We have been using the Columbia OutDry Extreme jacket for 9 months – in a variety of conditions – so we have lots to report back. Since we have been beta testing the OutDry tech, Columbia has released several garments (both male and female) featuring this cutting edge technology. There is the top of the line OutDry EX Diamond Shell, OutDry EX Gold Tech Shell, OutDry EX Gold Pant, OutDry EX Platinum Tech Shell, PFG Force Jacket and PFG Force Bib. They all feature the OutDry Extreme technology and range in price from $150-500.

Columbia EX Platinum Outdry Extreme

We can say that, so far, we have not been able to get water to permeate the jacket. This is pretty exciting as most shells and pants will eventually wet out, even if they are waterproof. Most waterproof garments also require you to wash them with specific cleaners then reapply a DWR treatment. Not so with OutDry Extreme as its built in. Really cool.  We’ve beaten and abraded the jacket on rocks and branches.  It simply refuses to fail.  Water continues to bead and slide off no matter what abuse we put it through.

Columbia puts a wicking fabric on the inside which has two advantages.  First, it feels nice against the skin – no clammy, sticky feeling.  Second, it draws moisture off of you so it can be expelled from the jacket through the membrane.  Fit is a bit boxy, but this is nit picking. Columbia is not known for form fitting or athletic fitting gear.

The jacket we are testing would be the OutDry EX Platinum Tech Shell. Retails for $250. Not bad at all for a bomber shell! We have used it in rain storms, snow, hail, cold showers (intentionally) and camping. The jacket performs up to its claims of being waterproof and breathable.   You get four pockets – two chest and two hand – to hold whatever you need.  Hand pockets are mesh-lined to add ventilation if the pit vents aren’t enough.  You also get a huge, helmet compatible hood, so you can take the shell skiing or snowboarding.  Winter layering is a great use of the shell’s abilities.  All zips are waterproof.

Columbia EX Platinum Outdry Extreme

Our major complaint is hood adjustment.  Columbia runs two cords , through the same cord locks, to the front of the hood.  One tightens around the face and the other around the back of the head.  In theory, it should provide all the adjustment you need.  In practice, it doesn’t work well.  The only other downside we could find, and this is nit picking, is that the jacket is a bit plastic feeling. It is a true hardshell, not a hybrid soft-shell like some others. So we cant fault it for being crinkly. After all this is a bomber jacket meant to keep the water out.  It’s not an ultralight emergency jacket.

Columbia EX Platinum Outdry Extreme

After 3 seasons of use, we could recommend this line of jackets and pants to the user looking for permanently waterproof, breathable and resilient gear. For the price, you will be hard pressed to find more tech than these. We have a list of the Columbia models on which Outdry Extreme is available.  Follow the links below to see what the best prices are for each jacket, shell and pant – for men and women.

Mens PFG Force 12 Jacket $500
Mens PFG Force 12 Bib $350
Mens OutDry EX Diamond Shell Jacket $400
Womens OutDry EX Diamond Shell Jacket $400
Mens OutDry EX Platinum Tech Shell Jacket $250
Womens OutDry EX Platinum Tech Shell Jacket $250
Mens OutDry EX Gold Tech Shell Jacket $175
Womens OutDry EX Gold Tech Shell Jacket $175
Mens OutDry EX Gold Pant $150
Womens OutDry EX Gold Pant $150

Can’t wait to see what Columbia (and others!) do with Outdry Extreme next!