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Confusion re insulating properties of Quilts

As winter is nigh, it is time to think about the purchase of a new warmer Duvet, Doona®, Quilt, Comforter, Continental Quilt, Eiderdown, or whatever one wants to call it. I used to work in the industry but still find the subject quite confusing at times.

The first challenge is to determine what filling is preferred, and price is likely to have bearing on that decision. Polyester fibre, wool, washable wool, feather or down (or both) or the trendy bamboo fibre. which is basically a synthetic viscose rayon fibre made from the dissolved cellulose in bamboo. At least the raw material is renewable, but there are questions as to the chemicals used to create the fibre.

Many on-line sellers show the price for their quilt, but that price is invariably for the Single size. The common Queen and King are naturally quite a bit more expensive.

But the question I am keen to know the answer to is about the product’s insulating properties. The problem is that the manufacturers and importers use a range of terms that often don’t tell you what you really need to know. The better ones are probably those that use terms like summer weight, all seasons or winter weight, but a winter fill rate required for Tasmania will be different to one for coastal Queensland. I believe the best measure of a quilt’s insulating properties is the one popular in the UK, the TOG rating. I’ve found only one supplier in Australia using that scientific measurement of insulation for quilts, and most Aussies would have no idea what it means anyway. Another supplier uses a scale of 1 to 7, while some relate their quilts to a specific numbers of blankets. Others use the fill rate in grams per square metre, which is meaningless unless you are familiar with that fill type.

Other that the quite expensive branded feather and down quilts, this category is probably the most confusing. Usually, a blend of both is probably the most useful and cost effective insulator. The courser and stiffer feathers help retain the loft while the softer and denser down fills the gaps between those feathers. But these terms are abused by some who call their quits feather and down, but when you look at the fine print, they contain 95% of the inexpressive and possibly prickly feathers and 5% of the soft but relatively expensive down. And then the construction of the quilt is important with this type of filling which is prone to move around the inside of the quilt. Individual baffles (walled chambers) are the go, with one supplier boasting that their baffles are deeper than normal for extra warmth. But the fill rate was no greater than those with regular depth baffles! And to confuse things further and bump the price up with a point of difference, some boast they have Siberian duck down, Hungarian goose down, while others have Polish goose down. No doubt they are very soft and light over ones body!

In my view, TOG rating should be mandatory in Oz with an explanation as to what each number represents so we get the warmth rating that we really want.


If you are considering purchasing a feather and down quilt, it is unlikely that the bird has been killed specifically for your filling. In Asia particularly, these birds are killed for their meat and the harvesting of their feathers after they are killed is simply a bi-product of the process.


Excellent and informative post @Graemy


It is a great suggestion.

It would be useful to know the settling depth (say after placed on a bed, flattened and left to settle for say 24 hours). The depth or air pocket within the covering is very much related to the warmth (especially when comparing two coverings with the same construction materials)…with the thicker the covering the warmer in theory.

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I had no idea what TOG meant, so to save others the trouble of looking it up…

" What is a TOG rating?

TOG stands for ‘Thermal Overall Grade’, which is a unit of measurement used to calculate the thermal insulation of a product, usually in the textile industry.

“…are given a TOG rating according to the warmth they provide. Basically the higher the TOG, the warmer the product.


Some major brands of infant sleeping bags/pjs use the TOG system and it is brilliant. Used it for our son and he never overheated nor did he go cold either.

Using it for bedding is a no brainer.


I don’t much like the feather and down quilts, had one once and if you don’t get a good design with channels you can shake the stuff down in, for summer, and back up for winter, they are pretty useless. That said… I seem to have dust allergies so am about to abandon my wool duvet for cotton blankets again.

Excellent idea!!

Most wool duvets are washable.