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Columbia offers unique technologies in its jackets to help you brave the elements this winter; photo credit: Dick’s Sporting Goods

What Makes a Columbia Jacket Truly ‘Columbia’

Metallic dots, proprietary membranes, and other innovations make Columbia outerwear unique in an industry that often suffers from sameness.

Since Columbia came out with its first parka in 1986, more than two-dozen proprietary technologies have come from the outerwear company — with many of them originating in the brand’s highly secretive research and development lab in Beaverton, Oregon.

Columbia Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket
The Columbia Women’s Heavenly Long Jacket features Omni-Heat technology; photo credit: Dick’s Sporting Goods

There’s Omni-Wick Evap, an innovative wicking technology that disperses moisture widely and quickly for accelerated evaporation. Then there’s Turbo Down Wave, a jacket construction that eliminates cold spots with alternating layers of synthetic and down insulation. Omni-Freeze Zero is a technology that uses your sweat as a cooling agent. And that’s just to name a few.

Here’s a look at the proprietary cold- and wet-weather features you’re likely to find in affordable Columbia jackets at Dick’s Sporting Goods, a great source to get your hands on some outerwear.

Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective Technology

First launched in 2010, Omni-Heat is now a stalwart feature across Columbia’s outerwear offerings. Tiny metallic dots in a pattern reflect body heat to retain warmth, working much like the thin space blanket but in “dot” form.

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A close-up look at Omni-Heat 3D’s reflective surface

In 2018, Columbia launched an upgraded version: Omni-Heat 3D. It includes microscopic tufts of soft fibers across the garment’s interior that add an “air gap” to further improve heat retention. In addition, the 3D version gives next-to-skin comfort.

For either version, the dots have small spaces between them, which allows heat and moisture to escape through a breathable, moisture-wicking liner. The brand designed it to prevent a wearer from getting cold or overheating.

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Omni-Heat 3D

Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective Technology is a key component of many Columbia products, including the Columbia Tipton Peak Insulated Jacket (for men and women), the women’s Columbia Heavenly Long Jacket, and the Columbia Grand Trek Down Jacket (for men and women).

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Columbia’s Tipton Peak Insulated Jacket features Omni-Tech waterproof technology; photo credit: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Omni-Tech

Found on many of Columbia’s most popular jackets, Omni-Tech is a  waterproof fabric that works to keep Mother Nature’s elements out while still allowing the inside of the outerwear to breathe.

A DWR treatment makes your jacket stain-resistant and water-repellent. It won’t retain moisture like conventional fabrics. When water droplets hit this layer, they bead up and roll off instead of soaking through.

The heart of Omni-Tech is its second (middle) layer. Under a microscope, you see a matrix of material, a complex lattice membrane structure that works to both block precipitation from the outside and let heat escape from the interior as you sweat.

Finally, the innermost fabric is a microporous liner that allows for breathability and for moisture to escape the jacket. Omni-Tech combines with Omni-Heat in the Columbia Tipton Peak Insulated Jacket (men’s and women’s) and the Columbia Grand Trek Down Jacket (men’s and women’s).

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Columbia’s OutDry Extreme technology makes jackets permanently water-repellent

OutDry Extreme

Some traditional rain gear uses interior waterproof and nonpermeable membranes, which eliminate the potential for airflow. Columbia turned that inside out with OutDry Extreme, a technology that employs a waterproof membrane on the exterior of the jacket for permanent water repellency and durability.

The membrane is a durable, permanently waterproof layer that actively keeps moisture and rain from penetrating your jacket. Columbia seam-sealed the jackets so they can’t “wet out” like some traditional three-layer jackets.

OutDry Extreme is breathable due to a membrane that allows moisture to escape from inside while keeping rain from making its way in. The interior lining is a wicking textile that provides next-to-skin comfort. One version, OutDry Extreme ECO, uses 100-percent recycled, dye-free fabrics. It’s a sustainable product put to the same rigorous standards as other jackets in the Columbia line.

Heat Seal Construction

Jackets that feature Heat Seal Construction technology are made with no-sew bonded baffles, a construction technique that fuses the inner and outer pieces of fabric together. This technique eliminates the need for any holes or stitches in the outer fabric, making the jacket more resistant to wind and water.

The stitchless baffles prevent down migration, so you won’t lose any feathers from the jacket, no matter how often you wear it. Essentially, Heat Seal Construction helps keep cold out and down insulation in.

Heat Seal Construction comes standard in the men’s and women’s Columbia Grand Trek Down Jacket — which you can find at Dick’s Sporting Goods along with a ton of other Columbia products that will help you get through winter in comfort.


This article is sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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