Few of the activities our testers did outdoors this past summer, fall and now winter, were done without the Columbia Omni-Heat 360 ½ zip fleece (photo, right).
Shortly after we received this item, it became one of our stay-warm staples. It features Columbia’s Omni-Heat Reflective dot technology inside and a soft, brushed fleece outer that withstood several machine washes pretty well compared to other fleeces we’ve worn.
We used the fleece layer to stay warm in the evenings around the campfire while backpacking through Yosemite in June, on cold, early-morning runs in Colorado and during the first half of the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon, held on a chilly October morning.
A handy little zipper on the left arm easily fits an iPod or phone, Chapstick and a key, but the one downfall to storing gadgets in this pocket is bouncing, which could annoy you if you’re on a long hike or a run. But there was no bouncing when the pocket was used to stowe a credit card, driver’s license and lip balm.
The ½ zipper is lined on the inside with a soft piece of fleece so the zipper does not come into contact with skin, which is especially helpful if you’re wearing a sports bra tank or scoop neck T-shirt underneath.
The piece is highly breathable so even if you sweat up a storm inside, you don’t get a chill. But sometimes, when the weather shifted suddenly, our testers got a bit too Omni-Heated. But that’s easily fixable – they just took the item off and tied it around their waists.
The one thing we’d like to have seen on this piece is thumbholes at the bottom of the sleeves. The sleeves were a bit long and thumbholes would have been a perfect addition to an already great item.
Suggested Retail: $80
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
For more information: www.columbia.com