Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket Review

Though it lacks the performance of higher-end jackets, the Bugaboo Interchange from Columbia is a solid garment for those who want a reliable, inexpensive 3-in-1 model.

Quick Summary

  • Where to buy: Columbia, Amazon, REI
  • Best for: Skiers who want some extra versatility out on the slopes. Also, those on a budget or riders who want to save some cash.
  • Pros: This jacket is incredibly comfortable thanks to its excellent warmth. Feels great against your skin and fits well. Versatile design. The inner layer can also be used on its own when you’re not on the slopes.
  • Cons: The snow skirt doesn’t work with the inner layer. The design’s look may put some people off, and it’s a tad on the bulky side. Could have better ventilation.
  • Alternatives: Whirlibird Interchange, Outdoor Master 3-in-1, Camel Fleece

Why Trust Me

I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching this jacket by breaking down its features and studying how it held up in different conditions.

Detailed Review

The Bugaboo Interchange Jacket is a versatile model that can do a little bit of everything. The 3-in-1 design is a nice bonus that gives you the ability to adapt to different conditions. You’re able to hit the slopes, cruise through tough weather, or even walk around town with little to no issues. Though it’s a bit too bulky for true backcountry use, the jacket is a wonderful option at the resort or in calmer conditions.

Warmth and Ventilation

The Bugaboo is a pretty warm jacket. It doesn’t quite have the insulation of more premium options, but it still does a great job at ensuring you stay cozy during most runs. That’s largely thanks to the fleece liner that utilizes Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology to keep your body cool. The small series of reflective aluminum dots help keep heat inside your jacket, and they work well towards that end.

As great and insulated as the jacket is, the ventilation isn’t quite up to snuff. It’s made of a breathable material, but it’s not as air-flow friendly as other jackets. You’re going to see some sweat on hot days, and it can also be an issue if you take this jacket out on tough rides. That can be mitigated through wearing some of the layers rather than all, but I would have liked to see some underarm vents.

Reinforced Water Resistance

As with so many other tight, insulated jackets, the Bugaboo Interchange does a good job of keeping moisture away from your body. This is a huge bonus for me, and something all skiers will be able to appreciate no matter where they ride. The waterproof construction works exactly as advertised, and it’s backed up nicely by the strong seals and DWR coating. You fight water on multiple fronts here, and they all work.

Comfort and Style

This jacket is comfortable, but also a bit stiff at the same time. The materials used in the construction are plenty soft (especially the inner layer) and you won’t have any issues with them as you ride. That being said, the flexibility isn’t quite up to task. It tends to be a bit more restricting and noticeable than what I prefer. You still get a lot of movement, it could just be better.

Something else worth mentioning is the jacket’s style. While the Bugaboo isn’t going to stand out, there’s something to be said about the more muted design. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to yell “hey look at me,” or if you simply enjoy throwing on a more classic style, you will greatly enjoy this jacket’s look. You also can freely customize the color. Columbia offers a range of different shades so you can perfectly match your style.

Additional Features

As with any jacket from a more well-known brand, the Bugaboo Interchange gives you a lot to play around with. Backing up the interesting design is a fleece liner, chin guard, and adjustable storm hood. All of those add to the general versatility and enable you to freely adapt to your surroundings. The cuffs and drawcord are both fully modifiable as well. The hood doesn’t have the best insulation, but everything keeps you warm when fully tightened.

There are also quite a few pockets in the design, which is something I always appreciate. You don’t get a ski pass pocket, which I definitely would have liked, but you’ll have no issue taking your smaller items out with you. There’s also a small flap that covers the main zipper to give you a bit of extra warmth and provide an extra way to fight the wind.

Price and Value

This jacket offers excellent value no matter where you are in your skiing journey. That’s because the 3-in-1 system provides you with largely unmatched versatility. While you’re not actually getting three jackets for the price of one, that’s not a bad comparison. In addition, the price point is much more reasonable than some other ski garments on the market. That makes it a solid pick if you’re looking to save some cash.

What I Like

At the forefront of this jacket is the 3-in-1 design, and that’s my favorite thing about it. Not only does that provide you with ample amounts of versatility, but it ups the value quite a bit. Being able to get multiple layers that you can do different things with is great, especially if you’re a skier who likes to partake in many different winter activities.

I’m also a big fan of the Interchange’s features. The ample pockets are easy to appreciate. You’ll always find a use for them in some way. The main zipper flap shows Columbia’s attention to detail, as do the cuffs and adjustable drawcord. Add on the fleece liner, hood, and chin guard and you get a lot of add-ons that greatly enhance the functionality.

What I Dislike

My biggest drawback here is the ventilation. While the jacket does let out some heat, you aren’t going to match the breathability of similar models. That’s largely expected when getting a more affordable jacket, but I found the pit-zips only existing on the outer layer to be a bummer. The inner jacket does a decent job of wicking moisture, the outer layers don’t have the same reliability. That’s going to lead to some sweat build up.

The Alternatives

The Bugaboo Interchange offers you a complete package. Even so, some other excellent jackets break from the mold. If that appeals to you, these are worth a look:

  • Whirlibird Interchange – Another offering from Columbia, the Whirlibird is similar to the Bugaboo in a lot of ways. It’s affordable, uses the Omni-Heat liner, and has a 3-point interchange system. However, it’s a bit more breathable and, while it doesn’t match up in terms of features, it comes with excellent versatility. There are tons of colors to pick from too.
  • Outdoor Master 3-in-1 – Another 3-in-1 model, this jacket from Outdoor Master gives you a reliable outer shell that’s both waterproof and breathable. While it sits at a higher price point than the Bugaboo, it’s not by much. You get a lot of value with this model, and every part stands on its own.
  • Camel Fleece – While not as well known as other 3-in-1’s, this affordable jacket from Camel gives you a little bit of everything to create a versatile, well-made garment. It has a tight, weather-resistant design that’s tough and made to last a while. The ventilation is solid too. The color options are limited, but that’s a small drawback when it comes to the overall value.

FAQs

How warm is this jacket?

With a 220-gram fleece liner, the Bugaboo Interchange will serve you well in most winter environments. You may need a bit extra help in truly extreme cold, however.

Does this work as a windbreaker?

The outer jacket will do a good job of staving off wind, but the inner layer doesn’t offer the same protection.

Is this jacket true to size?

Yes. You should have no problem with fit as long as you buy the size you normally wear.

Final Verdict

The Bugaboo is an affordable jacket that does exactly what it sets out to do. It provides you with options. The 3-in-1 design is unique and versatile, two traits that push it above and beyond many similar styles, and the construction holds up well enough. You aren’t going to get a lot of breathability, but that’s a trade-off many people will make for the lower price.

If you like to mix it up during the winter and perform many different activities across many different environments, this jacket will serve you well. If you’re looking for the absolute best performance and stellar features, you might need to pay a bit more. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in ski apparel and how you like to spend your days on the slopes.

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