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Columbia Wild Card - Women's Review

An inexpensive, synthetically insulated shell to keep you warm, dry, and stylish without breaking the bank
Columbia Wild Card - Women's
Credit: Columbia
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $299 List | $261.53 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, stylish, warm, stretchy and comfortable
Cons:  Not the most water resistant, runs a little small, not very breathable
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Jacqueline Kearney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 7, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 6.0
  • Warmth - 20% 7.0
  • Ventilation - 20% 5.0
  • Style - 10% 8.0
  • Features - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The costs of winter recreation are high and can be overwhelming, especially when you add new outerwear to the mix. It can be extremely challenging to find a ski jacket that is functional and stylish at the right price. Fortunately, Columbia nails this need with the Wild Card jacket. Right away, it stands out with bright color block color options. With a combination of moderate insulation, reflective lining, and a supple waterproof/breathable shell material cut in a flattering silhouette, this jacket is a great option for most conditions you'll find skiing at the resort.

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a bright color block design and trim athletic silhouette, the Wild Card stands out on the slopes or in the streets. When you factor in its low price point, it really shines. We love the supple stretch of the Omnitech shell and the warmth gained from insulation and design that did not feel or look too bulky.

Performance Comparison


Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the stylish columbia wild card is fitted enough to be athletic, but...
The stylish Columbia Wild Card is fitted enough to be athletic, but not so tight that it won't provide you the mobility needed to wiggle some early season powder, like is pictured here.

Weather Resistance


The Wild Card did not have the most weather resistant shell of the bunch, but we did find the 10,000mm rated, DWR treated Omnitech waterproof/breathable material to be adequate in most conditions. In heavy rain, very wet and heavy snow, or a hard fall, this material can begin to allow moisture to permeate. Additionally, the zippers are not taped, providing an edge where moisture could begin to creep in. The fully taped seams provide an additional level of moisture protection in the exterior fabric.


We are impressed by how the synthetic insulation, combined with Omnitech fabric, kept harsh, cold winds at bay. We were surprised by how cold it felt outside when we went to take off an extra layer. We appreciate that the insulated hood and fleece-lined collar adequately kept the storm outside our jacket. The two drawcords on the hood allow for a custom and snug fit to battle harsh weather.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the wild card kept us dry even when the snow was coming down.
The Wild Card kept us dry even when the snow was coming down.

Comfort and Fit


A benefit of the thinner Omnitech fabric of the Wild Card is that it also has a supple two-way stretch construction. This is a nice change from some of the more rigid hardshell options, and it allows for increased mobility and a tighter performance fit. Columbia describes this jacket as an athletic performance fit, but we found the cut to be a little too tight. We suggest sizing up, especially if you want room for an extra layer or pocket snacks.


The insulation in the hood adds an extra level of comfort to this construction. The fleece-lined collar stands separately from the hood, allowing the collar to fit snugly around the back of the neck while the hood maintains mobility. We find that the hood fits comfortably over a helmet, zippering easily without pulling too tightly. The fit could be a little more refined, as the narrow part of the hood prevents it from sitting flush on the helmet, leaving a little hollow cap at the apex of the helmet.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the wild card is stretchy enough to comfortably put on your boots...
The Wild Card is stretchy enough to comfortably put on your boots while wearing it.

Warmth


The Wild Card is equipped with Columbia's 60g Omni-Heat Synthetic Stretch insulation. It feels like a lightly insulated jacket, but we were surprised by how much warmth it provides. The Omni-Heat reflective lining is claimed to reflect body heat back to you. Maybe we were just hypnotized by the flashy design, but it seemed like this technology really got to work once we began moving just enough to get a little body heat flowing. Additionally, the insulated hood helps keep your body heat from escaping from the jacket.


Either way, the insulation combined with the waterproof/breathable Omnitech warded off cold winds, and really felt like it was working with our body heat. We did not experience any drafting through the zippers or material, even where there are built-in gill-like heat vents built into the back panel of insulation.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the reflective omni-heat insulation system seemed to really heat up...
The reflective Omni-Heat insulation system seemed to really heat up when we got moving.

Ventilation


The Omnitech fabric does not seem to have the same breathability as some of the other products tested. However, the Wild Card has a few features to combat this. Most notable are the gill-like vents built into the back panel beneath the shell. These allowed for excess heat and moisture to more effectively between the synthetic insulation, which is necessary since this jacket's materials don't breathe well.


Additionally, the Wild Card has pit zips that slightly increase airflow, although they are lined with a dense mesh that does a good job of keeping snow out, but keeps some air in.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - "gills" in the back panel of the wild card increase airflow.
"Gills" in the back panel of the Wild Card increase airflow.

Style


The Wild Card scored high marks in this category, and our testers received many compliments on the bright color block pattern. While not the most comfortable, the slim athletic cut and slightly shorter hem were flattering and stood out on the slopes and in photos. Additionally, the bright white taped zippers were a subtle and stylish touch to an already streamlined look.


Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the wild card kept us nice and warm while getting ready to ski, and...
The Wild Card kept us nice and warm while getting ready to ski, and stood out with its bright color block and contrasting zippers.

Ski Features


This jacket had numerous features to keep your ski essentials organized. It features five pockets on the outside, plus one unzippered mesh and one zippered inner pockets. The internal zippered pocket works well to keep your phone warm and its battery high. Between the many pockets, there's plenty of room to keep your pass, phone, and cards separate and safe for apres. We like how the powderskirt can be clipped to the inside of the jacket, neatly stowed away for use on the next powder day.


We did find there were a few features we could do without or could be improved. We found the mesh lining on the pit zips unnecessary. While it kept snow out, we think the cost to airflow is too high to stand. Also, while the stretchy wrist gaiters are a nice feature if you forget gloves on a quick walk through town, or you frequently find snow packed around your wrists, we found that they pulled on our thumbs uncomfortably when worn inside gloves over time.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - the powder skirt in the columbia wild card conveniently snaps away...
The powder skirt in the Columbia Wild Card conveniently snaps away to the jacket when not in use.

Value


It can be challenging to find a higher quality insulated ski jacket that won't break the bank. When you add in trying to find one that fits your style, it's even harder. Luckily, we think the Wild Card can do both quite well. Between its appropriate weather resistance, warmth, and style, it's a great value.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a jacket with a little extra warmth built-in, but don't see the appeal in spending many hundreds of dollars on outerwear, the Wild Card is a great option. It can keep you adequately warm, keep nasty winter weather at bay, and make a stylish statement on the slopes. For a stylish and warm jacket that is not too financially committing, look no further than the Columbia Wild Card Insulated Jacket.

Columbia Wild Card - Women's ski jacket - stylish and insulated, this jacket is a great value option for the...
Stylish and insulated, this jacket is a great value option for the resort.

Jacqueline Kearney

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