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.
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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.
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).
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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.
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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.
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.
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.