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Columbia Flash Forward - Women's Review


Wind Jacket for Women

Columbia Flash Forward - Women's
Price:   $60 List
Pros:  Breathes well, lightweight, silky feel, layers well, inexpensive.
Cons:  Large hood with draw cord in front obstructs peripheral view when cinched, does not stow in pocket, draw cord at waist gets in the way of backpack, climbing harness and gear.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Columbia

Overview

The Columbia Flash Forward - Women's is a lightweight jacket that breathes well, but almost too well. It was the least wind resistant of all the wind breakers we tested. While this jacket is fairly lightweight, it runs a bit large and the excess material tends to flap in the wind. The material feels silky on your bare skin, but it is not the best choice if your core temperature runs cold and you want extra warmth on a cool, windy day. We preferred our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia Houdini - Women's and our Top Top Pick for Alpine Climbing, the Arcteryx Squamish Hoody - Women's, over this model for most of our outdoor adventures.

New Colors Available!
Columbia has released this jacket in three new colors for 2016. Keep scrolling to check them out.

RELATED: Our complete review of wind jackets - women's

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jean Tucky

Last Updated:
Friday
November 18, 2016

New Colors for 2016


While no longer offered in the green that we tested, this jacket now comes in black and three bright new colors: Laser Red, Candy Mint, and Foxglove, shown below left to right.
Columbia Flash Forward - Women's
Columbia Flash Forward - Women's
Columbia Flash Forward - Women's
 

'Hands-On-Review'>

Hands-On Review


The Columbia Flash Forward - Women's is made of 100% polyester. It has elastic cuffs, two exterior zippered pockets and comes in five colors. It weighs 5.6 ounces (158 g).

This jacket is best for light activity in moderate temps  but it won't protect you from the encroaching storm. Here's Jean Tucky hiking around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir  Yosemite  CA  on a gloomy day.
This jacket is best for light activity in moderate temps, but it won't protect you from the encroaching storm. Here's Jean Tucky hiking around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite, CA, on a gloomy day.

Wind Resistance


This jacket did resist light winds but it's not the ideal layer for cold, windy days. It has a drawstring hood and hem, which helps seal out the wind, but is better suited for outdoor activities in warm to moderate temperatures. If you need a wind breaker for cooler climates, checked out the lined Marmot Stride - Women's instead.

This jacket doesn't do a great job of blocking the wind  and while the relaxed fit is comfortable  the excess material tends to flap annoyingly around you.
This jacket doesn't do a great job of blocking the wind, and while the relaxed fit is comfortable, the excess material tends to flap annoyingly around you.

Breathability


This wind breaker lets some air in, so in that sense, it breathes well. The silk-like polyester is also soft to the skin's touch and this jacket feels great over a tank top. If your body temps run on the warm side and a comfortable fit is appealing, this jacket may be for you.

This jacket feels breathable  mostly because it doesn't really block the wind. Here's Lisa Maroti rappelling off El Capitan  Yosemite  CA.
This jacket feels breathable, mostly because it doesn't really block the wind. Here's Lisa Maroti rappelling off El Capitan, Yosemite, CA.

Water Resistance


During our water tests, the Columbia Flash Forward - Women's repelled some water thanks to its Omni-Shield water and stain repellent coating. However, it quickly saturated through and was slow to dry. The Patagonia Houdini is a much better choice if you are looking for some additional protection from the elements.

The coating on this jacket beads some moisture  but quickly saturates through in even a light rain.
The coating on this jacket beads some moisture, but quickly saturates through in even a light rain.

Weight


This jacket was neither the lightest nor the heaviest of the wind breakers that we tested. At 5.6 ounces (158 g), it won't weigh you down or take up a lot of space in your pack, but it also doesn't provide much protection from the elements either. The slightly heavier The North Face Flyweight Hoodie - Women's offers superior protection in a similarly sized package.

Even though it doesn't technically stow in it's own pocket  we were still able to cram it in there  however  the pocket doesn't have a reversible zipper so it's hard to actually close and open it.
Even though it doesn't technically stow in it's own pocket, we were still able to cram it in there, however, the pocket doesn't have a reversible zipper so it's hard to actually close and open it.

Versatility


Because this jacket does not stow in a pocket, it is not ideal for the everyday outdoor adventurer. Also, the drawstring hood cinches down around your face and blocks peripheral views, so it's not the best choice for anything involving a helmet, like cycling, mountain biking or rock climbing. For these reasons we've given it a lower score for versatility. However, we did appreciate the full front zipper, which lets you unzip completely to help ventilate when you are hiking up steep terrain, and the zippered hand pockets are nice for holding a camera and snacks.

The large hood obstructs peripheral vision  particularly when wearing a bike or climbing helmet.
The large hood obstructs peripheral vision, particularly when wearing a bike or climbing helmet.

Durability


The outer lining on this model is made up of a satiny feeling 100% polyester. We've given it a low rating for durability as well, because after a few wears the seam threads started shredding. The hem around the hood and waist are only single stitch, and we question the long-term durability of this jacket if used in rugged terrain.

Best Applications


This jacket is best for the occasional adventurer who ventures outside in warm to moderate conditions. Because the silky fabric is comfortable next to the skin and is lightweight, this is a nice jacket to have in your day pack, travel duffel, or city satchel, as long as the going is not too tough.

This jacket has a relaxed and loose fit  which is good for layering.
This jacket has a relaxed and loose fit, which is good for layering.

Value


At $60, this jacket will comfortably protect you in the summer winds without depleting your bank account. For the same price though, you can purchase our Best Buy winner, the The North Face Cyclone Hoodie - Women's, which performs better in colder temps and is more durable and versatile.

Conclusion


If you want a lightweight jacket that has a silky-satin feel and breathes with the wind, go with the Columbia Flash Forward - Women's. It fits comfortably on those with a tall build and flexes nicely with movement. However, if you're looking for a jacket to protect you from strong mountain gusts, our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia Houdini, is a much better choice which also keeps you dry in a light rain. To see how all of these jackets compare against each other, check out our full Wind Breaker - Women's review.

Other Versions


Flashback - Women's
Columbia Flashback - Women's
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Available in some awesome 80's color schemes
  • $60

Freedom Windbreaker
Columbia Sportswear Freedom Windbreaker Jacket
  • A hoodless pullover jacket
  • Features Omni-Shield Advanced Repellency
  • $60

If you want a little more pizzazz in your Flash Forward check out the Printed Flash Forward - Womens.
Jean Tucky

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 18, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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