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REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Review

An average-performance ski jacket with decent features at an affordable price
rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review
Credit: REI Co-op
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $199 List | $199.00 at REI
Pros:  Inexpensive, moderately weather resistant, warm enough
Cons:  Bland style, poor ventilation, generic fit
Manufacturer:   REI
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2022
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 17
  • Warmth - 20% 6.0
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 6.0
  • Ventilation - 15% 5.0
  • Style - 15% 5.0
  • Features - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated jacket is a decent all-around performer at an attractive price, earning our nod for the best value in an insulated ski jacket. It has solid weather resistance that can withstand most snowstorms, but the jacket can't keep up when the snow gets wet and slushy. It has some useful pockets and vents, but they could be better. The Powderbound is warm enough, most of the time. The main attraction is its price, which makes it a good choice for occasional skiers and for users who want to use it as a general winter jacket as well.

Editor's Note: We updated this review for the REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated jacket on December 2, 2022, to reflect product updates and to elevate it to award-winning status for its great value.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award   
Price $199 List
$199.00 at REI
$103.60 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$300 List
$299.00 at REI
$230 List
$230.00 at REI
$70 List
$40.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, moderately weather resistant, warm enoughInexpensive, warm, comfortable, good featuresWeather resistant, good vents, plenty of featuresVersatile, inexpensive, warmInexpensive, warm
Cons Bland style, poor ventilation, generic fitNot that stylish, compromised weather protection, doesn't breathe wellHanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfectBulky, basic fit and styling, limited weather protectionDoesn't look good, minimal features, no vents, poor fit
Bottom Line An average-performance ski jacket with decent features at an affordable priceThis jacket packs lots of performance into an inexpensive package, creating great valueA high-performance shell at a great priceA versatile and very affordable jacket for the occasional skier or snowboarderThis 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
Warmth (20%)
6.0
8.0
4.0
8.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Ventilation (15%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Style (15%)
5.0
5.0
7.0
3.0
2.0
Features (10%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
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
RECCO No No No No 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.

Performance Comparison


rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - the rei powderbound in its natural state: charging at the ski resort.
The REI Powderbound in its natural state: charging at the ski resort.
Credit: Sam Willits

Warmth


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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - there is lots of synthetic insulation around the torso and sleeves...
There is lots of synthetic insulation around the torso and sleeves to keep you warm on most days.
Credit: Jackie Kearney

Weather Resistance


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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - the hood provides full coverage, and the shell material is...
The hood provides full coverage, and the shell material is waterproof enough for most light winter weather.
Credit: Jackie Kearney

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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - the powderbound looks decent on the ski slopes, but it isn't very...
The Powderbound looks decent on the ski slopes, but it isn't very refined.
Credit: Sam Willits

Ventilation


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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - small armpit vents allow some ventilation, but overall, this jacket...
Small armpit vents allow some ventilation, but overall, this jacket doesn't breathe well.
Credit: Jackie Kearney

Style


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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - the powderbound's style isn't too bad, but it doesn't stand out as...
The Powderbound's style isn't too bad, but it doesn't stand out as particularly interesting, either.
Credit: Sam Willits

Features


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.

A sleeve pass pocket is a great feature for easily passing through...
A sleeve pass pocket is a great feature for easily passing through chairlift turnstiles.
A large internal stash pocket will eat whatever you throw at it.
A large internal stash pocket will eat whatever you throw at it.
An internal chest pocket and a powder skirt round out the large set...
An internal chest pocket and a powder skirt round out the large set of features on the Powderbound Insulated.
A pass pocket, internal stash pocket, and powder skirt are all useful at the ski hill.

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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - this is a great jacket for avid skiers on a budget, or anyone who...
This is a great jacket for avid skiers on a budget, or anyone who takes the occasional ski trip and wants good performance.
Credit: Sam Willits

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.

rei co-op powderbound insulated ski jacket review - the powderbound on the slopes during testing in wyoming.
The Powderbound on the slopes during testing in Wyoming.
Credit: Jackie Kearney

Jeff Dobronyi
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