Columbia continues to step up its game with the Evapouration rain jacket, one of our favorite product plays-on-words in this review.
Keeping warm and dry in the dripping ice caves with the Columbia Evapouration.
This jacket kept out the rain with the best of them. The torso and arm lengths are on the shorter side of the jackets we reviewed, which means slightly less coverage, but it should not be a problem for many body types.
This jacket feels slightly clammier than the Marmot PreCip - Women's, which runs away with our Best Buy award. This jacket feels like a rain jacket, unlike several of the products in this review which felt more like either a wind jacket (the Outdoor Research Helium II and the Marmot Crystalline) or a soft shell jacket (the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic - Women's). This category is evolving rapidly and creatively--and it seems the art of keeping out the rain is mostly mastered, so most of the companies are competing on breathability. This jacket does not ace this category, but it's not flunking out of school, either.
Solid structure and design of the Columbia Evapouration.
Aside from the aforementioned clamminess, this is quite a comfortable rain jacket. You won't forget that it is a rain jacket--it has that familiar stiff and noisy fabric to go with the plasticky feel--but Columbia put a lot of thought into the design. It is simple, with just-right pit zips (unlike the ridiculous half-sized, chaffing pit zippers on the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic). There is enough room in the sleeves for layers. And the hood is comfortable, with decent coverage and a small visor which cinches to fit snugly around your face and move easily with your head.
The many angles of the Evapouration.
Our only complaint is that the shoulders are quite narrow and the arms much shorter than other jackets in this review. When the jacket is zipped closed, the cuffs ride up significantly when we extend our arms, and the shoulders feel quite snug for our broader shouldered ladies. The torso could also be a touch longer for our longer-torsoed reviewers.
This jacket is average in the weight category. Certainly light enough to pack on a long backpacking adventure, but not the aggressive ultralight type that true ounce-counters covet.
This is a jacket that will last quite a while. It is certainly not the type of rain jacket that you would be tempted to commandeer for other purposes, such as the OR Helium II, the Marmot Crystalline, or the MHW Ozonic--it is too plasticky and rain jackety for that. But that's good news! That means this jacket is likely to last much longer--because it won't see the use, abuse, sweat, etc. of one of the higher end rain jackets that tempt you to push their limits and shed other (inferior and less multi-functioned) layers from your ultralight pack on your fast-and-light and maybe-rainy weekend.
This jacket packs nicely into one of its hand pockets. It's relatively easy to stuff, and produces a relatively small, neat, and tidy package. In general, this jacket is quite packable, again very similar to the Marmot PreCip jacket. It will not take up much room in your backpack when you set off for adventures in rainy climes.
Comparing the packed sizes of (clockwise from top) the Marmot Crystalline, the Columbia Evapouration, and the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic.
This is a great rain jacket for the unenthusiastic rainy-day adventurer who has to have a rain jacket because A) it rains on the commute to work, B) you have to leave your house sometimes, or C) the gear list for your next organized adventure said you have to have one. It's not a rain jacket that will inspire you to skip and break out in song while sloshing down a muddy trail, but it will keep you dry and relatively comfortable. If you become a passionate rainy-day hiker, you'll likely want an upgrade, but this will buy you some time without breaking the bank.
If the Marmot PreCip - Women's weren't the poster child for performance and value, this jacket would be a winner. But it gets our Best Buy Runner Up award, a newly minted, unofficial award that we decided to pretend to give out only because we feel a little sorry and the competition really is just that stiff for the new jacket on the street trying to outdo the PreCip. Good luck, Columbia, maybe next year.
The Columbia Evapouration is a solid performer in the technical aspects of a rain jacket. The material is not quite as high end as the surprisingly breathable material used in the Marmot PreCip, but overall the jacket is similar. For our reviewers, this jacket lost points in the comfort category, with arm lengths, shoulder widths, and torso lengths shorter than average--enough to be a fault. But we see Columbia branching out into new categories, and trying new things. We are optimistic that Columbia will hone its outerwear manufacturing and design processes and we expect to see more competition from this brand in the near future.