Gear Review: Columbia Midweight Base Layers & Hybrid Down Jacket

A few weeks ago, Chicks alumna Piper tested some Columbia Sportswear* gear – sent to us by the company – out on the ice, and sent us the following feedback.

In my testing it was between 30 and 40 degrees in the Ouray Ice Park and I wearing the following:
Bottom – wore only my soft shell pants over the Midweight Stripe Tight bottoms.
Top – Wore the Reach the Peak – Hybrid Down Jacket over the Midweight Long Sleeve Stripe Top  (Occassionally a heavy belay jacket — note to that below.)

Base Layers – Columbia Midweight Long Sleeve Stripe Top and Midweight Stripe Tight bottoms
Loved this base layer. They are surprisingly warm given how thin the fabric is. Love the silky feel and form fit of these pieces. No bunching at the knees or elbows and the rise was perfect — Many times in base layer bottoms the rise is so high I find myself having to roll them over. The flat seams are very comfortable, not to mention the contrast stitching is a cool asthetic detail. And lastly LOVE the stripes.

Columbia Reach the Peak – Hybrid Down Jacket
This was my favorite piece. This type of layer was new for my “normal” system so I first needed to figure out how I would work it in. Basically, this is a fitted light down jacket with stretchy, breathable panels under the arms and the reflective lining. Based on appearance, I had first thought it would be more of a middle layer, under a soft shell. I do think this is probably how I would use it in extremely cold temps, however, I found that for the temperatures I was climbing in, it was a perfect top layer when I only wore the Columbia long sleeve stripe top. At first, I thought I might get over heated in it climbing, but the side panels allowed for plenty of ventilation. Yet it was amazingly warm when not climbing and I only found myself pulling on a heavier belay jacket when standing, inactive for longer periods.

The jacket has enough stretch and length that it had good mobility and didn’t ride up from under my harness. I like that the reflective material was also used to line the pockets.

The fit of this jacket is also very flattering and I got many compliments. Some people who have tried it have thought the forearms were a bit tight, but wearing only the base layer (as I only found necessary) this was not an issue for me. Love the teal color!

Short of this forearm issue, my only suggestion is to the pockets. The zippers are in the correct direction for harness wear (opening up to down), however they are very small zipper pulls to be using with gloves and the openings could be a little bigger, and I would have liked an interior chest pocket.

This was the hardest piece to give back.

I would definitely buy all these for myself and will be looking to see if there are socks with the reflective material, as that did seem to make a big difference in these pieces.

Thanks for the feedback, Piper! We’ve got a few more reviews of other Columbia Omni-Heat pieces that we will be publishing here soon, so stay tuned! :-)

*Note: Columbia Sportswear is a sponsor of Chicks Climbing at “The Crux” level. The gear tested in this review was provided to Chicks by Columbia. We put this gear on lots of our Chicks with Picks participants for feedback this winter, along with some longer gear testing runs on several local gals. The review was not influenced by our relationship with Columbia in any way.

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