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Pillow Reviews > Down Alternative / Gel Pillow Reviews

unbiased Down Alternative Pillow Reviews, Ratings and Comparisons

Based on 4,200+ Consumer Experiences

August 4, 2015

What You Need To Know

THE GOOD: Generally soft • often cuddly and moldable • value 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 82% owner satisfaction. Satisfaction can differ somewhat by brand and model.
Durability / longevity c Expect about a 2-4 year lifespan with regular use in most cases. As the pillow ages, it will flatten and possibly develop clumps and hollow areas.
Affordable b+ Prices range from $12-$42. Given their low price, decent durability and respectable owner satisfaction, owners say the pillows are a value.
Less (neck) pain c Pain relief provided by the pillows 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.
Supportive c A lack of adequate support is the main owner complaint. 15% of owners want more support. Owners are split as to whether the pillows hold their shape and support adequately.
Moldable B- Softer varieties can often be scrunched at least somewhat to provide extra support.
Cuddly B+ 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 / height 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 Firm down alternative pillows often provide the loft side sleepers need. Alternatively, scrunching a soft down alternative pillow may achieve adequate loft.
No initial odor b- With few 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 content.
Low mainten- ance 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 B- They weigh about 2.5 pounds on average.

Top-Rated Down Alternative Pillows

The table below evaluates down alternative pillows with 85% or higher satisfaction based on 200 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 Nexus Ultimate Down-like Premier Down Like Right Choice
Owner Satisfaction (sample)        
88% (220) 88% (295) 85% (646) 85% (2420)
85% (690)
4 for $73 2 for $25 2 for $30 2 for $28
choice of soft, medium, firm, extra firm medium medium- soft choice of soft, medium, firm
mostly medium
medium to high high medium-low medium-low
Person Size Best Suited For*        
avg, large avg, large avg, small avg, small avg, large
Sleeping Position(s) Best Suited For*        
back: medium,
side: medium to firm,
stomach: soft
back, side back, stomach back: medium,
side: medium to firm,
stomach: soft
back, side
Scrunchable / moldable        
good to fair fair good to fair good to fair fair
Sizes Available        
king, jumbo king standard, queen, king standard standard, queen, king
Pillow Weight        
2 - 3.75 lbs 2.5 lbs 1.7 - 2.7 lbs 1.2 - 1.7 lbs 2.8 lbs
Main Complaints
(% of owners)
too soft (6%), goes flat / lacks support (5%), lumpy (4%) goes flat (6%), too lofty (5%), heavy (3%) too soft (18%), goes flat (13%), no support (10%) lacks support (11%), noisy (5%) too thick (9%), goes flat (8%), stiff / not scrunchable (6%)
Return Policy        
30 day 30 day 30 day 30 day 30 day
amazon overstock

* See how to choose a pillow based on your personal needs.

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 4,200 actual down alternative pillow owner / consumer reviews that were collected using an accurate methodology.


– Prices for down alternative pillows often range from $12-$45. 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 support due to their softness. Scrunching the pillow or even folding it (if possible) 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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