You know that great feeling when a breeze hits your hot and sweaty back during a hike, giving you a momentary blast of cool? Well the new Solar Polar Short Sleeve Top from Columbia takes that one step further—they’ve found a way to let your own sweat keep you cool, with their Omni-Freeze ICE technology. Wicking and antimicrobial technology balance out the, er, unpleasant side effects of the sweat, keeping you dry, and aroma-free during workouts. Weird, but very cool. I tested out the new Solar Polar technology during a hot and sweaty 25-km bike ride. It was Mother’s Day, and I compounded the lovely, 28 C summer weather by adding a backpack full of water bottles, sunscreen, extra hats and (as it turns out, unnecessary) windbreakers for the kids.
We hit the trails in Kananaskis and rode into Bragg Creek with the sun at our backs—our sweaty backs. Thankfully I was wearing the new Omni-Freeze ICE technology. I felt the venting effects of the lightweight shirt, and the anti-microbial technology was an added bonus.
By the end of the three-hour expedition I felt, amazingly, dry and cool. The shirt is wrinkle-free and rolls up nicely for packing; it’s now on my must-bring list for any trip that will involve an outdoor activity. ($59.99)
Gear review: Columbia Powerdrain water shoe
A typical water shoe for me is a ragged, end-of-the-road pair of old sneakers. But now that I’ve cycled, canoed and swam in my ultra-lightweight, almost-instantly-dry Columbia Powerdrain water shoe, I can see why the hubbub. They drain, they breathe, they don’t stink and they stick to rocks (say, on a canoe portage) when they should. Sure, the sole follows your foot when you slide out of these toggled lightweights, but then that dries in a ridiculously quick moment. ($100)
Gear review: Columbia Women’s Compounder Shell
Some designers of technical jackets seem to believe your typical woman is of the freakish offspring of Gwyneth Paltrow and T.rex. Yes, women’s arms are shorter than men’s and their necks, longer—but that doesn’t mean sleeves should end at your elbows or that collars have to bunch under your chin. That’s why the Compounder shell is a relief, with sleeves that extend far enough that you can scrunch your fists into a ball and tuck them up into your sleeve, if you get chilly.
Kid gear review
Jamie Buechler is the production coordinator at up!, and mother to Dylan, a very energetic two year old, who keeps mommy and daddy on their toes. Along with daddy Dave, the Buechlers enjoy the outdoors and are regularly heading to the mountains.
Pam Fieber is up!'s Managing Editor, and mom to nine-year-old Kate and six-year-old Lila, both avid bicycle riders, mud-pie makers, soccer players and tree climbers.