REI 650 Down Jacket
$100, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-XL
When you’re shopping for backpacking and hiking gear on a budget—or just targeting your budget strategically to put more into, say, a better pack, tent, or rain shell—an insulated jacket is one of those items where you can save a significant amount and still take home something that’s going to serve your needs for years. And REI’s 650 Down Jacket fits right into that kind of spending plan. I wore this down jacket on cool mornings in the low 50s on a six-day, 74-mile backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, and came away convinced it’s clearly one of the best values available in a lightweight, three-season puffy jacket today.
There’s nothing glamorous or unique about the 650 Down Jacket; it simply has all you need to stay warm when camping in the backcountry or in front country campgrounds—or hiking around town—in the range of temperatures normally encountered in summer in the mountains and spring and fall in southern climes. The 650-fill-power, RDS (Responsible Down Standard) down makes the jacket reasonably warm for its weight, and warm enough for most people in temps in the 40s Fahrenheit over a base layer.
It lacks a hood, but a wool hat is usually a fine replacement in the temp range this jacket is made for, and the full-length front zipper closes up the collar closely enough to keep wind out. The elasticized hem doesn’t adjust, but extends below the waist and also fits closely enough that you don’t feel the cold air or wind creeping up inside.
The fit is roomy enough to add layers underneath without feeling overly bulky, and the sleeves are long enough to not expose your wrists when reaching overhead; it also comes in six sizes for men and five for women, as well as big and plus sizes for men and women and kids sizes.
The nylon shell fabric blocks wind well and is treated with a DWR (durable, water-resistant finish) to repel light precipitation. The two zippered hand pockets are adequately room and warm, and the jacket stuffs into the left pocket, packing down to a bit larger than a liter bottle—a perfect size for a backpacking pillow, so it saves you a few more bucks there, too.
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While it doesn’t have high-quality down, a hood, or other features (like water-resistant down) of a more-expensive down or synthetic jacket, the REI 650 Down Jacket represents one of the best values you’ll find in a three-season insulated jacket that’s light and packable enough for backcountry use.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase a men’s REI 650 Down Jacket at rei.com, or a women’s REI 650 Down Jacket at rei.com. Or click here to see all of the 650 Down Jacket versions available.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.