Gear Review: Columbia Ultrachange Parka

Columbia Ultrachange Parka

Who ever said that a 3 in 1 jacket needs to be bulky and heavy has never worn the Ultrachange. Columbia has combined a lightweight shell with a lightweight liner jacket to create an "ultra" versatile jacket that will keep you warm and dry in some extreme conditions.

Columbia has been making great 3 in 1 jackets for years now. I remember getting my first Bugaboo jacket from Columbia when I was about 12 and I loved it. I have had many jackets since then but I remember how cool I felt when I got the Bugaboo and had the ability to separate the jacket and liner have two different coats. That jacket kept me warm on some of my first snowboarding trips. Although Columbia still makes the Bugaboo, the Ultrachange has some major improvements for the serious adventurers.

columbia ultrachangewickIt is always nice to find a jacket, or any piece of equipment for that matter, that can be used for different activities. If you are looking for one jacket that is perfect for multiple conditions, this might just fit the bill. Built with Columbia's Omni-Dry, the Ultrachange shell is waterproof and breathable. Also made with Omni-Wick the jacket pulls moisture away from the body and out of the jacket. And when the activity level is increased and you need a little more ventilation the two front pockets can be unzipped to expose the mesh lining. The Ultrachange shell has a helmet compatible hood, which can be easily be adjusted and fits pretty well without a helmet.

The main zipper is a two way zipper which is nice to be able to adjust the jacket throughout the day. The shell is not a pocket heavy jacket as it only has three pockets. One thing that I have noticed is the length of the sleeves. If this shell is worn without the liner the sleeves are a little long. This is really not that big of deal as the sleeves have a Velcro strap that you can adjust to keep the sleeves at you wrists. The hem of the shell has silicone strips to keep the bottom down and in place. One featured that I noticed recently was the fabric inside the chin guard. This simple addition makes this jacket comfortable to the face in the cold weather when zipping the jacket all the way up.

columbia ultrachangedotsThe Ultrachange shell is a great jacket all by itself but with the added liner this jacket can really be your go to jacket for most outdoor activities. The liner of this jacket can also be worn by itself on days when moisture or wind are not going to be a problem or the temperature is not below freezing. This liner is built with Omni-Heat. This is Columbia’s thermal reflective material inside the jacket to keep more of your own body heat in the jacket.

But to help with breathability while performing high intensity activities the liner has underarm stretch panels. These panels help the jacket breath better as well as give you more freedom of movement. One of the features that I would have loved to see on this liner Columbia’s comfort cuffs. My Reach the Peak Hybrid down jacket from Columbia has these and they are great for keeping the sleeves down with the added thumb hole as well as keeping the snow and cold out.

The Ultrachange jacket has a little different set up than other 3 in 1 jackets. A lot of the 3 in 1 jackets that I have seen zip together, not the Ultrachange. It has a 3 point interchange system that connects at the ends of the sleeves and one at the collar with a button system. This system really helped cut down on the weight of this jacket. At first I thought this might bother me a little but I have come to really enjoy how I can easily use this jacket for layers.

columbia ultrachangelinerFor the past couple months I have had the Ultrachange shell in my bag that I commute with as it is ultra-packable and lightweight. I have used it on a couple of occasions when caught in a rain storm on the commute home and it worked great. I have used this jacket in temperatures down to single digits and have been very comfortable. I have worm it a couple time commuting and have been surprised that I do not overheat in the jacket while sitting on the train but stay perfectly warm in below freezing temperatures when walking to the train or work. I also used this jacket snowboarding and loved it. I stayed totally dry while it was snowing hard. The jacket also held up really well when cruising through the trees. I worried at times that the jacket was going to be torn by a branch but it held every time.

I truly believe this jacket is ideal for backpacking, hiking, skiing or any activity where moisture management might be an issue. The Ultrachange jacket really is an "ultra" versatile jacket that is lightweight and ready for a beating. If you are in the need for a jacket that you could use all year round this might be the only jacket you will need.



Product provided for free by the manufacturer for review purposes.