Columbia parka is all about versatility |

Columbia parka is all about versatility

Paul Conrad
Columbia Titanium Encore Parka with Amplitude Sweater as liner. (Susan Olson)

One could tell my old Columbia jacket was well-used just by looking at it. Frayed seams, unusable Velcro, no longer waterproof and full of holes. It withstood skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping, a night hanging on a tree limb in a thunderstorm and other abuses. After six years, it was time for a replacement.

My first Columbia jacket – the one before the six-year-old one – fell apart quickly after purchase. Without hesitation, the company sent me an upgraded model, which I wore for all those years. Their customer service is great, and they have funny commercials.I liked the flexibility of the shell/liner combination, multiple pockets for photo gear, good ventilation and a powder skirt. So while shopping around for a new winter jacket, I stuck with Columbia.I settled on a Titanium Encore Parka and its companion: the Amplitude Sweater liner – not a bad combination for the buck. It was $120 at Sports Authourity in Glenwood Springs.

The shell is made from Columbia’s Omni-Tech material. It’s tough, waterproof and breathable. I wore it in a near-blizzard recently and kept quite warm with only a hoodie and T-shirt underneath. The exterior has two deep pockets in the front, ventilation under the arms, flexible elbows, a zip-off hood, a D-ring for your ski pass and easy-to-hold zippers.The interior has a goggle pocket, a pocket with a wiping cloth and clip for your keys, a smaller utility pocket and a nifty little detachable pocket you can use for your cell phone or iPod. A holder on the detachable pocket can be used on either the shell or the liner.

And all these pockets and amenities are conveniently labled with little tags.The removable liner is a nice cool-weather jacket in itself. A bit thicker than fleece, the liner’s front and back are 100 percent nylon and the sides an elastic polyester mix to allow for stretching and movement. Very comfortable and toasty, but I fear the liner might rip in the woods.The biggest bonus with this jacket is its versatility. It’s really three jackets: the shell by itself, the liner by itself, and the two together.Overall, the jacket will exceed my needs this winter. Unless of course I go to Alaska to sleep with the grizzlies. Then I might have to bring a blanket.

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