Columbia’s next-gen waterproofing shrugs off spring showers without wearing out

If you end up feeling damp in your rain jacket, most likely it’s just worn out. But before you upgrade you replace it with yet another jacket eventually destined for the garbage, there’s a new option to check out. Last year, we showed you how Columbia Sportswear’s techs figured out how to make breathable, comfortable gear that stays waterproof — but you still couldn’t buy it. Now spring is just around the corner, and Columbia Sportswear’s new OutDry Extreme breathable waterproof jackets and pants are just hitting store shelves.

Most breathable-waterproof jackets are constructed with a hydrophobic membrane in between fabric layers. The outermost layer, usually a heavy-duty fabric, is merely fabric treated with a durable water repellent (DWR). What most jacket manufacturers won’t tell you is that rough treatment and dirt degrades this waterproofing over time. Eventually, the DWR wears off. After that, the jacket can get waterlogged when it rains.

In this case, the interior fabric is usually something soft and, if the designer is smart, moisture wicking. Unfortunately, with the waterproof membrane preventing it from fully breathing, the inside can become a little clammy when the jacket is wet on the outside. The jacket becomes less comfortable and functional as the DWR wears off. The fabric gets soaked with rain from one side and sweat or body heat from the other.

The other option is a rain slicker of thin but totally waterproof material, like rubber. Generally, that’s what you need if you’re sure you’ll be caught in a deluge. The downside is they’re about as breathable as a plastic bag.

Columbia’s OutDry clothing line offers the best of both worlds. Its waterproof membrane is on the outside of the jacket, so the rainproof-effect is permanent. At a glance, its shine makes it look like the classic rain slicker. But, unlike those old slickers, OutDry Extreme layer remains breathable thanks to microscopic perforations in the membrane. Steamy body heat worked up during a hike can escape, but rain can’t get in. The gear is still lined with a moisture-wicking fabric (Columbia’s Omni-Wick EVAP) to feel comfortable even if you work up a little sweat on a misty morning run, or if you work in a rainforest like Columbia’s testers.

Columbia announced the new line in June of last year, and spent over a year and a half developing and testing OutDry Extreme wear. Their no-nonsense beta-testers hit every continent, even Antarctica. The Portland, Oregon based company takes its rain wear seriously, and the Pacific Northwest can see its fair share of wet weather. If OutDry Extreme gear can do the job through Olympic National Park’s 250-280 inches of rain a year, that’s a good sign.

Columbia’s OutDry Extreme line ranges from $150-$400, in a variety of sizes and colors for both men and women. The selection is up now on Columbia and REI’s websites.


How the furious pace of innovation has sculpted the world’s fastest motorcycles

The technology that powers modern MotoGP race bikes isn't just inside of them -- it's everywhere. Literally every single part of the bike, from the brake pad coating to the shape of the gas tank, is painstakingly designed to make the rider…
Emerging Tech

Swish! Toyota’s basketball bot earns a Guinness record with 2,020 perfect throws

A basketball-shooting robot built by Toyota just picked up a Guinness World Record for successfully sinking 2,020 baskets in a row without ever missing a shot. Check it out in action.

Are flat pillows a pain in your neck? Here are the best pillows for side-sleepers

If you've tried doubling up on pillows or buying larger ones to no avail, then it might just be time for a new pillow – one made for sleeping on your side. We've rounded up the best pillows for side sleepers that give neck and head…
Smart Home

We tested anti-snoring devices on our loudest friends. Here’s what worked

If your partner snores and it keeps you up at night, you may be interested in the latest anti-snoring technology. We tested out a few different gadgets to find out what they do and whether they work or not.

The best deals on electric scooters and electric skateboards for your commute

Looking for an way to get around, but want something more exciting than a bike? An electric scooter or skateboard is a great alternative. They're more portable than even the smallest foldable bikes, and are great for shorter commutes and…

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

Nissan’s high-tech ice cream truck removes the fumes from your order

Nissan has given the traditional ice cream truck a modern makeover to create a cleaner, greener, high-tech alternative that also gives aging electric-vehicle batteries a new life.

Planning a camping trip? Stock up on camp gear with 25% off at Huckberry

It's camping season, so now's a good time as ever to make sure you've got everything you need. Today might be the best day to do it: we've just come across a big in-season sale at online outdoor retailer Huckberry, which ends at midnight…

Looking to get into shape? Snag one of these excellent fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Home Theater

Run to the beat of your favorite music with the best running headphones

Running is a great source of exercise but isn't always the most thrilling, especially when you're fiddling to keep your headphones in place. Check out our picks for the best headphones for running, so you never have to miss a beat again.

REI slashes prices on Garmin Fenix 5 smartwatch performer bundles

Garmin makes some of the best fitness smartwatches, and if you haven’t jumped into the world of wearables yet, this is a great place to start: The Garmin Fenix 5 Performer Bundle is on sale from REI right now at a $171 discount.

Amazon slashes $141 off the GoPro Hero 5 Black action camera

Can't shell out the $350 that the Hero 7 Black is currently selling for, but in the market for an action cam? Try out the Hero 5 Black. Amazon currently has a sale through third party seller Deals R Us, which knocks 35% off the retail…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best 4th of July sales 2019: Best Buy, Home Depot, and REI

Whether you're looking for price cuts on mattresses, major appliances, kitchen gadgets, outdoor gear, and just about anything you can think of for summer, there's bound to be a sale with your name on it.