Gear Review: Columbia Women's Millennium Flash Shell Jacket

Snowshoeing in the Tetons. (Photo by wmrjr.com)
A sure sign I'm in love with a piece of outdoor gear or apparels its appearance in photo after photo, in my backpack when I pack for adventure after adventure, and when I can't count the number of compliments I've received on it.

The Columbia Sportswear Women's Millennium Flash Jacket was a key piece of my layering system on a variety of adventures this winter. I didn't expect to fall so hard for what looked like just another shell jacket when I pulled it out of a box Columbia sent me prior to the #OmniGames, but man, I fell.

After trying on the Millenium Flash, aside from the blindingly bright "Red Hibiscus" colored waterproof fabric, I realized it's decidedly not just another shell.   It's easily one of the mot versatile pieces of apparel I've tried. I wore it snowshoeing in the Tetons, cross country skiing in Yellowstone, dogsledding in Utah, and alpine skiing in Pennsylvania for testing, and (spoiler alert) it passed with flying colors.

I tend to find Columbia's jackets a bit narrow for my broad shoulders, but when I pulled the Millennium Flash on over a thick sweater, I still had room to spare. And not the bad kind of room that makes you look like a marshmallow; the good kind that means when you're outside in 10-20 degree temperatures, you'll be able to adequately layer underneath. I packed a baselayer and fleece  under the Millennium Flash on the first day of ski season here in Pennsylvania and was comfortable all day. The Omni-Heat lining, one of my favorite jacket linings of all time, did its job.

Stopping for a photo while cross country skiing in Yellowstone National Park. It was WINDY that day, but I hardly noticed. (Photo by wmrjr.com)
The jacket is designed to be waterproof, breathable, and makes use of Columbia's King Stretch material to give the wearer maximum mobility. I was able to ski and snowshoe without feeling restricted, and I stayed dry. The Omni-Tech shell material feels almost luxurious; it's soft, sleek, and lightweight. Friend Heather, whom I trust to give me honest opinions about gear, as she's an authority on the subject, complimented me on the jacket at least a dozen times on our trip to Yellowstone.

I love interior and exterior zippers!
In addition to all of the great things I've already described, there are a few things about the Millennium Flash that made it impossible for me to leave it at home while adventuring this winter. I made good use of the underarm vents, the removable powder skirt, the helmet-compatible hood, and the variety of zippered pockets - all common features among the best jackets I've worn. The contoured sleeve cuffs give the jacket a particularly sleek look I haven't seen anywhere else, and it also meant the sleeves were plenty long enough for my long arms. The contoured shape makes the sleeves easy to grab if you need to adjust them with gloves on.

There's an extra brightly colored blue zipper underneath the black main zipper, which made a huge difference when the wind picked up. I didn't feel any air get through, which is ideal when you're flying down the slopes or battling 20-30mph winds in America's first national park. There's a small pocket on the left sleeve right by the cuff I found perfect for lip balm, something I always forget, always lose, and can never easily access when I need it.

As hard as I tried, I could only find one thing I would change about the Millennium Flash. It's cut very straight; there's no articulation at the waist. If a bit of articulation was added to make the jacket a touch more flattering when it's on, I'd be hard pressed to find anything to change about it.

The Columbia Women's Millennium Flash jacket, MSRP $280, is currently available from Amazon, Sierra Trading Post, and on Columbia's website. What do you think? How awesome is the color? What features do you look for in a shell jacket?

Comments

Heather Balogh said…
Still loving that jacket :)