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Pillow Reviews > Down Alternative / Gel Pillow Reviews
Based on 3,100+ Consumer Experiences
THE GOOD: Down alternative "gel" pillows are generally soft, reasonably priced, cuddly, and moldable.
THE BAD: They may lack adequate support and firmness for some people. Their durability / longevity is questionable. Regular fluffing may be needed to maintain loft, and lumpiness is possible.
THE PILLOWS: The pillows are filled with polyester "gel" or "puff" fibers. These fibers make the pillows at least somewhat different from traditional polyester-filled pillows. Namely, they have a similar feel to down, but without the possible allergy issues. They are sometimes called "gel" pillows because of the gel fibrous material they contain, NOT because they contain gel liquid.
THE COMPETITION: Not surprisingly, down alternative pillows compete mainly with down pillows and feather pillows. See how down alternative pillows compare to these and other pillow types in the pillow reviews summary.
The ratings below discuss how the pillows overall as a group are evaluated by owners. For information on specific brands, see the section following this one.
|Owner satisfaction||b||Down alternative pillows overall as a group have 83% owner satisfaction. ( )
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 $10-$50. Owners on average paid $33 for a pair. Given their low price, fair 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, such as neck pain. At least 3% of owners say that the pillow causes pain usually due to lack of support.|
|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||a-||Down alternative pillows, especially the softer varieties, are usually moldable and can be scrunched up to provide 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 about the product. At least 7% of owners report lumpiness, clumpiness.|
|Loft variety||c||Most down alternative / gel pillows have medium to low loft. While a down alternative pillow may appear to have significant height or loft, owners 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.|
|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.|
|Air flow||b||Owners are usually pleased with how the pillow keeps from getting hot.|
|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 are usually about average in weight.|
Several down alternative "gel" pillows are compared below. The table evaluates only those pillows which rate highest in owner satisfaction and that have available significant owner experience data. The table does not include all down alternative pillows on the market.
Important: Information below regarding firmness, loft and sleeping position shows only what tends to be true for most owners. Your personal evaluation of the pillow may differ.
|Sample Size||Price||Available Sizes||Retailer||Firmness||Loft||Sleeping Position(s) Best Suited For||Main Complaints (% of Owners)||Return Policy|
|Dobby Weave Down Alternative||89%||171||$72
|jumbo, king||overstock.com||options: soft, medium, firm, extra firm||medium-
|NA||too soft (5%), lumpy (4%), goes flat / lacks support (4%)||30 days|
|medium||NA||too thin (10%), too soft (9%)||90 days|
|Premier Down Like||89%||1997||$30
|standard||overstock.com||options: soft, medium, firm||medium||back (medium), side (firm), stomach (soft)||lacks support (11%), noisy (5%),||30 days|
|Down Alternative Support Pillow||87%||68||$40-
|standard, queen, king||JCPenney, jcpenney.com||options: soft, medium, firm||medium||all||goes flat / lacks support (11%)||90 days+|
|200 Thread Count Gel||82%||147||$10||standard, king||walmart.com||medium-
|stomach, back||too flat (7%), too soft (6%)||90 days|
|standard, queen, king||overstock.com||medium-
|stomach, back||lacks support (15%)||30 days|
|standard, queen, king||overstock.com||medium-
|side, back||too firm (11%), too thick (7%), thin (5%)||30 days|
|Z by Malouf (amazon.com)||77%||208||$25||standard, queen, king||amazon.com||soft-
|medium||back, stomach||too thin / goes flat (15%), too soft (11%), odor (8%), narrow (6%)||30 days|
Below are the most common words / phrases that owners use to describe lying on their down alternative / gel pillow.
Our ratings are based on over 3,200 actual down alternative / gel pillow owner / consumer reviews that were collected using an accurate methodology.
– Down alternative pillows are sometimes called "gel" pillows or are stated to contain "gel." This refers to gel fibrous material, NOT liquid gel.
– Prices for down alternative "gel" pillows often range from $10-$50. Given their relatively low price, fair durability and respectable owner satisfaction, owners say the pillows are a value.
– Less than 3 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.
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