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Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket : For Men & Women

I have a cabin in Eastern WA, where the average temperatures in winter are between 15 and 30 degrees F, so I need a jacket that works in a variety of mountain scenarios. I've been wearing the Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket for the past few weeks, and I’ve been nothing but impressed by it.

The Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket is lined with Columbia’s Omni-Heat thermal reflective fabric throughout, and boy does it work! I’ve become quite a fan of this technology. The tiny silver reflective dots on the lining of the jacket do an incredible job of reflecting my body heat back onto my body (torso and arms). The first time I wore this jacket I was standing around in the 20-degree weather for more than 30 minutes while talking to friends. I assumed I would start feeling cold because the jacket is so thin—it was the type of day that usually calls for my big puffy down ski coat—but to my surprise, I never got cold. I didn’t even feel chilled. Instead, I could feel the warmth of my own body.

As I said, the Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket is nice and thin in spite of its 700-fill down. The Omni-Heat lining and dense down fill keep me warm in very cold temperatures without giving me the typical marshmallow look of old-school down jackets. I like the form-fitting cut and the extra length through the torso (long enough to keep me warm, but not so long that it ever gets in my way.) Another design feature I really appreciate: the stretchy side panels that run along the sides of the jacket and under the sleeves. They make the jacket quite breathable, while also allowing some nice freedom of movement.

I wore this jacket riding my horse for a one-hour dressage lesson in an outdoor arena on a 28-degree day. Normally on cold days, I wear a few layers and have to remove some halfway through the lesson--only to get cold again as the lesson winds down and I'm not being as active. Because of the stretchy fabric under the arms, I was easily able to hold the reins and stretch my arms in front of me as needed. There was never a moment when the jacket felt too snug or didn't allow me to move freely. During the more active part of my lesson, when I was trotting or cantering for 30 minutes, I never got sweaty or too hot. The down, reflective lining, and stretch panels seem to work together to keep me at just the right temperature.

The sleeves of the “Reach the Peak” Hybrid Down Jacket are nice and long so I can stretch out my arms, either while grooming my horse or while riding, and my wrists are never exposed. One of the best attributes of this jacket is that my horse can get his slobbery carrot and apple drool all over it, and it cleans up easily!

As far as looks, the Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket is a very attractive jacket and has a flattering shape. It’s available in fun, bold colors and a stylish baffle pattern which looks sleek against the black side panels. Thanks to Columbia for keeping the logo discreet, too. It's hard to find down coats that don't make me look like the Pillsbury doughboy, but this one actually gives me a shape. I'm 5' 2" and 120 lbs, and I tested a size small. I don't like clothes that are too snug on me, but because of the stretch in this jacket, it fits me perfectly. It has a nice high collar to keep my neck warm (no need to wear a scarf if I don't want to), and has a drawstring at the bottom to adjust the fit around my hips. There's also a toggle hidden under a fabric "garage" on the back of the collar that let's me cinch the collar tighter on breezy days. Nice! The  zippered pockets on each side of the jacket are a good fit for my hands or for keys and cell phone.

The “Reach the Peak” Hybrid Down Jacket  is also water-resistant and provides some wind protection. This jacket comes its own little stuff sac, so it’s easy to pack it and stuff it in a backpack (or to use it as a pillow on an airplane).This jacket is ideal for travel, too, because it’s so lightweight.

The Columbia "Reach the Peak" Hybrid Down Jacket comes in men’s and women’s styles & sizes and is available in several colors.

Bottom Line: The most versatile down jacket I've ever worn.--N.S. (Dec 2011)

BUY ONLINE: $180, some styles on sale at Altrec.

Manufacturer's Site: www.columbia.com

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.