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Hands-on Gear Review
Columbia Mighty Light Hooded Plush Review
Cons: Not lightweight, not versatile, lacks hem pull-cords
Bottom line: This Best Buy features many great performance features making it our top choice for everyday winter wear.
Relative Compression (1 = most compressible, 10 = least compressible): 10
Insulation: 80g Omni-Heat Thermal Insulation
As the highest valued insulated jacket in this review, the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush is the best option if you're looking for an exceptional model that is geared toward non-technical adventures. Scoring high points across the metrics of warmth, weather resistance, comfort, and style, our testers were genuinely impressed by this piece. The 80-grams of Omni-Heat insulation kept us warm in temperatures that dipped into the negative double digits, while the fur-lined collar and hood kept us super cozy and warm. The style and fit are flattering for ladies of all shapes and sizes, while the price is just right at $130 (and less on some sites). We love it specifically for wearing in the winter time while walking the dog or running errands around town. It is well suited for the occasional leisurely winter hike.
Even though the Mighty Lite Plush is weather resistant, warm and cute, it trades out breathability and compression. As a result, it's not as well-suited for situations where you might sweat. In addition, we had trouble stuffing it into packs, so we'd recommend it for wear only. The Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is a technical jacket, winning our Top Pick for Winter Recreation. Unlike the Mighty Lite, it features a much more breathable face fabric, compresses to a smaller size and fits easily into a pack. While it's not as warm as the Mighty Lite, its the second-warmest jacket in this review, boasting a better warmth-compression ratio than the Columbia. That said, it's dollar signs are much higher and is not the best option for those on a budget. Overall, if you're looking for a great insulated jacket that will keep you warm when the weather turns for the worst, this Best Buy winner is a great deal. Just don't buy it if you're in search of a technical jacket for aerobic activity.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Insulated Jacket for Women Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Columbia Mighty Lite Plush is a stand-up wear around town insulated jacket. It's our Best Buy award winner for its exceptional performance and low price.
Featuring multiple, thick, weather resistant layers and 80-grams of Omni-Heat insulation, this model kept us warm with a single base-layer in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. It scores a nine out of ten for its hydrophobic insulation that provides us with more warmth than any jacket in this review. As the least technical option tested, Columbia does not skimp on materials. Instead, they've utilized a triple-pane 100% polyester shell and Omni-Heat liner, making it more impervious to wind with numerous warmth features. That said, it's not a great option for warmer days simply because of its heavier construct and warmth properties. If you're looking for a more technical jacket, the Arc'teryx Proton AR is magic, because it's more breathable (but not as warmth). Wear it on those super cold days where you're planning on breaking a sweat.
While taking a hike on a lake in Northern Ontario during the 2017-18 polar vortex, we encountered temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. While this jacket (and a simple base layer) couldn't insulate on its own against this deadly cold, we found ourselves warmer in this jacket than any other when we added just a baselayer and fleece insulator (with facial protection).
The hood is roomy with pull colds that keep your skin and face protected from brutal winds, while the collar is high enough to nuzzle down into. There is also a stretchy material sewn into the wrists inserts, which provide comfort and additional warmth. They are somewhat tapered and streamlined with a thumb hole that is also glove compatible. The liner utilizes an Omni-Heat reflective lining that is good at keeping generated warmth in but doesn't do anything to make any additional heat.
On this same day, we wore the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody (the second warmest jacket in this review). While both were both able to insulate, we found the Arc'teryx released more heat throughout the arms because of its more breathable insulation, lining, and shell (even though the Arc'teryx Proton AR has 90-grams of insulation vs. 80-grams). As a result, we determined the Columbia to be a little warmer; it features more extended torso material, covering up more of the body, thus equating to more warmth.
This jacket does not have any pull-string hem cords which we would have appreciated for additional warmth on the coldest days.
If you're in the market for a lightweight jacket, Our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Xenon X, is compressible and warm, scoring an eight out of ten in this category. This insulated contender is better for all season use. Alternatively, if you want something more breathable, and not as warm, be sure to check out the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody, featuring a fleece inner liner that generates warmth on the go.
Weight & Compression
When a piece of gear succeeds in most categories, there's bound to be a trade-off in another category. Weight and compression are it! The Mighty Lite Plush proved to be the least compressible and heaviest jacket tested, scoring a measly three out of ten. It weighs 508 grams and doesn't have its stow-away system. It also doesn't stuff easily into a sack or fit into a backpack when layers need to be shed.
While there are many jackets without their stowaway systems, most are still reasonably compressible — but the Mighty Lite Plush is not. If you're looking for a warmer jacket with its own stowaway system, we'd recommend the Black Diamond First Light Hoody. While it's not the lightest jacket, it's a technical option that compresses into its chest pocket. The Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is also very compressible and rolls nicely into its hood or stuffs well into a compression sack; however, it doesn't have its own stow-away system.
If you're looking for a jacket that you can stuff into the smallest corner of your pack or even clip to something, don't miss our quilted competitors like the Patagonia Micro Puff, our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures. This jacket weighs only 229 grams and compresses to the smallest volume in this review. The Rab Xenon X is the second lightest jacket, featuring more warmth and a similar level of compression, but it has a more massive stuff sack.
We exposed this jacket to snow, sleet, rain, and windy days. In all tests, its 100% polyester triple pan ripstop shell proved to be fairly impervious to all conditions. Despite the nasty "stuff", we felt warm and protected from the elements. As a result, it earns a nine out of ten in this category.
While none of the jackets in this review are weather-proof, this one came the closest. During our shower tests, where we stood in the shower for five minutes while rubbing the fabric vigorously, it did best taking a few minutes before the material became saturated. This is similar to the performance of our Editors' Choice award winner the Rab Xenon X. That said, its heavier construct with multiple (thicker) layers still kept us dry test showing a high affinity for weather resistance. Even after numerous washes, the jacket performed in the same way.
Like the Rab Xenon X, it kept out cold, gusty gales during our cold winter tests in Northern Ontario. In comparison to the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody, it is more weather resistant because of its less breathable fabric construct. Overall, this insulated jacket is excellent for winter wear and will keep you protected from the elements.
Comfort & Coziness
With ample comfort features, the Mighty Lite Plush stands out for its many comfort features. With a fur-lined hood that extends down through the upper back, gusseted wrists (with loops), adjustable hood, a fleece chin-guard, fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets, and sleek and slippery interior, this jacket is one of the most comfortable and featured jackets in this review. As a result, it earns a solid nine out of ten in this category.
While it doesn't have a fully fleece-lined interior or a mobile face fabric like the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody, its features are just as comfortable for different reasons.
While the slippery and sleek Omni-Heat liner isn't the coziest on the skin, its fabric makes it super easy to layer without getting snagged or bunching against the jacket (unlike the OR Ascendant). The wrists are super cozy and comfortable that all of our testers loved and was unique to this jacket.
If you're in the market for a lighter jacket with a mobile face-fabric, our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia Nano Air or the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody are both great options.
These technical options move with your body, instead of staying static. If you prefer a quilted face fabric and limited comfort features, our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures, the Patagonia Micro Puff is our favorite. While it doesn't have as many comfort features, it trades these off for compression and on-the-go comfort. Another excellent comfort option is the Arc'teryx Atom LT, featuring a lightweight construct, a continuous shell, and cozy fleecy material under the arms for enhanced breathability.
With many warmth and weather resistant features, the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush seriously trades off breathability. It scores a four out of ten in this review. The weather impervious shell and liner does a great job at keeping heat in but not allowing moisture to escape. While hiking vigorously on a cold winter day, temps dropped to just below zero. We found ourselves quickly sweating and noticed that moisture would not escape the jacket. In fact, when we stopped, we got cold because the moisture then cooled itself and could not escape the jacket. Because of this design, it's not a great technical outdoor gear piece and not recommended for aerobic activity (even in the winter). Unlike more breathable jackets, such as the Arc'teryx Proton AR and our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia Nano Air, the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush keeps heat and moisture in.
If you're not in the market for just a "wear-around-town" winter jacket, and you're interested in a more technical or breathable model, pretty much any jacket in this review is a decent option. It just depends on the feature options you are interested in. For example; we love the Arc'teryx Proton AR because it has a super breathable face fabric and it's warm (90-grams of insulation), making it our favorite for winter sports or recreation. But, we also like the super breathable OR Women's Ascendant Jacket for super sweaty endeavors through all three seasons. In addition, it functions as a thinner softshell jacket. It has an ultra-thin mobile continuous shell, allowing incredible breathability and decent weather protection. All in all, the Mighty Lite Plush is the least breathable option in this review.
Style & Fit
Scoring a nine out of ten in this category, the Mighty Lite Plush has many cute and flattering features with a fit that makes all our testers giggle with happiness. Featuring a continuous face fabric with flattering stitching patterns, this 100% polyester shell is slippery and sleek and receives many compliments on the street. In the front and back, the stitching patterns make a chevron-shape that points inwards. The sides and hood feature a brick style design highlighting flattering aspects of the female body. The jacket slightly pinches in at the waist, with a slight bell at the hem - making it quite flattering for all body types. Also, because the fabric is not super tight or binding, many of our curvier testers preferred it because it did a great job at hiding all sorts of bumps and lumps.
For fit, all of our testers were happy. Our chief tester is about 5'7 with a medium sized torso and arms and athletic build. She liked it best because the jacket was long, covering her butt and fully covering her hands. Our taller testers are 6'0 with long arms and a long torso. That said, this jacket provided the most coverage for our taller testers; it also accommodated their broader shoulders. Our curvier testers liked the ample space in the chest and throughout the stomach area. The size is true to fit, and we found no need to size up or down.
While we have many tested many jackets, there are a few that stand out for our longer-limbed friends. This included the most stylish model, the Arc'teryx Atom LT, which also earns a nine out of ten. While this technical contender comes in many colors and the continuous face fabric is super cute, the body isn't as long as the Columbia, and it doesn't feature flattering stitching patterns throughout the body. It does have a double-color design where the fabric under the arms is darker than the face fabric. This provides a flattering look that all our testers love. Overall, the Mighty Lite Plush is super cute and the fit is best for all ladies of all sizes.
We love this jacket for commuting to work, shopping around town, walking the dog, and the occasional leisurely winter bike ride. While it can be used for winter hiking or adventuring, it's not our top recommendation for that purpose because it's not very breathable or lightweight. As a result, it's great for the winter season and wearing around town.
As our Best Buy award winner, this jacket is HIGH VALUE. Scoring top points in many metrics, we were impressed with its performance through the winter. We are equally impressed with the low comparative price of just $130. While it doesn't feature the same durable craftsmanship as our super high-end jackets like the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody, we didn't have any issues with durability during our testing period.
The zipper is super bomber (unlike the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody), and there were no noted stitching fly-aways. All in all, this is one of the best deals out there when considering a winter insulated coat. If you're in search of a more technical piece at a low price, we like the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody ($215), The North Face Thermoball ($220), or the Rab Xenon X ($235, and our Editors' Choice winner).
The Columbia Mighty Lite Plush stands out for its fantastical warmth, weather resistance, comfort, and style. While it's not the most breathable or compressible, this insulated jacket is best for winter wear-around town and the price is pretty amazing to boot.
— Amber King
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