If you've set your sights on down bedding for added warmth and comfort, both comforters and mattress pads are up to the task. The difference between the comforter and the pad are primarily where they rest in the layers of your bedding. The pad is beneath the bottom, or fitted, sheet -- under your body as you rest, while the comforter is the final layer on top of the sheets and any blankets.
Down comforters are filled with the tiny, lightweight fluffs found beneath feathers on ducks and geese, which provide lightweight warmth.
A comforter rests on top of the bed, atop all the sheets and blankets if you choose to use blankets with the comforter. Some down comforters are not designed for machine washing; a duvet cover helps protect the comforter so it rarely needs to be washed.
Down Mattress Pads and Toppers
Down Mattress Pads
Down mattress pads, like other mattress pads, are thin, quilted pads that fit directly on the mattress, beneath the fitted sheet.
Some have straps to hold them in place, while others may have material on the sides that stretches over the mattress, much like a fitted sheet.
A down pad provides a little added warmth and some added comfort and padding if the mattress is too firm.
Down Mattress Toppers
Down mattress toppers are quite a bit thicker than mattress pads and look almost like a fluffy portable mattress or a giant tufted pillow that covers the entire mattress.
Some down toppers feature several layers of material, including a firm synthetic layer on the bottom, designed to add firmness when a mattress feels too soft.