The Columbia Powder Keg II is a comfortable resort pant that is intended for cold weather skiing. The Powder Keg II uses Columbia’s new Omni Heat 3D technology to provide top of the line heat retention that kept testers warm even in below zero temperatures. It comes with all the features expected of a resort pant like plenty of pockets, a velcro belt, and belt loops, and an internal leg gaiter easily accessed with large side zippers. Testers were able to cool off when exerting themselves by opening up the mesh covered thigh vents but the warmth of the pant is also its biggest downfall. These pants are best used on cold days so they aren’t the best choice for an all-around pant. If skiing in a variety of temperatures or primarily when the sun is out a lighter insulation pant or a shell pant would be a better option. However, if looking for a well thought out cold weather resort skiing pant that won’t break the bank, then the Powder Keg II is a great option to consider.
The Powder Keg II received an update for the 2018/19 ski season. This new version features Columbia’s new Omni heat 3D technology, designed to increase heat reflection and retention. The lining uses more coverage to enhance its reflective properties in addition to pods of fiber that create an air gap between body and fabric to increase heat retention. These pants exceeded testers expectations by being incredibly warm even in harsh conditions. The Omni Tech exterior fabric did a great job of being both waterproof and breathable. The pants felt durable due to the many layers of lining, although the downside was that they felt a bit bulkier compared to most of the other pants in the test. Another feature that enhances durability is a reinforced cuff along the inside ankle where the pants can often get the most abuse.
These pants came with all the expected features of a standard resort snow pant. They have an adjustable velcro belt in addition to belt loops if you prefer to use your own. The Powder Keg II has leg vents along the inner thighs that are covered with mesh to quickly cool down if the pants are too warm. There are two fleece lined zippered hand pockets and two extra back velcro pockets which isn’t a feature that most other pants have. The pant cuffs have a long zipper making it easy to access the built-in gaiters that fit snugly over ski or snowboard boots. These pants also feature a ripstop patch on the inside of the legs for extra durability. An additional small feature that testers enjoyed was the small loop next to a side pocket that can be used to attach a clip for your ski pass.
The Powder Keg II uses Omni Tech as its outer fabric to withstand any weather that the mountains may throw at you. Testers were pleased with the results since the pants didn’t show any signs of water leakage even on soggier days at the mountain. In addition, the insulating layers are quite thick so that testers felt warm and dry even when it was stormy and cold out.
These pants are best suited for colder days at the resort rather than a bluebird spring day. However, they do have mesh covered vents on the inner thighs which help to cool down when temperatures rise. These vents are long and despite having a flap partially covering the mesh, testers found that they let in enough cool air to not overheat when skiing hard. Nevertheless, these pants had a more limited temperature range versus some of the lighter pants. The shell pants that were tested are all more versatile since they can be worn on colder days with a warm base layer underneath or by themselves for the sunny spring skiing day.
Testers were generally pleased with the fit of these pants since there is enough room to layer underneath without feeling restrictive. The size small that testers wore felt true to size though maybe a bit looser compared to other pants of the same size. They were also the perfect length to fully cover a ski boot without it riding up at all. The pant material uses a 4-way stretch fabric that provides plenty of range of motion and is comfortable to ski in all day at the resort. The lining inside the pants is soft against the skin and the outside material isn’t overly stiff. The material is a bit noisier compared to the lighter fabric of the Salomon QST or the Black Diamond Helio but it wasn’t an issue that testers noticed once skiing in them.
Style & Value
The Columbia Powder Keg II has the cut of a typical snow pant and looks as good as one would expect from ski pants. Testers liked the flashy pink color which adds a lot of flair to any ski outfit and stands out for pictures when shredding down the slopes. However, there are also other traditional color choices which are nice for the women who can’t stand the hot pink look. At only $250 the Powder Keg II is a pretty good value for a warm ski pant. There are cheaper ski pants out there and also much more pricey ones but for a dedicated resort pant for cold-weather skiing, this is a great option.