Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Fighting the Cold with Columbia Sportswear - Trying Stuff!

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Columbia Sportswear and was asked if I'd like to try some Omni-Heat Reflective clothing.  I thought about the offer for less than a second.  I live in Western Canada and am often outside playing in the snow when it's below -20 Celcius.  Warm clothing and gear is a MUST.  I provided the company with personal sizing information including my glove and boot size, shirt, pants, and jacket sizes.  Then I waited to see what cool stuff they'd send me.

Trying Stuff with Columbia

Base Layers

My first shipment included a new base layer shirt that I've been wearing every time I go outside now.  My women's heavy weight half zip top has provided the warmth I need for snowshoeing, skiing, playing in the snow, skating, and sledding.  I also appreciate the nice purple colour I was sent.  There's enough drab colours out there and I'm done with wearing all black base layers.

The shirt is nice enough that I can wear it out to the pub after a day of snowshoeing or skiing and not feel like I'm sitting in my underwear.  The half zipper gives it that little edge to make you feel like you're in a normal shirt.  I also LOVE the thumb loops on the shirt.  I've found that I often skip wearing mittens or gloves when I'm skating or hiking (too hard to take photos with mittens on)  and have had warm hands thanks to the thumb loops which allow the shirt to cover most of my hand.

Thumb Loops

I've been wearing a pair of mid-weight tights too since last winter that also feature Omni-Heat Reflective Technology and have had warm legs when wearing them under my ski pants.  My butt still gets cold but I've accepted this and now wear a down skirt.  (which Columbia has yet to add to their clothing line.) - hint hint.

The down skirt comes everywhere

I'm not a scientist and don't design clothing but in a nut shell, the Omni-Heat Reflective Technology boasts that it can "help regulate your temperature with little silver dots that reflect and retain the warmth your body generates."  (wording straight from Columbia's website.) I have found this to be true with their base layers and am generally warm the second I put my shirt on.  (sometimes too warm until I actually get outside.) I have found that I sweat less when wearing this base layer shirt and feel better about going out after skiing if I haven't brought a change of clothing with me (which is all the time.)

Great base layers keep you warm!

The Best Jacket Ever

Great Jacket!
My next shipment from Columbia had me squealing big time!  I received a Women's Whirlibird Interchange jacket just in time for a couple of snowshoe trips in late November.  What do I like most about it - let me count the ways!!

One - It's bright orange!  (while it does come in other more subdued colours as well, the company sent me the red hibiscus plaid print jacket - and I was thrilled!) - nobody will miss me in an avalanche!!

Two - It's a 3-in-1 jacket so I will get lots of use out of it in all conditions.  The insulating jacket can be worn out for appies and hot chocolate after skiing, the shell jacket can be warn in wet conditions, and both pieces can be warn together as one big warm ski jacket.

Three - It has thumb loops on the insulating layer - which I've never ever seen on a jacket before!   Brilliant!  As I mentioned above, I love thumb loops for keeping my hands warm when I'm not wearing gloves.

Four - It has pockets everywhere and tons of places to stash things like i-pods, my phone, chap-stick, or even your keys.

Five - The shell is fleece lined near my mouth so that when I put the hood up, and zip the jacket up over my mouth, I have something soft against my face.  LOVE that.

Snowshoeing with my son - toasty warm!

I've started calling the jacket my FIRE JACKET because of its incredible warmth.  The Omni-Heat Technology definitely hits the mark with this jacket.  I was so hot the first time I wore it that I had every zipper open (pit zips included - another thing I like about it) and couldn't even fathom wearing my down skirt (a first!)

Nobody will miss me in an avalanche!

I've heard that you have to work for your heat when wearing Omni-Heat clothing, but I've worn the jacket when it was -30 Celsius while hiking at a child's pace and I can assure you that it performed when I wasn't moving very quickly.  I don't have to be climbing or racing to find heat with this jacket.  I've even worn it while just standing around watching my son play in the snow - and was still warm.

Hiking at -30 Celsius - Omni-Heat Technology Works!

 I honestly have nothing negative to say about this coat.  Best coat ever!

Good for Resort Skiing

Shopping Tip - Buy a size bigger than you'd normally wear.  I have a small jacket (my true size) and it would be a stretch to fit the jacket over any mid layers.  Fortunately, it's so warm I am able to wear it over just a base layer and have been fine.   

Cross Country Skiing on a very chilly day!

Going Forward

I look forward to trying out other Columbia technologies as the company continues to break ground in keeping us adventurers warm, dry, and comfortable outside.

My Columbia Child - Trying Stuff Since 2009

Disclaimer:  Columbia graciously provided me with the jacket shown in this story along with my base layer shirt.  However, I've been wearing Columbia clothing for years and have always been pleased with it!  All opinions in this review are my own and I wasn't compensated in any other way beyond the clothing.


  1. I received a pair of their Omni-Heat boots for Christmas. OH MY TOASTY TOES! They're FABulous! I love their Omni-Heat products.

    1. I haven't tried their boots yet. Good to know that they are warm. I get asked frequently for boot suggestions from people with cold toes. Thanks.