skier on slope opens jacket to show the gold interior of the ski kit, wearing leather mittens and sunglasses, with bibbed ski pants beneath jacket
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Columbia Highland Summit Jacket and Bib – On Test 

Chrigl Luthy puts Columbia’s Highland Summit ski kit to the test on the slopes of the Portes du Soleil. How does it stack up? Find out…


Some jackets and pants are hard to pick out from a crowd of ski apparel but, as part of its Titanium collection, Columbia has made a clear effort to give this Highland Summit combo two features to distinguish it from the masses: a unique ability to keep the wearer cosy thanks to a proprietary inner fabric, and good value to match.

WeLove2Ski spent a few days on the mountain getting to know Columbia’s feature-laden, but ultimately not over-complicated, option for resort skiers. 

Before I delve into the detail of the special liner and the on-mountain performance, I should mention that the Highland Summit is pitched as the most versatile of Columbia’s ski and snowboard jackets. In real terms, it is a little hard to decipher how it is more versatile than its sister jackets, the Aerial Ascender II and the Winter District; all three jackets offer breathable micro insulation, similar waterproof outers and, crucially, the same Omni-Heat Infinity interior. So, if you prefer the look of the others, keep your ears open for the tech they share as we review the Highland Summit.  

skier in slate green ski gear turns with ease down a mellow slope

Fabric and Fit 

The Highland Summit jacket and bib are both lightly insulated with 60g polyester (85% recycled) throughout. This is the light sort of insulation that doesn’t add any extra bulk – in fact, you only really know it is there when a cold wind, which would normally bite through a shell, simply bounces off. The outer fabric shell is made of 100% polyester, Rebound Stretch, which has a little give in it. I personally favour outwear with some stretch to it, such as this; it helps with getting boots on and off, as much as it does during dynamic skiing.  

I should mention here about the fit. The jacket fit great on my 6’1.5″ frame, but the sleeves were instantly noticeable as too short. The same was true with the pant legs, which would require an extra two inches of length for full coverage. I went onto Columbia’s website and sure enough, they offer ‘Tall’ versions for most of their gear, including the Highland Summit, so they have taller folks covered; I would definitely order the Tall version if I were a customer.  

While discussing the fit, I should mention the coverage of the bib – it was very high up my torso. This seems to be the trend for a lot of brands, but personally I don’t see the advantage of it – it is just extra material that covers my torso and makes it less able to shed heat. For my high-output skiing needs, I would personally select a regular bib-less pant to match this Highland jacket. If, on the other hand, you are routinely too cold, the extra cover from the bib would be useful. It contains a nifty little pocket and a funny hatch you can put both hands through, if you so wish. 

skier decked out in slate green poses on the mountain

Design and Details 

The pocket placement was instantly practical, I noticed. And all of the pockets were generously sized, meaning that I wasn’t restricted to keeping any particular item in any particular place – mittens could go from thigh pocket to jacket pocket in a snap. The lycra thumb loops at the cuffs were a good indication of the long feature-list of this jacket. Given my need for a Tall option size, they weren’t usable for me this time. Less predictable was that the powder skirt wasn’t useable for me; when I buttoned it on the loosest buttons, I could tell it was too tight to remain buttoned for long. Sure enough I ended up skiing with it undone, which, due to the effectiveness of the bib at keeping out unwelcome drafts, worked fine. 

The kick patches on the heels are made with a Cordura-like fabric. Definitely not as robust as some of the mountaineering-derived, top-end offerings from other brands, but more than enough to protect the inner boot cuffs from several seasons’ worth of abuse from sharp ski edges. This is when I checked the recommended retail price of the outfit and was very impressed to see what it was advertised as. There are loads of features and performance for the price of this kit, and that is before we’ve even talked about its party piece: the gold lining. 

Clever Tech 

The Highland Summit jacket and pant combo were my first experience of Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology. I remember the older version of the shiny Omni-Heat liner, the silver one, but had never tried wearing, lest skiing, in it. And now this new version, Omni-Heat ‘Infinity’ was on test. 

I have to admit, a gold lining on the interior of the jacket initially sounded gimmicky, but my inner geek was intrigued to learn what the science was behind it. I had heard, of course, of the security blankets used for emergencies, whereby a reflective foil is used to bounce heat back to a casualty to maintain their warmth, well, the science is applicable here also.  

Essentially, rather than letting all that useful heat escape into the air, Omni-Heat simply bounces it back to you. Should you get too warm, then there is plenty of space between the small reflective circles for excess heat and moisture to escape.  

There is a tag on the jacket that states ‘This product is meant for cold weather skiing’, as if to reinforce the effectiveness of this technology. Indeed, as a test, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could drop a layer or two, as compared with my typical layering system for skiing with a traditional Gore-Tex or similar shell.

I skied each day during testing with a single base layer on top and on my legs during mid-season wintery temperatures. Granted, we are in the Portes du Soleil testing, not the interior of British Columbia; in higher resorts and latitudes I have experience of cold so fierce it interrupts your day, and the Highland Summit would thrive somewhere like there, or even at higher alpine resorts. Because, as we sat, stopped on a chairlift, near the ridge separating Avoriaz and the Swiss-side, I was completely comfortable; I didn’t feel any inclination to sweat, but I was warm and comfortable.  

skier skis in mellow off piste, with the ski resort piste and skiers visible just beyond

I would suggest that the simplicity of selecting one single base layer to ski in each day is something very appealing. Layering base and mid-layers can often be a chore, and you can easily get it wrong, I find. This Highland Summit suit simplifies all that. Is there a risk of overheating? Honestly, despite this effective heat reflection, at the bottom of the sun-drenched, perilous Swiss Wall black run, I hadn’t even opened the massive underarm vents or equally massive leg ventilation. I would suggest that the size of the bib across the torso is more of a factor in retaining unwanted heat than the reflective tech. The bib and jacket receive a ‘3’ on Columbia’s heat scale, and there are other options with lower heat ratings (less warmth) if this is a concern. 

There are not many sustainable practices I can find on the website to refer to in the production of this garment. Yes, there is 85% recycled polyester in the insulation, but many brands also used fully recycled materials all over, shell included, not to mention more ecological dyes and PFCA-free DWR coatings. Perhaps we will see this at some point in this range. 


After a few days’ testing, I could easily see the benefits of this Highland Summit combo. Yes, there are a couple of minor cost savings evident, but the comfort, versatility and the Omni-Heat technology makes it seem like incredibly good value and a remarkably simple choice for fuss-free resort skiing. There are a few colour options, for both men and women, all of which are tasteful and modern.  

skier skis away from camera in a few centimetres of fresh snow

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Chrigl Luthy

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