Baby it's cold outside...


"Well, hellloooooo Wisconsin!" said that frigid b-word, Mother Nature.

What the heck just happened with our weather? When I woke-up to go to work this morning, my car's thermometer showed an impressive -1F. Wowser. While my car wasn't too pleased with the cold weather, I was nice and balmy warm, thanks to a few recent purchases.

Before I get too far along, you'll probably recall that I purchased a Columbia OmniTech jacket from the Columbia factory outlet store some time ago (around 4-5 years ago). It was a nice jacket, but... I felt like the Michelin Man every time I wore the danged thing.

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To make matters worse, it didn't fit me very well; it was a bit too short on my torso, and too puffy through the torso. It was also tan and brown. Every time I wore it, I felt like I was about to go on a quail hunt. But to quote Macklemore, "It was $99, yo."

Because I'm such a fashionista, I couldn't bring myself to break out the psuedo-hunting duds. Even as the mercury dipped into the single digits, I vowed to leave the thing packed away. So, I layered other garments under my trusty North Face Apex jacket. Unfortunately, I couldn't layer enough to stay warm... so, I ventured over to my local Erehwon store and directed the sales guy to find me the warmest coat in the store.

What he showed me was a neon/lime green super puffy jacket that cost $650. I tried it on, and while it felt great, the thought of walking around town wearing a glowing green jacket didn't exactly inspire a ton of desire. I inquired about other color options - there were none.

"Ok, so how about your second warmest jacket?" I asked.

He pointed me to a Mountain Hardware rack, filled with tan jackets. Ugh! He encouraged me to try-on the jacket. Reluctantly, I did. And wow. The jacket was very lightweight, athletically-cut, perfect length (in both the torso and arms), and it felt warm.

We talked details: the jacket was windproof, waterproof, featured a "Dry.Q" shell and "Thermal.Q" insulation. It had tons of pockets, welded zipper seams, and nice details such as forearm key pockets and an interior phone/mp3 pocket with headphone cord pass-through.

I was sold. Except for that tan color. "No worries," said my bearded buddy, "we have it in black."

SCORE. I bought it.

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I also inquired about some warm gloves, as I was sick of having my fingers feel like they were about to fall off within 15 minutes of being outside. I've spent in excess of $500 on gloves, and every pair has fell well short of expectations.

The salesman showed me a set of Outdoor Research mittens that he guaranteed would keep my hands balmy hot. So hot, in fact, that he recommended a set of glove liners to help prevent my fingers from sweating.

I scoffed at him. "I won't be needing those liners - my hands never get too warm in gloves," I said.

I bought the mittens, and as my coworker said, "Dude, they look like boxing gloves."

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So, how does all of the stuff work?

In a word: perfectly.

The jacket is simply phenomenal. It's almost too warm, even on days like today, when the temperature hung out in the low single-digits for most of the morning. I easily cleaned my car's windows and waited for it to warm-up without feeling the slightest hint of a chill. I took a little outdoor stroll, and actually got too warm... I had to open the "pit zips" (vents under the armpits) to cool off a bit. I think it's a winner!

The gloves were equally great. My hands were super toasty - no sign of chilliness, even when scraping windows and walking around outside for nearly 30 minutes. In fact, my hands were too warm...

I returned to Erehwon tonight and bought some glove liners.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on December 12, 2013 7:52 PM.

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