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Columbia Benton Springs - Women's Review

A high value and maximum comfort fleece.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $35 List | $29.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Super warm, inexpensive, cozy and comfortable
Cons:  Not breathable, thicker for layering, pills after a few washes
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Warmth - 20% 10
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Breathability - 20% 4
  • Layering Ability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Movement - 15% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 5% 7

Our Verdict

Seeking cozy comfort for an amazing price? The Columbia Benton Springs is a classic fleece that stands out for its plush and fleecy fabrics that wrap you up like a warm blanket. This thicker fleece is designed to keep you warm during the coldest days of the wear. While it's not the most breathable, this non-technical fleece performs well for casual days in the cold. Wear it while raking the leaves, chopping wood, or simply sipping tea while reading a book. It comes in a variety of colors, and its casual design is perfect for wearing out while grocery shopping or meeting friends for coffee. This is our go-to for lounging around the house and an even bigger favorite for its super low price. This Best Buy winner is designed to keep you warm without exhausting your wallet.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $29.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$169.00 at REI
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$139.30 at Backcountry$99.99 at Backcountry
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$124.93 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Super warm, inexpensive, cozy and comfortableBreathable, durable, helmet compatible hood, awesome thermoregulation, high valueBalaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleeceLightweight, breathable, full-length zipper and a hoodSuper cozy materials, stylish, lightweight, warm
Cons Not breathable, thicker for layering, pills after a few washesNot weather resistant, expensiveNot very breathable, expensiveNot very warm, no weather resistanceExpensive, not the most breathable, zipper slips
Bottom Line A high value and maximum comfort fleece.The reigning champion that simply can't be beat for versatility.A technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates.This light fleece is a high-performance layer that is breathable and comfortable.The lightweight and stylish fleece is built for town and leisurely hikes.
Rating Categories Benton Springs R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody - Women's Kyanite Hoody
Warmth (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Breathability (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Layering Ability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Ease Of Movement (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Weather Resistance (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
6
Specs Benton Springs R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody... Kyanite Hoody
Type Midweight Midweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight
Main Fabric Polyester Polartec PowerGrid(93% recycled polyester/7% spandex) Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology (88% polyester, 12% elastane) Thermic fleece & Power Grid Nylon, polyester
Unique Features Extended collar Hidden zippered pocket, balaclava hood fits under a helmet, brick-patterned insulation balances breathability and warmth Balaclava hood with neck gaiter Close fitting hood fits under a helmet Stretchy, abrasion-resistant fabric, gussets for movement
Weight (ounces) 13.4 11.9 11.9 11.2 11.2
# of Pockets 2 hand 2 (hand), 1 hidden zippered pocket (right hand) 3 (2 hand, 1 arm) 2 (hand) 2 hand
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Columbia Benton Springs is the classic fleece at a great price. This award winner is perfect if you're seeking a comfy and cozy layer that'll keep you warm through the coldest nights of the year. Wear it while hanging around the house or while lounging around the park on a Fall Sunday afternoon.

Performance Comparison


The Columbia Benton Springs is a super warm fleece  perfect for chilly days. It's a great loungewear piece and a good option when you're not getting too sweaty. Here we test it on a cool morning in Northern Ontario.
The Columbia Benton Springs is a super warm fleece, perfect for chilly days. It's a great loungewear piece and a good option when you're not getting too sweaty. Here we test it on a cool morning in Northern Ontario.

Warmth


If you're seeking a fleece to curl up in after a long day on the slopes, this is the one! Featuring 250-grams of polyester fleece, this jacket is designed for warmth. It was a go-to when the house felt cold on especially blustery days and our favorite for basic chores around our country home.


The jacket itself features a wind-blocking collar that wraps around the neck, preventing both wind and cold from seeking into the jacket. We tested it on blustery Fall days and cold nights, while camping, lounging, and hiking.

We love the super cozy  fleecy collar that provides warmth all day long.
We love the super cozy, fleecy collar that provides warmth all day long.

In all cases, this jacket always felt warm. It's best for the coldest months of the year and worn alone during cooler days in both the Spring and the Fall. Is it warm? Yes!

We love the soft pile of this fleece that generates heat efficiently. When zipped up  it does a great job keeping heat close to the body  offering immediate comfort and happiness.
We love the soft pile of this fleece that generates heat efficiently. When zipped up, it does a great job keeping heat close to the body, offering immediate comfort and happiness.

Comfort


Cozy and comfortable? Indubitably! This fleece is constructed with a midweight in mind but feels a little heavier than other midweight fleeces in this review. These materials are thick and protective, wrapping you up like a cozy blanket. If you're looking for a fleece that offers well-priced comfort, this is our top recommendation.


The jacket has two large fleece-lined pockets that'll keep your paws warm on cold days. The jacket itself is pretty roomy and allows for easy movement, which inherently adds to the comfort of it.

Unfortunately the comfy handwarmer pockets become unusable with a harness or a hip belt from a backpack done up. Another reason it's a less technical fleece  and best for lounging around.
Unfortunately the comfy handwarmer pockets become unusable with a harness or a hip belt from a backpack done up. Another reason it's a less technical fleece, and best for lounging around.

Unfortunately, you can't access the pockets if you're wearing a backpack or a harness.

A look inside the fleece-lined pockets that offer optimal comfort.
A look inside the fleece-lined pockets that offer optimal comfort.

The cuffs are thick with an elastic band, that doesn't really hug the body, but offers a relaxed fit, perfect for relaxing at a chalet or lounging at home. If cozy and comfortable is what you're after, this soft fleece has your name written all over it.

Both hands fit easily into the jacket without a worry.
Both hands fit easily into the jacket without a worry.

Breathability


Designed a little thicker than most of the technical fleeces in this review, this jacket doesn't offer the best in breathability. The materials do offer some heat exchange, but for the most part, are good at capturing heat and keeping it close to the body. Aside from the zippers and pockets, it doesn't have any specific areas for ventilation.


We tested it while hiking and canoeing in the Fall. When hiking uphill, we got very hot and had to take the fleece off. Most technical fleeces will vent heat efficiently, not causing us to overheat, but in the case of the Columbia Benton, we had to. The same happened while canoeing. After a few minutes of paddling a little bit of warmth on a cold day, we were forced to strip down to our next layer. Other testers, wearing thinner and more breathable jackets, didn't need to do this. While you can absolutely wear this jacket while hiking, we wouldn't recommend it for any activity where you might find yourself sweating. It's simply too warm and not very breathable.

This warm day canoeing made this jacket a touch bit warm. She took it off after wearing it for about ten minutes on the water. As a result  it's not the most breathable  but it certainly is warm.
This warm day canoeing made this jacket a touch bit warm. She took it off after wearing it for about ten minutes on the water. As a result, it's not the most breathable, but it certainly is warm.

Layering Ability


Wearing the Benton Springs on its own is no problem. The jacket offers a lot of roominess and doesn't hug the body tightly. As a result, you can layer any type of baselayer or t-shirt underneath without an issue. However, layering overtop this fleece isn't as comfortable as other thinner base layers.


When trying on different layers, we appreciated the larger and relaxed fit of this fleece. Wearing a t-shirt or heavy baselayer proved to be no problem. However, when trying to layer it underneath jackets with interior liners that aren't frictionless, we had more of a problem.

On this beautiful but cold Fall day  we take to the bush  getting ready to fell a tree  remove stumps  and do some sweaty chores. Layers fit nicely underneath but putting a jacket overtop this bulky behemoth is a chore in itself.
On this beautiful but cold Fall day, we take to the bush, getting ready to fell a tree, remove stumps, and do some sweaty chores. Layers fit nicely underneath but putting a jacket overtop this bulky behemoth is a chore in itself.

The sleeves on this fleece are quite roomy, meaning that when trying to put them under a tighter jacket, they bunch. It doesn't have any thumb loops, which meant we simply had to grab the cuffs with our hands to layer properly.

Roomier jackets like the ultra layerable Rab Xenon makes layering overtop this bulkier layer easy.
Roomier jackets like the ultra layerable Rab Xenon makes layering overtop this bulkier layer easy.

Some of our tighter fitting jackets simply didn't work, and we had to switch the fleece out so we could move. We didn't want to be left feeling like the kid from 'The Christmas Story' who "Can't put their arms down!". Aside from tight-fitting jackets, this fleece layers well overtop other layers, and underneath looser layers.

Unfortunately  this jacket that is intended to have a trim fit  doesn't do so well. We can hardly put our arms down. As a result  this fleece isn't the most layerable underneath other items  but super easy to layer over top of other layers.
Unfortunately, this jacket that is intended to have a trim fit, doesn't do so well. We can hardly put our arms down. As a result, this fleece isn't the most layerable underneath other items, but super easy to layer over top of other layers.

Ease of Movement


The relaxed fit of this fleece allows you to move easily without restrictions.


The arms are the regular length with a regular length torso. Some of our taller testers mentioned that the arms weren't long enough to cover when putting their arms up. However, regular movements were not restricted in any way. Overall, our testers could move easily in this jacket, which is another reason it's one of our favorites for lounging around the house in comfort.


A look at the movement of this fleece. Even though it's relatively stiff  it still moves easily with the body. Unfortunately  it does ride up a little when you put your arms up  but aside from that  we are pretty happy with it's movement.
A look at the movement of this fleece. Even though it's relatively stiff, it still moves easily with the body. Unfortunately, it does ride up a little when you put your arms up, but aside from that, we are pretty happy with it's movement.

Weather Resistance


While no fleece is designed to be completely weather-resistant, the Benton Springs provides a minimal level of resistance to the elements. When hiking and exploring during Fall conditions in Northern Ontario, we were presented with some windy days. When wearing just the fleece and a baselayer, the wind did not cut through the layers, and we stayed warm. The hi-pile, thicker fleece, provides some level of wind protection, as it does the same for water.


During our water tests, we found ourselves in a small rainstorm. The fleece did a great job at wicking away light drops of rain; however, when the downpour came, our jacket got soaked and absorbed this water.

The lofty fleece is quite good for repelling water!
The lofty fleece is quite good for repelling water!

During our water tests, we noticed the same effect. When pouring water onto the face fabric, the polyester wicked away and repelled the water droplets until it was too heavy. Then it absorbed into the fabric and through to the interior. Of the other jackets tested, this performed at an average level, offering some wicking power of water, but far from a being "good" at repelling water. As a result, we'd recommend using this with a shell in bouts of poor weather if you plan on hiking or exploring while using this fleece.

Value


The best-valued fleece that we've seen thus far! Most fleeces retail at a higher price, offering lots of technical features and comforts. This jacket retails for a mere just under a third of that cost, making it one of our highest valued options in this review. During our testing, the only wear that we've seen in the fleece pilling on the interior is breaking down slightly after three months of wear every single day. According to many online users, this jacket has lasted for years and is a solid goto. With this history, price, and performance, we'd say the value is pretty stellar and a great deal.

We love this fleece for chopping wood on this cold day. As the day heated up  we ended up taking it off  but it was nice early in the morning where temperatures sat close to freezing.
We love this fleece for chopping wood on this cold day. As the day heated up, we ended up taking it off, but it was nice early in the morning where temperatures sat close to freezing.

Conclusion


If you're seeking a fleece that you can yourself into and looks good at the same time, the Columbia Benton Springs is a great option. Its price tag makes it our highest value fleece, earning our Best Buy Award. It's perfect for lounging or hiking around while checking out the Fall colors. As one of the warmest fleeces, it's a go-to for cold days and nights hanging out in the chalet.

Curl up with a good book into this ultra-cozy fleece jacket. Not only is it super comfortable but it's also extremely affordable. No wonder it wins our Best Buy award!
Curl up with a good book into this ultra-cozy fleece jacket. Not only is it super comfortable but it's also extremely affordable. No wonder it wins our Best Buy award!


Amber King