The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown Hooded Review

A light, basic insulating layer.
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Price:  $165 List | $129.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm coat at a budget price, athletic fit.
Cons:  Lacks many extra features.
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2016
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56
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Style - 20% 5
  • Features - 10% 4
  • Durability - 5% 6

The Skinny

The Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown Hooded jacket is the most budget-friendly offering in our review. While it did not win our Best Buy Award because of its lack of features and weather protection important in a winter coat, this jacket is a great option for someone on a budget who does not need a lot of bells and whistles. Columbia has been making good value outdoor apparel for a long time, and this model is no exception. With a simple, clean design and a down/synthetic fill blend, this jacket works well for someone who needs an affordable do-it-all cold weather jacket, and who does not need the extra features of many of the other technical jackets or the style and fit of the casual parkas.

Columbia would do well to add some of these features onto future models, such as a hood cinch or chest pocket, but even as-is the TurboDown remains a good jacket for a great price. If you are looking for a jacket with more features but still at an affordable price, check out our Best Buy Award winner, Marmot Fordham.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown Hooded Jacket is an athletic-fitting insulated jacket that can be used in a variety of situations, from the ski hill to the walk to campus. It is a mostly down-filled jacket, with two handwarmer pockets and an insulated hood. Columbia decided against adding some of the features that could make this jacket more successful in a greater range of situations but still made a jacket scoring well in value, durability, and warmth.

Performance Comparison


The Columbia TurboDown in the woodlot
The Columbia TurboDown in the woodlot

Warmth


The Columbia 650 TurboDown Hooded Jacket has a blend of down and synthetic insulation; it's a mixture of 550-fill-power down and an additional 100 grams of synthetic insulation. Despite having less fill weight than many of the technically-oriented parkas we tested, this model was remarkably warm for its weight and loft. This is perhaps in part due to another of Columbia's own creations, its OmniHeat reflective lining. Much like a space blanket that reflects and traps in body heat, the OmniHeat lining on the inside of the jacket is designed to increase the warmth of the jacket without adding any loft.

While we do not have a test to determine exactly to what degree this lining adds effectiveness, we felt that it was warmer than other jackets of similar loft in a given temperature range during testing. This jacket was not as warm as the very lofty Rab Neutrino Endurance, but it was much warmer than some casual models like the Helly Hansen Dubliner. Still, this is not a bulky jacket, and its best performance was above 20 degrees F while being moderately active, and above 30 F when standing around. If you need something to brave colder climates, try our Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
The "omniheat" lining in the Columbia TurboDown. It is difficult to quantify the effect of this  but we did find that the TurboDown feels warmer than other jackets like it.
The "omniheat" lining in the Columbia TurboDown. It is difficult to quantify the effect of this, but we did find that the TurboDown feels warmer than other jackets like it.

Weather Resistance


The weather resistance of the Columbia 650 TurboDown Hooded Jacket is similar to many of the other technical jackets in this review, given its DWR treatment. This DWR treatment sheds most snow, keeping the down insulation dry, but in wet snow or rain this coating is inadequate and the jacket begins to get wet. There is no compatible hood, which compromises the jacket's effectiveness in inclement weather. The Columbia seems to have less water resistance than the Neutrino Endurance.

We did like the wrist cuff closures — they are elastic and offer a good seal, and the adjustable drawcord around the bottom hem allows for a tighter, customizable fit.

The DWR finish kept water out for a while  but wetted through faster than other similar jackets.
The DWR finish kept water out for a while, but wetted through faster than other similar jackets.

Comfort


This jacket is reasonably comfortable; we enjoyed grabbing it off the coat rack to go for a walk outside in the snow. Since it is an insulated down jacket, it is warm and cozy, although it does lack several "comfort" features such as a microfleece chin guard. It is not as comfortable as the well-designed articulated patterns of the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka, and it has a bit of a boxy fit, although the situations this jacket is designed for don't really need that level of tailoring.

The tight fitting elastic closures on the wrists are nice and snug.
The tight fitting elastic closures on the wrists are nice and snug.

Features


This jacket is the least featured of any of the 14 models that we reviewed. It has a simple design and does not compare with the highly-rated technical jackets or the heavily-featured casual parkas in this category. Highlights of this design are the hood and the fleece-lined pockets. There are only two hand warmer pockets, and we would have appreciated having at least one other pocket, either inside or on the chest. The drawcord around the waist is nice. On the opposite end of the spectrum, feature-wise, the Mountain Hardwear Therminator is built for all-day use at the ski area, where the wearer might be using the jacket as if it were a handbag or even backpack. Most comparable is the similarly svelte Helly Hansen Dubliner.

Style


The Columbia 650 TurboDown Hooded Jacket is a simple parka, with a clean, no-frills style, which matches its price tag. This jacket takes its cue from athletic cut technical jackets with a trim fit and high hem. It is available in a variety of colors so you can decide if you want to pop out on the ski hill or have a more subdued color.

A solid jacket at a bargain basement price  this model is as simple as it is warm.
A solid jacket at a bargain basement price, this model is as simple as it is warm.

Durability


Columbia has long had a mission of creating tough, durable garments for the outdoors. This model seems like it will be a long-lasting jacket for someone who doesn't want to have to buy a new one every couple of years. With 550-fill down and an additional 100 grams of synthetic insulation, the loft will pack down slightly over extended use, especially if you are stuffing it into a stuff sack a lot, but should retain a large percentage of its loft for several years. Other hybrid jackets we reviewed, like the Arc'Teryx Camosun have similar durability issues. The down will long outlast the synthetic insulation.
The light shell fabric of the TurboDown layers nicely under a shell  but it isn't the most durable for hard work.
The light shell fabric of the TurboDown layers nicely under a shell, but it isn't the most durable for hard work.

Best Applications


This jacket is best suited for someone looking for an insulated jacket on a budget who does not need a lot of features. This could be a great first winter jacket or one you use for the occasions when you don't want to ruin your really nice one. This would be a great jacket for car camping as well. During the review, which was done in a series of mountain ski towns, it was consistently the one we grabbed when heading out the door to pre-start our car, chop firewood, or take the dog for a walk on cold mornings.

Value


At $165 you would be hard-pressed to find a better value for an insulated winter jacket. It does not have many of the features that set others apart, but at a fraction of the others' price, this is a very good value.

Conclusion


For a simple, warm, and durable coat that will not break the bank, the Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown Jacket is a good option for those just needing a warm coat to do the job.


Jediah Porter