For years I didn't hike when the forecast was less than 52 degrees and sunny. Yes, I'm a weather wimp. I tried wearing my skiing gear. The big coat and the ski pants got way too hot when I was snowshoeing or hiking up hills. I even bought a heated coat. It's a great invention, but I needed better gear.
When the temperature dropped this winter, I tried out Columbia's fleece base layer. The women's long sleeve, extreme fleece with omni-heat has a fancy name, but the question was, would it keep me warm?
I decided to test it on a day with temperatures below freezing. I normally wear 3-4 layers on a cold day:
- base layer to wick away moisture
- some kind of thermal or long underwear for warmth
- a fleece or sweater for warmth
- topped with a jacket or windbreaker depending on the forecast.
Columbia's base layer is a base layer plus. It's your base layer, but it's like having two layers because of the omni-heat thermal reflective lining. I was nervous to go out with just the Columbia base and a single summer fleece jacket, but it worked great. Going up hills, the summer jacket came off and the base layer was perfectly comfortable, even at 32 degrees.
The Columbia base has some really nice features too. Have you ever zipped up your jacket only to feel the cold metal of the zipper under your chin? Not with Columbia. It has a fabric flap over the top of the zipper.
You know when you put your jacket on and your have to pull your shirt sleeves back down? Not with this shirt. It has special openings in the sleeves to slip your thumb through. That keeps the sleeves from sliding up AND it acts as a half glove that keeps your hands warm. One of my hiking partners was surprised I wasn't wearing gloves, but I didn't need them because my hands were partially covered.
How good is this base layer? I've already bought another one.
Learn more on Columbia's website.
Product name: Women's extreme fleece long sleeve half zip
Product price: $80 retail, $52-$60ish on sale
Sizing: They run a bit small, but you want the shirt to be a bit fitted
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