Wetting out is played out.
The Columbia Men's Outdry EX Gold Tech Shell takes a radical departure from traditional rain jacket design, eliminating the clammy feel of a soaked rain jacket with its external membrane construction. OutDry Extreme represents the pinnacle of Columbia's waterproof, breathable rain jackets, making it ideal for trekking in sopping-wet conditions and surviving raging storms on the trail. Proving it's not just marketing hype, Columbia extensively tested this innovative jacket in the wettest corners of the globe—ranging from the Pacific Northwest's drenched forests to the soggy coastlines of Ireland.
Backing Columbia's decision to buck the norm, traditional rain jackets are subject to wetting out in a deluge, as the DWR-treated face fabric loses its water-shedding ability due to oil and dirt accumulation, as well as from abrasion. Since OutDry Extreme employs a waterproof membrane along the exterior instead of sandwiching it between a face and backer, it never wets out in the pouring rain. As a side effect of never wetting out, the membrane is consistently able to pass sweat through its microscopic pores. This means you'll stay nice and dry from the inside-out, even during prolonged aerobic activity in downpours. For simplicity's sake, it's less like wearing a sweaty garbage bag and more like a climate-controlled shelter in a rain storm.
- Stay blissfully dry in unrelenting rain storms
- OutDry Extreme won't wet out in prolonged rain
- Remains fully breathable in wet environments
- Fully taped external seams keep moisture out
- Underarm vents regulate your core temperature
- PU-coated front zipper beads off rain and moisture
- LightRail zippers keep gear dry inside hand pockets
- Adjustable hood and hem seal out the elements
- Item #COL01L9
- Q & A
Solid first impressions...
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: M
- Height: 5'6"
- Weight: 165lbs
I wish I could write a fully comprehensive review, but despite my best efforts I have not been able to get caught in a steady downpour. So here are my initial impressions so far...
After wearing this jacket in a light but steady rain for an hour or so (on two occasions), and once in a heavy, wet snow, and then rolling it up very carefully in my pack so that no water would run into the interior, the Outdry fabric performs noticeably different from my Gore-Tex and Pertex shells. The water stays beaded up on the surface and does not soak into the face fabric at all. On that front, I would say the Outdry performs as intended and I'm happy with my purchase.
I'd still like to see how this jacket performs in a hard, prolonged rain. Staying dry during on/off rain showers is a little more complicated than it might seem. Do you put your jacket on as soon as it starts sprinkling and risk overheating and sweating? Or do you wait it out to see if the rain intensifies, at which point your base layers are already a little wet? But that's a common occurrence and I guess it just reflects real world circumstances. It's better to not have unrealistic expectations about staying completely dry when exposed to precipitation over an extended period.
With that said, the pit zips are very effective for dumping heat and vapor, and I would suggest keeping them open as much as possible. The zipper pull cords are a little short, and I found myself fumbling for them a little bit around my pack straps and with gloves on, but I think I prefer that to having the armpit dangles.
The hood could use some refinement, but it does the job reasonably well. The side tension tabs, located on the inside, are very small which keeps them out of your face but also makes them seem a little delicate. I would also prefer a pull cord at the rear of the hood, instead of a hook and loop flap. Helmets would have to be worn over the hood, due to low volume.
The fit in the body is a little boxy (but not too boxy) which I believe encourages more airflow. Fitted rain shells are not a good thing, IMO.
Sleeve length and closures are great. When it's raining, I prefer to hike with my sleeves covering my hands as much as possible, and this jacket allows me to do that. But it also cinches up nicely when needed, and creates a reasonably tight seal around my wrists.
It's not the lightest or smallest-packing rain jacket out there, taking up maybe 30% more pack space than my old GoLite Phantasm. The tradeoff is having a more durable shell which I wanted for bushwacking and scrambling, but I can't comment much on overall durability or longevity, having only used it 3 times.
Colors: I don't know if Columbia reps will read this and I mean this as constructive criticism, but IMO the color choices are not ideal. I place a much higher priority on function over fashion, but the black just looks like a hefty garbage bag, and really cheapens the overall look. The two-tone color schemes don't really work well either, and I would have preferred solid colors, either all dark blue or all dark red. Yellow is way too bright, but that's just personal preference and maybe it's nice for cyclists? I thought white was the nicest looking color for this jacket, and dirt and mud wipes right off the fabric. I found out that my Sealskin gloves release some dye when wet though, so I have a noticeable black stain that shows through one of the pockets.
I think that covers all the main pros and cons. Overall, I can recommend the jacket, with the caveat being that I haven't put it through the wringer yet. I would be interested in buying the matching Outdry pants, but the current design requires a belt and does not have full side zips or elastic at the cuffs, so I will pass for now. Basically, I would want the features of the OR Foray pants, but with Outdry fabric.
how much does this weigh?