Comfortable and plush
Dry clean only
May compress over time
What is Brooklinen and what are its down pillows all about?
Brooklinen is an online retailer that focuses on linens and bedding. Its products are sold straight to consumers as opposed to relying on a middle-man retailer, such as Amazon or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Like other vendors that sell this way, Brooklinen argues it helps keep is prices lower, though their high quality, luxury products are still on the pricier end, in my opinion. At Reviewed we aren’t strangers to the brand, having crowned its bed sheets the best you can buy, and fondly reviewed its loungewear. So when we tested its down pillows for side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers, we had high expectations … that the products met and even exceeded.
Brooklinen pillows have either down or down-alternative fill, and come in traditional pillow form. That's to say, if you’re looking for a solid piece of foam or contoured slab, these aren’t for you. The company offers three firmness levels in each material—firm, mid-plush, and plush—with the idea that shoppers may select the right density for their sleep position and personal preferences.
What’s more, the down pillows aren’t just stuffed with more or less filling to arrive at the firmness level. The softer pillows contain a higher ratio of down clusters (the super fluffy part of down) to down feathers. More down clusters lead to a softer pillow, whereas feathers provide more stability and less give. The $69 firm pillow is designed for side sleepers and contains more than 85% feathers, according to a customer service rep. The mid-plush option, also $69, claims to provide medium support for back sleepers and is made with 80% feathers to 20% clusters. Finally, the plush option is ultra-cushy and soft, designed with stomach sleepers in mind. It’s filled entirely with down clusters, which is also why the price is $30 higher than the firm and mid-plush options, at $99.
The down pillows are treated with “antimicrobials,” the customer service rep explained, which help prevent the growth of bacteria. The fill is wrapped in a smooth, 400 thread count, cotton-sateen encasement, which should keep rogue feathers from poking out (which the rep assured us isn’t a common issue or complaint anyway).
How we tested the Brooklinen Down Pillows
We tested the Brooklinen Pillows alongside dozens of others as part of an overhaul of our best bed pillows review. As per usual, practical testing is our favorite way to do things here at Reviewed. So we got three sample down pillows from Brooklinen, one in each firmness, and put them to use. I am a hybrid stomach and side sleeper, so I took to sleeping on the firm and plush Brooklinen Down Pillows. Of course we couldn’t neglect back sleepers, so we sent the mid-plush option to Sarah Hagman, a Reviewed editor who exclusively sleeps on her back, for testing.
Sarah and I each slept on our respective pillows for a few nights. In the time we spent with them, we analyzed everything from how much support they provided for the intended sleep position in the short and long term to whether they retained heat as we slept. After our at-home tests, we sent the pillows to Reviewed’s lab, where our senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, subjected them to additional testing to assess their performance. She measured whether the pillows retained heat by placing them beneath a heated blanket and weighted them down overnight and measured their ability to spring back to shape the next day.
What’s great about Brooklinen Down Pillows?
If you love down, you’re in for a treat. These are buttery, soft, cushy, down pillows with the appropriate level of support for each sleep position, almost across the board.
The firm option provides substantial support, cradling the head, neck, and shoulder to maintain ideal spinal alignment when side sleeping. As far as down pillows go, it's remarkably firm. I never woke up feeling as though my head had been drooping all night long, nor was the pillow so firm and tall that my neck felt over-extended. It had just enough of that classic down give to leave me satisfied. I also never had to fluff or reshape the pillow, which is another common issue that can come with this fill material.
The plush option was a dream for stomach sleeping, a tricky position where thinness and softness are paramount, as some prone sleepers may even be able to get by with no pillow at all. Brooklinen’s plush down compressed perfectly under the weight and pressure of my head each evening, leaving my head feeling like it was floating in cloud-like fluff. It never felt as though my neck was pushed up and at an uncomfortable angle, a common issue for stomach sleepers.
Another boon for Brooklinen: Its pillows didn’t retain any heat in our homes or the lab. If you’re someone who sleeps hot, rest assured, these pillows won’t bake you overnight—and we all know how important it is to maintain the ideal temperature for restful sleep.
In our tests, it's hard for us to assess the longevity of down pillows, and this fill's tendency to compress over time could be an issue for some sleepers. That said, Brooklinen offers a lifetime guarantee, which a customer service rep said has no time limit on claims, as long as the issue is manufacturer defect, not regular wear-and-tear. Plus, I think that if you replace your pillows on the recommended basis of every year or two, it won't be an issue.
What’s not great about Brooklinen Down Pillows?
While the firm and plush pillows performed in spades for me, the mid-plush didn’t quite rise to the occasion for Sarah. She found the pillow wasn’t supportive enough and that by the time morning came, her head had sunk to mattress level, an all-too-common predicament for back sleepers. When I checked out the mid-plush at our sleep lab, I was surprised by just how similar it was to the plush option. While there’s a marked difference from firm to plush, the margin of variation from mid-plush to plush just isn’t significant. And back sleepers need far more neck and head support than stomach sleepers to keep their spine aligned throughout the night, so this is troublesome. The firm variety, while ideal for side sleepers, is likely too thick, dense, and firm for back sleeping, leaving back sleepers high and dry. We can’t wholeheartedly recommend Brooklinen pillows for this sleep position—and there are better pillows for back sleeping out there.
These pillows also may not be the best choice for people who suffer from severe allergies to dust and dust mites. Being able to wash pillows is the best way to keep symptoms at bay, and like many down products, Brooklinen pillows are dry-clean only. Using pillows protectors that are certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly by the National Allergy and Asthma Foundation can help, but if dust triggers a sniffly nose and itchy eyes for you, I think you’re better off opting for a fully washable pillow, like the best pillows we tested, from Coop Home Goods.
The price is another potential downside. In keeping with down pillows, these aren’t the most affordable option out there. Still, we’re big proponents of investing in your sleep, so if you like down and are willing to spend the cash, we don’t think you’ll regret it.
Are Brooklinen Down Pillows worth it?
I think Brooklinen Down Pillows are absolutely amazing for folks who love down, like me. When I started testing pillows, I had to adjust to the foam-slab style pillows as I’ve always slept on down pillows. So by that logic, for people who’ve routinely slept on foam and want to switch to down, these pillows may not be the best choice—or minimally, there may be an adjustment period. But down aficionados like me are in for a treat.
The firm and plush options perform well for side and stomach sleeping, respectively. If you love down pillows and you’re a back sleeper, you can always try the mid-plush pillow in your own home worry-free, thanks to Brooklinen’s generous 365-day return policy. If it doesn’t feel quite right for you at any point within that whole year, just contact the company and send it back.
In short: If you go into purchasing a Brooklinen down pillow knowing the upshots of down and liking the fill, you’ll be deeply satisfied by the pillows. And if you don’t know whether down is the right pillow material for you, well, I think Brooklinen is one of the best places to start.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Sleep@lindseyvix
Lindsey writes about sleep, lifestyle, and more for Reviewed. In her waking hours, she likes to spend time outside, read, cook, and bake. She holds a master’s in journalism from Boston University and bachelors' degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Utah.
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