The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated jacket is a decent all-around performer at an attractive price. Our testing showed that the jacket isn't warm enough for most ski days on its own and needs insulating mid-layers worn underneath. It has decent weather resistance that can withstand most snowstorms, but the jacket can't keep up when the snow gets wet and slushy. It has some useful pockets and vents, but they could be better. The main attraction is its price, which makes it a good choice for occasional skiers and for users who want to use it as a general winter jacket as well.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated jacket on March 6, 2022, with an unbiased take on value and specific recommendations for other ski jackets.
REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Review
Cons: Not warm enough for many winter days, bland style
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REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated
$98.83 at REI
|Check Price at REI|
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|$300 List||$199 List|
$108.95 at Amazon
|$175.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Inexpensive, moderately weather resistant||Strong value, highly versatile, warm, loaded with ski-friendly features||Weather resistant, good vents, plenty of features||Versatile, inexpensive, warm||Affordable, weather resistant, good set of features|
|Cons||Not warm enough for many winter days, bland style||Heavy, poor ventilation in combined figuration||Hanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect||Bulky, basic fit and styling, limited weather protection||Not stylish, no ventilation, boxy fit|
|Bottom Line||An average-performance ski jacket with decent features at an affordable price||This versatile and reasonably priced jacket helps you customize your layers, whether you prioritize warmth, weather resistance, or both||A high-performance shell at a great price||A versatile and very affordable jacket for the occasional skier or snowboarder||A good entry-level ski jacket for an affordable price|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Powderbou...||The North Face Ther...||REI Co-op First Cha...||Columbia Whirlibird...||Columbia Last Tracks|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Powderbou...||The North Face Ther...||REI Co-op First Cha...||Columbia Whirlibird...||Columbia Last Tracks|
|Main Fabric||Nylon||100% nylon||2-layer Gore-Tex||Nylon||100% nylon|
|Insulation||60g polyester sleeves, 80g polyester body||100% Post-Consumer Recycled Polyester||Recycled polyester lining||80g MicroTemp synthetic||Omni-heat thermal reflective|
|Pockets||2 zippered hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal zippered chest, 1 internal mesh||Shell: 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest,1 internal media, 1 internal goggle, 1 internal zippered sleeve. Liner: 2 hand||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve||Shell: 3 external, 1 internal. Liner: 2 external, 1 internal||Zippered hand, chest, and ski pass|
|Weight||1.96 lbs||2.86 lbs||1.76 lbs||2.94 lbs||2.14 lbs|
|Water Resistance||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate||DryVent 2L||Gore-Tex||OmniTech||Multi-layered waterproof construction|
|Hood||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable and Removable|
|Pit-Zips||Yes||Yes (shell only)||Yes||Mesh-backed (shell only)||None|
|Cuff construction||Interior wide hook-and-loop adjustments and external velcro||Velcro||Velcro||Velcro||Velcro|
|Powder skirt?||Yes||Yes||Yes, removable||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated uses synthetic insulation to provide warmth to the user. It's a lightweight jacket, at just under 2 pounds, which means there isn't much insulation in general, and the hood is completely uninsulated. Our testing occurred during early winter in the high Colorado Rockies, and this jacket was no match for the cold November temperatures we found on the ski slopes. This jacket needs to be paired with more insulating layers.
The Powderbound uses a proprietary waterproof and breathable membrane to keep wind and water. We found this material to be reasonably effective at keeping out liquid water, but during our shower test, the shell fabric soaked through quickly. Furthermore, only some seams are sealed, which means water can leak through the stitching. The zippers aren't waterproof either. If you ski or ride in a wet winter climate close to the ocean, this jacket won't be an everyday tool. On the upside, the hood provides full coverage of a helmeted head.
Comfort and Fit
The cut of the Powderbound is boxy and uncontoured, meaning there is a lot of extra material around the body, making for a less comfortable experience. The interior lining is soft against the skin, and the handwarmer pockets are lined with fleece. We aren't huge fans of the fit for slender body types.
Generally, the Powderbound doesn't vent well. The synthetic insulation and inner lining feel stuffy and keep heat inside. During aerobic activities, the armpit vents are unlined and open completely to the interior, but they aren't very long, and the vent zipper pulls are hard to find and grasp with gloved hands.
The Powderbound's style is generic and unremarkable. The straight, boxy cut and wide hem produce an untailored look, and the baggy fit isn't our favorite style. It comes in a decent selection of colors, and the jacket generally fits into a crowd rather than standing out. The style fits in with other budget ski jackets that we have tested, so if you try to blend in with a refined crowd, this jacket might not be a good choice.
The Powderbound features two fleece-lined handwarmer pockets that are large and useful. It has a left sleeve pass pocket, making RFID-reading lift turnstiles easy to navigate. The external zippered chest pocket has a horizontal opening, making it hard to manipulate. A powder skirt, mesh stash pocket, and zippered chest pocket round out the set of features on the inside.
Should You Buy the Powderbound Insulated Jacket?
The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated is a decent ski jacket that provides acceptable performance at a rock-bottom price. It won't protect you on the coldest and stormiest winter days, but it is adequate for occasional use. It is a good choice for users in temperate winter climates who want a ski jacket that can also double as a general-use winter jacket as well. But other jackets on the market perform better overall for a similar price. If you are a regular skier, you will quickly wish you shelled out a little more money for a better jacket.
What Other Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
At a fraction of the cost of many high-end ski jackets, the Powderbound provides decent general winter jacket performance without excelling in any metric. You can buy the REI Co-op First Chair GTX, an affordable shell jacket that does rival the higher-end models in this review for a little more money. For those looking to double-up on their investment, 3-in-1 options like the Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange or slightly more expensive The North Face ThermoBall ECO Snow Triclimate are also great options.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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