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Pillow Reviews > Down Alternative / Gel Pillow Reviews

unbiased Down Alternative Pillow Reviews, Ratings and Comparisons

Based on 4,000+ Consumer Experiences

April 3, 2015

What You Need To Know

THE GOOD: Generally soft • often cuddly and moldable • reasonably priced.

THE BAD: May lack adequate support and firmness for some people • durability / longevity is no better than fair • regular fluffing may be needed to maintain loft • lumpiness is possible.

THE PILLOWS: Down pillows are filled with polyester "gel" or "puff" fibers. These fibers give the pillows a feel similar to that of down, but without the possible allergy issues. They are sometimes called "gel" pillows because of the gel fibers they contain, not because they have gel liquid.

THE COMPETITION: Down alternative pillows compete mainly with down pillows and feather pillows. See how down alternative pillows compare to other pillow types in the pillow reviews summary.

Down Alternative Pillow Ratings: As a Group

The ratings below discuss how the pillows overall as a group are evaluated by owners. For ratings and information on specific brands, see the section following this one.

Owner satisfaction b- Down alternative pillows overall as a group have 81% owner satisfaction. (81 out of 100 based on 4084 reviews.) Satisfaction can differ somewhat by brand and model. Overall, down alternative pillows have high owner satisfaction among people who like soft pillows and low satisfaction among people who prefer firm pillows.
Durability / longevity c Expect about a 2-4 year lifespan with regular use in most cases. As the product ages, it will flatten and possibly develop clumps and hollow spots.
Affordable b+ Prices range from $12-$45. Given their low price, decent durability and respectable owner satisfaction, owners say the pillows are a value.
Less pain c Pain relief provided by the pillow is about average with 8% of owners reporting reduced pain, including neck pain. 3% of owners say the pillow causes pain usually due to lack of support. Their softness often reduces pressure points.
Supportive c A lack of adequate support is the main complaint about the pillow. 15% of owners want more support. Owners are split as to whether the pillow holds its shape and supportiveness adequately through the night.
Moldable B Down alternative pillows, especially the softer varieties, can often be scrunched at least somewhat to provide extra support.
Cuddly a- A "cuddly" pillow is one that is soft and huggable, as opposed to hard, rigid, stiff and or too heavy. A down alternative pillow's softness helps it to have good ratings on this issue.
Contents won't shift / clump c- A main complaint for the product. At least 7% of owners report lumpiness, clumpiness.
Short break in B- The break-in period tends to be fairly short compared to other pillow types and usually pain free.
Loft options c+ Most down alternative pillows have medium to low loft. While they may appear to have significant height or loft, owners often say that one's head sinks substantially into the pillow. Fluffing may be needed after use to return pillow to its original loft.
Back sleep friendly b Back sleepers are often pleased, unless there is too much or too little loft. Scrunching of the pillow may be needed to achieve adequate loft.
Stomach sleep friendly b- Stomach sleepers can be pleased if the pillow is soft with fairly low loft.
Side sleep friendly b Scrunching of the pillow may be needed to achieve adequate loft for side sleepers.
No initial odor b- With one or two notable exceptions, complaints about odor are not common.
Not a heat trap b Owners are usually pleased with air flow.
No noise b Noise can occasionally be an issue. The cover or lining inside may make a crackling noise.
Fewer allergies c+ Down alternative pillows are hypoallergenic but are susceptible to dust mites given their fibrous contents.
No need to fluff and shake d+ They will likely need at least occasional shaking or fluffing to maintain loft and overall comfort.
Ease of care b They are often machine washable.
Lightweight c+ They weigh about three pounds on average.

Top-Rated Down Alternative Pillows

The table below evaluates down alternative pillows with 78% or higher owner satisfaction based on 150 or more owner experiences. Important: Information below regarding firmness, loft and sleeping position shows only what tends to be true for most owners. Your personal evaluation may differ.

Dobby Weave Down Alternative Hotel Luxury Premier Down Like Nexus Ultimate Down-like Right Choice
Owner Satisfaction (sample)        
90% (207) 90% (153) 87% (2298)
85% (637) 85% (518)
4 for $80 2 for $25 2 for $35
2 for $33-$37 $34
choice of soft, medium, firm, extra firm medium choice of soft, medium, firm
medium- soft mostly medium
medium high medium
medium-low medium-high
Sizes Available        
king, jumbo king standard standard, queen, king queen
Sleeping Position(s) Best Suited For        
all back, side back: medium,
side: firm,
stomach: soft
back, stomach back, side
Main Complaints
(% of owners)
too soft (6%), goes flat / lacks support (5%), lumpy (4%) goes flat (6%), too lofty (5%), heavy (3%) lacks support (11%), noisy (5%) too soft (18%), goes flat (13%), no support (10%) too thick (11%), goes flat (8%), stiff / not scrunchable (7%)
Return Policy        
30 day 30 day 30 day 30 day 30 day
amazon overstock

Description of Lying on a Down Alternative Pillow

Below are the most common words / phrases that owners use to describe lying on their down alternative / gel pillow.

down alternative pillow

About our unbiased down alternative pillow reviews and research

Ratings are based on over 4,000 actual down alternative pillow owner / consumer reviews that were collected using an accurate methodology.


– Prices for down alternative pillows often range from $12-$50. Given their relatively low price, decent durability and respectable owner satisfaction, owners tend to say the pillows are a good value.

– Less than three percent of owners report that their pillow sleeps hot or acts as a heat trap.

– Side sleepers may find that the pillows lack supportiveness due to their softness. Scrunching the pillow or even folding it may provide the necessary support.

– Down alternative pillows tend to be widely available at retailers, including overstock.com, amazon.com, walmart.com, Bed, Bath & Beyond, JCPenney and others.

At Amazon:
A Top-Rated Down Alternative "Gel" Pillow

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