One of favorite brands, and definitely the brand I own the most gear from, is Columbia. I’ve consistently found their clothing to be very well-made and durable. On top of that, it is much easier to find good deals on Columbia clothing, far below retail prices, than it is for other outdoor brands such as Marmot, Mammut, and Arc’teryx. So here is my first Columbia review (but definitely not my last) — the Key Three II Softshell. (for reference, all the photos here were taken after about 9 months of use)
What do I like about it?
Well, there are plenty of things I really like about it. To start simply, I think it looks really great. It has a basic design, good color schemes, and not too much branding/logos on the jacket itself. I wore this jacket for a winter in Korea. I wore it to school, and in and out of classrooms (as a teacher). It is a very lightweight jacket suitable for tough conditions, but it still looks ‘nice’ enough to pass as office/casual wear.
The Key Three II Softshell features “Omni-Heat” and “Omni-Wind” technology in the shell of the jacket. If you have never heard of “Omni-Heat” before, it is a lightweight, breathable technology created by Columbia. It is designed to reflect body heat to keep you warmer in the winter while actually wearing less. It looks a little bit futuristic, almost like space-age technology!
It also features the “Omni-Wind” technology, which is meant to keep the wind chill out, but still being breathable enough to let your sweat escape.
In my experience, this jacket was completely adequate for a mild winter. (And more than enough for fall and spring, of course.) I wore this jacket for the past winter in Korea, where temperatures regularly get down to freezing, but not too much colder than that. Usually, the wind was the worst part of being out and about in a Korean winter, because the wind chill really makes it feel colder than the temperature actually shows. I also own a heavier Columbia winter jacket (the Dual Commuter), which is incredibly warm, but I choose not to wear it if possible because it’s a bit bulky.
The sleeves have a nice velcro adjustment at the bottom, and there are cinches to adjust the waistline of the jacket.
The fabric has held up well over the past 9 months I’ve worn this jacket. There are a few very small fabric pulls on the jacket, but overall it still looks like new. That’s pretty great considering I wore this jacket almost non-stop for at least 4 out of the 9 months I’ve owned it!
So, what could be improved?
This jacket has the combination of being the lightest, yet warmest jacket that I’ve ever had. It can be balled up and thrown into a backpack in case the temperatures drop on a fall day, or it can be worn as a layer on an even colder day.
The one thing this jacket is missing, in my opinion, is a hood. I knew it didn’t have one when I got it, of course! As much as I love this jacket, I’d love it even more with a hood.
All things considered, I’d buy this jacket again — I usually wear a light hoodie or sweatshirt underneath, so it’s a great, versatile jacket that can be used in a lot of different conditions.
I give this jacket 4 out of 5 stars