Good: Surprisingly warm for its weight (13.6 ounces).
Bad: Gets pretty chilly if you’re standing still.
The Awesome: You can turn it inside out to become a human disco ball.
Columbia’s been banking on their Omni-Heat reflective lining for the last few winter seasons; the tiny metallic dots line the interior of everything from boots and trail running shoes and base layers and puffy coats with the intent of bolstering the pieces’ insulative properties by reflecting your own body heat back to you like an emergency blanket. And it makes you look like a serious party animal when you wear it inside out.
Columbia’s Powerfly Down Jacket is one of the prime examples of this tech. Already bolstered with 800-fill down, the Powerfly’s reflective interior gives the down a kick-start by trapping some heat inside the jacket before it even hits the goose fur. While tromping through the snow on a frigid November day in Park City, Utah, the Omni-Heat lining kept me nice and toasty without ever feeling clammy. That’s the beauty of it: unlike an actual space blanket, which is a solid non-breathing layer of reflective material, the tiny metal dots are all separated, so excess heat can pass through. Besides the extra tech, the Powerfly does the basics right: the exterior is a tough 20-denier nylon, and its water-repellent coating kept light rain at bay while the high collar kept wind from creeping down my back during day hikes in Castle Crags State Park. Vertical baffles keep the down from bunching up, while a bevy of interior pockets keep stuff where it belongs. The jacket sports a slim, yet unrestricted fit, making it ideal for layering underneath a shell when the weather turns foul. The included stuff sack comes in handy for packing it down (and makes a decent camp pillow).
The only real chink in the Powerfly’s armor is that it’s not very warm when you’re standing still - turns out that you need to actually generate heat if you want it reflected back at you. Not a problem if you’re hiking or snowboarding, but if you’re belaying a buddy during a winter trip to the crags, you’re definitely going to feel the chill.
Tags: apparel backpacking columbia down jacket hiking insulation omni-heat outerwear skiing snowboarding snowsports