One of the products we were given to test at the Columbia Sportswear media event last year was the Powerfly Down Jacket. Lined with Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology, this down jacket is extremely packable, lightweight, and warm, causing me to practically live in it last winter.
The Powerfly Down Jacket is packed with 800-fill power goose down, giving it an extremely slim profile. One of the biggest misconceptions over fill power is that a higher number means more down stuffed in the jacket. The opposite is generally true.
Down fill power grades indicate how many cubic inches 1 ounce of down occupies when placed inside a container. Down ranges from 450 to 900 fill power and higher numbers indicate a higher quality of down, with more air-trapping ability. Down with higher fill-power numbers includes fewer feathers and uses bigger, more mature down plumules. All other things being equal, gear made with high fill power is lighter and more compressible than an equally warm one made with lower quality down.
When comparing down jackets to each other, you need to look not only at fill power, but the amount of down in the jacket. Ounce for ounce, the 800 fill power goose down will be warmer than the 650 fill power. As a very crude demonstration, let's compare the 13.6 ounce Powerfly with my go-to ice climbing belay jacket, the Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Down Jacket.
The Sub Zero jacket is packed with 650 fill power goose down and weighs in at 27 ounces. Using the fill power ratio between the two down jackets, the Sub Zero would need to only weigh 16.8 ounces to match the warmth of the Powerfly, but instead packs in 10 ounces more, making it warmer even with the use of lower quality down. However, the Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective lining in the Powerfly does add a level of warmth, so you need to take that into consideration.
I found that the Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective lining works best when you are moving, so wearing the Powerfly as a belay jacket doesn't really do it justice. Instead, I found the Powerfly Down Jacket worked great as an extra warmth layer under a shell for skiing or as an outer layer for hiking, snowshoeing, or even walking around town in the winter.
The Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective lining is comprised of 35% reflective dots and 65% highly breathable fabric, so will get rid of any extra heat you produce. If you are looking for warmth during real high intensity activities such as winter running, I would check out the Powerfly Hybrid Down Jacket that uses stretch side panels for added mobility and breathability in your high sweat areas.
The outside of the Powerfly jacket is made from water resistant and stain resistant Omni-Shield treated ripstop nylon. This added protection is a bonus in snowy weather in order to keep moisture from penetrating the down fill. Plus, if you happen to spill mustard from your bratwurst on your jacket as I often did in Germany, you can easily wipe it off.
Hidden inside pockets are great for storing your camera to keep the battery warm or energy bars to stop them from freezing up. The pockets also offer a warm, dry area for stowing your climbing gloves when belaying. Hidden comfort cuffs stop the cold air and snow from getting up into your jacket.
The men's and women's Columbia Powerfly Down Jacket retails for $220 and is available now.