REI continues to impress us, proving there's a big difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive", this time with the REI Co-op Magma 850 Hoody. 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 North Face and Patagonia, but for a fraction of the price. We are very happy to give it our Best Buy Award; it's a great jacket for a great price, and we loved wearing it on winter hikes and cold days at the crag. This jacket is sized bigger than most models we tested, making it a good choice for folks who find brands like Arc'teryx and Patagonia too restrictive.
REI Co-op Magma 850 Hoody Review
Cons: Bulky fit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This jacket 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. If you need some extra weather resistance check out the Rab Microlight Alpine. For the most warmth, the Feathered Friends Eos should be on your radar. However, both of these models are more expensive than the Magma, which still offers respite from the cold and is easier on your wallet.
The Magma is a warm jacket for its weight. We wear it alone for temps down to 40F. Below that temperature, it's more of a layering piece, a very good layering piece at that. While not as warm as the Feathered Friends Eos or The North Face Summit L3 Hoody, it's warmer than the Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer and also less expensive. The addition of a hood earns the Magma some extra points in the Warmth metric, keeping our ears a neck toasty and the hemline is lower than the hem on the Cerium LT and the Eos, extending the warmth below the hips.
This is one of the only jackets we tested to use 850 fill-power down, along with the much pricier Arcteryx Cerium LT. Only the Feathered Friends Eos has higher quality down, claiming a lofty 900+.
When we reviewed the non-hooded version of this jacket, it was the second lightest jacket in its category. The hood adds a few ounces, bringing the total weight up to 12.5 oz for a size small. The Magma isn't ultralight, but we wouldn't hesitate to bring it along on a long backpacking trip or ski tour, and we hardly notice it when it's stuffed down into our packs. For folks who count ounces, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a featherweight 7.4 oz, and the 11 oz Feathered Friends Eos has one of the best warmth to weight ratios thanks to its 900+ fill down.
Like most modern DWR coatings, we felt well protected in a light mist. Water beaded well and keep the shell material from soaking through but remember, DWR treatments wear out, and the Magma's shell fabric isn't waterproof. In a heavy downpour, the down will eventually take on water if you don't put on a waterproof shell. This jacket doesn't feature hydrophobic down like the very lightweight Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded, or the very weather resistant Rab Microlight Alpine. The Rab has a DWR treatment and treated down, plus a reinforced wire brim on the hood. At $275, it's not a screamin' deal like the Magma, but it's still in the sub three hundo bargain ballpark. Keep in mind that the Magma is a decent midlayer, and you can always throw on a waterproof layer to save your down from becoming soggy and useless.
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. The Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody and the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody both have athletic fits and are easy to fit under a hardshell. A bulkier jacket like the Magma is harder to were 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 the extends below the waist.
This jacket packs into its own small pocket, but this is no easy task. The zippered pocket opening is much smaller than the total size of the stowaway pocket, requiring several minutes of stuffing and cramming before you can close the zipper.
We find it much easier to pack away the Black Diamond Forge Hoody with its stretchy stowaway pocket, and the Rab Microlight Alpine, which comes with a small stuff sack with a wider opening. The Magma isn't 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. 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. A cord with a small cord lock tightens the hemline to seal in the warmth.
Two roomy zippered handwarmer pockets are there to warm your clammy mitts or hold some energy bars or a cell phone. The elastic cuffs are comfortable, but a little loose for our discerning testers who preferred the tighter cuffs on The North Face Summit L3 Hoody. On its own, the hood has a good fit and can be secured with a cinch cord, but is too small to fit over a helmet.
The Magma isn't as high performing as the Editors' Choice Award-winning The North Face Summit L3 Down Hoody, mainly when it comes to warmth, but we wouldn't hesitate to use it for all the same things; ski touring, backpacking, climbing, and hiking. It's also a fine jacket for keeping warm around town.
The Magma is at least $100 less than its top competitors. You can wrap yourself in a warm swath of goose feathers for a mere $219, maybe less if you can find it on sale, or if you're an REI member and you cash in your dividends. Even without sales and dividends, it easily earns our Best Buy Award.
The Magma is very similar to the Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody in style and performance and is also a solid Best Buy contender, but we like the Magma better due to its fit and its lower price. However, if you want a jacket with the same features and slimmer more athletic fit, the Illuminate is a nice alternative, and it's still priced under 300 dollars. As far a pricepoint goes, the Magma is the best down for your dollar.
— Matt Bento