Once again, REI impressed us, proving there's a big difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive", this time with the REI Co-op Magma 850 Hoodie 2.0. This jacket features 850 fill-power down and a Pertex Diamond Fuse ripstop nylon shell fabric, putting it up there with high-quality offerings from the top brands, but at a fraction of the price. This jacket is sized slightly larger than most models we tested, making it an excellent choice for those who find those other options too restrictive. This makes one of the better all-around jackets that looks great in town but also performs admirably in the backcountry.
REI Co-op Magma 850 Hoodie 2.0 Review
Cons: Bulky fit, not that light
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Magma 850 isn't the warmest, the lightest, or the most compressible, but by modern standards, it has a good warmth to weight ratio, and its design is worthy of its high-quality insulation and Pertex fabrics. The lower price and great features set it apart from the competition.
The Magma 850 is a toasty jacket for its weight. We wouldn't hesitate to wear it as our outer layer for those days that approach freezing temperatures, but for temps below freezing, it would be better used as a layering piece. While not as warm as a few of the thicker jackets in our test, it competes well and is much less expensive than most of them.
The adjustable hood earns the Magma 850 some bonus points in the warmth metric, keeping our ears and neck toasty. The hemline is longer than a few key competitors, and a cinch cord helps to trap in warmth. The 850 fill-power insulation is top-notch, and the new version uses a DWR treated down, which resists water and dries out much faster than non-hydrophobic down.
When we reviewed the non-hooded version of this jacket, it was the second lightest jacket in the category. The hood adds a few ounces, bringing the total weight up to 13.2 ounces for a size large. The Magma isn't ultralight, but we wouldn't hesitate to bring it along on a backpacking trip or ski tour, and we hardly notice it when it's stuffed down into our packs. For folks who count ounces, there are lighter options available, but for the price, it's unmatched.
As with almost all modern down jackets, the 850 Hoodie 2.0 utilizes a DWR (durable water repellency) finish that keeps water from soaking into the fabric. The DWR coating is the main way manufacturers keep the down filling dry. If down gets wet, and we mean soaking wet, the insulation flattens out, and it no longer insulates. While the DWR keeps the precipitation out for short periods, during prolonged exposure to rain, the water will make its way in through the stitching and start to soak the down itself. This is why REI uses hydrophobic down in this jacket, while the down itself is treated with a DWR coating. As with any DWR, it does have the potential to degrade over time, and saturated down filling is a worst-case scenario. For that purpose, we would still never purposefully use this jacket in a downpour without a shell over it.
This jacket fits a little on the bulky size, especially in the midsection - a fact that can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your body type and how you want to layer it. A bulkier jacket like the Magma is harder to wear comfortably under a hardshell along with other layers, but if you want to use your down jacket on top of your other layers, it has an accommodating fit. The sleeves are long and have a little articulation, and this jacket doesn't ride up when you put your arms over your head. There's also plenty of room in the shoulders, making this a good choice for bigger folks. As we mentioned previously, this jacket has a hemline that extends below the waist, which gives more coverage but can make layering over it more difficult.
This jacket packs into its own left handwarmer pocket, but this is no easy task. The zippered pocket opening is fairly small, making stuffing the jacket into its oblong stow pocket difficult. One reason we love a stow pocket is so we can easily clip it to the back of our harness for cold belays, however, even though this has a clip loop, the loop is so small and fragile-looking that doesn't inspire confidence for climbing. We would absolutely think twice before making our way into a chimney with this clipped to the back of our harness.
This jacket may not have the greatest stuff pocket, but having a light face fabric and 850-fill down, it compresses well into a small backpack pocket, making it an excellent choice for stashing it away for those moments when you may need it. After being compressed, the high-quality 850 down pops right back out. Down is much more resilient than synthetic insulation, but make sure you always store your jacket uncompressed, ensuring long-lasting loft.
The Magma possesses many of the same features as its top dollar competitors. Two roomy zippered handwarmer pockets are there to warm your clammy mitts, and an external chest pocket is there for holding an energy bar or cell phone. We like that the insulation of the chest pocket is in front of the pocket interior, so when we store a phone in it, it will stay warmer, extending the battery life. The elastic cuffs are comfortable, but a little loose for our testers' tastes. The hood has a good fit that can be secured with a cinch cord, and the hemline is also tensioned with a cinch cord at the waist to keep in the warmth.
The Magma is at least $100 less than its top competitors. You can wrap yourself in a warm swath of goose feathers for a fraction of the price. Save even more if you're an REI member, but even without discounts or dividends, this jacket packs a ton of value.
The Magma 850 easily has one of the best bangs for your buck or down for the dollar. If you need the best and are willing to shell out the big bucks, there are better choices, but for a great coat at a low price, this should not be overlooked.
— Adam Paashaus