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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Top Columbia Sportswear Athletic Items in Review

I had the opportunity to really try out Columbia Sportswear athletic clothing all four seasons long.  With my family's active lifestyle, I have found that the clothing has been really durable.  Below I detail my favourite items for adults and kids.
Columbia Sportswear Kids' Jackets
December 2013 and Beyond
There is no doubt that Columbia Sportswear is a trusted name for kids.  Over the years I have found the brand to be warm and durable, and should an item fail, Columbia's warranty will repair or replace the item.

Here are the Columbia items that my kids tried out in December 2013.  My kids really put the outerwear through the wringer, and yet most of the jackets and snow pants are holding up quite well to a second season (as of January 2015).  Most of the items still look brand new.

Columbia Kids' Items Tested
Boy's Alpine Action Jacket ★★★★★
Bugaboo Interchange Jacket ★★★★★
Shimmer Me Insulated Jacket ★★★★★
Boy's Evo Fly Jacket ★★★★★
Boy's Whirlinator snow set ★★★★★
Whirlinator Waterproof Snow Pants
Whirli Diva Insulated Snow pants
Bugaboo Insulated Snow pants
Youth Snow Raid II Mittens
Omni-Heat Snow Raid II Gloves
Chippewa III Mittens

Columbia Sportswear for Kids Review
Out of the 5 winter jackets, and 5 pairs of snow pants that we reviewed, most were very well-made and quite warm for the winter (the Shimmer Me Insulated jacket would work best for the fall).  After one season, I did send in the Bugaboo Interchange Jacket and Whirlinator snow pants under the Columbia warranty programme (jacket had a broken zipper, and snow pants had two ripped seams).  Way to go, Columbia on having a fantastic reparation or replacement warranty!  In all honesty, the Columbia gloves/mittens my kids did not find warm, and they really soaked up the water.

I gave all of the kids' Columbia winter jackets 5 stars, because they are simply warm, well-made, durable and fantastic!  However, a big 5 star winner is the Whirlinator snow set which my child loved.  I did give it this rating, although both inner leg seams tore after one season.  Columbia cheerfully replaced the snow pants under their warranty.  Yay!  

I especially wish that the snow pants and gloves/mittens were truly water-resistant, as the kids would get wet when playing in the snow.  They should also line them to make them much warmer (my kids would come in with red and raw hands).
Great Trail Shoe: Peakfreak Xcrsn Xcel 
Columbia Adult Footwear Tested

Columbia Adult Footwear Review
Trying out Columbia footwear, what struck me was how true-to-size the footwear has been for trail shoes, water shoes and boots.  This is especially important if you do online orders.  I take a half shoe size and have an average-width foot, and the sizing works very well for me.  Also, I'm in love with the grips and treads on their trail and water shoes, and boots.

5 star winners in my books were the Women’s Peakfreak™ XCRSN Xcel OutDry trail shoe, and Columbia Women's Powervent Water Shoe.  The trail shoe gripped the terrain so nicely, the sole felt like it was suction cupped to the land.  But the water shoe was my go-to shoe all spring and summer long, and I wore it mostly out of the water.  I loved the easy toggle closure, which I preferred to the lace-up Women's Drainmaker II Shoe.  The shoes were super lightweight.  However, I do believe that the water shoe did not succeed at its original purpose, and they never drained properly.  Water stayed in my shoes always, and sloshed around.

Although I enjoy the Women's Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boot as a fall or light winter boot, I don't believe it lives up to its rating on colder days.  I was disappointed that the "fur" lining didn't extend across the entire boot, and only the top one third.  I did love how lightweight the boot was, and how easy it was to slip on--even after it was fully laced up (a must for my busy lifestyle).  The Women's Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boot would definitely make my fall list, or for very light winter days (-4°C/24°F and warmer).

My suggestion is that Columbia keep the toggle closure on the Women's Drainmaker II Shoe, but come up with a Drainmaker III shoe that actually does effectively drain.  Also, I'm Canadian here so please line the entire Women's Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boot with fur from the top to tip toe.
Both Aces: Women's Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt and Powervent Water Shoe
Columbia Athletic Shirts Tested

Columbia Athletic Shirt Review
I have to rave about the Women's Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt, which I loved so much that I got in more than one colour.  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that I often took my runs in this lightweight shirt.  It felt fantastic on, and it would be great for lots of different sports including white water rafting, hiking, jogging, table tennis, etc.  I love that there was a choice of a variety of colours. 5 star rating!

Don't change anything about the Women's Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt, which is a winner!  I'd love to see additional feminine colours offered for spring 2015!
Columbia's 2014 Winter Tech Box
Columbia Down Jacket Tested
Women's Diamond 890 Turbodown Hooded Down Jacket

Columbia Down Jacket Review
I tested the Columbia 2014 Winter TechBox, and was quite pleased to receive it.  But in all honesty, as a Canadian who is outside in the hard-core, brutal winter, none of the products made it to my "winter" list.  They definitely would make my fall list, or for very light winter days (-4°C/24°F and warmer).  

The Women's Diamond 890 Turbodown Hooded Down Jacket was as lightweight as can be and cozy, and I would recommend it for a Canadian fall or light winter.  I found that the sizes ran very big.  I wear a Columbia size medium, and the medium was huge on me even with 2 layers underneath.  Purchase one size down, or the jacket is likely to be too roomy.  I chose the "Ice Grey" colour, and did not like that the dark down feathers were visible beneath the fabric, making my jacket always look dirty.  Call me picky, but I did not like the colour of the zipper in either the Ice Grey colour or the other colour that was offered.  I was quite pleased that they offered a hood option, as I do not purchase jackets without.

My suggestion would be to market the Women's Diamond 890 Turbodown Hooded Down Jacket to Canadians for the fall, not the winter.  Also, to use fabrics that will not allow the dark down feathers show through.  I will love wearing this jacket in fall 2015, though!  

Women's Kiry Neve Gloves

Columbia Gloves & Mittens Tested
Women's Mountain Monster Glove
Women's Kiry Neve Glove

Columbia Gloves Review
I found Columbia gloves to be beautifully tailored and they felt great on.  In addition, they fit true-to-size and "fit me like a glove".  However, I am sad to report that they were not warm for me whatsoever.  I had to layer the gloves with two pairs of thin dollar store gloves underneath, which still did not feel warm enough.  

I would love for Columbia to take these beautiful gloves, and line them extra well for Canada.  For the price tag, one would expect a super-warm, premium glove.  Moreover, the reflective heat system in the Women's Mountain Monster Glove only works well if your hands effectively give off a good amount of heat.  Mine do not.

In sum, I love Columbia Sportswear for my family and believe that their items are well-made.  I will continue to purchase their fabulous items, and feel confident that they are backed by an excellent warranty!

Do you own any favourite Columbia pieces?  Which item(s) that I tested above, would YOU like to try out?  
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