GearChase-womens-Parallel-Grid

Columbia Parallel Grid Women’s Jacket Review

Travis Gneiting News

GearChase-womens-Parallel-GridWomen’s Parallel Grid(tm) Jacket

Omni-HeatTM thermal reflective and insulated 80g u Omni-TechTM waterproof/Fully Breathable

First Impression: QUALITY

With Columbia’s signature tailoring, streamlined design, and quality construction – the innovative Omni Heat technology isn’t the only thing that sets the Parallel Grid apart.  The fabric, the fabric, the fabric.  While the biggest trend of the season is more insulation with less weight, it seems the common compromise is light weight, low quality exterior fabrics.  This is the polar opposite of the Columbia Women’s Parallel Grid.  The fabric is heavy grade, high quality, and so are all of the zippers, and every other component used in the construction of the Parallel Grid. The fabric is beyond water proof – it repels and fends off water.  Water actually beads up on the material when we poured a glass of it.   Scratch that, we put it under the running faucet and let it sit there for 15 minutes – it held up like a sheet of metal and not a drop of water made it through.  Rainy day, blizzard, pounding the powder, or a whether you are a beginner boarder spending most of the day on your backside – you are staying dry.

Not only does the Parallel grid repel water, it seems to repel just about everything, including dirt and stains. We all try to stay away from dirty tire wheels and cars covered in gray road salt as we make our way through the maze of cars in the crowded resort parking lot.  Yet  life happens, and there goes your new jacket –  side swiped in gray/black dirt who knows what else thanks to someone’s dirty SUV.  Worried that this perfectly blue jacket would never be the same – as we’ve had other jackets rub up against a dirty car and it ended badly (never put a coat in the washer, even if the direction say to – it will never be water proof again).  With just a damp towel  the muck came right out of the Parallel Grid.  Why can’t all clothing be like this.

Appearance and Fit

GearChase - Columbia Parallel Grid Womens Jacket Review 10Compared to the snowboard jacket crop – the Parallel grid is much more fitted, leaving a more mature, sophisticated look than some of the brighter baggier looks coming out in past seasons.  Yet compared to traditional Ski jackets – the Parallel grid is fitted without the bulk, and a little bit of extra length adds a more streamlined design that yields a more slimming look.  Almost as if they had some influence from some Italian designers on this one. The sleeves are not tapered, a straight line to hang over the gloves falling over the knuckle , yet can be tightened as needed to keep the snow out. Thanks to the Omni-Heat technology eliminates the need for excessive bulky insulation – you can keep your figure and keep warm. A great cross-over jacket for Ski and Snowboarders, the Parallel Grid offers excellent protection from the elements with extended coverage in the length of the sleeves, neckline, and long waist.

Especially with us women, form plays a lot in addition to functionality. What’s even more impressive is how slimming the parallel is. With the omni-heat technology, you get more warmth with less bulk.  Quite the feat pull off the tailored look with so much insulation from the cold.  We keep emphasizing this because when we opened up the Parallel, it has the weight of a shell coat, but provides the warmth that rivals a down coat. This is seriously the puffy coat killer.

GearChase - Columbia Parallel Grid Womens Jacket Review 8In the flood of snow jackets where everyone is trying to find the right balance between tailored fit and comfort, Columbia hit it right on.   Putting it on, this it’s the best looking and highest quality Columbia jacket we’ve tried. This season we’ve seen a lot of crossover ski and boarding coats try to pull off a more tailored look with additional length. We review a lot of coats, and while the Parallel Columbia might not be the longest (typical of a ski jacket), the Parallel definitely has the most tailored fit.   While may be a bit more geared more towards skiers than snowboarders (as the length is not quite as long as some of the more conventional boarding coats, and doesn’t lend itself as much towards bending down and adjusting bindings) a definite crossover that’s worth considering for anyone looking for an all terrain mountain jacket.  However, if you want a better fit, and a higher quality material jacket than most any other on the market – just order one size up.  You’ll likely have a better fit – and just get the extra “oversized” snowboarder look if that is what you are seeking.

GearChase - Columbia Parallel Grid Womens Jacket Review 7Aside from the shape that fits so well you’d think an Milan designer came to your house and took your measurements –– with nice subtle geometric detailing., the parallel is a far cry from the obvious patterns out there, but not blatantly boring either.  A mature design and a nice step up from what we’re used to from Columbia, no offense.  The only sizing consideration we noted, is the sizing in the arms may run a little smaller than you may be used to – which definitely contributes to the more tailored fit.  Particularly a higher inseam in the armpit – meaning the coat actually hugs your armpit a bit more if you get the right size.  Without the excess material bunching up under your arms, you’ll show off your shape (always a plus), have less bulk with easier access to your pit zips, and with the extended sleeves – have the same mobility and freedom of motion with simply a better tailored coat.  Yet if you are pushing it to squeeze into a size small – you’re probably going to find this uncomfortable and restricting.

Omni-Heat Technology

GearChase - Columbia Parallel Grid Womens Jacket Review 4The Omni Heat is definitely all that it’s hyped up to be.  With thermal reflecting materials to keep the heat insulated, and sweat wicking materials to keep you dry, the parallel grid is unparalleled.

Probably the only complaint about the parallel is the omni-heat is so effective, you may find yourself opting for something else when you’re really out for a strenuous day on the mountain – even on a cold day. It can be difficult to relegate your temperature – event with the pit zips. This really only applies to those who find themselves sweating bullets in 45 degree weather because they are pounding the powder.  As the omni-heat is activated by the generation and reflection of your own heat – you act as your own oven. Even with the pit zips, it still keeps you nice and cozy – and even warmer than we’d expected.  Even our “cold blooded” tester (as she wears hand-warmers even on a blue bird days) – left her fleece in the parking lot.  Yet based on our tests, wearing the jacket without exerting much energy, (thus not activating the Omni-Heat Technology) the heat magnification effect was not nearly as evident.   So something to keep in mind when layering – it definitely depends on the type of activity you indent to undertake.

Color: Blue Macaw, Black, Hyper PurpleCost: $250Style Number: SL4034

The Bottom Line

GearChase - Columbia Parallel Grid Womens Jacket Review 9So, in summary, the Parallel grid is the season winner in terms of fit and appearance.  We also give the Parallel grid a complete hats off for their high quality material and construction. Every bit of detailing yields a unique yet sophisticated appeal– from the interior stitching to the subtle stitching on the exterior which leads into the design is very modern and streamlined.
The coat is waterproof, seam sealed with waterproof zippers, thumb hold cuffs and drawcord adjustable hem and adjustable snap back powder skirt for the epic powder days.  With plenty of pockets to stow away gatchets and snacks, the Parallel has an interior security pocket for keys/credit cards, zippered hand pockets, a media goggle pocket (thank you) and a Ski Pass Pocket.   The parallel also has plenty adjustability from removable, adjustable storm hood for those bluebird days, adjustable outer and inner comfort cuffs and our favorite – a very generously high and protective (yes plush and soft) chin guard.  You can leave your neck gaters at home.