Columbia Sportswear Trail Running Gear (Summer)

Laima and I had the good fortune to be included in the most recent round of Columbia Sportswear testing (and hope to continue!). We were each sent a jacket and a technical shirt that were designed with trail running in mind. See what Laima thought of the Women’s Peak Power™ Shell and Cool Rules™ Short Sleeve Top at Women’s Endurance Gear. One of the great things about the company’s products is that they are extremely versatile, useful from the urban street to some extreme situations. Columbia has been in business more than 70 years, starting as a small hat company and now expanded to include other brands such as Sorel, Mountain Hardwear, Montrail, and Pacific Trail. They are committed to giving back to the community, pairing with local groups as well as supporting employee volunteerism. Plus, they have the funny “Mother” commercials, featuring Chairman Gert Boyle.

Men’s Peak 2 Peak™ Jacket ($350.00)

Lightweight and form-fitting, the Peak 2 Peak hard shell jacket promises completely waterproof, windproof, and ultrabreathable performance. And, it’s an Outside Magazine 2011 Gear of the Year winner! It’s made with Omni-Dry®—an extremely air-permeable waterproof fabric. Additional features include an attached adjustable storm hood, vented underarm zips, pockets feature Invizzip™ technology (makes pockets practically disappear), and articulated elbows. This is a pretty amazing jacket, with only one flaw that I could discover – it swishes quite loudly, though that’s typical of waterproof jackets and not that big a deal. Probably scares bears and mountain lions away.
I wore this jacket in a variety of situations, including several runs in the hot and humid Midwest weather. Not that the jacket kept me dry, but amazingly enough, I didn’t feel any more wet than usual, which is saying a LOT! The underarm zips are huge, allowing for totally customizable venting. The jacket, as mentioned, is form-fitting, but still allows for freedom of movement. The hood adds complete protection, with a stiff brim keeping it where it’s needed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit over my cycling helmet, but that is not its raison d’etre anyway.

The Peak 2 Peak is the only jacket I took for our 11 day trip to Lithuania, confident that it was the only jacket I needed for any situation I might find myself in. Lightweight, packable, and completely waterproof, I carry this to and from work everyday in my backpack. One small complaint is that it does not have true side pockets, but rather lower chest pockets. As someone who likes to keep his hands in his pockets when chilling (a la James Dean), this is a design change I’d make.

I’ve had this over a month and it still looks and feels brand new – that’s durability.

Men’s Altimeter™ Shirt ($45.00)

For warm weather running, cycling, or hiking, this shirt is a must-have addition to your gear. The fabric is 100% polyester composed of 92% polyester/8% elastane Techincal features include Omni-Freeze (advanced cooling) and Omni-Shade® UPF 30 (sun protection). The Omni-Freeze® technology actively works to pull heat away from your skin.

This is another of recent technical shirts I’ve tried that, while feeling incredibly heavy in hand, feel weightless on the body. True to Columbia’s claims, the shirt makes the skin feel cool, even on hot, humid, sweaty runs. Even when completely soaked through, this shirt kept its lightweight feel, with no bunching or sagging. Incredibly comfortable.

Though I’m generally very careful to air dry my technical clothing, it’s always a good idea to “accidentally” throw it in the dryer on occasion, to gauge the effect. No problems for the Altimeter shirt.

More info can be found at the Columbia website, by reading their blog, liking them on Facebook, or following on Twitter.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Columbia Sportswear. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

I also got a chance to review the Master of Faster™ Low shoes, Men’s Bug Shield™ Shirt, and Drainmaker™ shoes, courtesy of Outdoor Hub. Check out those reviews as well!

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