This midweight waterproof jacket excels in rain protection and breathability, but we had a few bones to pick regarding the design of the hood and didn’t find it especially windproof
Waterproof with tapes seams
Highly breathable with pit zips
Two-way stretch moves with you
Two zipped hand warming pockets
Soft chin guard
Adjustable hood, hem and cuffs
Not super windproof
No peaked hood
Hood blows back in the wind, even when tightened
No chest or inner pockets
Not the lightest
A little baggy
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Columbia Mazama Trail Rain Shell: first impressions
Lots of waterproof jackets keep the rain at bay but condensation builds up on the inside walls as soon as you break a sweat and that’s no good. Columbia knows that when you’re hiking, you need to strike a balance between rain protection and sweat build up and they’ve created a pretty good solution with this comfortable, roomy rain jacket. Heavy rain just rolls off this jacket, thanks to the Omni-Tech™ 3D waterproof fabric and DWR treatment, while taped seams and adjustable sleeves and hem seal any possible leaks. The fabric is also highly breathable, which combined with pit zips means you’ll have a difficult time getting too warm in this jacket.
• List price: $230 / £210
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available • Sizes: Men’s S - XXL, Women’s XS - XXL
• Weight: 14.8oz / 420g (women’s small)
• Materials: Shell: 100% Nylon, Lining: 100% polyester mesh
• Colors: Purple tint/Ancient fossil/Black, Black, Spicy/Black/Light raisin
• Best use: Hiking
We found that the high breathability comes at the expense of windproofing, so for a harsh, cold wind you’ll want to make sure to wear this over an insulating mid layer like a fleece jacket. While the hood is really big and adjustable, we found that it still blew back a bit in the wind leaving us exposed to wet faces and we’d prefer a snugger fitting, peaked hood. Compared to other waterproof jackets we’ve tested, this one doesn’t come in at the ultralight end, but it’s not particularly heavy either. Two zipped hand warming pockets are a decent size and mostly accessible even when you’re wearing a backpack. A chest pocket wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s not a deal breaker when you get this much breathable rain protection.
Columbia Mazama Trail Rain Shell: in the field
The last waterproof jacket from Columbia that I tested was the OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket which looked like I was wearing a trash bag on the trail, so I was relieved to receive this and see that it just looks like a normal waterproof jacket. I’ve had it out on a few rainy Scottish excursions so far.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
Obviously, you want a waterproof jacket to be big enough to wear over your fleece jacket, and this easily does this, though I’d say it even runs a little large. I’m a small and tested a small and it was a bit baggy with the sleeves coming all the way to my fingertips. The main problem with baggy rain coats is they flap in the wind, but actually once I had my backpack strapped on this wasn’t an issue. It comes down to just below my bum for good coverage, too.
Comfort and breathability
This jacket has soft linings on the sleeves and chin so it doesn’t chafe or rub anywhere. As for breathability, I’d say it’s highly breathable. Having worn it on a fresh, breezy day with only a T-shirt underneath, I could definitely feel the wind passing through it. It’s also got pit zips to dump heat though I haven’t got that warm in it yet.
One slightly annoying thing I noticed was that the inner lining is a little sticky, so it’s slightly hard to pull on over a textured material like my wool base layer, but no problem over a layer made from a smoother synthetic material.
The water just rolls right off this jacket, which was a relief because the fabric has more of a matte feel which somehow looks like it will be more absorbent than it is. The cuffs and hem are adjustable to seal out the rain too.
I honestly didn’t find this to be the most windproof jacket (though it doesn’t claim to be) if you hadn’t already guessed by my note above about its breathability. I wore it on a cool (but not cold) breezy hike over a wool base layer with no mod layer and was definitely aware of the wind blowing through. If you’re more concerned with rain protection and breathability, it’s good, but I think if I was mostly looking for wind protection, say for hiking a Colorado 14er, I might opt for a different shell.
My main beef, though, with this jacket is with the hood. It’s really big and offers great coverage, and comes with one of those cinches around the head to tighten it. However, when it’s cinched it nearly obscures my vision a little and I found it doesn’t cinch all that tight (either that or it’s too high) so when it’s windy, it slowly blows back. I think it’s tailored so that it wouldn’t blow all the way down, but I still ended up with a wet face. I think they could make the hood a bit smaller, add a peak to protect your face and refine the cinching mechanism.
Weight and storage
This isn’t the lightest waterproof jacket I’ve tested and it’s heavier than the OutDry Extreme Mesh, but it isn’t a heavy jacket. It has two decent sized zipped hand warming pockets though neither is big enough for a map. I’d like to see a Napoleon pocket or two for maps, especially since hand warmers are hard to access when I’m wearing the hip belt on my daypack.
This isn’t a fragile lightweight windbreaker and it’s got good sturdy zips so you could give it a lot of wear without worrying too much about it snagging on a branch.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.