REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Review
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REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated
$138.93 at REI
|$145.04 at Amazon|
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$178.83 at REI
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$64.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Inexpensive, moderately weather resistant, warm enough||Inexpensive, warm, comfortable, good features||Weather resistant, good vents, plenty of features||Versatile, inexpensive, warm||Inexpensive, warm|
|Cons||Bland style, poor ventilation, generic fit||Not that stylish, compromised weather protection, doesn't breathe well||Hanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect||Bulky, basic fit and styling, limited weather protection||Doesn't look good, minimal features, no vents, poor fit|
|Bottom Line||An average-performance ski jacket with decent features at an affordable price||This jacket packs lots of performance into an inexpensive package, creating great value||A high-performance shell at a great price||A versatile and very affordable jacket for the occasional skier or snowboarder||This incredibly inexpensive jacket lacks the performance of most others on the market|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Powderbou...||Obermeyer Foundation||REI Co-op First Cha...||Columbia Whirlibird...||Moerdeng Waterproof|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Powderbou...||Obermeyer Foundation||REI Co-op First Cha...||Columbia Whirlibird...||Moerdeng Waterproof|
|Main Fabric||Nylon||45% Repreve Polyester, 55% Polyester||2-layer Gore-Tex||Nylon||100% polyester|
|Insulation||60g polyester sleeves, 80g polyester body||100g synthetic body, 80g sleeves, 40g hood||Recycled polyester lining||80g MicroTemp synthetic||Synthetic with fleece lining|
|Pockets||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 sleeve, 1 internal zippered chest, 1 internal mesh||2 zipppered chest, zippered pass pocket, interior electronics pocket||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve||Shell: 3 external, 1 internal. Liner: 2 external, 1 internal||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest|
|Weight (size large)||1.81 lbs||2.62 lbs||1.76 lbs||2.94 lbs||2.40 lbs|
|Water Resistance||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate||HydroBlock Pro with critical seams sealed||Gore-Tex||OmniTech||Unknown|
|Hood||Adjustable||Adjustable and Removable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable and Removable|
|Pit-Zips||Yes||Yes||Yes||Mesh-backed (shell only)||No|
|Cuff construction||Interior wide hook-and-loop adjustments and external velcro||Velcro, inner sleeve with thumb loop||Velcro||Velcro||Velcro|
|Powder skirt||Yes||Yes||Yes, removable||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Though the Powderbound doesn't shine in any particular performance metric, it performs well enough across the board to earn our recommendation as a solid budget buy.
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 didn't provide enough warmth on its own to prevent the cold November temperatures from making our testers uncomfortable. That said, with more insulating layers worn underneath, this jacket can handle some cold weather. In more temperate winter weather, it provides adequate warmth to be worn over a base layer.
The Powderbound uses a proprietary waterproof and breathable membrane to keep out 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, and a long hem adds protection at the waist. The large hook-and-loop straps on the wrist cuffs effectively seal these openings over gloves. Three pull cords in the hood and two in the waist also help seal the jacket from the elements.
Comfort and Fit
The cut of the Powderbound is loose and a tiny bit baggy, but not uncomfortably so. This allows the garment to adapt to a variety of different body types, and it also allows the user to add plenty of layers underneath for warmth in cold weather. The straight fit feels slightly generic and untailored, but it's not too bad.
The interior lining is soft against the skin, and the handwarmer pockets are lined with fleece. There are also small fleece panels in the inside of the chin area, which keeps the skin from chafing and rubbing. We aren't huge fans of the fit for slender body types, and there are more athletically-cut jackets out there, but this jacket fits comfortably enough for most average skiers. If you ski or ride a lot, you'll probably want to spend a little more money to get a better-fitting jacket.
Generally, the Powderbound doesn't vent well. The synthetic insulation and inner lining feel stuffy and keep heat inside. There is a decent amount of extra jacket material that hangs around the body, which inhibits the free flow of air around the body, which is great from a warmth perspective, but a challenge for successful ventilation.
The armpit vents are unlined with mesh 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. This jacket isn't a great choice for skiers and riders who regularly find themselves breathing hard on aggressive downhill runs, or who hike for their turns.
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 matches that of other budget ski jackets we've tested, so if you try to blend in with a refined crowd, this jacket might not offer the look you're going for.
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 with a small flap hanging over the zipper, making it hard to manipulate. There is an RFID pass pocket on the left sleeve. A powder skirt, mesh stash pocket, and zippered chest pocket round out the set of features on the inside.
This set of features is useful, and about average among the fully-featured, insulated ski jackets. If you spend a lot of time herding a family around the ski resort or frequently stuff your pockets full of electronics, snacks, and other knick-knacks, this jacket has plenty of room for whatever you want to pack.
Should You Buy the Powderbound Insulated Jacket?
The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated is a decent ski jacket that provides good 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. This jacket represents the best value in an affordable ski jacket on the market. But if you are a regular skier, you may quickly find yourself wishing 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 rivals 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.
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