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Hands-on Gear Review

Columbia Rebel Roamer Review

Columbia Rebel Roamer
Best Buy Award
Price:   $50 List | $49.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Best pant among $50 and under options, extremely versatile, above average durability, excellent storm worthiness
Cons:  No pockets, breathability, ventilation, not easy to put on without removing footwear
Bottom line:  A killer pant for the price, offering better than expected feel and weather resistance, but does not offer much in the way of features.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Columbia

Our Verdict

The Columbia Rebel Roamer is our new favorite $50 and under pant (including options that aren't reviewed here). If you're on a tight budget for a rain pant and want something that can be used for backpacking and hiking, and occasional ski or snowboard use, look no further. The Rebel Roamer competes against basic, much less functional or storm worthy pants in its price range, and is truly a stand out pant. We were impressed by the level of weather resistance, combined with a respectable weight and compressed volume. They don't have much in the way of features and do not sport even a single pocket. For $30 more, The North Face Venture Pant ($80) could be a better option for some, offering features like pockets and half-length side zippers; but for those on a tight budget, this pair of rain pants dominates.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rain Pants of 2017 for Hiking and Backpacking

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Score Product Price Our Take
89
$175
Editors' Choice Award
Top-notch storm protection, articulation, and breathability, while still remaining light and compressible enough to bring on any trip.
86
$150
Editors' Choice Award
A fantastic all-around pant with rad stretchy fabric, which offers exceptional freedom of movement and the best breathability.
86
$165
A basic, few-frills Gore-Tex pant that offers fantastic storm protection and mobility; it sacrifices little convenience for weight, without giving up anything in the way of performance.
84
$119
Top Pick Award
Hard to beat for any trip where weight and packed space are at a premium, as long as there isn't too much off-trail travel, where their lower than average durability could be an issue.
79
$109
A super versatile, durable, and storm worthy pant at a great price; the downsides being it's not as compressible or light weight as other models in the fleet.
78
$100
Best Buy Award
A fully featured rain and storm worthy pant for hiking and backpacking; it's tough to beat for the price.
74
$50
Best Buy Award
A killer pant for the price, offering better than expected feel and weather resistance, but does not offer much in the way of features.
73
$80
A versatile pant that excels at everything from day hikes to downhill skiing and doesn't give up much in the way of weight and packability.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
March 16, 2017

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Performance Comparison


The Rebel Roamer offers extremely solid weather resistance  especially considering its $50 price tag. In fact  it offered far better weather resistance than many of the more expensive pants on the market. While the Rebel Roamer might give up a few things in the way of breathability and features  storm worthiness isn't one of those sacrifices.
The Rebel Roamer offers extremely solid weather resistance, especially considering its $50 price tag. In fact, it offered far better weather resistance than many of the more expensive pants on the market. While the Rebel Roamer might give up a few things in the way of breathability and features, storm worthiness isn't one of those sacrifices.



Weather Resistance


The Rebel Roamer provided exceptional weather resistance and kept our testers dry in our side-by-side garden hose and shower tests, as well as in real-world use on soggy day hikes and backpacking trips. The DWR held up far better than we expected and is comparable to several more expensive pants in our fleet.


Compared to other $50 and under contenders, the Rebel Roamer is incredible. It offers some of the best weather resistance of any rain pant in its price range, with no other pant coming close in price. Compared to other options in our review, we found that the Rebel Roamer was comparable in performance to the Marmot PreCip Pant ($100) and The North Face Venture Half Zip ($80), though it didn't have as many features.

The DWR also held up surprisingly well on the Rebel Roamer. Unfortunately  this pant didn't do well in the moisture category; we found the Rebel Roamer to be the least breathable model in our review.
The DWR also held up surprisingly well on the Rebel Roamer. Unfortunately, this pant didn't do well in the moisture category; we found the Rebel Roamer to be the least breathable model in our review.

Comfort and Mobility


These pants are pretty darn comfortable; the waist band has a low profile, allowing a backpack's waist belt to be worn over the top, with minimal pinching. The Rebel Roamer's shock cord and cinching toggle did not interfere or bother us while hiking or wearing a pack; it functioned as intended and did a fine job of preventing our pants from inching down.


The internal fabric was comfortable against our bare skin and the wider than average cut (and overall design) gave the Rebel Roamer slightly above average mobility. Our testers thought this pant crushed most others in its $50 price range. It's worth mentioning that the Roamer is a little baggier than average, though most of our testers didn't find the issue to be significant.

Breathability & Ventilation


Overall, these pants lacked breathability and were likely the least breathable contender that we tested. They did not feature any ventilation options. When we tested ventilation, the Rebel Roamer performed the poorest, even with the other models having their vents completely zipped closed.


However, for a just-in-case type pant, or for someone saving their pennies, they will work fine. In fact, we wore them on three resort ski days, where their minimal breathability didn't prove to be a big issue. If you have the extra dollars to spend, we would recommend upgrading to the Marmot PreCip Full Zip or the REI Talusphere, as both of these contenders scored highly and were in the $100-$110 price range.

The Rebel Roamer offers a slightly looser than average cut among rain paints in our review. While this might be a small detractor to some users  it did mean these pants were comfortable and offered a respectable amount of freedom of movement.
The Rebel Roamer offers a slightly looser than average cut among rain paints in our review. While this might be a small detractor to some users, it did mean these pants were comfortable and offered a respectable amount of freedom of movement.

Features


There aren't a lot of "extra" features on the Rebel Roamer - this pant is as basic as it gets. There are no pockets or side zippers (not even short ankle length zippers). The only true extra feature is the Velcro pant tighteners/closures on the lower cuffs of the pant, which help seal out snow or other debris. Despite this relatively basic feature, our testers found it performed surprisingly well during snow based adventures.


Packed Size


This competitor offers a surprisingly decent packed size, especially considering its durability and price point. Overall, they are smaller than average and are more compact than many of the more expensive (though more featured) options.


Our testing indicated that the Rebel Roamer pants are more packable than the Marmot PreCip Full Zip and The North Face Venture Half Zip and offer a comparable packed sized to our Editors' Choice Outdoor Research Foray Pant or the Marmot Minimalist Pant.

The Rebel Roamer doesn't have a lot of features; no side-zippers  no pockets  and no built-in belt. One of the few features it has is a Velcro flap near the cuff of the pants. While this seemed small  it did a pretty darn good job of creating a better seal between our boots and the pants. This was particularity nice for more snow-based activities - like downhill skiing and snowshoeing.
The Rebel Roamer doesn't have a lot of features; no side-zippers, no pockets, and no built-in belt. One of the few features it has is a Velcro flap near the cuff of the pants. While this seemed small, it did a pretty darn good job of creating a better seal between our boots and the pants. This was particularity nice for more snow-based activities - like downhill skiing and snowshoeing.

Weight


The Rebel Roamer clocks in at a respectable 12.5 ounces (on the OutdoorGearLab scale). This puts the pant on the slightly lighter than average end of the spectrum, as it weighed less than several of the more expensive models. It achieves this low weight, despite a relatively heavy construction style by not offering many features (like pockets) or zippers of any kind.


Despite its price, the Rebel Roamer is lighter than pants like the REI Talusphere Full Zip (19.5 oz), the Marmot PreCip Pants (14 oz), and The North Face Venture Half Zip (13 oz). They were only half an ounce heavier than our Editors' Choice Outdoor Research Foray Pant (12 oz), though all these pants offered far more features, including full-length or three-fourth length side zippers.

Durability


Despite weighing in on the lighter side, this contender is durable; in fact, they are one of the more abrasion resistant pants in this review. We think these pants are more durable than the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic or the Marmot PreCip Pants, but not quite as durable as the Outdoor Research Foray Pants or Marmot Minimalist Pants. We would easily ski in these pants and use them on trips with off-trail travel, earning a 7 out of 10.


Ease of Use


The Rebel Roamer is the most basic pant in this review. It doesn't have any side zippers (even 1/4 length ankle zippers), though we found it wasn't difficult to pull the pants over lower profile shoes like trail runners or light hiking shoes; this is due to the Roamer's looser fit and slick internal fabric. When pulling over medium to large volume footwear, like more traditional hiking boots, we had to remove our boots in order to put these pants on and visa-versa.

Best Applications


Despite the Columbia Roamer's reasonable price, it performs surprisingly well when worn during a wide range of activities. It is light and packable enough for backpacking and hiking, though it doesn't offer any side ventilation and does not feature exception breathability; however, as a true rain pant, it is decent. This pant is durable enough for downhill skiing or snowboarding and its boot cuff is wide enough to fit over higher volume boots (though you will likely have to take your boots off). The Velcro tab at the bottom allows for the Roamer to perform well when worn on snow-based adventures.

The Rebel Roamer offers an unbeatable value. In fact  we think as an all-around rain pant for backpacking and hiking - or even snowshoeing and downhill skiing - this is the best pant on the market for under $50.
The Rebel Roamer offers an unbeatable value. In fact, we think as an all-around rain pant for backpacking and hiking - or even snowshoeing and downhill skiing - this is the best pant on the market for under $50.

Value


At $50, the Rebel Roamer is the best pair of rain pants that you can buy in the price range. It is basic and does not feature any pockets or side zippers, but it does an excellent job of keeping the wearer dry. It is durable, lightweight, and versatile, ranging from backpacking to downhill skiing. While it is not the most breathable pant, we still think it's the best pant in its price range.

Conclusion and the Bottom Line


The old mantra of: "There are better pants, and there are cheaper pants, but there are no better, cheaper pants" stands. If you are willing to spend a little more, you can buy a slightly lighter pant that will breathe better and will have more features (like pockets). If you like these pants but wish they had a few more features, we'd recommend giving The North Face Venture Half Zip ($80) a look, as they are similar in versatility and durability, with the Venture offering a few more features, like half-length side zips and pockets and better breathability. If you're on a budget or just don't want to spend a bunch of money on rain pants that you might not use very often, then these versatile bad boys blow the $50-and-under competition out of the water. You can certainly buy nicer rain pants, but with all things considered regarding weight, compressed size, and weather resistance, these pants are a fantastic value.
Ian Nicholson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 16, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
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