I have a lot of winter jackets. Jackets for powder days, light jackets for warmer spring skiing, puffy jackets for bitter cold night skiing, waterproof shells for those days when it’s 36 and raining but I still want to ski anyway. The closets in my house overflow with waterproof/breathable/soft shell/hard shell/Gore-Tex/PrimaLoft…it’s become a point of contention for my wife, who’s concerned that I’m using more than my share of closet space. This is how you know you’re living a privileged, first world life: you argue over the sheer amount of expensive jackets you own and have to build a new closet in the basement specifically for ski gear.
I’m not proud of it. But in my defense, the Southern Appalachians has some pretty schizophrenic weather in the winter. Look at the weekly forecast and you’re likely to see conditions ranging from 22 degrees and snowing to 33 and freezing rain to 55 and a light drizzle. You could head out in the morning and the conditions could vary so widely, that during a single adventure you could need a puffy, a breathable shell and a waterproof shell. That’s three jackets for one day in the mountains. A man about the woods needs a lot of jackets to handle that sort of range in conditions. Marital fights over closet space are inevitable.
Columbia has stepped in as a sort of marriage counselor with their new OutDry Hooded Jacket, a hybrid insulated/waterproof jacket that has successfully eliminated the need for any other jacket this winter. The Hooded is stuffed with warm 650-fill down and wrapped in Columbia’s OutDry tech, which is a two-layer waterproof system that has proven to be more breathable than its competition over the last few years I’ve been able to use it. It also has more stretch than its counterparts. So, put all that together in this jacket and you’ve got a legitimately waterproof puffy. I’ve worn this thing in a downpour, I’ve worn it on light powder days, I’ve even worn it in the worst imaginable conditions: during a night ski session when it was 24 degrees and Breckenwolf had every single snowgun blasting. That’s like skiing through a hurricane of snow, over and over. The end result was the same no matter what conditions mother nature and man threw at the Hooded: I stayed dry and toasty warm.
Do you get what I’m saying here? I no longer need that waterproof hardshell. Or that mid-layer puffy on cold days. Or the soft shell, for that matter, because this thing breaths like a champ too. With the OutDry Hooded, I have a jacket that works all winter, regardless of the conditions. It’s become the jacket I reach for day in, day out, whether I’m walking the kids to school or looking to earn some turns by skiing up and down Breckenwolf. In a single season, the OutDry Hooded has rendered my other jackets obsolete. Not that I’m going to get rid of all those other jackets in my house. We just did that closet addition. Plus, I don’t want my wife to think she won the War of the Winter Jackets. I can’t give her the upper hand.
My only complaint? I could’ve used an internal zipper pocket for my phone, but I feel like an entitled asshole just bringing that up. Forget I said anything.