Hands-on Gear Review

Columbia OutDry Ex Gold Down Hooded Review

Price:  $250 List | $149.99 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Waterproof outer shell, dual internal stash pockets, responsibly sourced down, easy to adjust draw cords on hood and hem
Cons:  Noisy rubbery feeling fabric, poor fit, not very warm, some sewn seams tearing, no compression method
Bottom line:  A completely waterproof down jacket is a great idea, but this one has too many other issues to recommend.
Editors' Rating:   
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Down Fill:  700-fill responsibly sourced goose down
Total Weight (Men's size tested):  16.2 oz. (M)
Baffle Construction:  Bonded baffle construction
Manufacturer:   Columbia

Our Verdict

The Columbia Outdry Ex Gold might be the most unique down jacket that we have ever tested. We chose it specifically because it claimed to be entirely waterproof, a claim that seemed too good to be true for a down jacket, and which we couldn't resist trying for ourselves. Columbia wasn't lying, wearing this jacket you can literally stand out in a pouring rain while your heat-trapping down stays dry and lofted on the inside. However, due to a whole heap of problems that we had unrelated to its waterproof outer shell, this jacket ended up rated near the very bottom of our comparative rankings. While we think the idea is a good one, and could serve one well for commuting around the city in rainy but not too cold places, this jacket simply didn't live up to the standard present in the other top of the line down jackets that we tested.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman

Last Updated:
Monday
December 18, 2017

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With an entirely waterproof face fabric, one might think that this jacket would be the perfect choice for our Top Pick for Wet Weather. However, we also expect that the rest of the jacket would live up to the standard of performance set by the contenders we compared it against, and that simply wasn't the case. In particular, we found this jacket to be seriously lacking in warmth and were disappointed to find that we experienced the same fit and quality control issues outlined in online customer reviews. In particular, we found that one of the underarm seams was indeed ripping apart and beginning to leak feathers after not a whole lot of time spent wearing the jacket. We also found the fit of our size men's medium to be very tight and constricting, while online reviewers complained that size large was simply gigantic. Finally, while we appreciate the waterproof-ness of this jacket, we have to say that the feel and look of the outer fabric put us off a bit — we would prefer smooth and light nylon any day over wearing what felt like a duffel bag. For these reasons and more, we opted to award the Rab Microlight Alpine our Top Pick for Wet Weather, as it was a far superior jacket overall, despite only being fairly water resistant instead of waterproof.

Performance Comparison


The Columbia Outdry Ex Gold was one of the lowest scorers in our comparative rankings, which you can see in the table above.

The COlumbia Outdry Ex Gold is unique due to its completely water proof face fabric  which sorta reminds one of wearing a rain jacket with down inside. While this feature worked excellently  we found there to be myriad other problems with this down jacket.
The COlumbia Outdry Ex Gold is unique due to its completely water proof face fabric, which sorta reminds one of wearing a rain jacket with down inside. While this feature worked excellently, we found there to be myriad other problems with this down jacket.

Warmth


We rated this jacket as the lowest performer in the review when it came to loft, lower than the similarly welded baffle design of the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded. While it uses 700-fill power, responsibly sourced down, it is obvious by the thinness of the baffles that there is not a whole lot of down stuffed into this jacket, and it has a relatively low loft. These baffles are created without using sewn-through construction, a decision that undoubtedly helps with its waterproof-ness (every external seam is taped), but which we think doesn't contribute to the warmth. Despite claims to the contrary, we notice that the welded baffles have a larger area of unstuffed fabric in between each baffle, and this leads to larger and more dead spots where there is no insulation. We also felt that despite having dual draw cords on each side of the face, the seal was fairly poor. While these features point toward a lack of warmth, the proof came during our comparative testing, when it was obvious to us that on a super chilly and windy morning in the shade, this jacket kept us less warm even than the super thin and light Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded, so we gave it a score of 4 out of 10.

Testing the Outdry Ex Gold during a very dry early winter in the alpine of the San Juan Mountains. We found this jacket to not be especially warm compared to the competition  and recommend it for milder  wetter climates instead.
Testing the Outdry Ex Gold during a very dry early winter in the alpine of the San Juan Mountains. We found this jacket to not be especially warm compared to the competition, and recommend it for milder, wetter climates instead.

Weight


Our size men's medium Outdry Ex Gold jacket weighed in at 16.2 ounces. Considering the thick and heavy face fabric used to make this jacket waterproof, this is an impressively light number. It was roughly the same weight as the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody, but lighter than the Marmot Tullus Hoody. We gave it 5 out of 10 for weight.

Water Resistance


There is no doubt that this jacket was the most water resistant one that we tested, and it deserved the perfect 10 out of 10 score. We literally stood in the shower with this jacket on for about four minutes (in lieu of a rainstorm that simply never came where these jackets were tested in Colorado), and as far as we could tell, no water whatsoever leaked through the face fabric. For this reason alone this jacket could be worth purchasing.

Testing the water proofness of the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold in a very wet early season snow storm. It certainly keeps the water out and the down inside dry  as claimed.
Testing the water proofness of the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold in a very wet early season snow storm. It certainly keeps the water out and the down inside dry, as claimed.

Columbia calls the fabric used on this jacket Outdry Extreme. They claim that it is completely breathable as well as being waterproof, something we could not very well test or prove due to the interior liner fabric obscuring our view of the interior of the face fabric. What we did notice was that the liner fabric was extremely moisture absorbent, and hydrophobic down was not used, so if one gets super sweaty in this jacket there is the chance of wetting out the down from the inside. While it didn't factor at all into the rating for this metric, we must also point out that we found the Outdry Extreme face fabric to be rather unpleasant to the touch, eye, and to wear. It reminded us of a rubber raft or duffel bag. It doesn't exactly feel all that nice to the touch, is fairly loud and crinkly, and in our opinion, just doesn't look super nice. A plethora of highly visible logos printed on all sides of the jacket further contribute to this sentiment.

The Outdry fabric on the exterior of this jacket is indeed totally water proof  and you can see the melting snow trickling off without absorbing in at all.
The Outdry fabric on the exterior of this jacket is indeed totally water proof, and you can see the melting snow trickling off without absorbing in at all.

Fit


For our head tester, this jacket had an awkward fit that was hard to get used to. We tested a men's size medium on the recommendation of the Columbia sizing chart found online. For us the hem length was good and the jacket was plenty spacious through the torso, perhaps a bit too spacious. However, the fit in the shoulders and underarms, and surprisingly the elbows if we chose to bend them, was tight and restricting, and we found the length of the sleeves to be a bit too short when moving our arms about. This tightness was nowhere near as pronounced as we experienced with The North Face Morph Hoodie or even the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded. We would call the fit a bit small for the size, and would even recommend sizing up, but we have also read lots of customer reviews online that claim the size large is simply gigantic. The best advice is probably to be sure to try it on before purchasing. 5 out of 10.

The Outdry Ex Gold had the dubious distinction of being the only jacket we have tried where the fit in the elbows are too tight. We noticed that if we attempt to bend our elbows  the jacket doesn't allow it. The sleeves are too short  and the fit was also problematic across our shoulders and upper back.
The Outdry Ex Gold had the dubious distinction of being the only jacket we have tried where the fit in the elbows are too tight. We noticed that if we attempt to bend our elbows, the jacket doesn't allow it. The sleeves are too short, and the fit was also problematic across our shoulders and upper back.

Compressibility


This jacket does not have a dedicated method of compressing it into its own pocket or stuff sack, like most of the jackets in this review do. When we rolled it up and stuffed it into its own hood it was roughly the same size as the Marmot Tullus Hoody, that is to say, fairly large. Due to its relatively high weight and lack of compression, it would not be our first choice for backpacking missions.

The three jackets that did not come with any sort of method to stuff them into a pocket or stuff sack. For this photo we chose to roll them up and stuff them into their own hoods  but they are still the least packable jackets in this review. Top left: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded. Top right: Marmot Tullus Hoody. Bottom: Columbia Outdry Ex Gold.
The three jackets that did not come with any sort of method to stuff them into a pocket or stuff sack. For this photo we chose to roll them up and stuff them into their own hoods, but they are still the least packable jackets in this review. Top left: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded. Top right: Marmot Tullus Hoody. Bottom: Columbia Outdry Ex Gold.

Features


The Oudry Ex Gold has a surprising amount of features. Most notable is the double side of the face drawcords for tightening the hood.

This jacket has dual draw cords to help tighten the hood. Once pulled  however  they leave a loop of cord resting against the cheek  as you can see here  which was annoying enough that we never chose to use this feature.
This jacket has dual draw cords to help tighten the hood. Once pulled, however, they leave a loop of cord resting against the cheek, as you can see here, which was annoying enough that we never chose to use this feature.

They are easy to tighten and release, but also leave a loop of elastic drawcord resting against the cheeks and face, an annoying fact. Likewise, the dual drawcords found on the hem are also easy to tighten and release, but leave loops of cord dangling below the waistline of the jacket, a feature we don't like because these loops can get hung up on side of the trail branches. We loved the dual interior drop pockets, a great feature for storing larger items like gloves within the warmth envelope of the jacket. We gave it 7 out of 10 points for the performance of its features, on par with the Rab Microlight Alpine, but not as polished by any means as the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody.

One feature of this jacket that we really liked was the dual interior stash pockets on each side  which we like to use to keep our gloves  hats  or other clothes toasty warm on a cold day.
One feature of this jacket that we really liked was the dual interior stash pockets on each side, which we like to use to keep our gloves, hats, or other clothes toasty warm on a cold day.

Best Applications


Due to its waterproof-ness and its relative lack of warmth compared to the competition, we feel that this jacket is ideally suited to areas where it is rainy and wet but not super cold. We feel like it is a good candidate for commuting around town in the winter, or for day hikes on chilly, rainy days. We don't think it is the ideal choice for cold and dry climates, and due to its relative heaviness and lack of packability, would not lug it around on a backpacking trip.

Despite the lack of snow  the ice shows that temps were frigid for this early December hike. We didn't feel like this jacket was super warm compared to the competition  and so prefered using it on days warmer than this sub-freezing one.
Despite the lack of snow, the ice shows that temps were frigid for this early December hike. We didn't feel like this jacket was super warm compared to the competition, and so prefered using it on days warmer than this sub-freezing one.

Value


This jacket retails for $250, which is slightly more affordable than the average lightweight down jacket in this review. For the right person in the right place, this could present a decent value. However, we have experienced quality control concerns in the stitching under the arms coming undone after a fairly short test period, raising some alarm bells. We also feel like if you are going to spend that amount of money, there are many other down jackets, like most of the ones in this review, that offer better performance at a comparable price.

We read some online complaints about stitiching under the arms coming undone  leading to spilling feathers. Curious  we checked out our Outdry Ex Gold  and found this hole forming of its own accord in one of the armpits.
We read some online complaints about stitiching under the arms coming undone, leading to spilling feathers. Curious, we checked out our Outdry Ex Gold, and found this hole forming of its own accord in one of the armpits.

While it has a great characteristic of a completely water proof outer membrane  we found the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold to be lacking in some other ways  including warmth  packability  fit  and features.
While it has a great characteristic of a completely water proof outer membrane, we found the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold to be lacking in some other ways, including warmth, packability, fit, and features.

Conclusion


The Columbia Outdry Ex Gold is a unique down jacket that features a fully waterproof outer membrane. We thought this membrane worked very well even in the wettest of conditions but felt that other aspects of the jacket were not up to the quality standards set by the competition. Since it was not super warm, light, or compressible, and has a wonky fit as well, it was one of the lower scoring jackets in our review.

Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: December 18, 2017
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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