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Rest day?

So a few months ago Columbia (the company, not the country) sent me a coat to try out.  I was thrilled a) because I did not, at the time, own a winter coat and had not yet formulated a plan regarding the approaching subzero days and b) because I’d seen the ads and assumed that said coat would enable me to run around virtually naked on frozen lakes. It seemed like the answer, finally, to winter in Montana!

high five??

Anyway, I’ve since worn it on a variety of adventures, taken note of its zippers etc., and have totally forgotten to review it. Luckily there’s not much snow falling today and I have a recovery day on the bike (read: extra energy) so I’ve spent the last few hours putting together a little overview of this jacket’s many exciting features. Thanks for clothing me this winter, Columbia!

Ok. So this jacket consists of two parts- the inner liner, which features the “omni heat” part, and the water/windproof outer, which is good for stuff like this:

I’ll start with the Outer:

I’ve used this piece for everything from touring to walking to school. I’ve found it to generally be a little heavier than I’d like for the backcountry, but as a resort jacket it definitely fits the bill. I was actually very impressed with the style and functionality of this shell. I’ll admit I’ve always thought of Columbia as a brand better suited to stuff like driving your kids to soccer practice in Michigan, but it’s clear that they’re revamping their whole gig.

Stuff that impressed me most:

Burly Polyurethane Zippers- for when you’re in some hell-storm and you don’t want the fortress of your jacket to be breached by shoddy connections. Sealing up those zips keeps your body from getting too wet and/or cold.

Quality of Fabric- Again, avoiding the wet and/or cold body. It’s durable, wind and waterproof (so far) and style-y with subtle rainbow pinstripes on a charcoal background.

Cut- easy to move, yet still slightly reminiscent of soccermomism. Granted this might just be my own insecurity talking- I pretty much just strap a backpack over it and ninja kick anyone who asks questions. Not an issue.

And my favorite: The cleverly gusseted face/neck guard.

I have never seen this on a jacket before, and I think it should be on all jackets from now on. So often when you want to zip the blizzard away from your mouth, you find your eyeballs popping out of your head like one of those stress dummies, but no longer! This little zipper allows a little extra give so that you can protect your beautiful face without suffocating yourself.

One gripe: Hand pockets are a little too small. I can’t put er… sodas in them.

On to the Liner:

I’ve used this piece for nordic skiing, touring, walking to school, partying, and even the occasional nap. It’s not especially progressive or jaw-dropping, but it is a solid, consistent jacket. Stuff I liked best:

Inner Sleevey Things- I love them, especially when I’m trying to put a coat on over this one and I don’t want to get my sleeves all bunched up. They’re also good for making a really weathertight connection between jacket and mitten.

Cool Fade Zipper- Ok maybe I’m just a sucker for zippers. I thought it was neat how the zipper fades from pink to white and back. It’s not weather tight, but it looks kind of different.

Omni Heat- I don’t really know what I expected from what looks like a bunch of reflective dots painted on the fabric, but it was not the raging furnace I’d hoped for. Nonetheless, it’s definitely a warm jacket, and in lieu of true down, might be an acceptable alternative.

One Gripe: Maybe I’ve been a little too spoiled by my ultralight Mont-Bell puffy, but the outer material of this liner just falls short a bit for me. Granted, I’ve gotten a ton of comments on the color, my favorite of which came from my astonished boyfriend:

“Woah… you look like a girl!”

SO yeah. There you go. The jacket is called the Black Diamond Dash Parka, again, from Columbia. Good all around piece, I’ve worn it a ton, and it’s kept me warm.

AND since I’m basically part of Columbia (the company, not the country) now, I’ve taken the liberty of putting myself in their ad. For the record- I got really cold while taking this picture. Would not recommend running around on frozen lakes, no matter how much omni heat you’re wearing.

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