Here at Switchback Travel, we’re passionate about our down jackets. We’ve tested a huge range of models over the years, from entry-level options from Outdoor Research and Columbia to premium alternatives from Patagonia, Arc’teryx, and Montbell. While it’s easy to get hung up on performance pieces from boutique brands, those jackets are often overkill and too expensive for the vast majority of users. Enter the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket, which deftly balances a clean design and an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio with an approachable $129 price point. We were initially concerned by the $30 price hike for the most recent version, but the improvements justify the cost. The newest version boasts a more durable ripstop fabric, a waist cinch, a cleaner look, and a stronger sustainability focus. If you’re looking for the best cheap down jacket on the market, we think this is it.

650 Down front close up
The newest 650 Down Jacket makes notable improvements over the prior version without breaking the bank | Credit: Jason Hummel

The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket is a heck of a deal. Its MSRP is $129, which is unheard of in this product category from a major brand (many “affordable” down jackets are more like $180 to over $200). The jacket offers a nice combination of quality down—and enough of it to be sufficiently warm—along with a surprisingly high-quality construction and soft feel. There's a reason it's so popular, which is further evidenced by the fact that the 650 Down is also made in a women's version, kid's version ($90), hooded variation ($149), and vest style ($100). All in all, it’s a no-nonsense jacket that gets the basics right. This may not be your premium performance piece for the backcountry, but we truly feel it's the best budget down jacket on the market today. If you'd like to see how the Co-op stacks up with the rest of our favorites, check out our articles on the best down jackets and the best women's down jackets.

Setting up tent in the 650 Down
While not the most technical, it's impossible to ignore the excellent price-to-performance balance of the 650 Down | Credit: Jason Hummel

Down Jacket Comparison Table

Jacket Price Weight Fill Power Fill Weight Denier Packable
REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket $129 10.9 oz. 650-fill down 3.5 oz. 20D No
Decathlon Forclaz MT500 $119 15.2 oz. 660-fill down 5.6 oz. Unavail. Stuff sack
Stio Pinion Down Sweater $259 11.0 oz. 800-fill down 3.1 oz. 20D Hand pocket
Patagonia Down Sweater $279 13.0 oz 800-fill down 5.0 oz. 20D Chest pocket
MH Ghost Whisperer/2 $330 8.3 oz. 800-fill down 3.0 oz. 10D x 10D Hand pocket

Is the REI Co-op Warm Enough?

You purchase a lightweight down jacket for its warmth-to-weight ratio, and the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket fits the bill. At 10.9 ounces, it’s feathery light and only a couple of ounces off some high-end performance pieces like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2. In terms of the warmth a down jacket provides, that’s a combination of a few factors: the quality of the down (fill power), the amount of down (fill weight), as well as the lining and shell fabric. Essentially, loftier down is able to trap more warmth against your body at a lower weight.

Walking in the 650 Down Jacket
The 650 Down is competitively light, although it doesn't use the highest-quality down | Credit: Jason Hummel

For the 650 Down Jacket, REI uses responsibly sourced 650-fill-power down, which is mid-range in terms of quality. Some high-end jackets use 800-fill-power down or higher, but they can cost upward of $300 or more. Fill weight is where some brands cut costs in making a budget down jacket, touting the quality of the down but avoiding the fact that there just isn’t that much of it stuffed inside the jacket. Thankfully, while REI skimped a little bit with 3.5 ounces of down fill, they kept enough for the jacket to be effective and remain impressive for the price.

Petting a horse in the 650 Down
The 650 Down doesn't pack in a ton of down but is more than adequate for mild conditions | Credit: Jason Hummel

As a comparison, the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket has slightly more down fill than the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (3.5 oz. vs. 3.0 oz.) but a lower fill power (650 vs. 800). This means that the REI does feel marginally less warm, but the ultralight Ghost Whisperer costs well over twice the price at a whopping $330 and has a thinner shell (10D x 10D vs. 20D). Compared to the Decathlon Forclaz MT500 at $119, the REI uses about the same down quality (650 vs. 660-fill) and has substantially less of it, but the Forclaz weighs a lot more (15.2 oz. vs. 10.9 oz.). This may not matter for more casual outings, but if you want your jacket to have some crossover appeal for activities like backpacking, the REI may be the better choice for just $10 more. Overall, we’ve been comfortable wearing the REI 650 as our outer layer in temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit with only a thin baselayer underneath. It’s plenty of jacket to wear as a midlayer for resort skiing as well—just make sure to keep it dry.

Best cheap down jacket (Patagonia Down Sweater comparison)
Patagonia's Down Sweater uses 5.0 oz. of higher-quality, 800-fill down but will run you nearly $300 | Credit: Jason Hummel

How Well Built is the 650 Down Jacket?

Our initial impressions of the 650 Down Jacket were strong with all the stitching appearing straight and consistent. We found a few threads to snip, and the cuffs started to show some signs of pilling fairly quickly, but it's all very light. The zippers are all good quality, though we did have one of the hand zippers come off its track. Thankfully, we were able to reconnect it, but it was a pain. And the lightweight build doesn’t have the confidence-inspiring feel of a zipper with larger teeth, but the slim design is not out-of-place in this category, and we’ve experienced no other performance issues.

650 Down material and logo close up
We love the subtle branding in a near-matching color to the face fabric | Credit: Jason Hummel

Hand feel is another strong suit of the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket, and during a blind test of the shell and lining, there wasn’t a discernible difference between the Co-op and the Patagonia Down Sweater. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that some may prefer the updated 650 Down Jacket’s fabric over the Down Sweater (other than the liner of the pockets, which isn’t as smooth-feeling). In our opinion, the jacket feels of higher quality than many options in the $200+ price range, and it’s a step up in overall build quality compared to anything else in the same price bracket.

650 Down interior drop pocket
The 650 Down feels much more premium than its wallet-friendly price tag would suggest | Credit: Jason Hummel

With the previous version of the 650 Down, we had some minor concerns about fabric durability. The exterior nylon shell didn't include the ripstop construction of many performance pieces. However, the newest version addresses this issue, which we're thankful for considering the $30 price hike. Not only does the current version of this jacket include 20-denier (D) ripstop nylon, but it's also bluesign-approved. What's more, REI Co-op is Climate Neutral Certified and actively committed to decreasing their carbon emissions and overall environmental footprint. You can read more about their impact across all aspects here

Features: What Are You Giving Up By Only Spending $129?

The REI Co-op brand generally aims for a no-frills strategy, and their 650 Down Jacket follows through on that promise. You get a simple design that has two hand pockets, a full-length center zip, and two interior drop-in pockets. Those who prefer a chest pocket will have to look elsewhere, but if you’re like us, it’s not a big loss. The older version of this jacket did not include any hem adjustment, but we're pleased to say that the latest version adds a much-appreciated hem cinch.

650 Down side cinch
The latest version of the 650 Down adds a cinch cord at the hem | Credit: Jason Hummel

This jacket has a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, which is pretty standard fare for a down jacket but notable on a $129 model. In our use, the 650 Down Jacket easily shed light rainfall with the water beading up and rolling off, and we expect similar performance in light snow. We definitely din't recommend wearing the Co-op Down in sustained heavy rain, but that goes for nearly every down jacket on the market (synthetic jackets get the clear edge in wet conditions due to their ability to continue insulating when wet). With prolonged exposure, moisture will soak through and compress the down feathers into mush, so we definitely recommend bringing a waterproof rain shell to layer overtop if there's a chance the skis might open up.

Lightweight down jackets are compressible and easy to stuff into a backpack, suitcase, or bag, and the 650 Down is a winner in this case. That said, the older version of this jacket could be packed into its hand pocket, but the current version does not. This is a bummer, but we opted to just bring a separate small stuff sack for travel and day hikes. On shorter outings, we had no issue stuffing the 650 into a crevice of our daypack

Pulling the 650 Down out of backpack
Compressibility is a hallmark of down jackets and especially helpful when space is at a premium | Credit: Jason Hummel

Fit and Sizing

We’ve had our fair share of sizing issues with REI jackets in the past, finding them quite large and long in the arms and torso. But REI seems to be paying attention and making improvements, and we've learned to size down for a more streamlined fit. Our main tester (who's 5'9" and 160 lb.) tried out a size small and was quite happy with the fit. The jacket is a good length for everyday wear without being so long as to poke out from under a hardshell or rain jacket. Overall, we feel like this jacket runs true to size, though if you want to layer multiple pieces underneath and you're on the edge of your preferred size, we'd recommend sizing up. In a size small, our tester could slip a warm layer underneath—like the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight baselayer—and was also able to easily layer the 650 Down under a shell, which is a great pairing for cold-weather ski days at the resort. 

Putting on the 650 Down
If you're in between sizes with REI clothing, it helps to think about how much you want to layer over or under | Credit: Jason Hummel 

Recommended Uses

We haven’t yet found any real limitations for the REI Co-op Down Jacket. It works great for daily use and light adventuring, especially in the shoulder seasons when the conditions aren’t freezing (you’ll likely want to step up to a warmer down jacket for the dead of winter). It makes for a nice midlayer for resort skiing and is also available in a hooded version for backpackers and climbers looking for more warmth. The hooded version shares the same feature set and size options as the standard jacket and is an equally solid value at $149.

Modeling the 650 Down on the river
Unless you have specific technical needs, the budget-friendly 650 Down checks all the boxes for most uses | Credit: Jason Hummel


REI Co-op is one of the leading outdoor gear brands in terms of value, and their 650 Down Jacket is a prime example. You get great quality for the price and all the performance the average hiker or skier needs. And at the end of the day, we really like the look of this jacket, too. It doesn’t have a blaring logo stuck to the chest and is offered in a wide variety of colorways and sizes. All told, this $129 jacket beats out a number of more expensive competitors, making it our top budget pick for several years running.
See the Men's REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket  See the Women's REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

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