Gear Institute Expert Test Menu
by Powderchaser Steve - published August 2011




  • Soft against the body.
  • Comfortable, snug fit.
  • Non-bulky, skin-layer light feel.
  • Good non-stink benefits for a non-wool layer.


  • Breathability was a bit less than expected.
  • High aerobic activity resulted in trapped sweat.


Columbia’s Omni-Heat base layer was one that I grabbed often for its tight comfy fit. I would pull this layer with me on a day when I was looking for a bit less aerobic activity since breathability was slightly less than expected, in which instance it kept me very comfortable and definitely odor free. Bottom Line: it’s a layer to have in the quiver if you are not after an intense aerobic workout.


Columbia certainly has come out with something that catches the eye with a silver dot matrix lining against the skin that felt soft and kept me warm. While both cycling and snowshoe running, I did work up some pretty intense sweat that hovered on my skin, at which point I felt wet but not overly cold at any point during my winter tests. The fabric is very soft for a blend of Polyester married to Elastane which gave it some stretch. The chest zip was a bonus, though I think it could benefit from a longer pull for more substantial venting. The biggest drawback that I found was that after long bike rides in the winter I noticed a fair amount of moisture trapped on my skin. One of the biggest bonuses was that after several months of wear testing, the Omni Heat still maintained its cool look and compelling softness, and also continued to keep me odor-free.

How We Tested It

Tests consisted of several 1-2 hour bike rides around Park City in March and April as well as snowshoe hiking on moderate grade slopes in the winter. The water test was completed by using a teaspoon of water dropped onto the inside surface supported by a plate to keep it flat and observing water spread as well as dry times. The dry times were respectable however initially when water touched the interior surface it did not spread and instead formed a small puddle where it was poured.  After matting the water into the “Dot Matrix” the dry times were approx 50 minutes just slightly longer than some others in the test group.

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.


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