(Well, maybe the country of Colombia rocks, too trouver du viagra en france. I’ve never been there.)

Last February, the zipper pull on my 15-year old 3-in-1 Columbia jacket broke. The decade-and-a-half of accumulated winter crud would no longer yield in the washer, nor to the stain stick. The fleece liner was pilling. It was probably time for a new jacket, I reasoned.

I loved that it was the first “real” piece of Minnesota winter clothing I bought after moving here in 1999. Herberger’s was having their annual jacket drive so I brought in some “California” jackets in order to help fund my winter purchase.

Y’all, it gets cold up here and normal jackets just don’t cut the mustard. Two words: wind. chill.

The jacket, with discounts, was about $120. I’d never in my life paid that much for a piece of outerwear. As any decent business person does, I calculated my cost per winter. $120 investment/15 winters = $8 a winter. I think I got my money’s worth.

I tried to calculate the return on investment for my $120 purchase over 15 winters and it went something like this:

ROI = (Gain from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment

ROI = (how do you calculate the gain for 2250 days of winter? – $120) / $120   drumming fingers on desk

ROI = ($1,000,000 worth of warmth – $120) / $120

ROI = 8,332%

Let’s try another tactic. I did a Google search for how much is a human body worth and, as suspected, received some interesting results. We could calculate the value of my body in two ways: component parts or chemical elements. 

According to a post on DataGenetics.com, breaking down a body into chemical elements reveals that 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, and Phosphorus.¹ Looking at cost of purchasing said elements in the scientific marketplace results in a value of $160 per body. Figuring my average lifespan to be around 70, I divide 160 by 70 and the result is $2.28 for every year I’m alive. Because I live in Minnesota and I wear the jacket about half of the year, let’s say the result is $1.14 each winter.

$1.14 x 15 winters = $17.10 worth of protection for my chemical elements.

ROI = (17.10-120)/120

ROI = -8.6%

On the other hand (pun intended), Wired Magazine² estimated the human body components (brain, liver, spleen, heart, etc.) to be worth a combined total of $45 million.

$45 mil / 70 years average life span = $642,857.14 per year value.

Divide that in half for winters only and we’re looking at the jacket protecting $321,428.57 per winter

$321,428.57 x 15 winters = $4,821,428.50 worth of total protection.

ROI = (4821428.50-120)/120

ROI = 40,177% not bad, Columbia. Not bat at all.

(Please note the C- earned, happily and gratefully, in Finance has deemed my math always lacking in rhyme or reason. This is basically “fake financial analysis.”)


Because I’m me, I wrote an ode to my Columbia jacket when I realized it was time to replace it. You can see it here. I sent it to the Columbia folks on a lark and they replied with an enthusiastic reminder that as long as I owned the jacket, it is covered under a lifetime warranty. Send it in! they said. We’ll take a look and repair or replace it. 

It was a really good poem.

I received a response this week about my jacket. It went like this:

Hello Jana,

Thanks so much for holding tight while we finish up work on your warranty claim! We have a few styles in your size. Pick from the three below and we’ll send you a new jacket. 

Sarah – Columbia Customer Service

Excuse me? You’re just going to SEND ME A BRAND NEW $220 JACKET?

Yep. It’s on the way. I love warranties THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED!

All hail Columbia!