Updated 2.0 Version
REI introduced an updated model of this Best Buy award winner called the 650 Down Jacket 2.0. This 2.0 version is made of similar materials, only now they're recycled materials. The jacket boasts a new baffle pattern, and its handwarmer pockets are cut diagonally, in contrast to the vertical hand pockets of the previous jacket. On the left is the 650 Down 2.0, and next to it, the 650 Down we tested previously.
We are now linking to the updated model and hope that it performs similarly to (if not better than!) the last version we tested — but until we get our hands on the new one, the text below continues to reflect our experience with the original 650 Down Jacket.
Hands-On Review of the 650 Down Jacket
The Down 650's downfall is in the warm metric. While its respectable weight puts it neck and neck with some of our favorite models, the Down 650 isn't as warm as these higher lofting (more expensive) jackets.
This jacket embodies the look and feel of more expensive models, but not the warmth.
We can't find a spec that tells us how many ounces of duck down are in the Down 650, but looking at the overall weight of the jacket, we'd say "not a lot".
Remember, it requires more down of a lower fill power to achieve the same insulating abilities as a higher fill power down, hence the advantage of shelling out the dough for a higher-end jacket with 800+ fill power. However, do keep in mind that it offers up a similar warmth rating to that of the "ultralight" style down jackets, but at a much lower price. For a cheap, lightweight solution to breezy summertime belays in the High Sierra, the Down 650 fits the bill. For colder weather, we suggest looking for a warmer model.
Sewn-through baffles keep the duck down in place and minimize cold spots.
Recently REI put out a Co-op 650 down jacket with a hood at less than half the price as most of the competition.
The Down 650 tips our scales at a respectable 11.5 ounces for a size large. Not bad for the budget option, but keep in mind that this jacket doesn't have a hood, and it isn't very warm.
This jacket is impressively lightweight for a budget option.
DWR treatments are a make-or-break factor when it comes to water resistance; fortunately, this jacket fares well in light precip thanks to its treated DWR ripstop nylon fabric.
Other factors that make a down jacket more water-resistant are the thickness of its shell material, and whether or not the down itself has a hydrophobic treatment. The Down 650 does not have a shell but doesn't soak through as quickly as one which lacks a DWR treatment.
Without a DWR treatment, this jacket would soak through immediately. Fortunately, it has one.
Compared to higher performing models, the Down 650 has a boxy fit, especially in the arms and shoulders. Predictably, our smaller, scrawnier testers didn't like what they feel is superfluous fabric, while bigger guys enjoyed the increased mobility.
We find the best fit in a lightweight down jacket gives you plenty of mobility while being sleek enough to fit underneath a hardshell or an even bigger insulating layer.
Smaller testers feel this jacket has a boxy fit.
This jacket is very compressible and stuffs into its left-hand zipper pocket, complete with a clip-in loop for attaching to a climbing harness.
We feel this is standard for a down jacket of this weight; no complaints here.
This jacket compresses down fairly small and includes a clip in loop so you can attach it to your climbing harness.
The Down 650 keeps weight (and presumably cost) down by going light on the features. There are two zippered hand pockets for warming up your frigid mitts or securing small items, but that's about it. No chest pockets, hoods, or drawstrings here.
If two pockets are all you require and you can live without the hood, you've got a pretty good deal on your hands.
Two zippered hand warmer pockets round out the scant list of features on this jacket.
This might be the least expensive thing you can buy with the word "down" in the name. For the price, it performs much better than expected.
With so many awesome models in the down jacket category, it's hard to be impressed with a budget model. While the Down 650 doesn't blow us away, if you feel like you have to have a black, baffled down jacket that looks a whole lot like that one from Patagonia, or you've got limited funds to spend, this jacket is our wallet-friendly option.