Thursday, January 13, 2005

How to choose a Down Comforter?

Down Comforter

We have been finding out recently that not all down comforters are created equal. Intuitively, we have always known that but the criteria for distinguishing between them were more complicated than I realized. Here are the different variables when going to choose a new down comforter.

Fill Power
In common terms this means how fluffy/puffy is the fill. Fluffy down occupies more space inside a down comforter. A higher number on the 600-800 scale means it is fluffier. Higher fill power means it also keeps you warmer and lasts longer.

Thread Count/Barrier Weave fabric
The thread count is the number of threads that are contained in one square inch of fabric. Higher thread counts in a fabric mean it is lighter and softer. The tightness of the weave also prevents leakage of the fill inside the comforter to the outside air. The lightness also helps the fill to " loft"- puff up in common terms. Down-proofness is measure in millimeters .Lower numbers mean better down proofing. The industry standard in '10'. An air porosity test (how much air can pass through a fabric) is a measure of "down-proofness". Higher thread counts are obviously better for down comforter covers. In other words, no little feathers poking through the fabric.

There are acceptable government standards for the cleanliness of feathers and down. This cleanliness is a primary variable in determining the hypoallergenic nature of some down comforters. Some comforter fills are washed as many as fifteen times to get rid of dust, dirt and organic matter. There are two "cleanliness" tests in the industry.

1. Oxygen test: determines the amount of organic matter left in the material being tested. The industry acceptable standard is 10. Better products have lower numbers than that.

2. Turbidity test: Turbidity is a measure of suspended solids, dust, dirt etc suspended in the material. The scale goes from about 60(unwashed feathers )to 550 best.

Types of Down
These are in order of quality. Please note that in some down comforters labeled "pure down" or 100% down are not pure, as some feathers remain in the fill. As long as the down comforter is 75% down it can be labeled 100% in many state's:

Clustered White Goose Down
Clustered Goose Down
White Goose Down
Goose Down
Duck Down
Goose Feather
Duck Feather

A down comforter can be made warmer in two ways. Fill Power and weight. Clearly the aim is to get the maximum warmth at the lightest weight. To get this you would choose a higher fill power number. Feathers are a great deal less warm than high grade down. Once you have selected the Fill Power then add weight for extra warmth

A. Sewing Quality. Better sewing means more durability, less tendency for sewing to break. Down comforters are generally sewn through or baffled. The baffling is an internal fabric wall which allows the fill to "loft" more. It also adds strength to the down comforter. Comforters which are sewn through are generally better for lighter weight comforters only.

A Warmer Night's Sleep

Down Comforter