BY AT Editor Kirk Deeter
I’ve liked Columbia rainwear since I wore several jackets and bibs through my local car wash (seated in the bed of my truck) for a story I wrote for Field & Stream, and Columbia came out near the top. I never really warmed to the NASCAR-style splash many Columbia jackets have. If you can read the logo from across the river, and I paid good money to also be their billboard… that just doesn’t work for me.
So I was actually pleased to see the new OutDry Extreme jacket was a bit more graphically “subdued” (though canary yellow). This is the jacket many of you are being pitched about as we speak. A new type of fabric, a new type of technology. The best way I can describe it, is that it feels like a rain slicker on the outside (to the touch), but it is far more supple and flexible. It’s breathable like GORE-TEX, but more overtly rain repellant on the outside.
Well… I’m in Chile now. Where it really is “extreme.” Today I fished in 30-mph winds and heavy downpours, pounded in a boat through big waves… and I wore the jacket.
I loved fishing in the jacket. Great range of motion. The jacket kept me dry when the rain fell. Perfect. The fabric is exactly what Columbia claims it to be.
The problem isn’t with the jacket material, it’s with the jacket design. Mostly good… streamlined. But the hood… or more specifically the draw string system to close the hood tightly, is really weak. It’s almost like the designers didn’t consider that people might actually move TROUGH rain, in ways that would cause you to be pelted in the face. Like… riding on a boat, for example. The hood was a funnel, and I ended up soaked so bad, in fact, I cut my day short to dry off.
Complaint number 2: The cuffs have simple velcro tighteners, and they’re pointed… making them perfect fly-line snags.
There should be more muted color options for anglers.
Trust me, this could be a game changer jacket in the making. The technology is interesting. But it’s not ripe yet. Columbia will have to make a few simple fixes before fly anglers will be willing to shell out north of $400 for this one.