For the price of some T-shirts, this jacket seals out icy winds and kept our tester comfortable while skiing chilly New England trails. The fabric (90 percent polyester, 10 percent elastane) is a double-weave, which means it features two layers—moisture-transporting on the inside for wicking and hard-wearing on the outside for abrasion resistance. And the Omni-Shield DWR treatment kept snow and light rain beading off.
The four-way stretch allows for good mobility when Nordic skiing or trail running. “I wore it instead of a fleece on a windy, 25°F winter trek up the back side of New York’s Whiteface Mountain, and it gave me just enough weather protection to keep the chill at bay without making me sweaty,” our tester reports. Zippered pockets (one chest, one internal, one at the lower back; the latter can be used without a pack, but doesn’t interfere under one) are streamlined.
In fact, the lack of bells and whistles means that there are no clips, hooks, or adjusters to rub the wrong way. (The closest men’s version, the Jetstream, $72, is similar in style but the fabric is slightly lighter.) Fit is close and athletic, but not confining. “The collar is the perfect height, fleece-lined and warm,” says one tester. The price tradeoff: One season of regular use resulted in fraying along the zipper and cuff seams. $68; 14 oz. (w’s M); w’s XS-XL; columbia.com