The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Columbia Alpine Action Omni-Heat Review

This run of the mill jacket won't see much action from our testers this winter.
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Price:  $170 List | $121.62 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, warm, nice wrist gaiters
Cons:  Hood does not fit over a helmet, uncomfortable, not stylish
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 13, 2018
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52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 11
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 5
  • Style - 20% 4
  • Warmth - 15% 7
  • Ventilation - 15% 3
  • Features - 10% 7

Our Verdict

This extremely popular ski jacket fell flat in our tester's opinion as we struggled to find anything remarkable about it. The Columbia Alpine Action Omni-Heat is a pretty average jacket that has what you need to function on at the resort and will keep you warm. It's not particularly stylish or comfortable. The low price from a reputable manufacturer is likely the majority of its appeal.

Ski jackets don't come cheap, and we appreciate Columbia keeping the budget-conscious in mind and at heart. We think it's worth stepping it up to pay a bit more for much greater performance overall with the Columbia Whirlibird III, winner of a Best Buy Award. We think you'll be happier with the Whirlibird than with the $30 in savings.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Alpine Action jacket isn't as exciting as it seems. We prefer most of the other models we tested over this one.

Performance Comparison


The Alpine Action is a decent choice for resort skiing that keeps moisture out on storm days.
The Alpine Action is a decent choice for resort skiing that keeps moisture out on storm days.

Weather Resistance


The Alpine Action's thick shell material seems to be quite water resistant, is well seam-sealed, and has a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coating on it. So it will keep moisture out. The Omni-Heat technology (the silver dots) supposedly work to help pass moisture through, wicking away moisture from your body, so you stay dry on the inside as well. Our Editors' Choice the Patagonia Primo Down has the best weather resistance and warmth.

We were disappointed with the size and fit of the Alpine Action's removable hood. It does not fit over a ski helmet, and we were unable to zip up the front of the jacket while the hood was up over our helmet. As more and more people are wearing helmets at the resort, this is a huge drawback. We also think removable hoods are silly, although this one may as well not have a hood because it not very effective. We love the Arc'teryx Sentinel's cavernous hood.

We could not fit this jacket's hood up over our helmet and have the front collar of the jacket zipped up at the same time.
We could not fit this jacket's hood up over our helmet and have the front collar of the jacket zipped up at the same time.

Comfort and Fit


We don't find this jacket particularly comfortable. The materials feel heavy and stiff, and the fit is snug. Our testers found that this jacket fits on the small side and as we mentioned above, it's impossible to zip up all the way if you're trying to put your hood up with a helmet - or if you are wearing extra layers like a buff. We also think the hemline is quite short. This jacket may be well suited for someone who is shorter and prefers short hemlines.

Style


This is not the Alpine Action's strong suit. It is a pretty generic-looking jacket that does not have a particularly flattering cut. We prefer jackets with fun color combinations and long hemlines to cover your bottom with a flattering silhouette. Our favorite jackets in the style department are the Armada Stadium and the Flylow Billie Coat.

The Alpine Action's powder skirt.
The Alpine Action's powder skirt.

Warmth


The Alpine Action has a cozy 100 grams of insulation and will keep you warm out there on the slopes in most conditions. However, it loses a point because the hood is ineffective and won't keep drafts off your neck or head if you're wearing a helmet. We like the Alpine Action's cozy wrist gaiters. The Orage Nina is also just as warm and has nice gaiters as well.

Ventilation


We scored this product low in this category because it doesn't have any ventilation to speak of beside the central front zip, and does not have pit-zips. You better not be seeing too much action while wearing this jacket because you'll get really sweaty. The Alpine Action does have synthetic insulation which will aid in wicking that sweat away from your body and can keep you warm when it's wet. We think the Patagonia Untracked Jacket has the best pit-zips of the bunch.

The Alpine Action Jacket has Columbia's proprietary Omni Tech shell fabric and the Omni Heat silver dots on the inside  which is the only attempt at breathability or ventilation in this jacket.
The Alpine Action Jacket has Columbia's proprietary Omni Tech shell fabric and the Omni Heat silver dots on the inside, which is the only attempt at breathability or ventilation in this jacket.

Ski Features


The Alpine Action does come with all the standard ski features like a powder skirt and pass pocket. There's a pocket for goggles, plus an internal pocket with a headphone gasket if you plug in at the resort.

This model also has a pass pocket on the sleeve.
This model also has a pass pocket on the sleeve.

Best Application


This is a decent all-around resort jacket that will do a decent job at keeping you warm on the slopes. We prefer the Columbia Whirlibird III and think its 3-in-1 design is much more versatile than the Alpine Action.

The Columbia Alpine Action Jacket has a short cut and snow may get up your back when you take a tumble.
The Columbia Alpine Action Jacket has a short cut and snow may get up your back when you take a tumble.

Value


Retailing for $170 the Alpine Action is priced low compared to other ski-specific jackets. We would rather spend the small amount of extra money for the Whirlibird III for a much more comfortable, stylish, and versatile jacket that strikes us as a much better value.

Conclusion


Although it is the least expensive jacket in this review, we do not think it is the best value. The Alpine Action has decent ski features and a warm 100 grams of synthetic insulation, but the hood does not fit over a helmet which is a significant drawback. It also lacks ventilation, which is a key factor for most anyone carving turns. We don't think this jacket is particularly comfortable or stylish.


Jessica Haist