Columbia Benton Springs 1/2 Snap Pullover - Women's Review
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|Pros||Instantly cozy, soft and fluffy, affordable, lots of color options||Very stretchy and comfortable, cozy and warm, breathable, comparatively compact||Soft interior, pockets are high enough for hip belts, robust wind guards on zippers, easy to layer||Very stretchy, comfortable thumbholes, extended coverage, packable, very breathable, great warmth-to-weight ratio||Very cozy, warm, oversized fit is relaxing to wear, comfy kangaroo pocket, hood drawstring, unique side ventilation|
|Cons||No pockets, challenging to layer, not breathable, less wind resistant||Slim fit doesn't work for everyone, not very windproof, fuzzy exterior collects debris||Shorter torso and sleeves, less stretchy, stiff zippers and wind guard make hood awkward||Chest pocket looks bad, oddly long cut, light colors are see through||Not a great performance piece, bulky and difficult to layer over, no secure pockets|
|Bottom Line||A simple pullover with a classic design that's cozy, relaxed, easy to love, and affordable||An extremely versatile fleece with lightweight breathability and stretchy comfort combined with midweight warmth and protection||A simple and lightweight sweatshirt-like jacket that's comfortable to wear, if lacking in a few details||This lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable price||An oversized fit adds relaxation vibes we can sleep in, with fluffiness inside and out and wide sweatshirt cuffs|
|Rating Categories||Columbia Benton Spr...||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||The North Face Cany...||Outdoor Research Vi...||Kari Traa Rothe Hoodie|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Specs||Columbia Benton Spr...||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||The North Face Cany...||Outdoor Research Vi...||Kari Traa Rothe Hoodie|
|Main Material||Polyester||Recycled polyester||96% recycled polyester, 4% elastane||94% polyester, 6% spandex||Polyester|
|Cuff Construction||Elastic cuff||Quick-drying woven binding||Elastic cuff||Same fabric as jacket||Elastic sweatshirt cuff|
|Weight||10.4 oz||10.7 oz||10.6 oz||8.9 oz||14.1 oz|
|Number of Pockets||None||2 hand, 1 chest||2 hand||1 chest||1 passthrough|
|Features||Comfort stretch, extended collar||Off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, moisture wicking||Chin guard, elastic hood hem, full length wind guard||Thumbholes, flat seam construction, UPF 30, moisture wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, chin guard||2 side zips for easy on/off, drawstring hood, chin guard|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Columbia Benton Springs 1/2 Snap Pullover is a midweight fleece that lacks a hood, pockets, or thumbholes. It's made of 100% polyester with elastic cuffs and a snap top. It features modestly stretchy fabric and an extended tall collar.
The Benton Springs is a very warm fleece jacket — as long as it's not up against any wind. Its thick midweight material not only feels immediately warm but actually is warm. Elastic cuffs effectively help stop heat from escaping around your wrists. A wide strip of overlapping material holds the snaps of this pullover, keeping you warmer when buttoned up. Even without a hood, the Benton Springs makes up for it in part with a very tall collar to keep your neck protected. Its torso isn't as long as many others in this lineup, though, and it lacks a drop hem to protect you in motion.
The bottom of the torso also lacks a hem or adjustability. Instead, how warm it keeps your torso is determined by how it fits your body. If too loose around the hips, cold air can easily displace the warm air inside this fleece. On the other hand, a tighter fit around the hips helps to make the Benton Springs more secure and therefore, warmer. And while this pullover is quite warm when sitting still — hanging out in camp or on the couch — its limited coverage and simple construction aren't conducive to keeping you covered through large movements. A walk through the neighborhood or low-intensity hike is about where the mobility of the Benton Springs tops out.
This simplified pullover is designed with a moderate taper in the waist and a relaxed overall fit. It's on the boxy side, with a shorter torso and roomy sleeves. The polyester has some stretch to it, but not enough that we feel comfortable sizing down to get a tighter fit. If anything, we prefer to size up, to alleviate any strain across the shoulders and keep plenty of space inside to really get after that snuggly feeling.
The Benton Springs is one of very few models we tested that doesn't have any pockets at all. However, we are impressed at how comfortable the neck of this fleece is, even when snapped all the way to the top. The interior surface is slightly smoother than the exterior but still boasts that classic fleece softness that feels so great against bare skin. It lacks the technical fit features of many other models (like seams removed from the tops of your shoulders and your armpits), again reinforcing that this is a very basic fleece for casual use and just hanging out. We love wearing this jacket around the house on a cold winter's day.
The Columbia Benton Springs isn't built to withstand the elements on its own. Though it's made of polyester, which often has modest water-repellent properties, the airiness of the fleece lets water quickly work its way through the jacket to whatever you're wearing underneath. It also does very little to stop the wind from ripping right through to your core. As a midlayer, this light fluffiness is a great way to stay warm, but as an outer layer, it just can't offer protection in trying elements.
The size Small we tested weighs 10.4 ounces. Considering the added thickness and bulk of the Benton Springs, this is actually a fairly low weight and ranks on the lower end of average among models we tested. For a midweight jacket, we're impressed by this relatively low weight. However, this fleece doesn't compress super well and takes up a significant amount of space in a backpack. We prefer wearing the Benton Springs to our final destination over packing it along "just in case".
Similar to warmth, the breathability of the Benton Springs depends at least partially on its fit. The fabric itself is not particularly breathable. Unless a wind whips up to cool you down, the polyester fibers trap heat next to your body, preventing easy ventilation. Anywhere that the jacket runs a bit tight or close to skin, we noticed a distinct lack of breathability. Even with a loose-fitting torso, our testers noticed that it's rather easy (easier than when wearing other fleeces in our lineup) to collect sweat in our armpits even while our exposed fingers remain chilly.
A looser fit marginally helps this issue, but even with a roomier fit, our experiences wearing the Benton Springs while performing moderate housework and yardwork left us with hot and cold patches across our torsos and arms. The sleeve cuffs trap heat, and the sleeves are more difficult to pull up our forearms. They're bulky when bunched up, and the cuffs slightly squeeze our forearms after a while of being pushed up.
We don't love layering the Benton Springs. While a looser fit of this jacket leaves room for putting over warmer base layers, the fleece interior is more likely to catch and pull on long sleeves while you're wearing it. Its sleeves and torso are long enough to adequately cover most underlayers, though, and we found it reasonably comfortable to wear over the top of a long-sleeved next-to-skin layer.
As with any bulky layer, throwing something on top of it can be challenging. If your puffy jacket, shell, or other outer layer is fairly fitted, you'll probably struggle to fit it comfortably on top of the Benton Springs. However, if you live in a larger jacket with plenty of extra room inside, wearing that over this fleece will give you so much warmth. It's also worth noting that the external surface of the Benton Springs is a loose fluff, that can easily collect debris from your surroundings, so check yourself before you trap a leaf in your jacket with you.
Should You Buy the Columbia Benton Springs?
The Benton Springs is one of the least expensive fleeces we tested, making it an obvious budget-friendly option. It's also enjoyable to wear, adding additional value. It comes with caveats though; this simple fleece isn't a great choice for very active sports, both in how it fits and its breathability. Where the Benton Springs excels is as a cozy top worn mostly for relaxing and very easygoing ventures.
What Other Fleece Jacket Should You Consider?
If casual wear and relaxation are what you want a new fleece for, the highly affordable Columbia Benton Springs is an excellent choice. If you like the style and vibe of this fleece but are willing to pay more for a little better performance, the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T performed slightly better in nearly every metric. Or if you love the idea of having an ultra-comfortable fleece but need a little more breathability and mobility from your jacket, the Arc'teryx Kyanite is our favorite sweatshirt-like model. But if casual simplicity is what you're after, the Benton Springs is a solid budget pick.
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