Posts Tagged Columbia
Rugged, yet elegant, this Columbia-branded Skyline watch is an all-around favorite for its stylish leather wrist band and large watch face. I have been searching for a replacement to my metal Fossil watch, which is still in excellent condition, but may not always present the finest impression in professional business settings. While the Columbia Skyline model does not scream expensive Rolex, it does convey a younger, reserved image that fits almost anytime whether working or playing. It demonstrates a creative, eclectic image that younger folk may appreciate.
I was originally worried that the leather strap would quickly become scuffed with marks and scratches from regular wear. It does succumb to minor abrasions, but it only adds to the character and does not give it the appearance of being old or ratty.
The stainless steel casing around the watch face is thick and shiny enough to provide a nice contrast to the woodsy, almost rugged, leather band. Within the larger face of the watch are three smaller clock faces giving military time, the day of the month, and the day of the week. With a light color surface, the numbers stand out easily, and the hour and minute hands are darker in color helping them to have a nice contrast. Their large size makes it even more feasible to tell the time for those with weaker eyesight or in dim light.
With an adjustable band, it can fit any wrist, and I don’t see why someone with a really small wrist could not poke a hole through the band for an even more tight fit. Personally, I would not think of taking this watch into the water, but it is water resistant for up to 30 meters.
Watches can be expensive, and male travelers have fewer ways to accessorize their look than women. That’s probably why it is worth it to have a few watches in your wardrobe for the right occasion. Columbia’s brand appears on many high-quality watches, and they are available for purchase at numerous retails stores including Zappos, Cabela’s stores, and Columbia’s own website for a fair price of $150.
Want a down jacket with a slim profile that will keep you far warmer than it looks like it should? This Columbia Powerfly Down jacket with the Omni-heat technology is amazingly toasty for something so slim.
When I was a kid, down jackets were big and puffy affairs and if you wanted one that would keep you warm when it dipped down to zero, you got an even puffier one with more down. Apart from synthetic alternatives (like Polartec), that law of physics still applies to down jackets and sleeping bags: more bulk, more warmth. But as companies have combined down layers with waterproof shells and taught consumers to combine them with good baselayers, skiers and cold weather travelers have gotten warmer with less bulk.
Columbia has taken it a step further though with their Omni-heat technology. Basically this is a series of reflective metallic dots on the inside of the lining that reflects body heat back to the body. It sounds like a gimmick, but this is the second item I’ve used with the technology (the last one being this Extreme Fleece) and I can say unequivocally that it’s for real. One gear writer I ran into at the OR show was complaining that her jacket with Omni-heat was too warm as she skidded across the icy sidewalks.
I wore this Powerfly jacket in sub-freezing weather in Salt Lake City last week because I didn’t want to carry around a bulkier winter jacket. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t be enough, but with just one layer underneath and a hat and gloves on, I was plenty comfortable walking around outside for a half hour at a time. Zipped up all the way, I made due without a scarf as well.
This despite the fact that this down jacket is thin enough to scratch an itch through and slim enough that people ask if you’ve been working out. It’s got 800 fill of goose down, which is not that much, but with the body heat reflecting back, you need less of a barrier.
Here’s the really great thing for packing light though: the Powerdown jacket comes with a pouch it stuffs into and you can get it into one corner of your bag, about the size of a compact mild weather sleeping bag. If you’re stressing about taking along a winter jacket, this one doesn’t take up 1/3 of your bag space. It also weighs very little: 13.6 ounces.
As far as features go, there are two inside flap pockets, two outside hand pockets that zip, and a stretchy cinch line on the bottom to pull it tight.
There’s some confusion over the specific name of this jacket as it initially shipped with tags saying “Power Down,” so you’ll still see it listed like that at some online retailers. More often it’s called “Powerfly.” Either way, you’ll find at least five colors to choose from in men’s and women’s versions. Be advised that it’s cut slim to flatter your figure, so go up a size if you don’t want it snug.
It lists for $220, but as I write this in late January, it’s already starting to go on sale in certain colors. Check the Columbia Sportswear site and then check prices at Amazon, Altrec, or Zappos. Here’s a link to the women’s version at Altrec and Zappos.
See more Columbia Sportswear clothing reviews here on Practical Travel Gear.
We’ve often sung the praises of Columbia Sportswear travel clothing on this gear blog because most of their products are affordable to the average Joe, but they’re often cut better and packed with better features than items going for double the price.
Another good example is this Extreme Fleece Baselayer I took on a trip through southern Bolivia to the Atacama Desert recently. With another layer under it, I seldom needed to wear a coat, even at 15,000 feet. That’s partly thanks to Columbia’s Omni-Heat system, which is basically a series of reflective dots on the inside of the garment. These reflect back heat to your body, while the wicking fabric (without the dots in areas that get sweaty) allows any moisture to escape. I definitely felt toastier in this than with another simpler fleece I’d brought along as well.
It’s also anti-microbial, which means I was able to wear it for five days straight without my van-mates needing to complain about the odor, despite a couple hours of hiking each day. When I did sink-wash it later, it only took a few hours to dry.
It was thin and light enough to jam into a carry-on bag easily and it never got wrinkled. (It did get snagged threads twice on sharp surfaces though, so it might not be the best item for rock climbing.) It’s made of polyester and “Thermostretch.”
This Fleece baselayer is soft and stretchy, conforming to your body. So if you’re not so svelte, go up a size. Or assume you’ll be wearing it under a shell/coat.
This technical baselayer fleece comes in four colors and lists for $80—not bad considering some similar ones to this from other companies are starting to top the $200 mark. You can get it direct from Columbia or check prices at Altrec, Sunny Sports, or Zappos. There’s also a women’s version for the same price.
Or see other Omi-Heat items at Columbia Sportswear.
It’s always a dilemma: you want to put your kids in decent outerwear, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on something that won’t fit a season or two from now. Your best bet is often to hit the sale rack (physical or virtual) and look for the Columbia Sportswear logo.
I’ve talked before about how Columbia Sportswear is not timid about the “out with the old, in with the new” retail discounting philosophy, with this post on inexpensive travel staples. Whereas most companies act like the list price is sacred on their own websites, these guys aren’t afraid to mark down items to move them out the door on their outlet site.
This winter my daughter has been the guinea pig on two jackets that have already gone from a good price to a better one. First up is the cute Pearl Plush Full Zip fleece you see pictured at the top, in two of its four colors. My daughter being the girlie girl she is, naturally went for the pink. Besides the color, she loves how soft and fuzzy it is, like a favorite stuffed toy. They call this fleece “Luscious pile,” and it’s a good description.
Although kids don’t sweat out the armpit area as much as we do, this does allow some venting there to keep the little ones from getting overheated and also makes this fleece look more like mom’s more expensive outdoor wear. It’s also got the same kind of zippered pockets and zipper pulls.
This jacket originally sold for $60 to $75, but now you can find the regular or hoodie version for under $40 if you shop around. That puts it in the range of no-name brands that don’t look or feel as good. And this is a great jacket for this spring, next fall, and beyond. Just go a size or two up to allow for growth because it’s slim-fitted. Follow these links to check prices at Backcountry, Department of Goods, Campmor, or direct from Columbia.
Omni-Heat for Girls
I also like how Columbia has incorporated some of the technology you find in their most expensive adult jackets and put it into kids’ versions you can pick up for far less. At the top of that list is the silver-dots Omni-Heat technology, which reflects body heat back and thus saves on the amount of bulk needed.
This Red Hottie jacket incorporates that technology plus the Omni-Shield water repellent, but is currently selling for $60 on Columbia.com. This has 100 grams of insulation, so it’s not meant for blizzards and sub-zero weather, but is a good layering piece for less trying ski days and playing outdoors.
As with the fleece, this is meant to look like something mom would wear, with its quilted design, slim fit, and pockets in all the right places (including an interior zippered one). But it’s 1/10 the price…
See more kids apparel at Columbia Sportswear.
We’ve covered Columbia Sportswear a bunch here at Practical Travel Gear. From rashguards to base layers to bug repellent pants, Columbia’s outdoor and adventure gear is durable and technologically on the cutting edge. My most recent Columbia acquisition: the Triple Trail Shell for women.
This is one sturdy coat that keeps me warm (especially when wearing a base layer and light fleece underneath) because it’s lined with Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat thermal fabric. Little silver dots helps reflect your body heat back at you (keeping you 20 percent warmer than a standard liner, according to the Omni-Heat website) while moisture vapor escapes in the spaces between the dots for breathability, keep you dry.
Other bells and whistles include cool Invizzip zippers (which enhance the sleek look of the jacket), Velcro strip at the wrists to tighten or loosen as needed, inside pouches to stash a phone and exterior pockets for gloves, armpit zipper vents and drawcord adjustable hem. The jacket is lightweight — not as heavy as the shell that comes with the women’s 2-piece Frosty Forest Parka. And I absolutely love the Leapfrog color hue: it’s a geometric pattern of royal blue, scarlet and lime green. Fun, upbeat, colorful… great shades to brighten up a cloudy winter day.
I’ve worn the shell on hikes and errands around town on drizzly days this fall. I think it’ll be great for spring skiing, too. It lands just below my hip so between the generous sleeves, the storm hood and the length, I feel plenty protected from the elements.
The only problem I’ve found with Columbia jackets is that I am between sizes. I have the parka and this shell in size large, and they are just a bit too large — the sleeves are long and the torso roomy. Unfortunately the size mediums that I’ve sampled are too tight in the chest. I wish I was a perfect fit for the Columbia jackets because I am so impressed with the quality and technology of the pieces.
Columbia also makes a Triple Trail for Men at the same price.