Gear Review: Columbia’s OutDry EX Diamond Shell Rain Jacket
Rain gear can be quite the necessity out on the Appalachian Trail because, let’s admit it, it’s a wet and rainy place. Columbia’s OutDry Extreme line of waterproof jackets is out with a brand new technology never seen in a rain jacket before. Basically, the waterproof layer is on the outside, instead of the traditional way of layering a waterproof layer on top of a DWR treated layer of fabric. Confused? Check out Columbia’s explanation on their new technology here or view the comparison image below.
Anyway, I love the sound of new technology so obviously I was so excited to know that Columbia wanted me to test out their OutDry Extreme EX Diamond Shell rain jacket.
Disclosure: Columbia donated this jacket to me for review purposes but this will not affect the accuracy and honesty reflected in this review.
Basic Specs for Columbia’s OutDry EX Diamond Shell Jacket
Fabric: 100% Nylon with Omni-Wick EVAP
Weight listed on website: 13.4 oz for women’s size S
Weight when I weighed it: 14 oz for women’s size S
Suggested Retail Price: $400
Extras: Fully seam sealed, adjustable hood, underarm vents, two-way zipper, silicone grip at hem
This jacket was tested in various places in Colorado during the winter and spring season. The jacket was exposed to cold and snowy conditions during snowboarding and snowshoeing. It was also exposed to wet spring conditions ranging from hail to sleet to rain during hiking, running, and biking. I am a woman at 51 and 113 lbs.
Durable – The first thing I noticed when I felt this jacket is the tough material. With my rain jackets in the past, I was concerned about ripping the thin material on a loose sharp branch on the trail. I did not have this worry with this jacket. It is remarkably more durable than the lightweight, thin fabrics usually associated with hiking rain jackets because of the thicker and tougher fabric used.
Small Features – This jacket has so many incredibly small features that make it so great! As listed under the ‘Extras’ section under the specs above, it seems like the people at Columbia thought about it all. The fully sealed seams are awesome and add a really cool stylistic touch to the garment. The adjustable hood is really neat, making it possible to actually wear a helmet underneath the hood. The two-way front chest zipper is amazing if you need some more ventilation but don’t want to completely unzip the garment. One of my favorite features, however, is the nice soft fabric patches that coats the inside of the garment at the collar/face. Also, there is some extra fabric at the shoulders to handle the pressure of a pack!
Breathable – I actually wore this jacket while snowshoeing up a steep hill, hauling my snowboard, and in direct sunlight. I didn’t need to take it off at all. Here in Colorado, if it is 30 degrees F and you are going uphill in direct sunlight, it’s HOT. It’s not only the jacket vents that make this garment breathable but the fabric itself. Also, while in a complete downpour, I did not experience that ‘clinging’ feeling that typically happens with some rain jackets when they get completely drenched.
Waterproof and Windproof – Well, you guessed it, it’s waterproof! I felt really dry inside and out during my times in wet snow and rain. While hiking the AT, there were times where I wore my rain jacket all day because I had no other choice but to hike in the cold rain. I think this jacket would do great combating the east coast’s rainy and cold weather. Furthermore, I actually wore it as a wind shell too. The thicker material worked great against the wind.
Expensive – At $400, this jacket is pricey! Is it worth every penny? You bet. However, I know this jacket isn’t in everyone’s budget, but Columbia does offer the Outdry Extreme technology in jackets that aren’t as pricey, starting at $175. Check out the full selection of Outdry Extreme jackets here.
Bulky/Heavy – Now, the lightweight backpacker in me somewhat cringed at the weight of this garment, weighing in at 14 oz when I weighed the women’s size small. However, after doing some research online, this weight is quite comparable to similar high-end shells on the market right now. But, not only is the weight a bit on the high side but the thicker material makes it a bit bulky to squish down into a full pack. Now, it’s not impossible to crumple the jacket into your pack, but it just won’t condense to be super tiny as rain jackets with a thinner material would be. This garment’s material does remind me of a cross between lightweight, thin jackets and the thickest of jackets like Frogg Toggs.
Runs Big – This isn’t really a huge con but I do think the garment does run a bit big. I actually requested the size small but ended up needing the size XS. I am wearing the XS in these pictures and the garment was still slightly long, which I really enjoyed actually. I have come to the conclusion that I am an XS in outdoor gear, while I am a small in normal clothing.
Overall, this jacket is phenomenal. It functions just like it should (waterproof, windproof, and breathable). The price is quite high but Columbia does offer cheaper alternatives. If you are interested in this jacket, I do recommend checking out the material and weight at an outfitter, instead of purchasing online, just so you can check out all the cool features, figure out what size fits you best since it does run a bit big, and see if the heavier, more durable fabric is something that you would enjoy. All in all, this garment is so durable, it would probably last for years, even if it did endure a thru-hike.
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