Chris Townsend keeps warm in an insulated jacket with a difference

The Columbia Arch Rock is a synthetic insulated jacket that is surprisingly warm as it is quite slim, without the bulk of many synthetic jackets with similar warmth. This seems to be due to two design features. The double wall construction means there are few sewn-through seams, which reduces heat loss and the rather grandly named Omni-Heat Infinity advanced thermal reflective lining. The latter consists of a very shiny gold dot pattern that reflects body heat back. The gold dots are found in the body and sleeves but not in the hood, which is probably good as the shiny fabric feels a little crisp and rustles a bit which could be unpleasant against the ears. The hood lining is a soft quiet plain fabric.

Of the two features I think the reflective lining is probably the most significant with regard to warmth. The insulation inside is a soft polyester.

The outer of the jacket has the same dot pattern and is also quite shiny. The latter probably helps in repelling light rain and snow, which just slides off the fabric. There is a DWR treatment too. The fabric is windproof.

The design is standard for an insulated jacket with handwarmer pockets that are cut off by a pack hipbelt and a fairly roomy though not mapsize chest pocket. The hood is comfortable and fits quite well as it’s not one of those helmet-compatible ones that fall down over your eyes. It’s not adjustable however and easily blows off in the wind, a fault of too many jackets of this type. The rim is elasticated but it’s not close-fitting and makes little difference even when the hood is worn over a hat. A drawcord would be a big improvement and make the jacket far more functional.

I found the Arch Rock comfortable to wear and it kept me warm sitting outside the tent on a frosty morning. Breathability isn’t that good however and when walking in it I soon started to get a bit sweaty even though there was a cold wind. For me this is more a jacket for camp and rest stop use rather than for walking.

The weight and price are both reasonable for this type of garment. I like the slim fit – warmth without bulk – but not the non-adjustable hood.