Perhaps the proper title would be gear fail.  The rain gear definitely falls into the category, Gear We Don’t Love.  I’m having a hard time not pounding the keys for this post, because my frustration about the rain gear situation is quite high.  There really isn’t much to say about Columbia Omni Tech Rain Gear.  It sucks.  I’m not even going to take the time to describe the technology or features, because they don’t work.  The first time out, it failed the keeping us dry test, an important thing when one is hiking in chilly temperatures.  It wasn’t just Dustin & I that experienced the crappy Columbia performance, Brooke and Matt own identical Columbia pants and jackets.  Granted, the first time, we were hiking in POURING rain.  It was a vicious, drenching MO spring thunderstorm.  I expected to maybe be a little wet around my collar, but no, my entire body was wet, and wet like I had just taken a shower fully clothed.  It wasn’t just that time the gear failed, it has failed EVERY TIME in the rain.  No matter if it is pouring or sprinkling.

One of my worst fears is getting wet, and then experiencing subsequent hypothermia.  Wearing this Columbia gear, it is almost a foregone conclusion that chances of getting hypothermia increase substantially!  I think the pic below sums up how Dustin feels about the rain gear…not a happy camper.

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However, Dustin was able to turn that frown upside down this past July.  This is when Dustin got to upgrade to Millet brand rain gear.  Now, this is where I get frustrated.  He argued about the rain gear, saying Columbia (which is cheaper) would be sufficient.  I argued that we  needed a better, more trail worthy brand than Columbia.  He won the argument, and we got wet and cold.  Needless to say, after that he changed his tune, and was the first to upgrade.  Jerk.

Dustin got to stay dry during a chilly afternoon on the Frying Pan, me not so much….
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My upgrade is coming soon, and I will be purchasing Arcteryx, which I wanted in the first place.  Unfortunately, I might have to get the SL since its $300 cheaper.  I know one thing, I’m not about to be up on the mountain in my worthless Columbia gear.

Currently, I wear Dustin’s jacket and my Columbia pants when I ride my bike to school in the rain.  Every time, my top is dry and my pants, well I think I just waste my time putting on the rain pants.  I sit in class all day with wet bottoms…ridiculous.  Keep in mind that the ride to school is just about 20 minutes. 

Columbia, can’t even keep you dry for 20 minutes.  Great stuff.

And, that is about all I have to say about that topic.

Written by Stephanie Mullins

14 Comments

Midge Man

I understand your frustration with the Columbia gear and it's great that you understand how important staying dry really is. Particluarly here and as active as you guys are! Until some one draws damp at 11,000 feet and gets hit with 40 degree temperature drop and wind, most people don't have a clue how fast you can go hypothermic. I actually have more money tied up in rain gear than I do in waders, vest and boots. If you're dry, a day that is miserable for all the other folks on the river can be a pure pleasure, regardless of if it's a summer rain or your outershell in a snow shower.

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Sanders

Columbia is all my folks would buy me when I was a younger lad…needless to say, once I became a working stiff I switched pretty quickly! I couldn't agree more with Midge Man…nothing's worse than being wet.

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Jay

I've always been fairly happy with Columbia gear, but I've never tried any rain gear. I had a pair of shorts that were tough as nails and I loved them to their death. I wore them for six years and they were my favorite pair. Kelly has some "Titanium" pants and I know she really likes them. Sorry to hear the rain gear sucks.
I have an L.L. Bean "Emerger" wading jacket that has become my regular rain jacket… even when I'm not fishing, and it actually IS waterproof.
Maybe you could salvage your rain gear (and get some use out of it) by spraying it with a waterproofing spray like they sell for tents, etc? Just a thought.

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Stephanie and Dustin

MM – I am absolutely terrified of hypothermia. It can happen so dang fast. Last summer, we were on Mt. Sopris fishing Thomas Lakes and it was sunny and warm. Suddenly, the temp dropped to bone-chilling cold and started to rain. We snuggled in our tent while it poured, but what if camp hadn't been set up yet? I would have been screwed! Won't happen again.

Sanders – Not all Columbia gear sucks, just their rain gear. I have a pair of the Titanium pants like Kelly (Jay mentioned in his comment) and those are really comfortable for me. However, Dustin doesn't like his. He does have a Columbia fleece he loves. He wears it all the time, and takes it backpacking.

Jay – The sad thing is, the gear has been sprayed with the water treatment spray. The water doesn't bead at all, it just absorbs. Not an awesome feature for rain gear. We have some Columbia stuff we like too, but getting wet sucks. I have heard a lot of good things about LL Bean. Dustin and I really need to look into their product offerings.

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matt

Me personally, i have a reddington wading jacket, hasn't ever let me get wet. I also have a set of the bass pro bibs and pro qualifier jacket. keeps me dry as well, and Dustin can tell you how wet it can get standing on the sideline in a monsoon on a friday night. Glad you guys have found such a neat place to live. Nice blog
Coach Kaeding

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Anonymous

I've had the same crappy results with Columbia in the past!!! Tried it all- boots, hat, jacket. I was drawn in by the looks and great marketing. They boasted durable, tested gear for fractions of the cost of GoreTex. It's been years since I purchased Columbia and was thinking about a revisit. After this review, nope. Staying away for good.

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Anonymous

Wow. I was looking at Columbia, but not now. I have a Columbia parka that I like but, being from Central Calif., I where it for the chill not for the rain. There is NOTHING worse than being wet and cold. Thanks for the review!

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Anonymous

People writing in forums either say extremely good, or extremely bad…. Where is the middle line? If a jacket is not good enough, why is it? Was the base layer not in order? What was problem with the water treatment? Was the rain a torrential 24h rain? Were you exercising actively with damp moisture settling on the sleeves? Was it a manufacture defect? Did you wash your jacket in a detergent?

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Anonymous

Nearly every piece of technical gear from Columbia Sportswear I bought has failed miserably. I couldn't get my Columbia parka clean. My Columbia highly insulated mittens split a seam. My Columbia rain gear left me wet and cold. My local outfitter (who I trust and buy gear) sells Columbia to the weekend warrior skiers and people going from the house to the car, car to work, etc. He sells Columbia because many people don't need technical gear. Last time I came in for gear, he told me that he no longer carries Mountain Hardwear because Columbia Sportswear owns it and the quality level is Columbia Sportswear–a recipe for gear failure. I don't buy The North Face because of poor quality. (No Gore-Tex. I like the Gore company because they hold manufacturers using their engineered textile to very high standards and they do unannounced inspections. A company that sells Gore-Tex gear is a company I'll buy gear from.)

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