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REI Co-op Magma 850 Review

The best down quality at an affordable price. One of the jackets we use the most often after testing ended.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $189 List
Pros:  Light, warm for its weight, convenient pockets
Cons:  Poor fit in belly, not available with hood
Manufacturer:   REI
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  May 25, 2017
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Fit - 15% 4
  • Compressibility - 10% 7
  • Features - 10% 6

The Skinny

Want lightweight performance at a reasonable price? The Magma 850 is your jacket — as long as it fits. It's one of the most versatile jackets in our tests and one of the few ones our testers wouldn't give back when the side-by-side tests concluded. Not only is the Magma one of the only jackets to use high-quality 850 down, it's also one of the least expensive jackets in the test. We use it just about everywhere, from around town daily use to a perfect layer for backcountry trips. It's not as ultralight as the Ghost Whisperer, however that is largely because it has convenient pockets which makes it a better option for many people. There are only two downsides to this product: the fit is loose in the torso, and it doesn't come in a hooded version.

Hooded Version

Whereas previously there was no hood option for this jacket, the Magma 850 is now only available in a hooded version, retailing for $219.

November 2018


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Want to know how the REI Co-op Magma 850 compared to the competition in our overall rankings? Check out the rating table above.


Warmth


This is a warm jacket for its weight, but it's not a super cozy jacket like the Rab Microlight Alpine. We wear it alone for temps down to 40F. Below that temperature, it's more of a layering piece. A GREAT layering piece. We used it under our ski jacket where the lack of hood is an advantage when trying to get a hardshell hood over a ski helmet. It's the perfect Lake Tahoe layer - a place where "cold temps" are usually in the 30-50F range.


Of note is that this jacket is not available with a hood, which makes it a little hard to compare to a jacket with a hood. For this test, we evaluated how warm it would keep you from the neck down. We then compared the other jackets on the same metric. This is to say, bring a hat to achieve similar warmth levels as the hooded versions.

This is one of the only jackets we tested to use 850 fill-power down. Only our Best Overall winning Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody could match that down quality.

Weight


We weighed our size small jacket at 9.9 oz which made it the second lightest in the review. However, there's a caveat: All other jackets had a hood, which adds an ounce or two. With a hood, this jacket would probably weigh 12-13 ounces, which would make it 4-6th place for weight. For this reason, we gave it a more average score for weight.


Water Resistance


Like most modern DWR coatings, we felt well protected in a light mist. Water beaded well and keep the shell material from soaking through. With no hood, it's not an ideal jacket for drizzle conditions, and it doesn't feature hydrophobic down like the very lightweight Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded.


Water beaded well due to the Magma's DWR coating.
Water beaded well due to the Magma's DWR coating.

Fit


We should note that most of the other jackets in the test were mediums or larges, depending on the recommendations of the manufacturers. We started with a medium, but the fit was off, especially in the belly. We joked that it was the "dad bod" fit. So we exchanged the medium with a small (REI makes you pay to ship on the way back). It fit much better, just like most of the other mediums. There is still a little extra space in the belly, but it's tolerable. That said, if you have a little belly, this could be the perfect fit for you.


The Magma does not have an athletic fit: there's extra space in the belly.
The Magma does not have an athletic fit: there's extra space in the belly.

Compressibility


This jacket packs into its own small pocket. It's not as compressible as the Ghost Whisperer Hoody, but it's still fairly compressible. We use this jacket for commuting and find it compresses well into the odd pockets in a laptop backpack.


After being compressed, the high-quality 850 down pops right back out.

Features


This is the lightest jacket to have an inside chest pocket. We use this pocket every day either for our phone (so the earbuds can be run inside) or for our wallet. A jacket like the Ghost Whisperer is lighter, but part of this is because it doesn't have as many convenient pockets. Keep this in mind: is saving an extra half ounce worth losing a pocket? For an everyday jacket, we like having the extra pockets. If you are getting a jacket for high-performance hiking, backpacking, etc., then losing the extra pockets might be the best choice. Overall, the Magma 850 has just the features we love, and no extras.


The handwarmer pockets are high enough to be waist belt compatible with most backpacks. They are not fleece lined or particularly cozy.

We appreciated the chest pocket  which easily holds a large smartphone like the iPhone 7 Plus.
We appreciated the chest pocket, which easily holds a large smartphone like the iPhone 7 Plus.

Conclusion


This is a great jacket for the money. It layers well, is warm, and matches the highest quality down of any jacket in this review.



Chris McNamara