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Columbia just released an update to their OutDry coat series this fall. I am writing to get our readers up to speed with a puffy and a raincoat that embody much appreciated innovation in outerwear.
Columbia OutDry EX Gold Down Hooded Jacket ($250, Columbia.com)
I’m in awe of how light this jacket, which despite very solid construction, weighs in at just .4lbs.
There isn’t anything flimsy about this jacket that uses 650-fill down stuffed into some of the
flattest and thinnest rows I’ve seen down packed into. The OutDry uses taped seams at the
shoulders, neck, hood, and sides to protect the user from the rainstorms we’ve become
accustomed to in Buffalo that can deliver excess of 1” of rain per hour. Unlike the Durable Water
Repellant (DWR) coat companies to the likes of Gore-Tex and Burton which seem to quickly
wear down after several uses and become ineffective, OutDry is a permanent solution
waterproof membrane that will never require reapplication of a waterproofing spray. This is a
jacket for the ages—you will get multiple winters (and springs) out of this—because of the materials and build
quality Columbia has utilized. For an alternative point of view on the effectiveness of Gore-Tex,
see my forthcoming review of the Arc’terx Fission SV.
Columbia OutDry EX Gold Tech Shell Jacket ($175, Columbia.com)
Pair this jacket with a zip-up wool sweater, and stay comfortable while walking around The
Olmstead Parks and Elmwood Village. I found adopting the Scandinavian approach of pairing a
wool sweater with a waterproof shell to be an effective way to stay both warm and dry on those
40 degree, not glacial days. For colder days, I would suggest wearing the Gold Down as a base
layer under another ski jacket.
The athletic cut of this coat is ideal. I like that the jacket is form fitting and lies close to the arms
and sides but also allows for a wide range of motion. This coat is more protective against wind
and cold than the uninsulated Oakley Originate or Travis Rice 10k ski/snowboard shells. It's
also more breathable. I wore it the whole day on my drive between DC and Buffalo. I was
pleasantly surprised that it kept me warm when I stepped out of the car to take Polaroid pictures
of the Pennsylvania countryside but also didn't induce sweating inside the cabin of my rented
Jeep Renegade, even with the heat on full blast. While this raincoat and ski shells fall under
different categories of outerwear, the OutDry exceeded my expectations for what a coat is, and
should be. These are protective pieces of clothing that have evolved to meet the needs of the
human organism—the way he sweats, moves, and encounters nature—not merely designed
around a plastic mannequin, both are given high performance ratings in my book.
Whether the OutDry Ex Gold Down and EX Gold Tech Shell, which do not use DWR are superior in waterproofing to Gore-Tex products which uses DWR is debatable. My conclusion is that the OutDry products are lower maintenance than Gore-Tex products. They will not require the NikiWax Hardshell DuoPack ($20.75), TX.Direct 10z Spray On ($14.45), or TX.Direct 10oz Wash-In ($13) to maintain their seal. This lack of maintenance is ideal for consumers who want to buy a jacket and then forget about it.
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