Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite III

Sometimes, it’s good to be wrong. Like when it comes to basic comfort. Fir instance, for reasons of my own, I have avoided down “puffy” coats for years. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they were warm, it was more that they reminded me of the thick down vests my Dad wore on fishing trips in the eighties, and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. And, well,they were just so very, very puffy. To me, they always seemed a little too akin to sweatpants, or a muumuu like experience of just giving up and wearing your sleeping bag everywhere you go. So I didn’t wear them. Instead, I layered thermals and mid layers and fleece, and shells and all in all, I felt like I stayed pretty warm regardless of the weather.

And then, two years ago in preparation for a winter trip to Taos, my boyfriend bought me one. It was a no frills, entry-level puffy coat on the bottom end of both insulation (read, not very puffy) and cost. It was boxy, unflattering, lacking lining and in an odd kind of rash-colored pink. And I fell stupid in love with it. Turns out, I had been cold that whole time, just unwilling to admit it. And the reality is, the older I get, the harder it is to stay cold.

Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite IIISo this winter, before heading out to the Oregon high desert for the holidays, I went hunting for a different model, one that would be everything I had ever (the last two years) dreamed a puffy coat could be. For me, this means a couple of specific things. First, it still can’t be too puffy. The giant thick jackets are warm, sure, but become rapidly too hot with exertion, or as soon as I pull on a shell. Also, they have to be designed for women with hips since, well, I have hips. And a butt. And decent self esteem if I am wearing clothes that fit me properly. Finally, it has to be tough. I sweat and get dirty and go out in all kinds of weather, and I want my gear to keep up with me.

It turns out, there is no lack of choices in puffy coats. And they can run you up to $350. But they increase in puffiness (and warmth) with price, and since I am not a fan of the super puff, I set a $200 limit. At that price, you can still choose from at least ten coats in most gear stores, but I settled on the Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite III. It comes in five colors, peach, pink, light blue, deep purple and basic black, and they are all subdued enough to feel comfortable wearing out and about in regular life.

Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite IIIThe Might Lite III has a reflective thermal lining, wrist cuffs with thumb holes, fleece-lined zipper pockets, and a flattering and comfortable cut for curves and broad shoulders. It was the only jacket that fit over my hips without looking boxy. I took it home and packed it with me out to the cabin. Then the daytime temperature dropped to around ten degrees Fahrenheit and stayed there for an entire week. So I wore my puffy coat. And it was like giving up and wearing my sleeping bag all day. And it was wonderful.

Sometimes a little too wonderful, even at those low temperatures this jacket can be a bit too warm, but opening the zipper around the neck and the pockets helps cool you down slowly. And that insulating power means that it keeps you warm even if you are just standing around a campfire at night. The dark purple I chose doesn’t seem to show dirt and seems to be a little sturdier than that material from my previous jacket. Like most down coats, it doesn’t serve as a waterproof outer layer, but since it isn’t super puffy, it fits nicely under my raincoats and snow jackets. I bought a size up from my usual medium to accommodate extra base layers, which turned out to be a good idea given the jackets tailored fit.

The best part of this jacket though is how reasonably it’s priced. It’s a lot of warmth and comfort for a third of the price of other coats. You can purchase this one directly from Columbia’s website, where it’s receiving five-star ratings for $110. It can be a cold, cold world out there, go get yourself some puff.

Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite III


Bottom Line:

A great thermal coat at a reasonable price for anyone spending time outside this winter.

Tech Specs:
Date available: Already in stores
MSRP: US $110.00
Materials: polyester
Dimensions: sizes xs-xl, runs small

Columbia Sportswear Mighty Lite III




Warmth to weight







  • Great fit
  • Not too puffy to wear with other layers
  • Well priced compared to similar coats
  • Both comfortable and durable


  • Can get a little too warm

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