Remember when the popular kids in high school had the fancy jackets that split apart into two separate jackets? Or was that just the cool kids of Central Wisconsin? Either way, I distinctly recall being crazy jealous of those jackets! I definitely was not on the cutting edge of fashion in high school but I improvised by pretending to be a gamer. One time I even won Halo! On time! Anyway…back to jackets.
So many jackets…and pants…and base layers…and boots!
I got my first Columbia jacket shortly after I moved into my first apartment. I couldn’t tell you the exact date but I do know I found the orange two layered jacket on a rack in a stranger’s garage while “garage sale-ing” in a tiny town right near The Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin. It was a steal at just $10! I even did a little sweet talking to convince the lady who may or may not have seen it first.
As I was paying for my first ever “cool kid” jacket the lady running the garage sale let me know the zipper was broken but reassured me I just needed to contact Columbia and they would fix it. She swore it had worked for her in the past and I’d already snagged the jacket from an innocent bystander so I choose to put $10 worth of trust into Columbia’s customer service.
It was worth it…two weeks later I had a brand new Columbia jacket!
This was not my intention but I wasn’t complaining! Apparently Columbia had upgraded their zippers and could not simply replace the broken one. Rather than leave me freezing all winter they sent me a new jacket! It was much pinker than the burnt orange jacket that caught my eye in a musty garage but it was an upgrade…all for only $10 and a little faith in a company!
That was my very first experience purchasing major outerwear on my own, my first interaction with Columbia, my first time reaching out to customer service, my first shiny new “name brand” jacket. That was me growing up…or at least pretending to, I don’t call myself “grown up” yet!
I still have that jacket. It is in the gear closet waiting to keep a random visitor warm when we make an impromptu trip into the mountains. It is at least 10 years old with a sturdy zipper and minimal wear. I rarely need to pull it out but I can’t part with it. Besides, it has become great friends with the green Columbia jacket Chris got me for my birthday a few years back.
Columbia didn’t know any of this when they graciously offered me a spot on the Season 4 #OmniTen crew. It was a stroke of luck that a company so important to me as a teen would reach out to me years later…a stroke of luck I am so very thankful for!
Why am I sharing this little tid bit now? In the spirit of storytelling, the final challenge of the #OmniGames! When I think of storytelling I am reminded of my grandma sitting in her La-Z-Boy chair sharing little snippets of her past. This isn’t quite as interesting as walking 4 miles – uphill both ways – just to go to school but it obviously had an impact on my past self. Just like becoming part of #OmniTen will definitely have an effect on my future!
I’ll get into all the details of the phenomenal trip to Park City soon – still sorting through photos and plotting! The trip was about making friends, playing in the snow, getting to know a fantastic company and ultimately #TryingStuff…especially gear flaunting new technology!
Just over four years ago Columbia revealed the ground breaking technology that is Omni-Heat – a breathable material that reflects your own body heat back to you. Seems pretty logical…and it works! I’ve bragged about the Columbia midweight baselayer for running and their jackets are even toastier! When we arrived in Park City we received a duffel bag full of new gear to try, most of which was lined with the shiny dots of Omni-Heat. After all, we were in Utah to play in the snow and snow tends to be chilly!
I kind of have a thing for cute jackets so that is the first thing I dug out. Much to my surprise the duffel had not one, but two jackets! A practical blue Zonafied shell (women’s not available) and an adorable Lay D Down jacket with a fur rimmed hood! I felt pretty spiffy rocking the shell on the mountain then switching over to my first ever furry hooded jacket for dinner!
I am in love with these jackets…and I’m not just saying that because Columbia gave me the trip of a lifetime. I’m saying that because it is true! The furry white jacket is usually not my style but now that I have it in my possession you better believe I am going to rock it! I think I might even be able to pull it off! And the Zonafied? That thing is legit! It is light and comfy but it kept me warm on a snowy day of frolicking and riding in the mountains!
I am quickly learning a thing or two about Columbia. Well, lots of things but only one of them is relevant at the moment…Columbia spoils their #OmniTen crews rotten! The morning of the #OmniGames we all met to get a run down of the day. We had high hopes for finally figuring out what the games entailed. Instead we got a quick presentation on the latest technology at Columbia – TurboDown!
TurboDown is a combination of down, synthetic Omni-Heat insulation and Omni-Heat reflective materials. Basically it is a jacket stuffed full of Performance Enhanced Down! With this innovative mix of materials the TurboDown jacket has been able to “out warm” comparably priced jackets by 8-22%! Once again Columbia is in the lead with outerwear technology and once again they have a crew of outdoor lovers more than willing to push the gear to its limits!
Of course Columbia didn’t just tell us about this fancy new puffy…they emerged from the back room with a big ol’ box of TurboDown contraband! Gert Boyle, Columbia Board Chairman, has referred to the TurboDown as “a down jacket on steroids…but legal” and the Columbia crew ran with it! They wrapped up our pretty new jackets as if they were trying to smuggle them across the border!
They even weighed out one of the jackets and got a stamp to mark each packet with 0.35KG, the actual weight of a men’s medium! I will wax poetically about the Columbia crew later but this is just one example of how incredible they were. It’s the little details like this that makes it so obvious they care and that they love what they do!
As for the quality of the jacket? My experience with down is limited to sleeping bags but I can confidently tell you that the new TurboDown jacket is incredibly light, easily packs into its own pocket and when layered under a shell for hours of simply standing in a snowstorm it keeps a person toasty! It also does a great job on the back of a snowmobile. And when you’re nearly starting your hair on fire because the damp newspapers refuse to burn. Not to mention quality time 60 feet off the ground on a tiny podium while the wind whips over the mountain. Yup…those are all hints for #OmniGame stories to come!
I am beyond thankful to have a few new jackets to add to my Columbia collection – including the Millennium Blur and the Shimmer Flash. You have to love a company that can make truly functional outdoor gear than throw a cute spin on it. Oh yes, still loving on the white furry!
More stories about my #OmniTen trip and the #OmniGames will be surfacing soon, I promise! I rarely slept so I have a lot of hours to recap! Until I manage to find the right words to describe the trip I’d recommend checking out the stories and recaps of all the other #OmniTen-ners…
The Greatness of #OmniTen S4 :: a few fun facts I will never forget about the interesting, lovable #OmniTen crew that I happily claim as “mine”!
Lessons Learned :: the things I learned about myself, others and life while competing in the #OmniGames
Pure Genius :: the story behind the creation of the many details added to the Columbia gear, especially the Olympic uniforms and the reverse snow skirt, a feature I am crazy excited about.