Posts Tagged Columbia
Here at Practical Travel Gear we’re big fans of jackets that pack down to nothing in transit. This Columbia Trail Drier Windbreaker is a great one to fit into a carry-on bag when traveling somewhere that is windy and cool, but not freezing cold.
For most trips this year, I’ve been traveling to places where the weather is a little iffy, with a good chance of wind and rain, but not cold enough to justify a real coat. So I’ve often been packing this Trail Drier jacket from Columbia. It served me well for the morning chill on a biking trip in Portugal and I just wore it to start my day while in Quito and the Cuenca region in Ecuador. In between, several other trips to cool places.
I’ve been very happy I brought this jacket along in each case, especially since it took up almost no room in my bag. I could stuff it, roll it, or cram it into my daypack and it still looked fine on the other end.
This is no slouch windbreaker though. It’s got Columbia’s Omni-Shield to keep water out and their Omni-Wick properties to wick the sweat off if you’re doing something strenuous. In my travels both technologies have worked quite well, keeping me dry in a drizzle and not getting clammy when I was climbing steep hills on a bicycle.
Otherwise, you get a chest pocket with a seam sealed zipper, two side pockets, and a hood. Not a lot of frills, but that’s not the point: this is a great jacket that covers the basics without adding hardly any weight or bulk to your packing list.
Since it came out in the spring, it’s already on sale too. You can get it in four colors at the Columbia Sportswear website for around $45, or check prices at Backcountry. Yes, there’s also a women’s version, which has all the same properties but is more shapely.
See reviews of other Columbia Sportswear travel gear.
On trips that are full of outdoor adventure, it’s not always easy to find the right clothing that hits all the highlights well. On my recent trip to Namibia, my favorite Columbia item was the Coolest Cool Short Sleeve Top.
When I hiked in the Fish River Canyon, I wore the Coolest Cool Short Sleeve Top, and while a colleague complained about the heat, I didn’t have a problem. Using Omni-Freeze Zero sweat-activated cooling technology, the shirt reacts with your sweat to lower the temperature of the fabric. It’s also incredibly light, antimicrobial and wicks moisture away, so you’re not sheathed in your own perspiration all day. After a nine-hour hiking adventure that had me scrambling over rocks and hoofing it through vast open plateaus, I may have been a little dirty, but I wasn’t dripping in sweat.
The top also incorporates UPF 50 sun protection, so even if you’re not hiking in the second-largest canyon in the world on a sunny day, you can still stay protected from the sun. Don’t let that keep you from adding sunscreen on your exposed flesh, though.
The shirt, made of 91 percent polyester and 9 percent elastane pinhole mesh, fits fairly snugly. If you like a roomy fit, consider getting a size up. I wore mine over a support cami during my hike, and never thought twice about whether I made the right choice.
The Columbia Coolest Cool Short Sleeve Top is available in zing (orange), white, mirage (gray) and black. It lists for $45 on the Columbia website. At Amazon, it lists from $53.80 to $55. It’s also available in a long-sleeve version and a men’s version.
See other Columbia Sportswear clothing reviews.
Have you noticed how much the technical gear you buy is about temperature regulation? The Freeze Degree items from Columbia Sportswear I’ve been checking out go further than most: they actually lower your temperature when they get wet.
The Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero technology is part of a wave of new items introduced lately that go beyond just wicking and evaporation. They’re meant to react to your sweat (a sign you’re overheated) and cool you off. Here’s the rundown on three items I’ve been checking out in my travels.
Freeze Degree Zip Polo Shirt
I’ve worn this 1/2 zip short-sleeve shirt with Omni Freeze quite a bit since I got it, but really gave it a workout while biking through Portugal, where this photo was taken. It’s an ideal shirt for hot weather as it really did make me noticeably cooler when I’d barrel downhill after a steep climb that worked up a sweat.
It’s extremely comfortable and fits well. Naturally it gives you sun protection and will dry quickly when you sink wash it after a sweaty day. It lists for $65.
Cooling Neck Gaiter
This thin and lightweight neck gaiter with Colombia’s Omni Freeze Zero technology showed off the properties better than the shirt because I got it wet and wore it on my head when I was kayaking. I instantly went from overheated to cool and comfy. So I give this item the prize for value: you can use it as a bandanna, a headband, a head covering, or a neck covering, cooling you off and keeping you protected from the sun.
The $30 list price is a bit daunting for what feels like a stretchy piece of polyester, but it has a UPF 50 rating and keeps your sensitive parts from the neck up nice and cool. You can sink wash it or toss it in the washer & dryer, but as with the other Omni Freeze items, no stain remover or fabric softener in the mix.
This technology is also baked into various t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, hats, and other items for men and women. Go to the Colombia site and look for “Omni Freeze.”
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.