Columbia Phurtec II - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
While not meant for activities where you'll be working up a sweat, the Phurtec II is a stylish budget option for staying warm in the cold and the wind.
This is the one category where the Phurtec excels. The warm and plush inner lining and windproof exterior mean that you can stay quite warm even when not moving or generating much body heat. We found ourselves grabbing this layer when doing less exertive activities such as preparing camp or belaying.
The Phurtec also repels water quite well. Though if you happen to get the furry internal lining wet (say, at the sleeve cuffs or inside the pockets), you will be chilly for a while. The inner material holds in moisture and doesn't dry quickly. Overall, however, this is a solidly warm layer for a casual and laid-back individual.
This is not the jacket to buy if breathability is a priority. Windproof layers tend to keep out the cold, but many don't allow the body to ventilate very effectively. Some models will have mesh-lined pockets, which can help. The Phurtec has soft plush lining everywhere, which doesn't allow you to shed much heat.
The Phurtec can be great for things like preparing camp or standing around belaying and just admiring the views. (Still, a puffy would be an arguably better — albeit more expensive — choice.) But as soon as your heart rate starts to climb, you will feel stifled and overheated in this heavy jacket. If you need something for walking the dog or cooking camp dinner, this is an acceptable choice. If you need a softshell for your favorite aerobic activity, this isn't the one to choose.
Again, this is not where the Phurtec shines. It's fine for activities with minimal movement such as an easy stroll, chores around the house, or urban errands, but an athletic, technical layer it is not. The fit also runs small, so there's some constriction due to that as well as its overall thickness and weight.
Weight is typically the tradeoff with lined windproof models. If space isn't an issue (i.e., you don't need to stow this jacket in your pack) and you just want to stay warm, it may not matter. But for anything technical, you will undoubtedly want something else.
We do not consider this a very versatile layer. It's fine for keeping warm, but for much outside of that, it's simply not appropriate. It's decently stylish and has a lot of the typical features of a basic softshell like an adjustable hem, zippered hand pockets, an abrasion-resistant chin guard, and adjustable velcro cuffs. But the hood isn't helmet-compatible, and while the windproofing is great for certain scenarios, breathability and mobility are noticeably impeded.
The Phurtec is a good value purchase for those in need of a warm, non-technical layer. It's durable, windproof, and stylish — not a bad resume for such an affordable piece.
All in all, the Phurtec is an enjoyable layer for non-technical, non-sweaty activities. It's cozy, warm, durable, supremely windproof, and not too expensive. This became the softshell we grabbed in between technical testing sessions of the more serious pieces in our review. It felt like a comforting hug that we were happy to return to when we needed a rest and a cup of tea.