With the Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip three pockets. You can fit OS maps in the hip pockets and a small guidebook in the chest pocket. The two lower ones are easily obscured by a rucksack belt, but at least you have a more accessible chest pocket. You also get a drawcord at the hem to block out the wind, but no hood to keep your head warm. 3/5
The Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip comes in S-XXL for men and S-XL for women. The fit is a little looser than the more ‘athletic’ designs, and is quite typical of a more general-purpose fleece jacket. You do get a hem drawcord to block out draughts, which is a real benefit. It is best worn over other insulating layers, rather than under them, but works fine under a waterproof jacket. 4/5
This is very comfortable, being made from standard polyester fleece that offers good general-purpose insulation, making it ideal for year-round use. As the cut isn’t too tight it’s nice to wear without feeling overly athletic or defining bulges you would prefer kept hidden! The hem drawcord blocks out draughts, but there is no baffle behind the zip or at the chin. 4/5
The Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip is a classic general-purpose design that is good to wear over thinner base layers or under a waterproof jacket. It would be easy to have this as your general fleece, but for the hill you might prefer a hood and pockets with better access. For many people, however, this will be enough for their needs. 3/5
At this price with three pockets and a good weight of fleece for general use the Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip is a good option. 5/5
The Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip is a great all-round fleece, and the best in our test for those not wanting to pay more than £50 to stay warm and comfortable. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 3.8/5
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2015
The Premier Packer Hoodie’s comfortable fit and simple functionality make this decent effort from Columbia a solid if curious contender. The scaly, shimmery Omni-Heat treatment – thankfully confined to lining the body and not on show inside the hood – gives this a bit of a ‘disco’ look when unzipped, but the principle of thermally reflective dots does work, and makes you very warm very quickly when on. Fit is generous and of the slightly puffy variety (fill is Columbia’s Omni-Heat insulator, which features 50 per cent recycled polyester) and thus this jacket has additional potential as a throw-on over layer for lunch stops as well as being a very (very) warm mid layer – much in the mould of the Páramo Torres. Bad points: the hood doesn’t have adjustment, the zip pull is too small to operate effectively with gloves, and the handwarmer pockets don’t close up. That said, the Columbia Premier Packer Hoodie is very light, warm, reasonably water-resistant and compresses nicely into the supplied stuffsack (featuring the Omni-Heat dots on each end; handy when rummaging for it in a dark rucksack).
Weight 415g (size S)
Outer fabric Omni Shield 100% nylon 20 denier ripstop
Insulation 80gsm Omni-Heat (100% polyester)
Stuffsack/packable? stuffsack (+11g)
Adjustable hood? No
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes none
The Columbia Premier Packer Hoodie is an oddball product with many good points; an insulated jacket that’s perfect for those just wanting an affordable throw-on warm layer that will pack down nicely when not in use.
Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine March 2013
Dazzling silver dots line the inside of the Columbia Thermarator II, reflecting heat back at you like an emergency blanket – and keeping you 20 per cent warmer, Columbia claims. This is Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology, and along with a high level of windproofing from the bonded fleece outer it makes this jacket one of the warmest in our test. However this does come at a cost as the Thermarator II is quite bulky and ever so slightly on the heavy side at 450g (size UK12), without a hood. The fit is quite short at the back with no drop tail and it’s quite snug around the under arms and chest, so arm movement is only okay rather than excellent despite sensibly placed stretch panels under the arms and at the sides. Also, if you reach up for a hold the jacket may not be quite long enough for taller folk. The same stretch material is used for the very comfy thumb loop cuffs, which block out any draughts. The Columbia Thermarator II’s zips are very easy to use with gloves on and the two pockets are almost high enough to access while wearing a hipbelt. The hem drawcord keeps cold air off your kidneys nicely, and the velvet-feel collar wraps around your neck luxuriously.
Pockets 2 side
Material 100% polyester with 280g Thermarator fleece and elastane Thermo stretch 280g Thermal Reflective
Thumb loops yes
Men’s version yes
The Columbia Thermarator II is a very warm, wind-resistant and comfy but slightly heavy and bulky jacket that’s better for walking rather than scrambling due to some restriction in movement.
Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine October 2012
Although it uses 700-fill down, the jacket has added insulation in the form of Columbia’s Omni-Heat reflective technology. Silver dots are added to the lining to help bounce radiated heat back inside. In use it does seem to add extra warmth to the top, without making things too stuffy. However, the jacket still remains quite heavy for a down-filled mid-layer top. The extra weight seems to come from the thicker face fabrics used, which make the top more resilient and more serviceable as shell layer with Ripstop properties and a decent DWR coating. The lack of a hood suits it to life as a mid-layer, but the thicker face fabric can make it a little too stuffy under a shell jacket.
Women’s version: No
Fabric: 100% Tactel® nylon Ripstop Fill: Natural 700-fill down insulation
Contact: 0808 234 0229 www.columbiasportswear.co.uk
Review from Country Walking magazine, February 2012.
: The Tectonic is a very athletic style of jacket, that you could imagine being worn by an American sports team. Its close fit does help to trap warmth and keep the wind out, whilst the excellent stretch properties of the fabric really assist with ease of movement. The underarm venting has been hidden in extra-stretchy underarm panels made of a lesser windproof fabric. These let warm air out whilst allowing you to stretch and move freely. The two hip pockets are a standard size, but too low to work with a rucksack belt, and there is also a small inner pocket. A fleecy lining in key areas really gives the collar a soft feeling against your face and helps protect the zip from chafing around the neck and mouth.
Fabric: 3L Butter Softshell
Weight (tested size): 456g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 01189 220 130; www.columbia.com
The Columbia Carabineer II Parka weighs 1055g (size L); waterproof jacket with removable down lining; 700 fill power insulation; Omni-Tech waterproof outer; Omni-Heat thermal reflective layer to capture radiant heat loss. But the down insulation does not extend to the hood; not as warm as other down jackets.
The Columbia Carabineer II Parka is a waterproof jacket with a removable very thin duvet jacket and it is not as warm as pure duvet jackets.
First published in Trail magazine February 2011
Good Lycra cuffs – no bagginess at all – and the collar is a great fit. The hem is a little short and this is accentuated when using the drawcord adjuster. The Polartec 100 fabric provides excellent warmth for weight and the zip is about spot-on for spilling heat.
Fabric: 100% polyester Ultra-Wick
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 00 800 4378 7833
A lovely fleece made from a good fabric. It will work as a base, mid or outer-layer, but check the length when buying and definitely keep an eye on the stitching.