Down Comforters

Written by Shirley Parker
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Many people think down comforters are the best type of covering for a bed, since the fillings are so light, yet provide so much warmth for the sleeper in cold climates. Comforters filled with down gathered from geese living in more northerly climes will protect you from the cold better than those stuffed with down gathered from geese living in more temperate regions. But do you live in Northern California or North Dakota, in a drafty castle or a climate-controlled condo?

There was a time when down from the Eider duck--Eiderdown--was the only suitable filling for a down comforter, but the Icelandic wild Eider is protected from commercial harvesting, and its down, hand-harvested from abandoned nests, is in very limited supply. Therefore the few luxurious Eiderdown comforters produced are fiercely expensive. Only royalty or other wealthy people can afford them.

Toward the other end of the luxury price spectrum, larger down comforters may have a greater percentage of feathers for filler, making them both firmer and more affordable. These feathers may poke through the covering, just as they may in feather pillows or mattresses without a sturdy cover. Yet a featherbed will need the firmness, while a comforter may not.

How much Down Is in Those Down Comforters?

The rating number assigned to the "fill power" of down reflects the number of down clusters in the filling. Some manufacturers may claim 100-percent goose down, but this is unlikely to be true, since the tiniest feathers can't be removed, so at best it will be 95 percent down. Some (U.S.) state laws may even allow 75-percent down to be labeled 100% and it is difficult for the average consumer to find out what their state regulators tolerate, even if the thought occurs to them. Only the coldest climates require comforters with the greater insulating qualities, but it never hurts to be aware of what's behind the regulations and what's inside the product.

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