Columbia Triple Trail II Jacket ReviewMarch 14, 2012
- Very durable: ready for tree bashing, extended use and abuse.
- Completely windproof
- Easy-opening pit zips
- Big front pockets
- Sticky, slow zipper with a small fob
- Stiff, somewhat noisy fabric
- Scratchy elastic wrist cuffs
- Small cuffs (less compatible with full-gauntlet gloves)
- Hood adjustment is not easy with gloves
- Small goggle pouch
An extremely tough, utility shell that did not disappoint in the field, but one that comes at a slightly above average price for the quality of the materials and attention to detail it delivers.
A heavy-duty, winter-weight waterproof shell for skiing, hiking, and cold-weather adventures, with a helmet compatible hood, pit zips, and panels of more-breathable waterproof material in high-heat zones to slightly boost breathability.
The Triple Trail II is best suited for really bad weather (high winds) and abusive users. It’s made of a very tough, stiff face fabric that seemed completely windproof in our test: A ripping, heavy March blizzard wind on Whistler Mountain failed to penetrate, and the jacket stood up very well to wet powder, 30-mph winds, blowing snow on a snowmobile tour in Whistler backcountry.
The Triple Trail II is mostly made of Columbia’s basic waterproof-breathable material, Omni-Tech, which accounts for the bulk of the weather protection, but there are also three pieces of lighter weight, more pourous material (Columbia’s 2.5-layer Omni-Dry waterproof laminate) at the back of the neck and under the arms to help the jacket dump heat when fully zipped up. The cooling effect of these smaller more breathable panels will be subtle, but there are also pit zips to dump more heat quickly. The jacket is seam sealed and completely waterproof.
This is an extremely tough jacket—tough, stiff and somewhat loud, but it won’t rip after a close encounter with a conifer or rough use. The fabric has a slight bit of stretch for a little more comfort.
The hood is large enough for a helmet, but it’s tough to cinch down with gloves on.
There’s just enough height in the collar to duck your chin into during blasting chairlift rides or wet-faced, frost-nippy runs, but it’s not baggy enough to impede your vision when looking down, or send steam up into your goggles. The fabric that touches your face is not soft, but also not uncomfortable.
The water-tight zipper is somewhat prone to sticking and does not run smoothly, but performs adequately. The pit zippers are not watertight—they are protected by a storm flap—so they open easily, which will be appreciated when you’re struggling to vent quickly at the bottom of a sweaty mogul run.
The Silver Dots
Columbia has put great energy into convincing gear buyers that the matrix of aluminum dots lining the majority of its clothing creates warmer clothing. In theory, the matrix reflects infrared energy back at the body like tiny pieces of a space blanket. The effect is noticeable sitting in a warm room—the fabric has a subtle reflective warmth—but is less perceptible in the field. Faced with the extreme convective temperature differentials users will encounter in ski and backcountry conditions, the heat-conserving effect of the small amount of infrared heat retained by the dots is subtle at best, not a substitute for insulation or extra layers.
At $325, this shell is running up against some tough competition in technical shells. Most shells at this price will offer a more supple fabric, and a bit more attention to detail—like more comfortable cuffs, better hood-cinch pull chords, and smoother zippers. But this jacket is not far below average value.
Available: Fall 2012