Thursday, March 8, 2012

Columbia Winter Gear Review

Recently, the folks at Columbia sent us a number of winter gear items to test out and do a review of. We had the opportunity to do a review of the gear on our hike to Mt. Islip. The conditions were cold with temperatures in the 30's, 1 - 2 feet of snow on the trail, with sustained winds in places around 15 mph - 20 mph, needless to say it was chilly and the Columbia winter gear held up amazingly well. Columbia sent both of us a Base Layer as well as Winter Jackets to test out. Both Ashley and myself give the gear extremely high marks as it kept us warm and dry during the hike.

About the Baselayer: Mens Top: Columbia sent me a Mid-Weight Long Sleeve Baselayer, with a half zipper. Mens Bottom: Columbia sent me the Men's Baselayer Midweight Tight. Womens Top: Ashley received a Mid-Weight Long Sleeve Baselayer. Womens Bottom: Ashley receive the Midweight Stripe Tight. In addition to the mid-weight baselayer that we received, Columbia offers a heavy-weight version for really cold temperatures as well as a short sleeve version for milder climates.

Info on Columbia's baselayers from the Manufacture: The baselayers were developed with top physiologists and offers maximum warmth, minimum weight, and zoned performance for optimal comfort. The perfect first layer for winter snow sports, our bodymapped tights keep you warm and dry in all the right spots by placing Omni-Heat® reflective dots in zones that need warmth most, and Omni-Wick™ in high-perspiration zones for maximum moisture transmission. Antimicrobial treatment keeps the fabric feeling (and smelling) fresh during high-exertion activities, while the wicking waistband sits slightly below the waist to avoid unnecessary bulk. Highly stretchable, with flat-lock stitching and gusset detail for enhanced range of motion, these midweight tights set you up for success. FEATURES: Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane, Omni-Heat thermal reflective, Omni-Wick advanced evaporation, Form fit, Antimicrobial, 4-way comfort stretch, Ergonomic seaming, and Gusset detail.
About the Jackets from the Manufacture: Columbia sent me the Men’s Melting Point™ Parka and it is an amazing winter Parka. Info on Columbia's Melting Point Parka: Omni-Dry® ultrabreathable waterproof technology means you’re moving in lightweight, fully seam-sealed comfort, while the Omni-Heat® thermal reflective liner uses your body heat to keep you 20% warmer than ordinary liners—a fact you’ll appreciate when you’ve gone 20% further than you planned. The low-profile baffled liner attaches via the 3-point interchange system and features 100 grams of Omni-Heat insulation with stretch side panels inside for enhanced mobility and ventilation - it’s clean lines and simple styling make it perfect for wearing solo when you’re lounging in the lodge or rolling around town. Back on the hill, pull on the outer shell for all the features you rely on during a long day of slashing: underarm venting, a removable, adjustable storm hood, removable powder skirt, waterproof zippers and an abrasion resistant chin guard. FEATURES: Fabric: Shell: 100% nylon mechanical stretch dobby Lining: 100% nylon Contour Echelon Emboss Taffeta Liner: 100% polyester Shiny Triple Rip, 90% polyester/10% elastane double weave Max Softshell, 100% polyester Thermal Reflective Insulation: 50% polyester/50% recycled polyester OH, 100g, Omni-Dry ultrabreathable waterproof fully seam sealed Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated liner, Omni-Shield® advanced repellency liner, 3-point Interchange System, Ultralight, Breathable stretch panels on liner, Removable, adjustable storm hood, 2-way zipper, Waterproof chest zipper, Removable, snap back powder skirt, Pocket features Invizzip™, Security and mesh goggle pockets, Articulated elbows, and Inferno pockets, the Center back length is 30”.

Columbia sent Ashley the Women's Melting Point Parka. Constructed of a beautiful dobby fabric with Omni-Dry® ultra-breathable waterproof technology, it’s ready for whatever the forecast delivers. Inside, Omni-Heat® thermal reflective technology provides the ultimate in lightweight body heat retention and 20% more warmth than ordinary liners. Motocross-inspired liner features a high-pile fleece collar for added cozy comfort when the temperature dips. Should you find yourself on the mountain (and we hope you do), a removable snap-back powder skirt and goggle pockets will come in handy, as will the articulated elbows and drawcord adjustable hem. FEATURES: Fabric: Shell: 100% nylon dobby. Lining: 100% polyester prima DP taffeta. Liner: 100% Tactel nylon Fine Rip DP ripstop. Lining: 100% polyester Thermal Reflective, 100% polyester Yummy pile fleece. Insulation: 50% polyester/50% recycled polyester OH, 100g Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated liner. Omni-Dry ultra-breathable waterproof fully seam sealed 3-Point Interchange System, Removable, adjustable storm hood, Drawcord adjustable hem, Underarm venting, Interior security pocket, Removable snap-back powder skirt, Zip-closed security pockets, Goggle pockets, Comfort cuffs on liner, Articulated elbows, Adjustable cuffs, Abrasion-resistant chin guard, Center back length: 27”.

Brian's Review:  The winter gear that we were sent by the folks at Columbia is extremely nice and worked extremely well on the trail we tested it on. The baselayer's were super comfortable and kept me warm the whole day on the hike to Mt. Islip. One of the great features is the 4 way stretch as well as the Omni Heat on all of the items sent to me. Columbia's mid-weight baselayer is perfect most winter conditions and it would need to be really cold to use their heavy-weight baselayer. The winter parka was one of the best winter jacks I have used, in winter conditions. It kept me warm the whole hike with the outer shell and the insulated middle layer. Another great thing about the parka is that it is stylish as well. Columbia's products come in different colors so you can easily choose a color pattern to your liking. Now, I do recognize that price is definitely a concern for many, especially given the economic climate of the last few years, and that these products are not cheap. They are high quality winter gear that is designed to keep you warm and safe on your winter outdoor adventures. For those that do a lot of winter hiking or spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter, Columbia's baselayers and parkas are totally worth the investment and you won't be disappointed. We additionally, used this gear on our recent trip to Zion National Park and again it held up great under the snowy/wintery conditions. We will provide links to those hikes, once we post them on our blog.

Ashley's Review:  Jacket: This jacket was not only brightly colored and GREAT for any night activity for people to see, but it was warm and wind-proof--a perfect fit for hiking in cold and/or snow. I really enjoyed the inside of the jacket being like a heat blanket material (Omni-Heat material). It kept my body heat in, but what was really cool, was that the jacket upzipped in the arm-pit/back area to allow breathing if it got too hot. It is very rare to have a jacket unzip in different places, and I loved the convenience about that with this jacket. During hikes, like everyone else, I get hot and sweat, but I would get too cold taking the jacket off completely in winter conditions. So, unzipping those little parts made for a really enjoyable hike. I also loved the pockets. They were nice and deep, and I could stuff my gloves in them and zip them shut. The hood was fantastic, and like the wrist areas on the sleeves, would velcro tightly so that no wind would come through the crevices. I also made a snow angel on the hike, and was very happy that the water was repelled by the jacket as the ice melted. It was very hard for cold to pierce through the jacket. It was a really thin jacket too, but I think the heath foil-like lining made it really warm. You were well insulated without it being thick and needing to wear a bunch of layers underneath. I loved that it folded up small, obviously because it was thin, and I could put it in my backpack that was stuffed with water. I loved that the jacket was just the right length. Sometimes when I wear shorter jackets, my backpack makes the jacket rise up over the course of the hike and I have to pull it down. I never had to do that with this jacket. IT clung to my hips well and no cold air made it's way up through the bottom of it.

Thermal Underwear: I will never buy another kind of thermal underwear again. This is THE best! Not only are they cute (the ladies kind) because they look like cute Christmas PJ's, but they have the same foil-like insulation on the inside of the shirt and pants. You would think it might be itchy, or scratchy, but it was SO soft inside and smooth. You don't even know they are on the inside. It kept me warm having that kind of insulation on underneath the matching insulated jacket. I just threw a t-shirt on over the top of the shirt. The thermal underwear shirt wicked away all the moisture and my t-shirt was completely dry after the hike. That has NEVER happened to me before. I was able to wear the same shirt at dinner, post-hike. The fit of the thermal underwear was a tighter fit, but perfect because it helped prevent air from getting though the wrist and ankle areas, neck, and back. I loved that the thermal underwear looked cute with my black pants, of course. BEST thermals--get some.


  1. Love Columbia's base layers. They are essential! Be sure to try otu some Kuhl pants if you get a chance. They are durable but are still comfortable and are my other favorite hiking essential!

  2. Ah! My husband and I are planning to go skiing next month and there still so much to buy. I have just bought some comfortable leggings and I still need all of this. It was wonderful reading this post. I would love to share it with my husband.


Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.