This jacket has been billed as ‘the 1st ever waterproof , breathable fabric technology constructed with a waterproof layer on the outside and soft, wicking fibre inside’.
Only one thing to do then but test it as best I can in as many different weather conditions as N Ireland can throw up at me throughout October and November this year.
I was given a ladies medium which for me as a size 12 is usually my perfect fit. I got the black colour as a test model. Not ideal but I just wore my lumi vest when out on the roads.
|The jacket in dry conditions.
Let’s look at the features first up.
. Outdry Extreme technology
. Waterproof breatheable membrane on the outside
. Soft wicking fabric on the inside
. Fully seam sealed
. Bonded hem and cuffs
. Attached storm hood
. Underarm venting
. Centerfront zipper
. Lightrail zippered hand pockets
. Adjustable cuffs
. Drawcord adjustable hem
. Rugged exterior
. Weight 390 g
|The inside, notice the lining, zips and seams.
Columbia have really gone for a very different looking jacket here, marketed at the active hiker and outdoor enthusiast who like to push boundaries in extreme conditions. I certainly come into this category but when I opened the jacket my first comment was that it felt like a rubble sack. Heavier and thicker than I anticipated due to the market they were trying to hit.
This jacket comes in heavy for a fell runner at 390g, I found that unless I was sure the weather was going to be harsh enough to need it I didn’t want the extra bulk and weight to carry in my pack.
The seams are on the outside of the jacket and look ‘techy’ which for me personally is fine but may get a few side looks if walking around tescos. The rubber look also is very unique, I quite liked it but I can see how for some people it might loose points on aesthetics.
When looking for a jacket for running in the mountains, I seek out a few key points. Wind and water resilience, breathability and weight/packable size. Races always ask for a jacket to have a hood and taped seams so I always make sure these are included too. Coming in at a RRP of £120 this is pricey so needs to be up to the price tag.
First impressions are that it has a long back and plenty of room around the waist. Arms fit perfect as do the shoulders and bust. The back is long on my frame but as it has a drawcord on the hem can be flipped under at the waist to shorten it. Not ideal but does add to keeping your hips protected in the heavy rain. I am a size 12, 34″ bust and 5.5″. I would have preferred a neater fit around my waist and shorter back. If I went to a small the shoulders and arms would be too tight.
This jacket is a winter jacket in my opinion and best used in heavy wind, rain or snow. As it is lined it keeps you well protected with just a light base layer underneath. I found that when running in the mournes even in the heavy rain I kept the underarm vents slightly open to assist breathability. It is very easy to overheat if the weather isn’t cold or wet enough. I found the hood frustrating as there were no cords to tighten so in heavy wind it did move around a lot.
|Back with hood up and flipped under at the waist.
The water replicancy of the Outdry exterior is 100%. I tested it in as many of our wet Irish days as I could and Using the underarm vents the breathability is excellent but if the conditions are warm it is very easy to overheat in. In the rain and wind I am confident that wearing the Columbia, it is keeping my torso protected. As I sweat a lot generally I am slightly damp under my jacket when I take it off. This is what I expected as I was working hard, breathability is excellent and as long as the conditions are harsh enough it is the jacket to reach for in our winter.
The zips under the arms were easy enough to open and close when moving and the chest pocket is a nice addition. When zipped fully up there were no catches or discomfort around my mouth or chin. I did flip the jacket under at the waist when running but when I was just walking didn’t need to do this.
The Columbia is a great jacket to run or fast hike in the mountains with on a winters day. The unique look and feel is different but does what it is asked off. It Keeps the water out, is wind proof, has a hood, taped seams and breathes. Pick your conditions though as if it isn’t wet and cold enough you will feel warm and the jacket will feel too heavy. The fit isn’t perfect for me but I can certainly see me using this jacket in some pretty knarly conditions this winter.
I will add to this review in February when I have been out in heavy snow and wind.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2017
As I waited out for some wet, windy and snow I continued to use my jacket as and when I could, I found it perfect when cycling to work as I leave home about 05.30 and am not returning until early evening most days. With the underarm vents opened to allow some air circulation it was perfect as a short commute jacket. Wind proof and as I found out 100% waterproof. I did have to keep the vents open all of the time even in the very cold early morning starts.
|Testing it in the snow.
When running I did find that unless the conditions were extremely cold and wet it really was too warm to wear, not a bad complaint to have, I know its the jacket to reach for in extreme weather.
The fabric does breathe well in very cold and wet conditions, I kept the underarm vents open to allow circulation of air, this worked a treat and the neck protection is excellent.
The hood did flap about a bit in the heavy winds and a wire edge would be a good addition. I certainly felt confident though that I was 100% dry and had air circulation in my jacket in the wind and rain I encountered. The snow did come briefly to allow me to test it and The Columbia performed as I expected it, warm, breathable and I was confident it was going to keep me safe and protected in the conditions.
In conclusion the Outdry fabric is fantastic, 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable and also versatile to different sports. I found it to be at its best in extreme conditions, heavy rain and wind with a biting wind is no match for the fabric. Not my everyday running jacket but certainly one I will reach for when the weather is nasty and I don’t mind the extra weight and size to feel warm, safe and protected.