Duvet Buyers' Guide
Know your togs
If you're in the market for a duvet, you've probably heard people talking about togs. These are actually a scientific measure of the relative warmth of a duvet – a very personal matter. Duvets are placed on a metal plate at body temperature in controlled conditions, and a measure is then taken of the heat lost through the duvet to the surrounding environment. The higher the tog rating, the warmer the duvet. The scale ranges from 1 tog all the way up to the warmest duvet in the UK, our Arctic 18 tog duvet.
You’ll know how warm or cold you want to be but, in general, you’ll probably want a 4.5 tog duvet for summer, a 9 tog for spring or autumn, and a 13.5 tog for winter. If you don't have the space to keep three different duvets for your bed, we'd recommend either choosing a 9 tog duvet, or buying an all-seasons duvet instead. This combines a set of matching 4.5 and 9 tog duvets, which you can use individually for summer (4.5 tog) and spring/autumn (9 tog), and then fasten them together for winter. You’ll also need a good duvet storage bag for keeping your out of season duvet tucked away when not in use.
Choosing your duvet fill
Don’t look for the lowest price, the biggest box, or the prettiest logo. When choosing a duvet, examine details about the filling. It’s what makes a duvet incredible… or inferior. If the manufacturer has skimped on stuffing, you’ll soon know about it. Worry not! We’re here to help!
If naturalness is important to you, look first at feather and down – it’s warm, soft, and breathable. A duvet with a high ratio of down is lighter and loftier. Why? Because a down cluster is spherical to trap a lot of heat (a bit like a dandelion head), while a feather is long, flat, and heavy. A light duvet doesn’t mean a cool duvet; down retains your body heat, keeping you at just the right temperature. Where the down comes from can also be important. Hungarian down and Swedish down are often used because they're evolved to keep warm in cold weather. We also source some of the best down from Canada, where it gets really cold!
Another natural choice is wool. Wool is unique: it’s crimped, elastic, and grows in clusters. It’s the crimp in it that makes wool chunkier and able to retain air. When the body is cold, wool removes moisture from the skin and traps dry air and warmth. When the body is warm, the wool retains air, removing excess heat and moisture. It’s hypoallergenic (mites and bugs hate it), dirt resistant, resilient, eco-friendly, and it even helps you sleep better. Clever sheep!
In the mood to indulge? Look at natural silk…a real luxury choice. Silk has similar properties to wool: it’s breathable, hypoallergenic and surprisingly strong. Silk worms spin their cocoons with a fibre stronger than steel! This is great for a duvet filling as it means it survives washing and even tumble drying (although it does begin to lose its natural properties when it’s washed too much). Top with real silk sheets for a luxury finish!
If you want a synthetic duvet, microfibre’s popular – but it’s not all equal. We sourced the loveliest microfibre strands (they’re a fine denier and good quality) which are very soft – in fact, to the touch they could be mistaken for silk fibres. When stuffed into a duvet, fine denier microfibre does a good job at mimicking the feeling of a down duvet but it will get flattened a bit more quickly.
Hollowfibre is your other synthetic choice. It’s thicker and more wirey than microfibre and its strands are hollow. This provides greater loft and structure in the duvet. It is a really hardwearing product and excellent value for money. If you’re an allergy sufferer but don’t want to opt for silk or wool then look out for a hollowfibre or microfibre duvet that has been treated with an anti-allergy chemical.
How your duvet is made
Ready to geek out? (We are. Always.) The construction of your duvet is also important. There are two main types: box stitch and baffle box.
Box stitch is also referred to as ‘sewn through’ and it means that the top and the bottom cover are sewn together in a criss cross pattern to form boxes. Each box has the same amount of filling inside and the stitching keeps it that way, so that the filling is evenly distributed across the duvet (no cold patches on your toes – hooray!).
Baffle boxes are actually cubes. They’re even more complicated to make as they require strips of material to be sewn between the top and the bottom layer of material (also in a criss-cross pattern to form boxes). Ultimately it has the same purpose, to keep the filling evenly spaced across the duvet by compartmentalising it, but this construction increases the volume of each box by making it into a cube. It means that there is more space for the filling to circulate and aerate, allowing it to regain its shape and size. It also makes the duvet look puffier as it has more height.
Baffle boxes are more expensive but that doesn’t necessarily mean better. Both serve a purpose. Generally box stitch is best for lighter duvets (lower togs) as less filling is in each box and therefore less space is needed. Baffle boxes are best for heavier duvets (higher togs) as they accommodate more filling and give it the space to expand, trap the air, and insulate.
And now, because we’re duvet nerds…It’s glossary time! Whoohoo!
Comforter – What they call a duvet in the USA
Quilt – Comes from Continental Quilt which is what we called duvets back in the 70’s (when they came from Europe). Now it can refer to a duvet or a bedspread, especially a handmade patchwork one.
Eiderdown – A real Eiderdown is a duvet filled with down from the Eider duck. The down is collected by hand from the duck nests after the chicks have left. The rarity of this down and the collection method means that eiderdown duvets are rare and expensive, though obviously more affordable from us! If eiderdown sounds tempting but you can't face the price tag, moskus duvets are a strong second choice.
Coverlet – We’d think of this as a bedspread, but some people use it to describe a duvet
Doona – The name our Aussie friends use. Originally a brand name!
Duvet day – A legitimate not-really-sickie, permitted (in limited numbers) by some companies, for employees who decide at the last minute to spend the day in bed… How’s tomorrow, boss?
Choosing your duvet size is really as simple as looking at the size of your bed but, to combat duvet-hogging, we like to recommend that you buy a size bigger than your mattress.
- Single: Duvet 135cm x 200cm Bed 90cm x 190cm
- Double: Duvet 200cm x 200cm Bed 140cm x 190cm
- King: Duvet 230cm x 220cm Bed 150cm x 200cm
- Superking: Duvet 260 x 220cm Bed 180cm x 200cm
- Emperor: Duvet 290cm x 235cm Bed 200cm x 200cm
Duvet (n): originally a simple open fabric bag filled with feathers and down (derived from the French).
Dear duvet inventor, please send us a postcard.
Was it you? Nobody knows who invented the duvet, and we’d rather like to pay tribute. Statue made from old packing boxes, maybe?
Rumour has it that the first duvet was introduced in 3000 BC – it was simply an animal skin wrapped around feathers. In England there’s no evidence until the Victorian era, when civilised people started using an Eiderdown (made of hand-gathered feathers from the nests of eider ducklings). But it didn’t really take off – English people liked piles of sheets and blankets instead.
In fact duvets were considered an oddity for a long time. “There is one thing very particular to [the Germans],” wrote Thomas Nugent in 1749; “they do not cover themselves with bed-clothes, but lay one feather-bed over, and another under.” Shocker! Yes, it took England a bit of persuading to change its ways. 120 years later, marketers finally succeeded in introducing European duvets to Britain. In the 1970s those funny “continental quilts” took over the market. It was a no-brainer. After all, they’re quicker, cosier, and simpler than all those hospital corners.