. This is because those down alternatives normally have fillings stacked together (in layers) before putting on the shell, and are thus not loose as down feather. Given that, using baffle construction will not make any meaningful difference in terms of user experience.

There are down alternative comforters that ditch stitching completely, but we advise having sewn-through so the fillings will stay even and still.