Columbia OutDry EX Featherweight Shell ReviewAugust 24, 2018
- Very lightweight
- Awesome weather resistance
- Top of the class breathability
- Top of class weight to weather resistance
- Questionable durability
- Techy look
- No hem adjustment
OutDry EX is one of two waterproof breathable builds that eliminate the outer protective layer, relying on the membrane to block the weather and be tough enough to resist abrasion, dirt and oil (the other is Gore’s Shakedry Technology). Compared to Gore’s version, OutDry is much more robust. It’s done fine when worn for days under a pack, bashing through bush and standing up to abuse. It effectively blocks the wind and holds off persistent downpours. As a bonus, eliminating the outer layer of the typical storm shell sandwich means there’s no outer fabric for moisture to eventually soak into.
As mentioned above, the Columbia Featherweight relies on OutDry EX, a two layer storm shell build that eliminates the usual outer protective layer. Cutting the outer fabric means there’s one less layer for vapor and heat to pass through. In addition, since there’s no fabric for rain to soak into. Hence breathability is not impacted by sustained wetness. The jacket also has a series of “gills” in the armpits—stacked vents that face down to keep wet out, but are open enough to help with vapor movement. These three factors contributed to some of the best breathability we’ve seen in a storm shell. It’s even better than a lot of soft shells we’ve tested. Because this is the lightest OutDry EX jacket we’ve tested it’s also the most breathable shell we’ve tested.
For a very light jacket the Columbia Featherweight is well equipped. Two chest pockets are long, voluminous and backed with mesh, upping breathability. The hood offers plenty of coverage and a brim keeps drips off the face. The wrists have adjustments, a rarity on jacket’s this light. There’s no waist hem adjustment, but a little extra length meant this didn’t cause issues with exposing skin or drips into places we don’t want them. The exposed membrane gives the jacket a slick, technical look along with the outer seam tape that may not appeal to everyone.
Weighing just under nine ounces, the fabric on the Columbia Featherweight is very lightweight. We tested it hard and were mostly impressed by how well it stood up to abrasion and direct contact with trees, brambles and rocks. We did punch a hole through the pocket on the jacket on a hard mountain bike crash, but for a super light waterproof shell this was not out of line.
While not the lightest waterproof jacket we’ve tested, the Columbia Featherweight was not far off (just three ounces). It’s packable for its weight—specifically, it’s impressively packable for its performance. It’s far more waterproof than similarly packable jackets.Continue Reading