I was invited to New York this week, along with numerous other members of the media, to preview Columbia's Fall 2011 line. Surrounded by ice skaters, acrobatic skiers and human sized freezers, the team at Columbia debuted their new Omni-Heat Electric technology.
Omni-Heat Electric, built directly into a line of Columbia jackets, footwear and gloves, will offer you on-demand, electric powered heat next winter. Learning from the Ardica/Mountain Hardwear heated jacket recall disaster of last year, Columbia decided to bring things in house and design their own heating system from scratch.
For outerwear, the Omni-Heat Electric system is constructed of a controller, two rechargeable battery packs, two carbon filament heaters for your core and two for your wrists. Paired with Columbia's Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology and new Omni-Heat Insulated (synthetic fill with greater heat retention), you will have no trouble staying warm when wearing one of the soft shells, hard shells or insulated jackets.
For the gloves, carbon fiber yarn is woven around the fingers and powered by a battery pack on the back of the glove. The Omni-Heat Thermal reflective lining helps to retain the warmth and the OutDry waterproof breathable membrane keeps rain and snow locked out.
Building on the success of Columbia's Bugaboot and Bugathermo winter boot lines, the new Omni-Heat Electric versions use a flexible circuit heater for your toes paired with the Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective and Insulated, providing a wall of warmth.
The Omni-Heat Electric system, whether on your jacket, gloves or boots, offers three heat level settings (low, medium, high) and is controlled via push button on the outside of the gear. As the battery packs are USB compatible, they can be recharged via your computer and the jacket batteries will even charge your gadgets on the go.
Check out some more pictures from the event below. I will be following up with more details on the Omni-Heat Electric gear as well as Columbia's new Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective base layer line.