The Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 hits the basics of fleece without hurting the wallet. This jacket uses the generic MTR (Maximal Thermal Retention) Filament Fleece in a bare-bones model that's warm and comfortable. Though bulky and without thumbholes, a hood, much breathability, or many of the features of the high-performance jackets in this review, this piece did well for casual day hikes and around-town days. At an affordable price, this jacket served our testers well with casual use.Editor's Note: On November 14, 2022, we added the Steens 2.0 to our line up.
Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, warm, comfortable
Cons: Bulky, hoodless, poor layering
Compare to Similar Products
Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip
|Price||$34.99 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$169.00 at REI
|$110 List||$79.16 at Backcountry|
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$29.89 at REI
|Pros||Inexpensive, warm, comfortable||Comfortable, warm, simple, versatile, breathable||Athletic fit and performance, breathable, technically proficient||Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athletics||Affordable, cozy, simple|
|Cons||Bulky, hoodless, poor layering||Few features, less technical, no thumb loops||Thin with little warmth, little leisure wear transition,||Average weather resistance||Poor layering, bulky, lacks breathability|
|Bottom Line||Affordable, comfortable, and functional, this fleece offers the no-frills basics that you'd want in a jacket||This lightweight piece has all the warmth of a mid-layer jacket but with a highly breathable design that's ideal for colder, active adventures||This highly technical fleece works well during high-intensity outdoor activity by offering performance and breathability||Highly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat value||This price-point jacket provides ample warmth and a casual feel|
|Rating Categories||Columbia Steens Mou...||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||Mountain Hardwear S...||Outdoor Research Vi...||REI Co-op Groundbre...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Weather resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Columbia Steens Mou...||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||Mountain Hardwear S...||Outdoor Research Vi...||REI Co-op Groundbre...|
|Measured Weight||16.6 oz||12.5 oz||13.3 oz||13 oz||11.6 oz|
|Main Material||100% polyester||100% Polyester||100% polyester||94% polyester, 6% spandex||100% polyester|
|# of Pockets||2||3||2||3||2|
|Unique Features||None||Slim-fit hood, quick drying||Raglan sleeves, thumb holes, three-piece fitted hood||Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding||Stretch binding at waist and cuffs|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Light on the wallet, the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is a jacket made from 100% polyester MTR filament fleece with two cozy, zippered handwarmer pockets. Additionally, snug elastic cuffs and a hem cinch help trap heat and keep out cold drafts. Due to its bulky cut, this isn't our favorite piece for layering, but it gets the job done around town and on short hikes.
The mid-weight Steens 2.0 uses 100% polyester MTR (maximum thermal retention) fleece to battle the cold. While it feels plush, the jacket's not as warm as many of the other models in this review though the stretchy bungee cord hem cinch and the large elastic cuffs helped keep the warmth in and the cold out. The lager cut of the jacket also added a bit of warmth through the extra coverage.
The Steens Mountain 2.0 fits oddly with the long arms bunching around the cuffs, the collar pressing against the throat, and the jacket having an oversized feel to it. The collar did help fight the cold while biking or riding a chair lift and the MTR fleece felt plush against our testers' skin.
Though it won't keep you dry in a rainstorm, it does have a bit of weather resistance and is fairly lightweight. Light drizzle beads up on this fleece, but heavier rain will soak through, so be prepared with more of a shell if there's major precipitation. Without thin gridded areas for breathability, the Steens does a nice keeping out the breeze, but it is a fleece, and its design is geared towards insulation, not wind resistance.
At 16.1 ounces, this jacket can easily fit into a backpack. While it has a decent weight-to-warmth ratio, it wasn't anything notable. The jacket felt a bit bulky, especially in the shoulders. The lack of features definitely streamlined this jacket but it didn't make it as light as some of the other jackets in this review.
The Steens Mountain 2.0 is uniformly thick over the entire jacket. This simple design keeps the price down but it doesn't breathe well. This is adequate if you're on a chilly morning bike ride and you want to keep the wind out, or if you're fishing in a cool mountain stream, but if you're running or hiking quickly uphill, you're likely going to sweat, making this jacket less of a performance piece and more of a casual wear jacket.
The bulky cut of the Steens 2.0 doesn't lend itself to layering. Under multiple layers, the bunching up of the fabric on the sleeves is noticeable and annoying. Under a hardshell or an appropriately sized wind layer our testers weren't bothered as much — just make sure your shell is big enough to accommodate this hefty fleece.
Should You Buy the Columbia Mountain Steens 2.0?
For the price, this jacket does well as an insulating layer for day hikes, fishing trips, car camping, and staying warm while in the yard. It doesn't score as well with more technical applications but the price is hard to beat.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
If staying warm and saving money are your primary concerns, then the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 will deliver. We don't recommend it for backpacking, ski touring, or climbing because it doesn't offer a high level of breathability; the bulky cut also makes it difficult to wear underneath multiple layers. It makes a good, inexpensive jacket for around-town use. Another option similar to this jacket is the REI Groundbreaker, which comes in at a slightly less expensive price. The Outdoor Research Vigor is next in line when it comes to price, and it offers one heck of a deal.
— James Lucas
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