Although I had some Columbia clothing in my early travel years, in a rather saturated market, neither I nor Heather had ever considered Columbia Sportswear for outdoor clothing and tackling the extremes of the Lake District weather. Yet after some research we decided to give it a go.
Columbia Sportswear started its days back in 1938 as a small hat company, named “Columbia Hat Company”, after the river Columbia that runs through Portland, Oregon where its Headquarters is still located today. Over the years the company grew and developed into manufacturing all manner of apparel, maintaining its core aims of keeping the wearer “Warm, dry, cool and protected no matter what”.
Today Columbia Sportswear has won accolades for its clothing, including the National Geographic Adventure’s gear award in 2013. They also sponsor some hard-hitters in the sporting world, providing clothing for the US and Canadian Freestyle ski teams, the Vidaraid Adventure Team, and the Manchester United Football Club. Most recently Columbia Sportswear became the official outfitter for the UK’s National Park rangers and staff – and from our own experiences we know that the national parks provide some of the UK’s toughest and most challenging conditions, and not just in terms of the weather! So we were thrilled at the chance to work with Columbia by reviewing some of their kit on Conversant Traveller.
Columbia Sportswear Technologies
We had a typical Lake District winter in mind when we choose the items we wanted to review and nearly all use either Columbia Sportswear’s “Omni” or “Outdry” technology. The day we went out testing had just seen fresh snowfall and temperatures were a refreshing -2° to -3°C before factoring in any wind chill. Typically, for the first time in days, there was no rain!!! So we can’t comment first hand on the waterproof capabilities of any items.
Omni-Heat Reflective works on the principle of thermal reflective warmth. The clothing is lined with patented metallic dot material which makes up 35% of the heat retaining lining. The remaining fabric is highly breathable to allow moisture and excess heat to escape, making it the “ultimate in body heat management…for performance in the outdoors”.
Outdry™ Extreme is a first in the industry to have a tough waterproof membrane on the outside, with a soft wicking internal fabric. This, according to Columbia Sportswear, solves a problem inherent with traditional waterproof jackets which have an internal waterproof membrane, and an external breathable fabric which must be treated to make the jacket waterproof. Over time if the jacket is not well maintained the fabric will deteriorate and allow water in, severely reducing the breathability of the clothing.
MY (PETE’S) CLOTHING VERDICT:
Men’s Outdry™ Ex Stretch Hooded Shell Jacket
Part of Columbia Sportswear’s award-winning Titanium ultimate performance range, this piece of kit is designed for all year use. Using the Outdry™ Extreme technology means that this four-way stretch soft shell jacket has external taped seams.
- The fact that this jacket uses Outdry™ technology means that despite being classed as a “shell” it does have a thin micro fleece style internal liner, giving that little extra bit of warmth during the cold months and meaning you could skip that midlayer in slightly warmer temperatures.
- The jacket comes with two zipped hand pockets and a zipped chest pocket, the hand pockets being a generous size, and the chest pocket being big enough to fit an average sized mobile phone.
- The attached storm hood can be rolled down and fastened using the Velcro tab and has two side drawcords to tighten. There are also adjustable sleeve cuffs and a hem drawcord.
Out and About
It was rather cold outside so I wore a mid-layer beneath the coat, and once I’d adjusted the sleeve cuffs and hem I felt nice and snug despite the wind chill. The four-way stretch meant that I had plenty of movement whilst we scrambled around and I took my rucksack on and off. The jacket wicked the moisture away nicely despite marching uphill, and whilst the coat does weigh in at just over 530g (according to our kitchen scales for a size large!) I didn’t really notice the weight (I have both heavier and lighter waterproofs).
By Columbia Sportswear’s own admission this is a jacket that looks different, and some colours will make the unique design stand out more than others. I can’t get over the look of the material, it reminds me of some of my waterproof bags we use for canoeing, but then they have been fully submerged many a time and never leaked! This is a piece of kit that will definitely be coming out with me on the fells again in the future.
Men’s Outdry™ Ex Gold Down Hooded Jacket
Another member of the Titanium range using the Outdry™ Extreme technology, this down jacket is advertised as “perfect for just about anywhere it’s cold and wet”
- This is a 700 fill “responsibly sourced” Power Goose Down jacket using Heat Seal technology which eliminates any stitching and creates horizontal baffles which prevents the down from migrating, improves heat retention and waterproof properties as there are no holes in the garment.
- It comes with two good sized pockets, an adjustable hem and an adjustable attached hood.
Out and About
Once I got moving the jacket kept me warm but when we stopped to take pictures on a fell top with the wind blowing, I could feel my temperature dropping a bit. And whilst the jacket is advertised as an ‘active fit’ and I had plenty of movement in the arms, I did find the garment a bit baggy around the torso. When I moved I could feel pockets of air getting squeezed out of the sleeve cuffs or out around the neck – not really what you want on a cold day, to be losing all that heat.
I also found the adjustable hood a little strange. Rather than the usual elastic and toggle system which is great for single hand operation, I needed two hands to pull the cord and then lift it up into a fiddly locking clasp, during which time the hood had been pulled down over my eyes as there was no rear central adjustment to keep it in place. Releasing the hood was just as fiddly, requiring two hands.
Overall this is a good quality build jacket, but could be so much better. Why did Columbia not use the Omni-heat™ reflective technology to make this jacket even warmer? And why did they not just use simple one-handed operation toggles?
Weighing in at approximately 490g (for a size large), this jacket will probably find its way into my rucksack when I tackle the hills next as I don’t have a waterproof down, but to be honest, a simple search will find you a warmer, lighter, good quality down jacket for less.
Men’s Titan Ridge™ II Pant
These Titanium range trousers combine both the Omni-Heat™ reflective technology with Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Shield™ water repellent technology.
- These active fit hiking trousers have lots of features. They are made from two-way comfort stretch material, giving a nice close freedom of movement fit.
- With reinforced knees and seat, these trousers are hard-wearing and come with two zipped hand pockets, as well as zipped thigh and rear pockets.
Out and About
Usually I’d have to pull on some over trousers for additional warmth and protection from the wind if stopping on top of a fell in cold weather, but not with these trousers, they were warm and kept what wind there was out.
The Omni-Shield™ also kept the snow from getting absorbed into the trouser material, keeping my legs nice and dry.
The fleece lined waist is a nice touch to ensure there is all round insulation and reducing the areas where the cold may be able to creep in. This was further helped by the adjustable ankle hem and boot lace clip to keep a tight fit around my boots.
As a winter/cold weather trouser, I really liked these. I’ve had lined winter trousers in the past, but have found them to be too hot when tackling the hills. These trousers with their Omni-Heat™ technology kept my legs at just the right temperature.
A slight niggle for me, and this is personal preference, I would remove the boot clip and ankle hem toggle. Only because I’m just as likely to be wearing wellies as hiking boots here in the winter, and this detailing will get pinched into the foot and ankle causing pressure points.
Unisex Caldorado™ Beanie
Part of the Columbia Montrail collection this Polartec® hat is just at home on a hike or trail run.
- This beanie is made from Polartec® Power Stretch material which has high wicking performance for when you get a sweat on in the hills, keeping the head warm and dry.
Out and About
I tend to wear slightly thicker beanies than the Caldorado™ when the temperatures drop, so was a bit sceptical that a thinner hat would keep my head just as warm. I was wrong. This snug beanie kept me completely toastie, even when the chilling winds picked up on top of the fell.
At only approximately 26g I was really impressed with the performance of this beanie, and despite wearing it for some time, I didn’t get the usual embarrassing “hat line” across my forehead that I do with some of my other beanies. If I was pushed to find a negative with this hat, it is only available in black.
HEATHER’S CLOTHING VERDICT:
Women’s Outdry™ Ex Eco Down Jacket (this is the GIVEAWAY prize – it comes in mens too!)
A 700 Fill RDS certified Power Goose Down waterproof jacket, from the Titanium range, billed as “the industry’s first high-performance breathable rainwear technology without PFCs…100% recycled, dye-free fabric”. The Outdry™ Extreme Eco is Columbia Sportswear’s more environmentally-friendly technology.
- Using the Heat Seal technology eliminates any stitching and creates horizontal baffles which prevent the down from migrating, improve heat retention and waterproof qualities as there are no holes in the garment. Coupled with the Outdry™ Extreme technology this makes the down jacket waterproof and breathable.
- It comes with two good sized pockets, an adjustable hem and an adjustable attached hood. All the trims (toggles, eyelets, webbing, zippers etc) contain 100% recycled content.
Out and About
I’m the sort of person who is always cold, you know, the kinda girl who wears socks to bed even in the summer. So looking out of our window this morning to see the fells covered in snow and icicles hanging off the tree made me sceptical about just how warm the jacket would be. It was thinner than my other down jackets, but despite that I wasn’t at all cold whilst I was walking, and all I had on underneath was a technical base layer. When I stopped however I did find myself starting to feel a bit chilly, so I don’t think it retained the heat as well as it perhaps could have done.
I was surprised at how much I actually like this jacket. Sure, I’m not keen on the colour (it only comes in white), the material does look quite unusual compared to all the other outdoor jacket brands, and the fit isn’t tailored specifically for women. Yet when you look at the eco credentials and the fact it did actually keep me warm whilst moving, what’s not to like? It’s good to be a bit different after all.
Women’s Midweight Stretch Baselayer – Long sleeve
A performance baselayer featuring Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Heat™ and Omni-Wick™ technologies.
- This baselayer is constructed from four-way comfort stretch material that has received “antimicrobial treatment” to prevent bacterial growth and bad odours.
- It has flatlocked construction and ergonomic seaming making this top comfortable to wear ‘next to skin’.
- Columbia Sportswear have created thumb holes into the cuffs to prevent them from riding up whilst out on activity.
Out and About
This top was really comfy and molded well to the skin like a snug glove. I didn’t need to wear anything else under the jacket, although had I not been climbing hills I’d certainly have wanted a few mid layers in there to keep me warm. I liked the neck zip which allowed me to adjust my temperature slightly depending on whether I was climbing up and getting hot, or walking down and starting to feel the chill.
I’ve had several baselayers in my time, but think this might just be my new favourite. I love the thumb holes which save a lot of squirming around trying to pull down the sleeves inside the jacket, and also give a little more warmth to my hands. Perhaps most impressively, I didn’t smell after our day out! Which isn’t always the case when we’ve been off getting sweaty in the hills.
Women’s Permafrost Plush™ Beanie
A knitted and lined beanie providing comfort, function and warmth.
- This is a snug Phur Fleece lined beanie.
- It comes in 3 attractive winter colours
Out and About
This is more of a casual winter hat than a technical bit of kit for serious mountain climbing, yet it still kept my head really warm whilst we were out on the fells. The fit is excellent despite being one size, and a great feature is that it covered my ears unlike some of my other hats which leave me wishing I had earmuffs (Hubbie wouldn’t be seen with me if I resorted to wearing them!).
I’m a collector of hats, and am more than happy with the latest addition to my horde. I’ll probably be wearing this more about town and on chilly evenings out rather than when we go hiking, but you really can’t go wrong when something is both cute and functional.
Women’s Loveland™ Mid Omni-Heat™ Boot
The combination of Omni-Heat™, Omni-Tech™ and Omni-Grip™ technology have produced a mid-height winter and waterproof boot that is rated to -32°C.
- These boots are constructed from waterproof synthetic woven textile with a faux-fur collar and come with 200g of insulation to give them that impressive rating of -32°C.
- The Techlite™ midsole is lightweight and provides long lasting comfort and brilliant cushioning with the Omni-Grip™ providing confident footing on snow and ice.
Out and About
I wore these boots at low level during our valley hiking found them to be insulating with a surprisingly good grip on the paths. They weren’t very rigid, which is fine for walking on flat, or about town, but not for scrambling up rocky paths. I was really disappointed in the size. Normally I’m a UK 5, but ordered a 6 to allow for multiple pairs of socks as I do with all my winter boots. Yet even a 6 was too small, and I could actually have done with a 7, which is a bit ridiculous. I’m not familiar with Columbia Sportswear sizing, so don’t know if this is the norm or not.
I wouldn’t wear these boots out in the mountains. There is not much ankle support, and for me the soles would need to have greater traction for more technical terrain. Yet they’re so warm I only needed a single pair of socks, rather than the 2 I normally wear in my other boots. I’ll certainly be wearing these for more casual winter outings around the Lakes. I just wish I’d ordered an even bigger size.
We’ve partnered with Columbia Sportswear to offer our readers the chance to win an Outdry™ Ex Eco Down Jacket for themselves (it comes in mens and womens).
The giveaway is open to entrants worldwide.
How to enter
It couldn’t be simpler. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter, completing as many of the options as you like. If you have previously completed any of the actions (for example if you already follow us on Facebook, Twitter etc) then feel free to have an entry for them!
IMPORTANT: Make sure you select your entries on the Rafflecopter widget to validate your entry (click on the grey bottom right hand box under each entry option)!
Terms and conditions
No purchase is necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. The prize is provided by Columbia Sportswear, and is an Outdry™ Ex Eco Down Jacket.
This giveaway is open to a worldwide audience. Postage is included. No returns. The prize is not refundable or exchangeable for cash. The giveaway will run for 2 weeks starting on Monday 1st January 2018 and end at midnight on Monday 15th January 2018. The winner will be determined on or around the 16th January 2018 by a random drawing of eligible entries received. Your chances of winning are determined by the number of eligible entries. Winners must respond within a week of receiving the notification email, otherwise another winner will be chosen.
Columbia Sportswear have kindly provided the gear for this review, as well as the giveaway prize. All opinions remain our own, and we only feature products that we are happy to use ourselves.