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.