Columbia means a lot of things to a lot of different people, from skiers to anglers to backpackers and travelers worldwide. But for springtime in the Blue Ridge, it’s a brand I continually turn to for waterproof, bug-proof, breathable apparel and footwear.
Their motto is “Trying Stuff since 1938,” and while simple, it’s a statement not only about the innovation but also the humility with which the company approaches the outdoor market, in an effort to make the outdoors accessible to everyone, and bringing technical products to the market that help people enjoy being outside.
This Spring, Columbia is incorporating its Omni-Freeze ZERO, Omni-Wick EVAP, Insect Blocker and Omni-Shade proprietary technologies across several styles for a head-to-toe kit ideal for southeastern climes.
The Zero Rules SL gives you a wicking, breathable technical tee for hiking and trail running for under $40, when you can easily spend twice that, and it’s jam packed with features. In a nutshell, the Omni-Freeze ZERO cools the surrounding fabric when it becomes wet, the Omni-Shade UPF 30 blocks the sun’s harmful UV rays, antimicrobial helps reduce the stink factor, and Omni-Wick pulls moisture away from the body and enables perspiration to evaporate more quickly.
For hikes, pair it with the Insect Blocker Cargo Pants ($80), also a technical, breathable material but impregnated with Columbia’s Insect Blocker technology to keep ticks and mosquitoes at bay. Throw the Insect Blocker Mesh Jacket ($90) in your pack — and leave it there — for when it gets buggy but you’re too hot to put more clothes on, and don’t want to cover yourself in bug spray.
Columbia’s trail shoes are also a shocking value for the money, although these days they compete right up against other top shelf brands; and with the company’s OutDry (a waterproofing technology out of Italy they snatched up lock, stock and barrel two seasons ago for use exclusively in shoes, gloves – and packs in the Mountain Hardwear brand), they are even more competitive.
The new-for-spring Conspiracy Razor OutDry ($110) are lightweight, waterproof, nimble and soft; while being lugged, welded, and reinforced for performance and durability.
Finally, for less than $100 ($99.99 in men’s and women’s), add the new EvaPOURation rain jacket to your kit. It’s a full-featured jacket with pit zips, hood, and simple (versatile) styling that blends Columbia’s Omni-Tech, Omni-Wick Evap, and Omni-Shield tech for a completely waterproof breathable shell.
(Click here for an explanation of all of Columbia’s apparel technologies.)