Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket Review
- Stretchy material
- Soft lining feels good next to skin
- Excellent breathability
- Great price
- No wrist adjustment
The Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible is the most versatile jacket in the test and the best value. The Reversible is two jackets in one: a bomber shell on one side and a waterproof soft shell that will blend in urban locales on the other. Techy or not, few jackets perform as well and have your back in so many different situations.
Introduced in 2016, the OutDry membrane eliminates the protective outer layer of the typical 3-layer construction. Instead the more durable membrane sits exposed, where breathability is less restricted. That’s why the seam tape is on the outside. A lack of exterior fabric also means less water absorbed by the Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket—a face fabric can soak up moisture, a membrane can’t. Long story short, the jacket is as waterproof as any other jacket in this test. However, the hood is not helmet compatible. The chunky front zip is waterproof, as are the almost invisible hand pocket zips.
This is where the OutDry construction excels. One less layer of fabric in the sandwich translates to easier air vapor flow from inside to outside. The Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket’s soft liner also helps wick moisture off the skin, keeping the interior feeling dry. There are no vents on this jacket.
The cuffs on the Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket are a fixed elastic, not a Velcro adjustment. We didn’t miss the ability to adjust the sizing very often, but it might be a bigger factor if the wrists didn’t fit us well. The hood has two adjustment points, but there’s not enough room for a helmet underneath. We liked that we could flip this jacket and end up with a different, more casual look. And there are hand pockets on both sides. And the hand pockets use an almost invisible zipper, which keeps the jacket looking clean and minimalistic.
After several weeks of use we didn’t notice any signs of wear on the Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket. Lots of four way stretch will likely help prevent rips and scuffs.
At 13 ounces the Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible Jacket is average for a summer weight shell, but considering it’s two jackets in one, it could be argued it’s extremely lightweight. The super slim hand pockets help this jacket pack a little smaller than we’d expect.
How We Tested It
The shells in this test were used in the summer and fall of 2016 (one of the wettest falls in 36 years on Vancouver Island). Storm after storm hammered this already rainy area. At one point it rained for more than 30-days in a row. On the dry side of Vancouver Island almost two feet of rain fell just in the month of November. That’s all to say it was one of the best testing labs for three layer storm shells ever. With the help of a team of sea kayak guides, mountain bikers, trail runners, and climbers we rigorously tested this and the other shells in this test on day trips and multi-day expeditions, where staying dry is the key to staying safe.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Active Insulation Jackets of 2017 and Best Hybrid Jackets of 2017, along with other storm shell tests, soft shell tests, and other related hiking and camping gear reviews.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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