It looks like it's gonna be a rainy one.
Last year, Portland ground to a halt for a week as an ice storm and several days of below-freezing temperatures encased the city in ice. This year, after a brief stint as a Midwestern city over Christmas Eve, we are back to a good old fashioned Pacific Northwestern winter: Lots of rain, lots of wind, and no ice to be seen.
Which is very nice in general, but an enormous pain in the ass for me, a man whose main goal, day-to-day, is to not be too hot.
As I've mentioned before, I hate being too hot. I hate the sinking feeling when I realize, halfway to work, that the hoodie or puffer I chose for the day is too heavy. I hate knowing that I'm going to have to endure a day of damp pits when the sun comes out just at the wrong time. Moreso, I hate having to try to navigate whether or not I'm going to be too hot when on a rainy day. A heavy jacket on a damp 50 degree day is misery.
What's worse, a light rain jacket on a damp 50 degree day only nominally saves you from moisture. You see, materials like rubber act as heavy insulators, and do not allow for any moisture to escape from your clothing. Spend 30 minutes outside in one of those cool Stutterheim rain jackets that everyone loves and you'll find yourself feeling like microwaved lunch.
Which is why my new, brathable rainjacket, the OutDry Ex ($150) from Portland's own Columbia Sportswear has been an excellent addition to my winter and soon to be spring wardrobe.
Columbia's properitary OutDry material is waterproof, but somehow made breathable by millions of tiny, almost-invisible perforations on its surface. The exterior of this hooded rain jacket is totally surfaced with OutDry, and it's two pocket and main zippers are all waterproof, insulated and slightly reflective. What's more, the coat is reversible—the "rain jacket" side being a kind of greyish black and the "jacket" side being normal black—which, though I can't imagine it affects functionality in dry conditions, is nonetheless pretty cool.
The first time I wore this jacket out was on a 20 minute walk on a dismally rainy Saturday afternoon. I simply did. not. get. wet. This was back on a warmish day in December, but this coat has been my go-to since the coldest part of winter has (hopefully) wrapped up on the West Coast.
Importantly, it's even lighter than it's puffer cousin, that I reviewed back in December. Now that temeperatures can dip up into the mid-50s, I can't afford to be caught in the rain with a puffer, even a light one.
I've been wearing the OutDry Ex throughout January, and it's functioned as a totally waterproof, very-lightly insulated top layer that pairs well with a longsleeve and jeans when it's chillier. Like most of Columbia's outerwear, it runs large: I'm 6′ and 190 lbs, and a men's medium cuts a fairly flattering shape.
I've been extremely happy with this jacket. At a$150 it competes with serious outdoorswear from The North Face and other performance brands, and is cheaper than many "fashion" competitors who, in my experience, tend to favor looks over functionality. Best of all, it's light enough to last well into warm and rainy late Spring months.
Finally, I can be both dry and not too hot.
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