Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Columbia Heat Elite II Fleece Jacket

When you spend as much time outdoors as I do  in winter, you are always concerned with having the right outerwear to go with the weather conditions. When it's hovering around 0º F, I always reach for my 700 fill-power down jacket. The down fill-power number translates to warmth...the higher the number the warmer the jacket (900 being the warmest). As the number increases, the weight of the jacket decreases as there is more air in the jacket, but bulk actually increases. When you get a really warm down jacket, you end up looking like the Stay Puft marshmallow monster from Ghostbusters.

When the air temp is around 40º F, I grab my fleece jacket. It's just enough to keep out the weather. If it gets an colder than that, the fleece doesn't work so well. It's neither windproof nor water repellent and I end up suffering as a result.

I was looking for a new jacket this fall...to keep me protected in that 0º to 40º range. I do like fleece...not too bulky, not too heavy...but it had to be warmer and water repellent. Enter the new Columbia Heat Elite Fleece jacket. It's a combination nylon-fleece jacket that really fit the bill. The nylon portion uses Omni-Shield®, which actually repels water. But the best part is that the jacket is lined with Columbia's latest technological innovation, Omni-Heat®.

Omni-Heat is a metallic looking, polyester reflective lining. It helps regulate your temperature by reflecting and retaining warmth, while small dots in the lining dissipate moisture and excess heat to keep you comfortable. It has the highest heat retention factor of any synthetic insulation, which puts it right next to down for warmth. In addition to making the jacket incredibly warm, Omni-Heat also makes the jacket 100% windproof.

It's a really well designed jacket. It's got an external zipper pocket on the breast...just the perfect size for my iPhone. There are two huge pockets on the outside with zippers that run from the top of the chest to the waist. There is one small, zippered security pocket inside. The elbows are 2-way stretch and articulated for freedom of movement. A hem drawcord at the waist keeps out cold air. And there are two huge zippered openings under each armpit that can be used to modulate heat.

I'm really happy with jacket. It is incredibly warm and achieves that warmth without a lot of bulk. The jacket is pricey at it's MSRP of $180. However, I did a lot of comparison shopping online and found it on sale at backcountry.com for $123. Since I bought it, I've seen it as low as $119 on a few sites. If you are in the market for a nice looking jacket with a lot of warmth and functionality, I strongly recommend this jacket. You can check it out here: http://www.columbia.com/Men%E2%80%99s-Heat-Elite%E2%84%A2-II-Jacket/WM6692,default,pd.html

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