This tough waterproof jacket foregoes too many bells and whistles and focuses on keeping you completely dry when it’s lashing down on your next hike
Completely waterproof and breathable
Adjustable hood stays up in strong winds
Pockets big enough for your map or guidebook
Lightweight and packs into hand pocket
Fabric makes zip a little sticky
Slightly awkward fit with extra fabric in the front
Shiny black fabric looks a little like a trash bag
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Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket: first impressions
For its OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket, Columbia has put the waterproof membrane on the outside, which means a lighter and more watertight shell jacket. This waterproof jacket boasts taped seams as well as adjustable cuffs and hem and truly does keep the wet weather out when you’re trudging through a deluge. The liner isn’t the softest fabric, but it is sweat wicking and breathable, meaning you don’t miss the pit zips on milder treks.
An adjustable hood cinches tight around your head to keep it in place during high winds, and the unobtrusive peak works really well to keep the rain out of your eyes when it’s lashing down. The high collar keeps the rain from going down your front when it's zipped up, while an abrasion-resistant chin guard keeps it from rubbing. The low cut means it keeps your bum mostly dry if you want to perch on a wet rock or bench. Two hand pockets are big enough to easily stash a map or guidebook, and their stretchy mesh inner panels means the whole thing can pack inside either one making this a solid choice – if not the most stylish – for wet weather adventures, even when you’re trying to cut down on weight and bulk.
• List price: $250 / £225
• Sizes available: S-XXL (XS in women's)
• Unisex: Men’s and women’s specific fit available
• Materials: 100% Nylon Stretch Mesh
• Colors: Red hibiscus, black
• Weight: 11oz / 313g
• Best use: Hiking, backpacking, camping
Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket: in the field
I decided to give this jacket the ultimate test and take it out on the West Highland Way. Since Scotland is best known for its wet weather, I figured it was a sure fire way to see if it held up to its promise of being completely waterproof, and while I was blessed with some amazing weather, I also got to pull it on during a few torrential downpours, too.
I will say first and foremost that this really is a completely waterproof jacket. Between the external membrane and the adjustable cuffs, there’s no moisture seeping in anywhere. The hood is adjustable and I really appreciate well it stays up in the wind. I had some pretty serious gusts during my last day on the Way, but I just pulled the hood up and cinched it tight around my head via a pull cord at the back and while I probably looked a bit silly, it didn’t budge. It has a small, unobtrusive peak which did a good job of keeping the rain out of my eyes too. The cord is easy to release when the rain stops too – just squeeze the plastic pull tab.
The jacket is meant to be fully breathable and while I don’t know if I ever fully believe that claim, it’s probably as breathable as any waterproof jacket can be. I was hiking in fairly blustery weather with a fleece on underneath it and I didn’t need to take it off between showers, although because it’s black I usually felt inclined to once the sun came out.
It’s definitely made of sturdy stuff too – I was squeezing through some prickly, overgrown bushes and kept tying it tightly via the sleeves to my backpack when I wasn’t using it and it doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear.
Though it only has two hand pockets, they were plenty big enough for my West Highland Way guidebook and phone, which was super handy as I kept needing to pull it out to make sure I was heading in the right direction on the rainiest day.
I found the fit to be really functional as well, not loose enough to be flappy but definitely big enough to wear over my fleece or my down jacket. It doesn’t weigh much at all and doesn’t pack down tiny, but it does fit into its own pocket and was small enough to fit into one of the side pockets of my backpack.
Now for what I don’t love about it. The fit of it, while reasonable streamlined and not flappy, is a bit odd. There seems to be excess fabric in the front which makes it stick out around my chest and stomach oddly. I find the zip to be a bit sticky, but upon closer inspection I don’t think the actual zipper is the problem. Rather, the material, which feels a bit like oilskin, makes it a little harder to pull the zip up smoothly. Then there’s the aesthetics – because the membrane is on the outside, it’s shiny, and because it’s black, it does rather resemble a trash bag, which doesn’t impact its performance any, but it does make it look rather cheaper than it is. Overall, however, this is a solid wet-weather performer that will definitely do its job well.
Here’s how it performed:
True to size. If you order this in your usual size, you can expect to be able to wear it over a bulky fleece no problem.
This jacket has a pretty snug and streamlined fit and comes down just below your bum. I found that it sticks out at the front more than I'd like.
I don’t know if I associate waterproof jackets with comfort, but I don’t have any complaints when it comes to comfort, it even has an abrasion-resistant chin guard so it doesn’t rub when zipped all the way up.
I must say, I was able to keep this on while walking in some pretty warm weather and carrying a heavy backpack, so I’d say it’s as breathable as a waterproof jacket really can be.
Made from tough stuff, this seems to have held up against Hawthorn bushes, branches and being tied onto my backpack.
Here’s where we tested the Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket:
The West Highland Way is Scotland's most prized long distance hiking trail, spanning 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William.
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.
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