The Columbia OutDry Ex Eco range is described as "the industry's first high-performance waterproof and breathable rainwear technology without PFCs". Which of course, means nothing if you don’t know what PFCs are.
PFCs (per- and polyfluorinated chemicals) are commonly used in the outdoor world to make gear waterproof, stain-resistant and nonstick. They're pretty much everywhere. The only thing is, they're lethal for both the environment, and even sometimes for humans. Odds are, you've exposed yourself to all sorts of PFCs while using waterproof jackets, tents or even snowboard wax before. The strap of an Apple Watch is made with PFCs.
“Columbia can boast to have the only PFC-free, breathable, waterproof technology"
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have claimed that PFCs are in the bloodstreams of nearly all Americans - and they've also been linked to everything from kidney and testicular cancer to liver malfunction.
Even if production of PFCs stopped right now, future generations would still be exposed to it through contaminated water, air and food for years. Greenpeace have been crucial in calling for the elimination of PFCs for years, but the problem is it's just so widespread. It's in Polartec and Gore-Tex for example, and as such, it’s in most decent outdoor equipment.
Columbia, through their OutDry Ex Eco range, have now become one of the leading outdoor manufacturers pushing for the removal of PFCs from the market – and crucially, in managing to find a replacement for the waterproofing and other qualities it provided for its gear.
The secret is in the inside-out waterproof construction Columbia have developed. They’ve toughened up their waterproof membrane and put it on the outside rather than sandwiching it between two fabrics like most waterproof systems. By doing so, there’s no need for a protective outer fabric which normally requires a Durable Water Repellent treatment (PFCs alert) to keep it from getting saturated.
As well as this, the waterproof materials are all 100 per cent recycled and are completely dye-free, so the OutDry Ex Eco range is pretty much as environmentally friendly as you can get at this point.
Now onto this particular jacket, the OutDry Ex Eco Down. This is not only completely waterproof and breathable, but it’s also insulated with 700 fill power, ethically-sourced goose down. A waterproof down jacket - you don’t see that very often.
Its useful features include a bonded visor, adjustable hem and cuffs, underarm venting to keep you comfortable as you go and two zipped handwarmer pockets.
The Outdry Ex Eco range from Columbia is a breakthrough in environmentally-friendly outdoor gear, and it’ll be super interesting to see how many other brands follow in their footsteps in years to come.
Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Down Jacket