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1986 All Over Again? Return Of The ‘Bugaboo’ Jacket

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[leadin]It was impossible to live through the 1980s and not be familiar with the Columbia Bugaboo. Shoot, even if you were born in the ’80s, you saw plenty of them in the ’90s.[/leadin]

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Well, Columbia Sportswear is bringing back that magical era by relaunching the Bugaboo 1986 jacket. The original jacket was bought by more than 5 million people and this will be an exact replica.

So bust out your Walkman, crank up some Kenny Loggins, and strap on those skinny skis for some face-shots. Columbia’s gonna help you flow right back into the Danger Zone. Press play below and get ready for a time warp.

Bugaboo Design

For those who don’t get the fuss (I’m looking at you, millennials!), the Bugaboo was a revolutionary design when it hit the shelves in 1986. There’s a fair chance that back when your permed-hair parents were getting frisky in that ski resort hot tub (the episode that may have led to your birth), it was a Bugaboo crumpled up on the condo floor right next to some Zubaz and a few empty bottles of Bartles & James.

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The Bugaboo is the jacket that put Columbia on the map. Selling for $90 (about $270 in 2016 currency!), the jacket was the first “3-in-1” design to successfully hit the U.S. market.

It had a zip-in (or out) fleece insulation that could be worn with the outer nylon shell jacket. Similarly, the shell jacket could be worn with the inner insulating fleece, or without. Thus, for the investment, you got a ski parka, a shell, and a fleece—the 3-in-1 was born.

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The fleece, on right, attaches to the shell at the zipper, collar, and wrists

This was a darned well-made jacket, one that saw millions of hours on chairlifts, college campuses, snowmobiles … you get the idea. And now…

The Bugaboo Is Back!

Coming next fall, Columbia will sell the exact replica of the original Bugaboo. This one, dubbed the Bugaboo 1986, will sell for $200. And again, you’ll get the exact same 3-in-1 package with some pretty snazzy ’80s coloration.

Columbia Bugaboo 1986 28

Columbia sent over a Bugaboo to test and darned if it isn’t the exact same jacket I had in 9th grade. My original one made several trips to the mountains and kept me warm during bitterly cold winters in Wisconsin. It’s a damn fine jacket, and kind of a shame that fashion dictated it be cut from the line. But hey, it’s back!

Waterproof Breathable Shell

Columbia was on the forefront of waterproof breathable fabrics (Gore-Tex didn’t receive its patent as a waterproof laminate until 1980), and the proprietary OmniTech waterproof/breathable material was gobbled up by the masses excited about the new technology.

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The new Bugaboo still rocks this fabric, and like the original, is seam taped for waterproofness.

It’s outfitted with durable YKK zippers, Velcro wrist adjustments, and large pockets. The men’s version comes in black or a glorious blue with pink zippers. God bless the ’80s.


As good and functional as the Bugaboo shell proved, the interior fleece became a favorite of many, myself included. More than a decade after ditching my old Bugaboo shell, I still had the fleece, which I wore as a layer, and alone, well into the 2000s.

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The fleece is a finished jacket, again with YKK zippers and pockets. The colors are a little more understated, so if you don’t feel like rocking a full-blown ’80s look, this won’t stand out like a jeans-wearing skier when you wear it to your local watering hole.

A Whole Package

The Bugaboo is available for men and women, and should work with a neutral sort of ski pant (or anything with pleats). It may look kind of ridiculous with any more modern 2016 clothing.

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Because of the extreme ’80s styling, it will probably take someone looking to make a bold statement to rock the Bugaboo with any regularity. But for those who want some nostalgic clothing that is well-made and has been run through the wringer for decades, Columbia may have your answer.

The Bugaboo is back, and while it might be nice to see some more modern colors introduced in the future, we hope it hangs around a little while.

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