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Woman with hood up in the wind

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Review: The Eco-Friendly Rain Jacket

A highly waterproof and windproof rain jacket made from 100% recycled fabrics and components

Want to make a difference AND stay dry on the trail? Yep, you really can do both! The Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket is not only made from 100% recycled polyester, all its other components are recycled too! But does the futurist style and alternative materials live up to life on the trail? And is the higher price-tag worth it? I sure think so!

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket: The stats

Weight:260g / 9.2 oz
Waterproof:Yes – OutDry membrane
Pack size:16 x 10 x 10cm / 6.3 x 4 x 4 in (approx)
Best use:Hiking
Eco info:Made from 100% recycled materials and PFC-free

Features of the Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket

Outer fabric

Jacket seamsThe main fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester plain weave with an external OutDry waterproof and breathable membrane. The fabric is fully seam sealed, unusually, on the outside.

Hood

Hood of jacketThe hood as a good sized peak and an adjustable drawcord. Once cinched in, the hood fits really closely to block out the wind and rain very well. The drawcord is as easy to loosen as it is to tighten, which isn’t always the case on jacket hoods! The jacket also features a high collar that covers the chin and prevents draftiness round the neck.

Hem

Hem drawcordThere is an elasticated drawcord at the base of the jacket to cinch in the hem. The low profile adjuster toggles are easy to tighten but not as easy to loosen as the toggles on the hood. There is also extra length at the back of the jacket to keep your backside dry!

Cuffs

Jacket cuff and handThe cuffs are adjusted and secured with velcro tabs. This simple design creates a surprisingly nice fit around the wrists and provides plenty of space for gloves to sit underneath, should you need.

Pockets

Hand in pocket of jacketThere are two large, zippered hand pockets that both have a mesh lining. The recycled zips have large storm flaps over the top of them for extra protection from the elements. Plus, the zip pulls are large enough to easily grasp with gloves on.

Pack size

Packed jacketThough there is no stuff sack of pocket to pack the jacket into, the lightweight nature of the jacket means that it packs down into a surprisingly small package and can be stuffed even smaller if using a compression sack.


Columbia OutDry Ex Eco review

2019 has seen a huge influx of rain jackets and outdoor clothing made from recycled fabrics. Whilst this is a hugely positive step towards a more sustainable outdoor industry, jackets are more than just an outer shell. There are toggles and buttons, zippers and labels, and even thread to also consider. Columbia have well and truly raised the bar in this department with the introduction of the OutDry Ex ECO Tech Shell.

Every single part of this eco-friendly rain jacket is made from recycled content. I was sold on 100% recycled polyester outer fabric. But all the trims (toggle, washer, phemo, eyelet, labels, webbing, zippers, and yes, even the thread) contain 100% recycled content. Add to that the fact that no water was used to colour the fabric, AND that the Outdry Extreme Membrane is PFC-free, and you’ve got yourself one of the most sustainable rain jackets in existence.

But, and this is a big ’but’ for me, I can’t help feeling like something out of Star Trek when I wear it!

The jacket is shiny, has large storm flaps over the hand pokcets that diagonally disect the torso, and have seam tape on the outside of rather than the inside. All of these features combine to create a look that is certainly distinctive, just not for me. Some may argue that this is exactly what Columbia want — they want it to be eye-catching, to stand out from all the other generic-looking rain jackets, to make a statement. Which, in fairness, is exactly what has happened since I’ve been wearing it. It has become a talking point, and what better way to spread environmental awareness than that?

Woman in hood on cliffs

Fit

The athletic cut fits well with a couple of layers underneath. I wear a size small which is the right fit in all areas other than across the chest. It’s totally fine for walking and low energy activities, but as soon as I need to move my arms and upper body more, the cut is a little restrictive across the chest and under the arms. The lack of stretch in the fabric also contributes to this. Otherwise, the jacket is true to size with good coverage at the back thanks to the extra length at the hem.

Weather protection

I’ve never seen an outer layer bead water so well and for such prolonged periods as this jacket. The shiny shell feels like PVC, like water will never penetrate it. Though no actual moisture has seeped through the fabric yet, after wear in heavy rain the inside starts to show signs of a good soaking. The PVC-like shell also feels impenetrable to wind. That, together with its supreme beading make it an excellent option for windy walks in light to moderate rain.

Beading water on jacket

Breathability

When I look at and feel the Eco Tech Shell, I can’t get my head around how it could possibly offer any form of breathability. And quite frankly, I didn’t believe the claims that the external membrane is breathable as well as waterproof. But despite my determination to disprove this bold claim, I’ve yet to find fault with the breathability when out walking in cool conditions. Granted, this jacket wouldn’t be my first choice if there were just a chance of rain — I’d probably just opt for a soft shell. But in mild to cool temperatures, it breathes better than expected.

Still not convinced I’d put it through its paces enough, I decided to wear it out running. Yes, I overheated (it wasn’t quite cool enough to warrant a jacket), but I was VERY surpised at the lack of moisture build-up inside the jacket. I would certainly choose other jackets to run in, mostly from a comfort point of view. But overall, I’d be happy wearing this to run in if I didn’t have another option.

Versatility

The Eco Tech Shell is designed for hiking in, and is ideal for anything from short strolls in the park to multi-day treks in the backcountry. Its lack of stretch and restrictive fit, however, make is less suited to higher energy activities like climbing and running.

Additionally, its aesthetic design means that is doesn’t cross over to casual wear very smoothly, for me at least.

Woman walking in the rain

What I love the most about the Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket

The eco-friendly construction of this jacket is remarkable. At no point have I made allowances for the Eco Tech (because of its recycled fabrics) when comparing it to other jackets made from regular, un-recycled fabrics and components. It performs as it claims to and competes fiercely with similar options. I also really like the fit of the hood.

What I don’t love so much about the Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket

As mentioned, the jacket looks a little too futuristic for my tastes making me shy away from wearing it down the pub! That said, its appearance becomes less of an issue with each new wear.

Another negative is that it’s not as versatile as I would prefer, especially for a jacket of this price.

Woman in jacket

Verdict

As one of the most eco-friendly rain jackets on the market right now, it’s hard not to love what the Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket has to offer. Though it may look a little unconventional, the 100% recycled fabrics and components provide superb protection from the elements in most hiking scenarios. With a well thought-through hood and a slim, athletic fit, the jacket is very comfortable and decently breathable — an ideal option for hitting the trail in wet and windy weather.

It’s not as versatile as other jackets at this price point, but if you love how it looks and only need a jacket for wet walks then it’s well worth the extra spend. Plus, you can’t put a price on that warm fuzzy feeling you get from knowing you’re helping save the world every time you wear it!

Find the latest price at:
Columbia | Cotswold Outdoors | Amazon

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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