• Columbia's Platinum 860 Turbodown™ hooded jacket (Photo: Jessica Finn)

I scoffed when I first saw it. There was just no way that the jacket laying before me was intended for winter use. And yet, Columbia's Platinum 860 Turbodown™ hooded jacket claims to be everything a winter adventurer could wish for: light, versitile and warm. Despite my doubts, I gave it a try. You know what they say about not judging a coat by its cover (or something like that).

There was no denying that the jacket was light and seemed eminently packable. The medium fit true-to-size, with room for layers beneath but had a flattering cut that wouldn't look too out-of-place in town. But the real question was whether it could keep me - a rain-or-shine bicycle commuter - warm during Ottawa's wet-cold winter months? My disbelief stemmed from rural childhood, where you weren’t warm unless you resembled the Michelin man.

Boy was I wrong. When I wore the jacket on a few warmer days, I was surprised to find that I wasn't just warm on my commute home; I arrived sweating. So, with my preconceptions on standby, I continued using the jacket as the temperatures continued to plummet in Ottawa. It served me well on my bikes to work through minus 30 degree weather. Never before have I looked so svelte in the wintertime.

My amazement continued when I was able to try Columbia's Minx™ Mid II Omni-Heat™ winter boot. Again, I was accustomed to massive clompers that were picked primarily from the home hardware store and made your feet triple in apparent size. These, on the other hand, were soft and pillowy with a pleasant quilted exterior and faux fur lined rim. Again, as I slipped them onto my feet I doubted whether something so thin could keep my toesies toasty. And while they had a rubber sole, the thin quilted uppers did not inspire confidence in their purported waterproofness. They felt like slippers after all, and slippers were for indoors, right?

Columbia Minx™ Mid II Omni-Heat™ winter boot (Photo: Jessica Finn)

Before I explain how I was wrong again, I just want to take a moment to emphasize the slipper comparison. I once wore them all day in the office, because they were so comfortable I didn’t want to take them off. Granted, my office is also kept ridiculously cold. The gods who control the thermostat have no pity for human life. But still, believe me when I say these things are like chic little warmth cocoons for your feet.

The trick is, the boots also had a reflective inner lining, taking the heat of your foot and shooting it back to you. Not only does this make layers upon layers of socks unnecessary but I even found it could have the opposite effect (if you listen closely, you can hear me questioning everything I've ever believed about outerwear.)

The boots looked stylish over jeans and discrete under snowpants. The jacket's reflective liner did its job of keeping me warm while simultaneously making me feel like an extra-galactic ninja (a benefit reinforced by my colleagues.) Basically if you want to look good while feeling warm, then I highly recommend you shed your more-is-more preconceptions and invest in these two top-notch items.

Products provided by Columbia Sportswear Company