Columbia OutDry Ex Eco II Tech Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Columbia OutDry Ex Eco II Tech Jacket | Review

The latest in Columbia’s quirky OutDry line that showcases some admirable efforts towards sustainability

Why We Chose It: Eco-friendly, durable and innovative
Price: £130
Weight: 260g

We’ve always liked Columbia’s innovative OutDry waterproof membrane here at Outdoors Magic and now we like it a whole lot more. Why? Because they’ve made it all eco-friendly, using recycled materials and an effective method of waterproofing that requires none of those nasty PFCs that have been found to be harmful to the environment. 

What’s It Best Suited To?

Although Columbia list this on their website as being made for trail running and training I’d actually say it’d be more suited to hiking. At 260g it’s a little on the heavy side for running in my opinion – I’d normally be looking for something sub 200g. It’s probably a touch too warm for running in UK-type conditions as well, unless it’s a very, very cold winter. 

The Features

It’s worth addressing the waterproof system first. OutDry Extreme is the first ever waterproof and breathable rainwear that has a durable waterproof layer on the outside and soft, wicking fabric on the inside. Rather than hide the waterproof membrane beneath an outer fabric, this concept puts the most important part of a rain jacket (the bit that keeps you dry) front and centre. Arguably the best thing about this tech is that it doesn’t require the use of a DWR water repellency treatment on an outer fabric. Why? Because there isn’t an outer fabric. That ultimately means this thing will never wet out / it’ll bead away moisture forever. On the inside of the jacket there’s a cotton liner, presumably to make the jacket feel a little more comfortable against the skin.

Featuring Columbia’s innovative OutDry tech. Photos: Chris Johnson

The hood, which isn’t helmet-compatible by the way, has adjustment tabs around the chin for cinching in along with a Velcro tab at the back. There’s also a nice bonded visor to keep the rain off your face. Adjustment-wise, there are also Velcro tabs on the cuffs and a toggled cord around the hem. 

As for pockets there are two very roomy zipped handwarmers, each big enough for an OS map and accessible even when you’re wearing a climbing harness or backpack hipbelt. These also double as ventilation options thanks to their internal mesh lining.

Why We Chose The Columbia OutDry Ex Eco For Our Green Gear Guide

I’ve already mentioned the fact that this contains none of those eco-hazardous PFCs that can often be found in technical waterproof clothing – that’s a big tick. On top of that, there’s also the fact that all of the jacket’s trims are made from recycled materials. That includes the zip, toggles, eyelets, washers, labels and threads.

As for the cotton used for the backer, that’s all organic and it’s also deliberately undyed in order to avoid water and energy wastage. While the outer fabric is dyed, Columbia say they’ve done this in a way that doesn’t require water. Textile dyeing, fabric preparation and finishing often requires high heat and large quantities of water so that’s a nice move by Columbia.

Performance

As the membrane is on the outside of the jacket, Columbia have had to make it a little tougher than standard membranes and that therefore means it’s a little less breathable. That said, it’s still much more breathable than a 3L waterproof will be when the DWR has started to wear out and the outer fabric has become saturated. So that’s definitely something to think about. 

“Once again the OutDry line hasn’t let us down.”

The durability is pretty impressive. It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to rip on the first branch that it comes into contact with and it should be able to withstand a heavy backpack being worn over it on a regular basis. 

The one aspect of this jacket that I’m not so keen on is the cotton liner on the inside. I found that once this got wet, from sweat or from rain that had managed to get inside the jacket it took a long time to dry. It’s obviously there to make the jacket more comfortable against the skin, but I think there are better fabrics they could have used that would have offered a better performance while still keeping with the eco-friendly design.

Conclusion

While there are plenty of jackets out there that boast loads of eco-creds but then fall short when it comes to waterproof performance, this jacket from Columbia is one of the few exceptions. Once again the OutDry line hasn’t let us down. It’s also just a nice looking jacket in my opinion and the medium size fits my 5 foot 10 average build perfectly. The price point isn’t bad either.

More info: columbiasportswear.co.uk

Chosen For Our Green Gear Guide 2021

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