I live and play in Gunnison, Colorado, one of the coldest cities in the United States. With winter lows that sink below -20 on the regular and barely creep into single digits somedays, it’s the perfect venue to test out Columbia’s TurboDown tech inside and out.
On my first frigid testing mission at Gunnison's Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, the TurboDown's light weight stood out dramatically—it makes my other jackets seem heavy as steel curtains in comparison. But it retained body heat incredibly efficiently and deflected a biting wind with ease, eliminating the need for additional layers. The insulation features a combination of 850-fill down and 40 grams of Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat Insulation. The interior shell appears to be covered in high-tech material sourced from NASA, but to the innovative folks at Columbia it’s called “Omni Heat.” This thermal reflective material enables the jacket to provide more insulation and warmth than you’d expect from such a featherweight packable piece, but it’s breathable too so you don’t overheat. The ergonomic hood seals the deal and makes this jacket cozy enough to sleep in.
Being a photographer, I spend a lot of time waiting around for that one banger shot, and keeping warm during those times is one of my biggest challenges. From exploring the high desert in the early morning hours in sub-zero temps to capturing long exposures late at night, this jacket kept me dialed and warm throughout. The outer shell is water resistant (not waterproof) as I learned after spending several ours outside in a snowstorm. The shell is on the thin side to reduce weight and enhance breathability, so beware of rogue tree branches and other sharp objects to avoid tears.
The white colorway is a little too steezy and easy to stain for me, so I prefer either the graphite or black version. An additional inside pocket for goggles and snacks would be nice but isn’t a deal breaker. Other than that I was hard-pressed to find any negatives for this versatile piece. The pound-for-pound performance and versatility of Columbia's TurboDown jacket are its strongest qualities, and I’ll be packing it on all my winter missions. $325 | columbia.com