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REI Co-op Magma 850 Hoody - Women's Review

An incredibly lightweight jacket for technical climbing adventures where weight matters, but is not warm enough as a stand alone jacket in very cold temperatures.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $220 List | $108.93 at REI
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight, warm for weight, stylish
Cons:  Small zippers, hood tight with helmet
Manufacturer:   REI
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 20, 2018
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Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Magma 850 is a relatively lightweight and durable down jacket for a variety of activities. The varied baffling design improves warmth where possible and also looks stylish. The raglan sleeves, athletic cut, and stitching pattern provides an excellent range of motion in this jacket, making it useful for technical climbing as a standalone layer in milder temperatures, or as a midlayer underneath a hard shell for colder climates. It has a warm, adjustable, helmet compatible hood, though range of motion feels reduced when wearing a helmet. The cuffs and cinching bottom hem seal out cold drafts. The Magma is a straightforward, versatile, no-frills, no-nonsense, down jacket for a wide variety of uses.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Co-op Magma 850 is a very high quality down jacket. It is simple and straightforward, made of very high-quality materials and a versatile, stylish cut.

Performance Comparison


The REI Magma is a very high quality down jacket for a great price.
The REI Magma is a very high quality down jacket for a great price.

Warmth


The Magma from REI is a very well made jacket which uses high-quality materials. The 850 fill down ensures excellent warmth for its weight, and the Pertex Quantum fabric helps keep wind out and still air in. The Quantum fabric from Pertex is one of the best fabrics we have tested. It performs exactly as advertised, making the jacket noticeably warmer for the weight and size.


This year's Magma feels warmer and puffier than last year's model, and it now comes with a very nicely insulated hood, which we love. The Quantum fabric also makes it feel more rugged, so we feel much more confident with this version of the jacket as a standalone insulating jacket. It still has an athletic cut and nicely tapered arms which make it easy to layer under a hard shell if you want to use this as an insulating mid-layer in much colder conditions, like on those frigid days at the ski resort or under a burly hard shell for some ice climbing in the northern latitudes.

Weight


The Magma is heavier this year than it was last year, largely due to the addition of a hood, so that's well worth the weight. It also features a burlier fabric this year, which is also worthwhile. This does make it fall much further behind the Ghost Whisperer, and is more comparable to the Rab Microlight Alpine, another great, durable, and weather resistant down jacket.


This jacket is not as competitive in this metric as it was last year, but it makes up for it in the addition of features (notably, the hood) and in the added durability of the fabric. It is a highly versatile down jacket and an excellent value.

The Pertex Quantum fabric increases warmth by retaining still air and keeping wind out.
The Pertex Quantum fabric increases warmth by retaining still air and keeping wind out.

Compressibility


The Magma's 850 fill goose down, certified to the Responsible Down Standard, is some of the highest quality down you can find; this makes a down jacket very compressible and warm for the weight. This is one of the Magma's strongest attributes and made it an excellent choice for backpacking, where space is a commodity, and climbing, where weight really matters (plus, it packs so nicely into its own pocket that it is easy to clip to the back of your harness when climbing).


If you want the absolute smallest jackets in this review, check out the Ghost Whisperer or the Arc'teryx Cerium LT. These are not quite as warm or as durable as the Magma, but they are super small and light and otherwise impeccably well-made.

The Ghost Whisperer  second from bottom right  performed very well in our compressibility comparison  as did the REI Magma  fourth from the bottom right.
The Ghost Whisperer, second from bottom right, performed very well in our compressibility comparison, as did the REI Magma, fourth from the bottom right.

Features


This year, REI offers the Magma with a hood, which some might argue is a required feature for a down jacket. The hood is very comfortable and warm, though a little bit snug with a climbing helmet underneath it. It adjusts easily with the pull of one cord in the back of the head and has a slight brim to keep light precipitation out of your eyes and face.


The jacket has a chest pocket, accessible from the outside of the jacket. We love chest pockets, especially those you can access externally, so you don't have to unzip the body and lose any heat to get to the pocket. They keep your phone warm and helps keep the battery from draining too fast when it's cold out. It's also an excellent place for a small map, a little snack, or any other little thing you want nearby. The chest pocket also helps keep the hand pockets empty so you can use them to warm your hands.

We love chest pockets. This one was a little hard to get into due to the small zipper.
We love chest pockets. This one was a little hard to get into due to the small zipper.

The variable sizes of the baffles improve range of motion and ease of movement in this jacket. The smaller baffles under the arms give the Magma more mobility where it counts. The larger baffles around the core then help to improve body heat retention, which is an excellent and thoughtful design. They also look very stylish. The wrist cuffs are snug with a nice elastic closure, and the bottom hem also has an easy-to-adjust drawcord to help seal in the heat, keeping cold gusts of wind from blowing in.

The hood on the Magma was well designed but a little tight when wearing a helmet underneath it.
The hood on the Magma was well designed but a little tight when wearing a helmet underneath it.

Durability


This jacket uses the same outer fabric as the Rab Microlight and Feathered Friends Eos, also very durable lightweight down jackets. We like the Pertex Quantum fabric for its warmth retention, weather resistance, and especially for its lightweight durability.


We appreciate that REI has placed some slightly larger baffles in this version of the Magma. It still has small baffles where mobility is key, and a few smaller ones appear to be more stylish accents; otherwise, they put in some bigger baffles on the arms and chest. These bigger baffles allow the down to loft more fully and reduce the amount of compression at the edges of the baffles (because, simply, there are less sewn edges). This is good for durability because it means the down can re-loft more fully and is thus less likely to be damaged by constant compression.

Water Resistance


Down jackets are not designed to be waterproof; you need a rain or hardshell jacket for that. But since down won't keep you warm when it gets wet, it's important for the outer fabric to shed some light precip and wick moisture. The Pertex Quantum fabric repels water well enough to get you through sudden snowy cyclones and a little Pacific Northwest mist. For much more weather resistant down jackets, check out the two Arc'teryx models, the Cerium SV and LT.


The other way a down jacket can get wet is if you sweat enough, and this jacket is certainly low profile enough to be worn under a hard shell, so this type of moisture could be a problem. REI likely thought of this, too, when they decided to use DWR coated down. Excellent choice. This coating helps ensure that your moisture passes through the jacket and escapes—but ultimately, you'll need to stop and shed a layer to be sure you keep it dry.

Water resistance is not the focus of a down jacket; however, it can be a helpful attribute for those who live and work in rainy climates. For a surprisingly water-resistant down jacket, check out The North Face Aconcagua.

Best Applications


The Magma is an excellent and highly versatile down jacket. We loved it for frigid weather aerobic pursuits because it breathes well enough and slides comfortably under hard shell jackets, and this year it is much more robust for use as a standalone insulating jacket in milder climates. This was a great choice for extra insulation while ice climbing, but not quite warm enough to be our only down jacket in the winter. This down jacket is at home on long backpacking trips, and multi-pitch rock climbs and still looks sharp around town. We think you'll find yourself bringing this one on many of your adventures, all year round.

Value


The Magma is the obvious choice for our Best Buy. For $219, this jacket offers some of the highest quality materials, durable and thoughtful construction, and stylish design. This is also a highly versatile jacket, so you'll surely get your money's worth.

Conclusion


The REI Magma is a lightweight down jacket suited to summer backpacking trips high in the mountains and as a midlayer for aerobic activities in cold climates. It is great for layering under hardshells or for extra insulation in cold weather. The Magma is one of the best values in this review, as a highly versatile jacket made of high-end materials for a surprisingly low cost.

We liked the baffling on the Magma.
We liked the baffling on the Magma.


Lyra Pierotti