By: Blonde Two
As you know we Blondes make a point of testing all of the outdoor gear that we are sent to review outside, on the hills and in real conditions. Well, conditions couldn’t have been more real than when we were out on Dartmoor in the stormy conditions just before Storm Brian. I have often heard it said that there is rain… and then there is Dartmoor rain and Dartmoor didn’t let me down when I decided to test my new Columbia Women’s Outdry Ex Gold Tech Shell (I think that it is wrong that a jacket should have more names than me so from now I will refer to it as Outdry Tech Shell). The rain was sideways, combined with wind ridiculous, enough to send even the hardy Dartmoor ponies searching for cover, and unrelenting.
I have christened my Outdry Tech Shell (still too many names) my ‘tomato soup jacket’ because it has a colour that reminds me of a can of Heinz and sitting around a childhood tea table. When I first tried it on I found myself wishing for a bit more bum coverage but I forgave it the slight lack of length because it stayed in place and didn’t do any riding up type things (I am tall and have curves that take up the available excess material in most coats). What it did do instead of riding up, was concentrate on keeping me dry, and boy did it do a good job of that. We were out in the sideways, wind-driven, unrelenting rain for a good few hours and the only dampness I experienced was where the rain had dribbled down my neck (my fault for not wearing a Buff and learning how to fasten the hood up properly).
The Outdry Tech Shell (aka tomato soup jacket) has an interesting approach to waterproof membrane technology, instead of using Goretex it uses Columbia’s own Outdry Extreme membrane, which is fused to the outside of the shell instead of the inside, even the taping is situated stylishly (and effectively) on the outside. This has resulted in an impressively waterproof garment, which has now become my wet-weather jacket of choice. The outer coating has a shiny look, which initially suggested to me a lack of breathability, but I was proved wrong in this. I didn’t just stand around in the rain in the Women’s Outdry Tech Shell, I did a fair amount of slogging uphill in it too and I have to say that, despite a fair few moments of overheating and a less than ladylike amount of perspiration, the internal, Blonde-generated moisture did a really good job of disappearing as I cooled down.
For a garment that has clearly had a lot of technical know-how poured into (and onto) it, this is a remarkably simple jacket. It keeps your body dry, has a hood big enough to fit a hat and shelter a pair of glasses, has two zip pockets and a pair of easy-to-use pit zips… and that is all. The Outdry Tech Shell looks at first glance like a fancy coat Barbie might like but is, in reality, a waterproof jacket that Action Man’s sister Action Girl would be proud of wearing (especially if she liked tomato soup).
PS If you prefer a nice, green salad to a warm bowl of soup, please don’t fret, Blonde One’s Outdry Tech Shell is a lovely combination of aqua, seaside colours. If you fancy trying out an Outdry yourself, our favourite outdoor store Cotswold Outdoor stock it… in four colours!
PPS My apologies for the lack of extreme rain/new jacket pictures. We were far too busy that evening to even think about cameras so we went back out the next day… still wet… still windy!
From time to time we Blondes are sent free outdoor products to field test and promote on social media. We will always be honest about our findings and any products we don’t keep for ourselves find their way into our expedition stores. Great for us, great for you and great for our youngsters!