When winter is in full swing it's time to pile on the sheets and blankets and huddle up in bed! As BLO is based in Melbourne we know a little bit about miserable weather and what a difference the right doona can make.
But which IS the right Doona? And what's the difference?
Many of us have grown up with just the one option at home and never had the chance to try something new. If your current quilt option works for you that's fine, but if you're undecided, unsure of what the options mean or just feel like trying something new, then read on.
When it comes to doonas there are three main options to choose from: Duck Down Quilts,Microfibre / Down Alternative or Wool.
Duck Down, Feather Doona
This is the traditional choice, as the oldest duvets (from the 18th century onwards) were made out of eider duck feather. Feather and down - the stuff that keeps little ducks and geese warm in their nests - traps air fantastically well, is light, and most importantly big and fluffy! Polar-grade sleeping bags and clothes still commonly use down to keep in the heat, so you know it's the real warm option.
Cons: Downdoonas generally cannot be washed by machines and bacteria love the pockets of warm air between the feathers as much as you do. Experts recommend that featherdoonas are puffed (beaten with an old tennis racquet or somesuch), aired and left in the sun every so often to dislodge the smell and dust and kill bacteria. However, even with brand new doonas, the minute duck fluff is known to trigger dust allergies or irritate asthma or eczema conditions.
Also, over the years you will need to get the stuffing removed and cleaned professionally to keep away dark stains, funny smells and bed bugs. These are organic fillings that will simply get filthy as time goes by.
Microfibre / Down Alternative Doona
For a hypo-allergenic, easy-clean option that is still light, fluffy and retains heat fantastically well, microfibre doonas are hard to beat. Microfibre is a blanket term for synthetic fibres. They mimick the warming air trapping that down provides but, as synthetics, are far less prone to gathering bacteria. The majority of microfibre products are also made with allergy sufferers in mind.
They are fully machine washable, meaning bed bugs and bacteria just won't build up the way they do in down and feather doonas. And microfibre won't clump and gather like feathers do within their chambers. Also microfibre is fully recyclable, so more hotels and larger establishments are choosing it as the more sustainable option.
Cons: fans of down might find the lack of weight or "real" feeling a turn off. Although microfibredoona technology is always improving, it still takes more microfibre per square cm than it does down to insulate the same amount of heat, so microfibre blankets would have to be bigger than down to get the same effect; inevitably they are made in a similar size but a little cooler.
The oft-forgotten third option, wooldoonas are a warm and insulating option that retain heat exceptionally well. They are also friendly to allergy sufferers and machinewashable, and a more "natural" option than microfibre for those that dislike synthetic materials. An added bonus is that wool is fire retardant.
Wool doonas and products will often be advertised with a "GSM" measurement - this refers to grams per metre and basically describes the weight of the material. Weight does not always equal quality, but it is one good indication of how thick and solid your doona will be.
Cons: Wool, even in doona form, is heavier and "flatter" than down or microfibre. You won't get that "sleeping in a cloud" feeling that down is famous for and that microfibre immitates. The thinness doesn't bother some people, but in bedding the "fluff" or "cuddle" factor can be as important as the practicality!
In the end it's your own choice.
For those that get really cold at night the warmth of a down doona is probably the best choice, but hot bodies would get more out of a microfibre. Cuddle-uppers will want the puffiness of down but busy homebodies (especially with kids at bed-wetting age) that still need warmth will do better with wool doonas. Colder climates might warrant wool or down, but microfibre is a comfy option all year round.
Here at BLO we have found that microfibre quilts do the job fantastically well, and are very easy to care for without the weight of wool. But then again we're a family of pretty warm sleepers - how about you?