We Spent Months Testing 11 Down Comforters: These Three Were Our Favorites

We Spent Months Testing 11 Down Comforters: These Three Were Our Favorites

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In a time when many are finding it harder to get quality sleep, the right bedding — including the perfect down comforter — can truly make a difference between a great night’s sleep and a tossy-turny night.

To find the best comforter that will give you that ideal night’s sleep, CNN Underscored tested 11 of the most popular, highly rated options. All comforters we tested had a similar fill power (basically a warmth rating, which you can read more about below in our buyer’s guide section) and either a sewn-through or baffle box construction (more on this below too). After a few frigid months of testing, evaluating everything from warmth to softness, we found three dreamworthy comforters that can upgrade anyone’s sleep:

Best down comforter overall

With the Brooklinen Down Comforter, we truly felt like we were sleeping on a cloud and never wanted to get out of bed. Between the softness of the outer material and the fluffiness of the fill, it’s one of those comforters that make you want to stay in bed all day — 12 months a year.

Best down-alternative comforter

Not a fan of down and feathers in your comforter? If so, then the Buffy Cloud Comforter is the best down-alternative option. This quality-made comforter will give you a great night’s sleep, thanks to its soft, lightweight build that provides plenty of warmth.

Have you ever wished you could sleep on the clouds? Well, the Brooklinen Down Comforter is the closest thing to that. From the moment we took it out of the packaging, we had a hunch that this would be a favorite. And we were right.

The comforter comes in three different weight options: lightweight, all-season and ultra warm. We tested the all-season comforter, and despite it being the middle of winter with temperatures dropping indoors and out, we found it to perfectly balance snuggly warmth with breathability. Though on the heavier end of the spectrum (it boasts a 700 fill power and baffle box design), we never found the comforter to trap too much heat or cause nighttime sweating. The comforter, with its 100% cotton sateen shell, was one of the softest we tested — and the one we kept coming back to cuddle into most nights.

We also found this machine-washable comforter to be one of the easiest to wash and dry. Since the comforter is lightweight, it fits into a washing machine better than some others and air-dries much quicker.

Brooklinen offers some of the best return policies. You have an incredibly long 365 days to return or exchange your item if you’re unhappy with it. On top of that, there’s an additional one-year warranty. Compared to all of the other comforters we tested, this is one of the best sleep trial periods we saw. With such an expensive purchase, you’ll want to love your comforter, so the fact that you have a full year to try it out with no strings attached is great.

If the budget allows, this is a comforter not to miss, especially if you want to snuggle up with the clouds.

The Company Store

When it comes to warmth and coziness, the Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter from The Company Store is unrivaled.

Full disclosure: This comforter is for truly frosty climates, or especially cold sleepers. Though available in three different weights — light, medium and extra, all of which sport a baffle box construction — we tested and recommend the extra warmth option (which has a 650 fill power). While our main tester, who tends to sleep hot, found this lofty comforter slightly too heavy to sleep with throughout the night, a cold-sleeping family member absolutely loved the warmth the Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter provided.

Aside from the weight, we found that the comforter didn’t crinkle at all when moving around in bed (an annoyance we found with others we tested). Since it’s made with a cotton sateen cover, it is incredibly soft — in fact, it was one of the comfiest of those we tested, in a way that might have you staying in bed for an added snooze cycle.

This comforter can also easily be used with or without a duvet cover. It comes in five colors — white, ivory, alabaster, cloud blue and platinum — and from a design element looks rich on its own. Most of the other comforters we tested were plain white and truly looked like an insert, requiring a duvet cover to up their aesthetic appeal. We still added a duvet cover to this comforter to make sure one would fit, and it worked perfectly.

The Company Store also offers a 90-day rest easy guarantee. This allows you to fully use the product — including sleeping with it and washing it — and if it doesn’t work for you, you can return it. On top of that, the company also offers a lifetime guarantee. This allows you to exchange or receive merchandise credit toward a new product if something happens to your comforter. This doesn’t allow you to simply one day decide you no longer like the comforter, but if the seams are coming undone or if the down feathers are clumping together, for example, you can return the product.

The heavy filling does have a drawback; it was on the larger size for our washing machine. We have a top-loading washing machine, and in the directions it does state “for best wash and dry, use a front-loading commercial washer and dryer.” While this didn’t cause any damage to the comforter or to our machine, we did feel like our washing machine was working harder than normal. If you have a small washing machine, in which bulky items could damage the machine, you might want to steer away from this comforter — and, in fact, any other bulkier comforters.

While this comforter doesn’t come cheap, if you have the budget, we believe it’s worth it for the sheer warmth it provides.

Buffy

The Buffy Cloud Comforter was like no other comforter we tested. This down-alternative comforter was by far the best alternative version we tested — and the only one we’d recommend, as the other down alternatives we tested lacked in both quality of construction and comfort.

The Buffy comforter prides itself on being very environmentally friendly as well. The shell is made from 100% eucalyptus, and the fill is made from 100% recycled PET bottles (BPA-free). On the Buffy site, the brand states that “this keeps 50 plastic bottles out of landfills and protects 12 geese from live plucking.”

Although this was a new type of material for us — as we typically sleep with a down comforter in our nontesting days — we thought the fabric was very soft and lightweight but still heavy enough to keep us warm throughout the night. The comforter was also very quiet, emitting no crinkling sounds when shifting sleeping positions.

Buffy also offers a seven-day trial so you can fully test out the comforter before committing to such a large purchase. While this might be on the shorter side when compared to some of the other comforters, within seven days you should get a good sense as to whether or not this comforter works for you.

If you’re looking for a down alternative, then this is your best bet — especially since the price point is much more reasonable than some of the other luxury comforters on our list. The comforter is well made with quality stitching, is soft to sleep with and has the right warmth to it.

The basics

A comforter (or duvet) is two pieces of fabric — a bottom layer and a top layer — sewn together with a certain type of filling material in the middle (most often down, feathers or synthetic materials, known as down alternative) to provide warmth while sleeping.

While the words “comforter” and “duvet insert” are typically used interchangeably, there are some differences between the two. Typically, a duvet is used with a duvet cover, adding a design element to your overall bedding, whereas a comforter is used on its own, providing both aesthetic appeal and comfort to your bed. Duvets usually have loops on all four corners (some offer even more loops on the sides), allowing you to tie the comforter to the duvet cover. This ensures all materials are secured easily to one another and that the insert won’t shift while you’re sleeping.

Fill power

A numerical representation of a comforter’s insulation abilities, fill power is the amount of space that 1 ounce of down occupies (in cubic inches). Therefore, the higher the number, the warmer the comforter. Fill power can range from around 500 (considered lightweight, and ideal for warmer climates) to more than 700 (usually the fluffiest, warmest comforters).

Pricing

We were sure to test a wide range of price points, with our testing pool spanning from $30 to upward of $300. After testing so many comforters, we realized that the inexpensive comforters are just that: cheap. They lacked in quality construction, were less effective at keeping us warm throughout the night and, perhaps most important, were mostly downright uncomfortable.

Therefore, when shopping for a down comforter, we think it’s important to invest in quality — so expect to pay more than $100.

Sewn-through versus baffle box stitching

The way in which a comforter is constructed is another important aspect to consider when shopping. Two common terms you’ll see: baffle box and sewn-through. While similar — both work to hold the filling in place — there are minute differences. A baffle box design features thin strips of fabric that connect the top and bottom layers and form box shapes that keep the filing in place while also giving them a bit more room to stretch out. Therefore, comforters with a baffle box construction tend to be fluffier and trap more heat. With a sewn-through construction, the bottom and top layers are sewn together to form down-filled pockets. Though you won’t have any worry about down shifting around with a sewn-through design, it can lead to some increased airflow (and therefore less insulation than baffle box) between the seams.

After scouring editorial and user reviews, we picked 11 of the most highly reviewed comforters to put to the test. To truly figure out which one was the best, we slept with each one for three nights. Similar to our duvet cover testing, we slept with the comforter right out of the packaging on the first night. The next day, we washed the comforter and then slept with it again for the next two nights. With so many different options, this meant we got some great sleeps along with some not-so-great shut-eye.

We compared everything from performance to quality, making notes on what we liked and disliked. We also tested comforters in every price bracket to see if price is actually a driving factor to getting a good night’s sleep. While a high-end price didn’t necessarily mean it was our favorite, we did find that the budget options fall into the “you get what you pay for” bracket.

Here’s how we evaluated each duvet cover to find our winners:

Performance

Sleep feel: We wanted to gauge how each comforter felt while sleeping. Was it soft or stiff? Light or heavy? Initial feel: Immediately after taking each product out of the packaging, we wanted to see how the comforter felt. Is it super stiff and scratchy, or is it already soft and bouncy? Warmth check: Does the comforter provide the right amount of warmth? Or is it too hot or cold while sleeping? We also wanted to determine if the comforter was breathable. Weight: Is the comforter too heavy to maneuver, either while sleeping or storing? Post-wash: After washing each duvet cover, we slept with the duvet cover again to see how it felt. Noise: Even before getting in bed, we rolled the comforter around to see if the comforter was loud and crinkly. Then, when sleeping with the comforter, we noted when the comforter was noisy to sleep with. Washing: We washed every single comforter to see how easy (or difficult) it was to wash each comforter. Storability: After using each comforter, we folded each comforter to see how cumbersome it was to store. We also considered if each came with a bag for easy storage. Build quality

Materials: We analyzed each comforter to see if it was made up of quality materials and workmanship. Filling: After sleeping and washing each comforter, we noted whether or not the filling stayed in place. Size options: We wanted to make sure that the comforter came in sizes for all bed types. Replacement: Is there a generous return policy or warranty? Each comforter was evaluated using the metrics described above, then given a score. Individual metric scores added up to a total category score. Categories were then added together to get the final tally of points to determine the winner. Here’s how we broke down the scoring:

Performance had a maximum of 70 points: sleep feel (15 points), initial feel (10 points), warmth check (10 points), weight (10 points), post-wash (10 points), noise (5 points), washing (5 points) and storability (5 points). Build quality had a maximum of 30 points: materials (10 points), filling (10 points), size options (5 points) and re

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