REI knows a thing or two about outdoor gear. Over the years, the in-house REI brand has typically offered fair performance, but recently the Co-op line has been impressing our testers. We have mixed feelings about this jacket, but it does have its place.
This jacket isn't super technical, but it will serve its purpose on mild adventures, or around town, and does so looking pretty stylish.
The Down 650 Hoodie is a down jacket for moderate temps. It isn't the jacket to take on a winter expedition, but for a lightweight jacket with only 650 fill-power, it does a good job of insulating in crisp fall temps or warmer sunny winter days.
Had this jacket included a hem cinch and a hood adjustment, it would have been more effective at holding heat in, but even so, the lack of fill means the jacket just can't insulate like many of the other options in the review.
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.
The hem can be drafty since they didn't include a hem cinch-cord in this jacket.
The Down 650 Hoodie tips our scales at 11.9 ounces for a size large, which is pretty respectable for a light-weight hooded down jacket. The 650 fill-power used in this jacket is one reason this jacket doesn't score as well in the weight metric as some of the other ultralight style jackets in the roundup, but it also helps explain why REI was able to keep the price as low as they did.
The majority of us wouldn't bat an eye at an extra ounce or two of weight in a warm jacket, but when you are loading up a backpack, every ounce adds up pretty quickly. While this jacket could have been a bit lighter with a thinner face fabric or better quality down fill, the fact that there is no hood adjustment or hem cinch helps keep the weight down significantly.
The lack of hood adjustment leaves the hood too loose for keeping it secure.
It's a fairly well-known fact that down is the best insulation for its weight, but its also well known that when down gets soaked, it flattens out and loses its warmth almost entirely. A good DWR treatment is the first line of defense to keeping the down fill dry.
We are happy to say, the 650 Down Hoodie has a great DWR. Steady rain will make its way in through the stitches over time, but we were pleased to see rain droplets sit on the surface of the face fabric for long periods without wetting out or soaking into the nylon.
The shell fabric has a durable water repellent finish that does a great job of keeping the fabric from wetting out.
Compared to higher performing models, the Down 650 has a boxy fit, especially in the arms and shoulders. Predictably, our smaller testers didn't like what they feel is superfluous fabric, while bigger guys enjoyed the increased mobility.
If you plan to wear this jacket over a light or mid-weight fleece, this jacket works just fine. However, trying to get this jacket under a rain shell can be difficult. While there will be room for it under many winter hard shells, the extra fabric and lose cut makes it feel bulky in the sleeves and shoulders.
The hood works for a helmet pretty well but could have had slightly more coverage.
Despite the lower 650 fill-power, this jacket is quite compressible and stuffs well into its left-hand zipper pocket. The last model had a loop in the stash pocket to clip it to a harness or backpack, but in the new model, this feature is missing. If you plan to clip this to a harness, you will need to bring along an extra stuff sack for that purpose.
This jacket packs away well but the stow pocket is missing a loop for clipping it places.
The 650 Down Hoodie keeps the weight and costs down by going light on features. There are two zippered hand pockets for warming up your frigid mitts or securing small items, and two massive internal drop-in stash pockets, but that's about it. No chest pockets or drawstrings here.
The lack of drawstrings on the waist and the hood is unfortunate. Our testers found themselves reaching for those missing drawstrings over and over as it got colder and colder. The waist felt drafty in windy conditions, and the hood didn't lock in the much-needed warmth around the face.
Two big stash pockets are great for holding large items like hats and gloves.
We appreciated the recycled nylon face fabric on the Co-op 650 Hoodie. We were amazed by how soft it was even compared to much more expensive jackets with thinner nylon materials, but we wouldn't call this fabric, or construction, down-proof. Tiny down feathers were commonly found floating through the air or annoyingly poking us in the back where we couldn't reach or find them while using this jacket. Even though we had more feather loss in this jacket than any other in our test, the rate of loss wasn't alarming, and the performance of the jacket won't be affected, even after a few years of use. We just find that it reflects the overall quality of the jacket.
We did have a fair amount of feather loss with the Down 650 Hoodie.
This might be the least expensive thing you can buy with the word "down" in the name. Even though it's not the warmest jacket, nor does it have the best fit or feature set, for the price, it performs much better than expected. We loved the fact that we could use this jacket for tasks that put it at risk for tears or getting dirty because the price was so low. Nothing worse than shying away from a task because you don't want to tear your $400 coat!
With so many incredible models in the down jacket category, we didn't expect to be too impressed with this budget model. But after wearing it, we learned to appreciate it. While the REI Co-op 650 Down Hoodie
doesn't blow us away, it certainly reigns supreme when it comes to bang for the buck. If you want a decent puffy for cool but not super cold temperatures and you have limited funds to spend, this jacket is our first choice.