The REI 650 Down Jacket Review
With autumn here and winter around the corner, now is the time to make an assessment of your cold-weather gear. Weight, insulating power, and bulk have come a long way since Land's End goose down parkas were the only game in town.
Google 'puffy down jacket' and you'll get around 12 million hits from the top suppliers - Eddie Bauer, Patagonia and The North Face – all included. With such a highly competitive market, narrowing it down to a short list can be a daunting task.
No surprise that REI is well-represented in this market; their branded outerwear offerings are always worth a look for a number of reasons. They are masters of pricing just below the high-end of the market and the product specs closely match those of their higher priced competitors.
The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket
Getting its name from its 'fill-power' or 'loft' (the number of cubic inches one ounce of down will fill under specific conditions), the REI 650 Down jacket weighs 8.14 oz (youth L 14-16) and 8.92 oz (youth XL 18). The REI 650 Down has a buttery nylon outer shell which feels great against your neck and chin, BUT it's a feature that could prove to be its weakest link. Although their published specs state a durable poly construction, the outer shell feels delicate to the touch. That being said, the finish would likely suffice for the majority of activities of an average day-hiker and car-camper, but don't go charging through brambles or rock climbing in it.
Regarding warmth. Our test conditions in the Blue Ridge Mountains stretched over two days, with the mercury dipping as low as 35 degrees overnight with relatively low humidity. The testers used the REI 650 Down jacket as part of a layered system during camp hours and on the trail. One of the testers, typically cold-sensitive, was looking to extend her camping season, so test conditions in the mid-30's seemed like a good step in that direction. Pleasantly surprised with the 650 Down jacket's ability to retain warmth, she felt it would have kept her comfortable into the low 30's.
Responsibly sourced down. Read about down harvesting, and you'll think twice about purchasing any down-filled item not responsibly sourced. Let's just say it ain't pretty and leave it to you to look into the horrid details. All of the 650 Down jackets produced by REI are Responsible Down Standard (RDS) Certified. The certification ensures down was harvested under humane conditions.