Gear Review: Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchange Jacket for Women

Several years ago, I was contacted by Columbia Sportswear to see if I’d like to try their Omni-Tech clothing, and I didn’t have to think about this offer for very long. My winter playground is the Canadian Rockies, where temperatures can easily get down to -20F (-29C) or colder when I want to go snowshoeing or skiing. Not one to sit inside and wait for the weather to warm up in spring, I need warm clothing to enjoy our long winter season.

They sent me a few pieces of clothing, but the one that has been a lifesaver is the Whirlibird Interchange Jacket (now the Whirlbird IV). I call it my fire jacket because it can be -5F (-20C) or -25F (-32C), and I’m always warm! I have yet to feel chilled while wearing it, and I’ve been outside in crazy temperatures.

woman lying stomach down in snow with snowshoes propped up and posing for camera

A snowshoeing break while in Columbia’s hibiscus-colored Whirlibird jacket. Photo: Tanya Koob

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What I Love About the Whirlibird Jacket

There are a few things I love in particular about this jacket. So here they are in no specific order.

Various Conditions

The Whirlibird Interchange Jacket by Columbia is a 3-in-1 jacket, and as part of this review, I got lots of use from it in various conditions.

For example, the insulating inner jacket can be worn out for drinks after snowshoeing or skiing or by itself. The shell jacket can be worn in wet conditions (and would be great for rainy or snowy backpacking trips). Or you can wear both pieces together as one big warm ski jacket (which I’ve tried and can testify to its warmth on a ski hill).

Read More: 7 Beginner Snowshoes for Varied Terrain

woman wearing mid layer jacket with snowshoes and poles

Wearing the insulating layer of Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchanger jacket on a warm day. Photo: Tanya Koob

Thumb Loops

It has thumb loops on the insulating layer. I love thumb loops because they help keep my hands warm when I’m not wearing gloves (which, since I love winter photography, is a lot!)


The Whirlibird Interchange Jacket has pockets everywhere and many places to stash things like my phone, chapstick, or even keys.

Read More: 8 Backpacks for the Snowshoer

close up of thumb loops on jacket while gripping pole in snow

The thumb loops on the insulating jacket help keep my fingers warm without gloves. Photo: Tanya Koob


The jacket is a nylon/polyester blend, and the shell is lined near the mouth. This feature is excellent because when I put the hood up and zip the jacket over my mouth, I have something soft against my face.

The jacket would feel bulky for cross-country skiing (not to mention it would be too warm), but it is a fabulous jacket for snowshoeing or winter hiking. It’s become a staple for winter outings and is always one of the first things I pack when heading out for the weekend. I’m confident t will be toasty warm as long as I wear it.

Read More: Columbia Omni Heats Up: The Battle of the Base Layer

Columbia Whirlibird Interchange Jacket side by side L: woman and child walking uphill in snowshoes, R: woman in jacket on snow

The Whirlibird Interchange Jacket will keep you warm and toasty at any pace. The lining near the mouth is a bonus, too. Photos: Tanya Koob

Additional Tips

I’ve heard that you have to work for your heat when wearing Omni-Heat clothing, but I’ve worn the jacket when it was -25F (-32C) while hiking at a child’s pace, and the jacket performed very well when I wasn’t moving very quickly.

However, I recommend buying a size larger than you’d typically wear because the jacket fits on the small side.

You can purchase the Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket for women at Backcountry or REI or the Whirlibrid IV Interchange Jacket for men at Backcountry or REI.

Read More: Snowshoeing Dress Code: Tips For What Clothing To Wear

Columbia Whirlibird Interchange Jacket: person snowshoeing with poles in bright jacket

. If you use the Whirlibird Interchange Jacket by Columbia, try a size larger since it tends to run small. Photo: Tanya Koob

Disclaimer: While the author was given the Whirlibird Interchange Jacket for review purposes, she was not compensated in any other way by Columbia.   As always, her opinions and words are her own.

This article was first published on February 2, 2014, and was most recently updated and republished on October 20, 2022.

Have you used Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchange Jacket? What was your experience? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Read Next: What To Bring When Snowshoeing: Top Accessories for the Day Hiker

About the author

Tanya Koob

I am the mom of an active teenage boy and I live in Calgary, Canada at the doorstep to the fabulous Rocky Mountains. Our family makes it a priority to get out to the mountains most weekends for big adventures from hiking, camping, biking, and paddling in summer to skiing and snowshoeing in winter. I am the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies,

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