Columbia Sportswear Wind Flex Jacket

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The Wind Flex jacket is one of the new pieces in Columbia's Fall/Winter 2002 Titanium line. Made with Malden's PowerShield fabric, the jacket falls into the "soft shell" category. Our tester writes: "What a versatile jacket. I used the Wind Flex jacket over light layers for XC skiing, on backcountry ski trips for descents, for hiking, and for winter mountain biking. In all instances, the windproofness was tops. The stretch fleece panels under the arms and at the wrists allowed for unrestricted arm and upper body movement. Best of all, I stayed warm!"

The cut was felt to be very good for active sports since it hugs the body in an "athletic fit." The jacket's weight is somewhere midway between a brushed fleece-lined microfiber jacket and one of those overly heavy "soft shells" now on the market. Our tester, admittedly not a fan of pit-zips, felt the stretch fleece panels under the arms were a key feature since they ventilated nicely and allowed excellent freedom of movement. Other nice features include a high and protective collar, two-zippered hand-warmer pockets and a reflective stripe across the front and back.

The Wind Flex jacket works as an interchange piece with Columbia's Titanium shells.

SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.)

Suggested Retail: $190

For information: www.columbia.com

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