Columbia Sportswear Zonafied Softshell Jacket - Gear Review

Monday, November 18, 2013

So, about a month ago I came home to a package sitting on my front step...  I had been keeping an eye on twitter/facebook/instagram that entire week because Columbia Sportswear had been announcing the newest OmniTen crew.  #OmniTen is basically 10 of the luckiest people on the planet for that given 6 month period.  Columbia hooks them up with all kinds of goodies from their extensive catalog, then sends them on "testing trips" all over the world to play in their stuff.  Think heli skiing in Alaska, or a 5 day rafting trip down the Colorado river.  Yeah, wouldn't suck...  I nearly had a heart attack as I was opening the box.


Unfortunately, I was not selected as a member of the OmniTen crew for this season.  I was a bit heartbroken, but I'll get over it.  What was inside the box has helped soothe my disappointment; the Zonafied Soft Shell is all kinds of awesome.  I was gonna be #TryingStuff this winter and it made me happy.


Columbia has spent years and tons of $$$ developing some serious apparel technologies and the Zonafied softshell gets three of their best.  Here in the great white north, we start worrying about the cold when the rest of the northern hemisphere is still looking for their SPF20.  The Omni-Heat Reflective tech was created for us...  The inside of the Zonafied Soft Shell is all shiny, covered in countless little silver dots.  A kind of marriage between breathability and trapping your body heat, this tech retains and reflects your own heat back at you, while still allowing the jacket to shed moisture from sweat.  I've been wearing this jacket for the last month, and it is clearly warmer than you would expect.


Soft shells are great, but do have a few shortcomings when trying to protect yourself from the elements.  They are usually a step up from a fleece when it comes to wind protection, and Columbia's Omni-Wind Block tech bolsters that even further.  The bain of the Soft Shell existence has always been water, most become saturated rather quickly and once wet, just fuggetaboutit...  Columbia once again has a tech for that; the Omni-Shield barrier dramatically increases water repellency while also helping prevent stains on your fancy new threads.

In my time with this jacket there are two times in particular that demonstrate just how solid of a performer it is.  My son's last football game of the year was on a chilly Saturday morning.  We got to the field and the thermometer read 38 degrees, snowflakes fell from the sky, and the wind was whipping.  I was surrounded by folks in full on winter gear, and unprepared groups of others huddled under blankets.  I walked around comfortably the entire game.  By the time it was over, temps had risen to the upper 40's and I was opening up the zippered vents to let some of the heat out.  It was a perfect fit for the job.  The second occasion was the last family camping trip of the season.  Took the kids to the State Park and not 10 minutes after we got there it started raining.  I got our tent and the tarp up in a downpour while the kids snickered and giggled at me from the protection of shelter not far away.  I was shocked to see that even though the Zonafied Soft Shell had gotten wet, I was still dry inside, and once the rain stopped it dried out relatively quickly.

I am a huge fan of Columbia's gear.  They just get it and the price tags won't force you to have to sell a kidney.  You don't need to spend $300 or $400 on a jacket to get what you want and need.  The Omni-Heat tech works far better than I would have ever expected and takes an unassuming soft shell and turned it into a personal 4-Season shelter.  I love a versatile jacket, and this thing is simply a one-jacket wardrobe.  From a frozen winter hike, to a friday night out, you'll stay warm and dry and look good doing it.

MSRP: $180.00


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