• The MEC Stride Jacket.

    MEC Stride Jacket (Photo: Nick Walker/Can Geo)

I have to admit, I’m one of those annoying people who actually likes (dare I say, loves) winter. My love of cold weather is supported by the long held belief that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. As an avid runner, snowboarder and new cross country skier, I was sure I could put these winter active-wear items to the test this season. 

MEC Stride Jacket

MEC Stride Jacket (Photo: Nick Walker/Can Geo)

Performance

The MEC Stride Jacket is a great running jacket. It’s lightweight and flexible, but still warm and offers enough protection from harsh winter winds. It also has good airflow through the side and back panels, so I didn’t get too warm, and subsequently sweaty on my runs— important for not catching a chill on those -20 C days.

Style and fit

The dropped rear hem kept my backside warm while I waited at stop lights — a definite plus. I’m often skeptical when it comes to thumb loops on outdoor running gear as my arms tend to be too long to fit them comfortably. While the jacket’s cuff was flexible enough, the thumb loops were still a hair short for me. Thankfully, they arm cuffs were tight enough to provide warmth and wind protection, without needing the loops.

Media port

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the media port inside the pocket to keep my phone (and my music player) dry. This jacket certainly does not skimp on the pocket space, though it didn’t feel bulky. It was great to have so much space to stash extra gear while I ran.

Full zipper and hood

One of my favourite parts of the jacket is the full zipper and hood. On warmer days, I kept the hood down but was able to zip up the jacket high enough to not need a neck warmer. In colder temperatures, the hood’s snug fit under my chin and around my face made me feel next to invincible.

Columbia Castella Peak Striped Hoodie 

Columbia Castella Peak Striped Hoodie (Photo: Nick Walker/Can Geo)

I got so many compliments on this hoodie. I wore it everywhere from road trips to evening cross-country skiing treks and felt warm and stylish the entire time.

Thumb holes and dropped hem

My two favourite features by far were the thumb holes that were actually long enough for my long arms and the dropped hem at the back. Both contributed to the great full coverage and protection that I needed when enjoying the great outdoors at all temperatures. The offset drawstrings were a nice change from my regular old hoodies.

Fabric

The combination polyester-elastane fabric was comfortable and stayed wrinkle free no matter what I was doing. However, if you like to wear a hoodie directly on top of a sports bra, I would suggest putting on a t-shirt first. I found the seams a little itchy when they were directly on my skin, but with an added layer, I had no complaints. The only other issue is that after a few washes I found that the fabric around the wrists started to pull a little. Not a deal breaker, but important to know if you are going to be in places where your hoodie may get caught on something.

MEC Bolt Toque

MEC Bolt Toque (Photo: Nick Walker/Can Geo)

Style and fit

This hat was a little confusing for me. It just didn’t seem to fit quite right. It was a little too large at the base, so it didn’t stay on my head, and it wasn’t long enough to cover my ears. On its own, I wasn’t able to keep the hat on my head while sitting at my desk, let alone being active.

Under layer

However, I did like wearing the hat under my snowboarding helmet on a particularly cold day on the hills. It was lightweight enough to fit comfortably under my helmet and helped to keep my head warm. It didn’t stay perfectly in place, but did provide an extra layer of support when I really needed it.