Wear it: Columbia Omni-Heat 3D | AspenTimes.com

Wear it: Columbia Omni-Heat 3D

by Stephen Regneold

It debuted in 2010, a strange new kind of base layer with an interior pattern of silvery dots. The Omni-Heat line from Columbia introduced a design that helped "reflect" body heat to improve baselayer performance.

This year, Omni-Heat gets an upgrade. Columbia has improved the reflective patterning for better heat retention. But it made a more tangible innovation — microscopic tufts of soft fibers scattered across the garment's interior.

The fibers work to create an "air gap" to further improve heat retention and add literal warm fuzzies. It's called Omni-Heat 3D.

Columbia has a solid product that performs well as a cool-weather top or a cold-weather base layer. It retains body heat, and the "3D" feature offers a new kind of feel.

With Omni-Heat 3D the innovation isn't seen, it is felt. Against the skin, the Knit Crew Top is soft, pliant and just a bit grippy on the skin.

The microfibers that give 3D its name keep a tiny gap between the layer and the skin. Meanwhile, the polyester and elastane fabric provides stretch and good fit.

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As for warmth, the garment worked well by itself in temps dipping into the mid-40s.

To be sure, this is a high-end base layer at $90. But it's also one of the most comfortable tops I've worn.

The tech is not limited to base layers. Look for Omni-Heat 3D on Columbia's high-performance offerings this year, including jackets, gloves, hats and shirts, all with fuzzy, silvery dots inside.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at http://www.gearjunkie.com.

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