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Lightweight hybrid down jacket has made a form-fitting return in 2011. Thanks to innovative new materials such as Omni-Heat, manufacturers like Columbia have an eye for keeping ski bunnies warm and satisfied. With a rather versatile style, Columbia has finally created a jacket that you can wear in both town and country.
Columbia’s new offering, the Reach The Peak down jacket, is an interesting case. Although the jacket is stuffed to the gunnels with 700 fill-down power, it is surprisingly lightweight. Coupled with Omni-Heat, Columbia’s proprietary thermal reflective lining system, this down jacket can also create and retain body warmth in brisk conditions and protect the core from wet weather, spills, and stains.
Sure, that might not be much of a consolation when the down is absolutely soaked from a downpour, but at least you’ll be relatively dry. It’s incredible how thousands of tiny reflective dots can make a lightweight down jacket sometimes feel like you’re standing right next to a blast furnace.
Some of the jacket’s little things add up in its favor. Stretch cuffs with thumbholes provide the Reach The Peak with the feel of your favorite worn-out sweatshirt, which stretch to cover half of the hand area without having to worry about tearing through frayed holes. Snap buttons replace zippers on the pockets to keep the weight of the jacket down, making it a good fit for winter endurance sports like cross-country skiing and winter backpacking. Finally, padding near the collar improves both the jacket’s form and function.
What’s unique about the jacket is the form-fitting athletic cut. Because of the stretch-fit side panels, it looks and feels like something that an NFL player would wear on the field. These side panels, which run along the sides and across the shoulders, are a bit of a help and a hindrance to the jacket’s overall performance.
The panels help to regulate body warmth within the jacket, but when a winter breeze directly hits the less-insulated shoulder area, a cold blast can feel a bit jarring. Because of this athletic cut, larger and taller athletes should purchase this jacket one size larger than usual. The jacket moves well and stretches when it needs to, but can be slightly constrictive near the waist.
There are also some minor flaws. After a few weeks of use, the stitch work came undone in some spots, while some feathers also began poking out during that time. Considering the jacket’s price range, some buyers might be less forgiving of these flaws.
Although this jacket will probably work best in winter when paired with the right shell, it’s also a good standalone jacket during the fall and spring months, where temperatures can fluctuate rapidly. (MSRP $170)
Andrew Horton-Hall comes to OutdoorInformer.com with deep roots in the world of professional journalism, having covered breaking news and feature articles for newspapers throughout southern New England. After witnessing firsthand the power of positive publicity and promoting good causes, he decided to make the leap into public relations and marketing. He currently serves as a Marketing Coordinator at an international architectural firm in Boston and is studying for his MBA in Sustainability at Antioch University New England in Keene, N.H.
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