Speculative thoughts on new GTX Active & Outdry Extreme

The inside of my waterproof-breathable pants after a multi-hour rain storm. The DWR-treated face fabric wetted out, and moisture began to move inside the fabric, soaking me. This is typical of the performance of modern WP/B fabrics, especially with long-term use.

The inside of my waterproof-breathable pants after a multi-hour rain storm. The DWR-treated face fabric wetted out, and moisture began to move inside the fabric, soaking me. This is typical of the performance of modern WP/B fabrics, especially with long-term use.

For years I have been arguing that modern waterproof/breathable fabrics — including every version of Gore-Tex and eVent, plus proprietary fabrics like Patagonia’s H2No, Marmot’s NanoPro, Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q, and dozens of others — are technologically flawed. (Read this, this, maybe this, and The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide.)

Relative to the marketing hype, these fabrics earn a giant FAIL in their real-world performance. In my experience, which is extensive and which includes long-term wear (in contrast to most “reviews”), waterproof/breathable shells have failed to keep me dry from precip (outside), perspiration (inside), or both.

Why? Three causes:

1. Ambient humidity

If humidity inside the garment is greater than outside, moisture from inside the fabric will pass through to the outside, where it can evaporate. But ambient humidity is often very high during heavy precip, especially in the East. As a result, the moisture inside the garment does not get “pulled” towards the outside, and perspiration builds up. The result: You’re wet from the inside.

2. Not breathable enough

Technically, WP/B fabrics are breathable, i.e. moisture can pass through the fabric. But the level of breathability is inadequate to keep up with moderate- or high-aerobic activity, even when ambient humidity is very low. I’m surprised that fabric manufacturers have never been sued for false marketing claims, given how they describe the fabrics as “extremely breathable” and post photos of a runner in a WP/B shell.

3. Durable water repellent (DWR) failure

When new, the DWR treatment causes water to “bead” on the face fabric. Unfortunately, it quickly degrades due to abrasion, dirt, body oils, and other contaminants, and after short-term use the exterior fabric begins to “wet out,” or become saturated with water. At this point, humidity “outside” the fabric is 100 percent, and moisture will begin to move through the fabric to the inside — the reverse direction that is desired. The result: You’re wet from the outside.

The next generation of WP/B fabrics

I think we’re about to see a new generation of WP/B fabrics. With existing fabrics, a membrane made of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (aka e-PTFE, or Teflon) is sandwiched between an exterior face fabric treated with DWR and typically some type of interior mesh or other surface, or nothing. Fabrics are often described as 3-layer, 2.5-layer, or 2-layer.

Typical construction of a modern WP/B fabric. There are many variations, but generally they all share a DWR-treated face fabric, an e-PTFE membrane, and a liner. Credit: fr:Wart Dark and User:Solipsist

Typical construction of a modern WP/B fabric. There are many variations, but generally they all share a DWR-treated face fabric, an e-PTFE membrane, and a liner. Credit: fr:Wart Dark and User:Solipsist

Columbia was the first to market with a new generation of WP/B fabric, launching OutDry Extreme earlier this year. Yesterday I read in Gear Junkie that a new version of Gore-Tex Active has been released, currently only available in one jacket from The North Face. This release sounds very unconventional (a 12-week product cycle, versus the normal 18 or 24 months) and I can’t help but wonder if Gore panicked when it learned of Outdry Extreme. And I suspect these new fabrics are about to become more widespread, since I’ve seen several unbranded fabric swatches floating around the Sierra Designs office.

With these new fabrics, the DWR-treated face fabric has been eliminated and the membrane is now on the outside; some type of interior liner remains. The fabrics look and feel rubbery, like the rain slicker that you might have worn as a kid.

Columbia's Outdry Extreme fabric, which has 2-layer construction: an exterior membrane, and an interior liner. Credit: Columbia.

Columbia’s Outdry Extreme fabric, which has 2-layer construction: an exterior membrane, and an interior liner. Credit: Columbia.

Are these fabrics revolutionary?

Without long-term first-hand experience, I cannot yet personally say whether these next-gen fabrics are a true improvement over existing products. Hey, Columbia and Gore-Tex: I’d love to get a jacket to test!

I also have not seen any extensive long-term reviews. Gear Junkie and Indefinitely Wild were seeded with early product, but results of more rigorous testing has not yet been released.

Certainly, the elimination of the DWR face fabric is an improvement, since this is the Achilles heel of modern WP/B fabrics, especially for long-term use. But it remains to be seen whether these fabrics maintain a “permanently beading” surface, or whether the exterior membrane somehow begins to fail.

If the former, then absolutely these fabrics represent a step forward. If the latter, there will be no change to real-world performance, but it will be repackaged in new fabric construction and in a new marketing campaign.

I’m less concerned with fabric breathability — it’s not the primary problem. Early indications are that the fabrics are more breathable, but not a worthy substitute for, say, a wind shirt or fleece.

Posted in on December 15, 2015


  1. Adam on December 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Totally agree on the hype/failure of WTPB fabrics. Thank you telling it like it is. I find WTPB footwear is even worse/fails within 100 miles or so.

    After great success using a trekking umbrella on a hot, sunny hike (Transcatalina Trail) I’m experimenting with it at home in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

    Does umbrella + wind shirt offer a highly breathable solution for hard uphill hiking in the rain? So far, yes, as long as it’s not too windy and I don’t need the hand for anything else. Basically, it is an option for wearing what I’d wear in the same conditions miinus rain.

    I keep hard shell with me for times the umbrella is not doable.

    It’s not a perfect solution, but leaves me relatively dry and allows me to get down to tshirt and hatless in the rain if needed for heat management.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 15, 2015 at 11:58 am

      My experience with umbrellas is limited, probably because their ideal application (when on good trails and when conditions are warm and calm) is a rarity for me. If you’re off-trail, or even on a low-use trail that might be overgrown or has low-hanging branches, an umbrella is not practical. In cooler conditions, you don’t need the ventilation as badly. And if it’s windy, forget about it.

      But for something like the Appalachian Trail, you could make a really strong case that it’s the best option out there.

      • Adam on December 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

        Yes, I was thinking more about your readers, who are mostly heading out in milder conditions in gentler terrain. For a long on-trail hike in the Olympics, for instance, an umbrella could make sense for a lot of people.

        Also, ponchos can work pretty well. Experimentation is key, of course, but hard shells just don’t work well for hard hill climbing in the rain.

        Love your stuff. It has really helped me dial in my gear and lighten things up on my modest adventures.

    • Ashley on October 26, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Waterproof footwear typically fails fast due to Poor fit. a shoe that is not fitted properly will crease and damage it’s liner. a properly fitted shoe/boot will not. The vast majority of people wear their footwear either too loose, in the wrong size or simply don’t know what they are looking for to get a good fit.

  2. Robby Brown on December 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Excellent article Andrew! Lot’s of hype with these proprietary fabrics and they almost never live up to it.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      “Almost never”? Has one ever?

  3. John on December 15, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    It’s not mentioned specifically but I assume you are similarly critical of Neoshell?

    Any thoughts on Paramo?


  4. John on December 15, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I assume you have similar thoughts on Neoshell?

    Any thoughts on Paramo?


    • Andrew Skurka on December 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Despite claims that “the invention of Polartec® NeoShell® revolutionized waterproof breathability capabilities,” it has the same flaw as other WP/B fabrics.

      Pararmo is a more unique case. It relies on a super DWR-type finish (which may not actually be a DWR, can’t remember), has no membrane, and has a capillary-like mid-layer that pushes moisture away from the wearer. My personal experience is limited, but my impression is that it achieves a “warm when wet” effect rather than a false guarantee of keeping you dry. Because of its weight/warmth, it not an appropriate fabric for temperatures above “cool,” or even “cold” for high-aerobic activity.

      • Dennis on January 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        I’ve used one of the early Rab Neoshell jackets, and believe it’s at least evolutionary, if not revolutionary. The material is much more breathable than any other membrane-based shell gear that I’ve used, and at least as waterproof. The DWR did eventually fail, but for my purposes this isn’t a fatal flaw. My outings tend to be 5 – 7 days, and even the refreshed DWR appears to last that long. ‘Course now (3 years after purchase) I have to refresh before pretty much every trip, but it can be done. And for breathability Neoshell really does work.

        Having said that, I have to agree that wetting of face fabrics is the single largest limitation of all current shell gear. I’m really anticipating the results for these new layups.

      • auton on July 4, 2016 at 11:42 am


  5. Stan on December 16, 2015 at 5:54 am

    I’ve enjoyed your many topics on the subject of battling the elements. It seems like we keep going back to the realization that you’re going to get wet no matter what, so dress so that you can stay warm while you’re wet and dry off quick when the weather breaks.
    Maybe one day you can help revolutionize a product that will be perfection! But in the mean-time, the weather keeps the vast majority of people at home and off the trails which equates to less crowded trails. So be careful what you wish for perhaps lol.

  6. Matt on December 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Gear Junkies test said the temps were at 50F. That’s a very nice temperature to be hiking in a very rubber rain slicker type jacket. I’m skeptical; turning the order of membrane inside out isn’t a real innovation unless the physics as outlined by Andy and others is solved. The only way I see that is through mass venting, active cooling, or a membrane that is at this point for a future genius to solve. It really is an interesting problem, that if solved could actually save lives.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      I feel a little bit differently. I think elimination of DWR is a good thing — it just wasn’t working, and innovation efforts need to be focused on something else. What I’m unclear about is the nature of this exterior membrane, i.e. the material, and the mechanism for keeping water off of it. Columbia and Gore have been hush on this, probably because of IP concerns. If I knew more about it, I’d be more confident in saying that I’m optimistic or skeptical.

      • Woubeir on April 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Well, Outdry Extreme is actually nothing more than a classic PU-membrane that is not air-permeable and GTX Active PBS is like Pro so pure ePTFE (no PU-layer) and so air-permeable.

        • Andrew Skurka on April 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          Fabric suppliers can continue their pissing match over whose fabric is most breathable. But they are missing the point entirely. No fabric is breathable when the face fabric is saturated with water, and NONE of these companies have developed a fabric or treatment (e.g. DWR) that does not degrade with abrasion, body oils, UV, etc. Maybe these new technologies are better, but the jury is still out.

          Until fabric suppliers can develop a permanent beading technology, WP/B fabrics will continue to FAIL with moderate use.

          And even if they do develop such a technology, the breathability issue remains. Gore-Tex et al. want us to believe that their fabrics are more breathable than a base layer, that you can RUN in them. This claim has no basis in human physiology, as the fabrics are not even close to keeping up with perspiration rates.

  7. Peter on January 11, 2016 at 2:37 am

    I think there is already a Goretex Active. How does the new differ from old in terms of the name?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      The Gore laminates are always evolving. The names change every few years, too.

      The current (and maybe outgoing) fabric is traditional 3-layer: face fabric, PTFE membrane, and interior lining or coating. There are a few other elements in this sandwich (e.g. hydrophilic PU coating on the membrane) but this is the basic idea.

      With the new laminate, the face fabric has been removed.

  8. The Spine Race 2016 – Gear Review | Eoin Keith on February 2, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    […] the race from start to finish. For the Spine I brought along 3 shell layers (2 for the drop bag). Gore-tex style jackets they have a tendency to wear down, and they can easily “soak out” in long periods of wet weather, reducing their […]

  9. Jeff McWilliams on February 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I’ve seen other articles hinting at this. Sounds like there are environmental and human health concerns surrounding the older DWR coatings, which is forcing the industry to look for alternatives.

    This may be why W.L. Gore is rushing the new Gore-Tex Active to market.



  10. Keenan on March 4, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Hey Andrew, I love your blog, but I keep seeing you saying the same thing around the web about waterproof fabrics. As someone who works in the industry for a major apparel/gear brand and knows there isn’t some massive conspiracy at play here, allow me to be super nitpicky about all this and correct you on a major point.

    Exterior moisture isn’t soaking through the waterproof membrane; the ePTFE exterior of the membrane is hydrophobic and physically prevents liquid water from passing. This physical barrier is the crux of why it’s legal to call a waterproof/breathable jacket waterproof.

    The idea that liquid water passes through the membrane because of the same reason water vapour passes through the membrane in the opposite direction is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the layering of the fabric works (the internal, hydrophilic layer draws in water vapour which then passes through diffusion beyond the hydrophobic layer). No capillary action is at play here – rain is not soaking through a barrier that on a molecular level cannot permit the passage of liquid water.

    Anyway, what’s actually happening is vapour from your body being unable to pass through the water-saturated face fabric, and therefore condensing into liquid, soaking you. To make matters worse, cold water is also hanging out incredibly close to your skin, making you feel cold and clammy.

    As we all know, you will inevitably get soaked in waterproof/breathable clothing, but not from water – from your own sweat.

    I’d strongly recommend checking out the original patent for GORE-TEX for better details about how it works and when it doesn’t:


    • Andrew Skurka on March 5, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Keenan –

      I appreciate you chiming in. I assume you left your job description at “someone who works in the industry for a major apparel/gear brand” because you don’t want to make it seem like you’re speaking for Arc’teryx, but it’d be fine by me for you to mention that. It’s good to know what brands employee individuals who are tuned in with the community.

      In countless places I’ve read that waterproof-breathable fabrics work because the ePTFE membrane “allows water vapor through but not liquid water.” That may be true, but I think there is more going on than that. The wet-out of face fabrics is disastrous for the performance of this category. At best, it leads to the situation you described, where perspiration is blocked from moving through the garment, and you end up taking a bath in your own sweat. How is this “guaranteed to keep you dry?”

      But I think it’s worse than that. Why can’t water liquid from the exterior become water vapor, pass through the ePTFE membrane, be absorbed by the internal hydrophilic layer, and appear as water liquid on the inside of the garment? If the exterior humidity is higher than interior humidity, this capillary action will most definitely take place in order to achieve humidity equilibrium.

      At some point, this debate is irrelevant. Waterproof/breathable fabrics do not work as advertised, period. Breathability is insufficient to keep the wearer dry from the inside, and my experience is that I also get soaked from the outside, with far more moisture than I could possibly perspire.


      • Woubeir on April 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm

        Well, there appears to be some misunderstanding about how WPB’s behave if the outside relative humidity (RH) is higher than that on the inside.The vapor pressure on each side is important and that is defined by both the RH and also the temperature. So even if the RH on the outside is much higher on the outside, there can still be a vapor driving force from the inside to the outside e.g. on the outside it is 60°F and 100% RH and on the inside it is 75°F and 70% RH, there is still a driving force from the inside to the outside of 3,29 hPa.

        • Thomas on May 4, 2020 at 12:35 pm

          Woubeir –
          Is this really true in actual conditions > “there is still a driving force from the inside to the outside of 3,29 hPa”. Perhaps in a fabric testing laboratory? But I wonder: in actual conditions, internal body air (pressure) is constantly escaping through arm zips, neck area, hands, and the bottom waist area, so I doubt that there’s any pressure from inside “driving”, i.e. “pushing” internal air to the outside, especially when the outside of the fabric is completely wetted by continuous drizzle/rain. Furthermore, general hiking movements vents air through the neck/waist/hands but also sucks the outside cooler air to the inside. IMO. Such are my doubts.

          • Woubeir on May 4, 2020 at 12:41 pm

            Yes, it’s true.

    • Michael Wood on October 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Keenan, I’m confused about the performance of the Gtx membrane, because I’ve read much of the technical descriptions (vapor transmittal outward, no fluid capillary action inward), but my empirical experience doesn’t match.

      In my experience, after exposure to continual rain of more than 3-4 hours, I get cold and wet at the top front of my chest (wearing a high-end Gtx jacket a year or two old), the top of my shoulders, the top of my arms (using trekking poles); but not under my pack or under the pack straps. The moisture is distinctly cold in these areas, and the other areas that are not getting rain pressure, are warm and wet (from sweat build up) but not cold and wet (from apparent rain penetration via some mechanism).

      So despite the theory, the experience in practice is consistent with what Andy describes – once the DWR breaks down and there is more than an hour or two of exposure, you get cold and wet in the areas of your jacket that are exposed to rain.

      I’ve just ordered a new shell from Gore that uses the new Active ShakeDry 2-layer technology (permanent surface beading). I’ll let you know in a year or so how it holds up!

    • Pat on August 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Spot on, the best and clearest explanation why wetting out does not penetrate to the interior space but causes accumulation of transpiration and its subsequent condensation. My compliments Keenan on your words and understanding

    • Thomas on May 4, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      If “the ePTFE exterior of the membrane is hydrophobic and physically prevents liquid water from passing”, then why do they bother to put DWR on the fabric? [I agree with Andrew’s assessment of DWR/Gtx.]

      • Woubeir on May 4, 2020 at 12:38 pm

        Because the waterproof layer, which is indeed hydrophobic, is most of the time covered with a face fabric to protect the waterproof layer. This face fabric is not hydrophobic so any water will quickly saturate it, preventing it from breathing. Hence the funtion of the DWR: making the face fabric water-repellent (for a while).

  11. Matt on April 11, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Big fan as many replying here are; I wanted to essentially restate the usefulness of the philosophy of wet feet/gtx for footwear as you do for body protection. I have found that either high aerobic activity or extended durations of precipitation particularly rain have better been examined in the clothing industry with cycling. Just as a disclaimer for my contradictory point, I hate cross comparing and using the extreme ends of versatility in clothing, but I want to confidently state that the cycling-wear industry has made improvements in “WP/B”.

    This is not a reference necessarily to material, but in direction of design. Similarly to the SD poncho/britches thoughts on airflow, Giro’s New Road series Wind and Neo Rain Jackets are designed to provide WP/B results, having also included vents on the shoulders front and back to reduce inner vapor build-up. This idea has been done in some of TNF’s discontinued running wear such as the Torpedo Running Jacket where waterproofness wasn’t the main goal, but quick-drying WR and high ventilation were the goals.

    On the contrary as aforementioned, I very much dislike using gear/apparel that was designed with a different purpose in mind (eg Cycling/Running wear for backpacking/trail running) even when there are many benefits to using them (more devil’s advocate, that if it works, why not use it, but let’s not get stuck there) One example I have found while ski mountaineering in NH’s Mt. Washington massif was a person using cycling gloves (something like the Pearl Izumi PRO Lobster gloves) but with finger cut-offs, and had a weather protection fold over. The conditions at that time were semi-typical spring, but there was a small storm front accompanied with thunder snow and as such summiting conditions would certainly result in frost bitten fingers. Let’s not use “multi-purpose” apparel even when it could work.

    But on point, I like the philosophy of leveraging quick-drying/mitigation of end results rather than hyped WP/B as a scotch-tape solution, but when this philosophy is not 100% applicable like walking through jungle or other tropic zones when humidity and precipitation are hand in hand, do other gearjunkies think that utilizing apparel designed for different activities should be used when conditions could be applicable (to extended condition-dependent backpacking) is acceptable?

    1. I think WP/B is bs and tend to look for quick-dry/breathability.
    2. I think cycling/running wear is great for this(there is some innovation).
    3. should it be used for backpacking? I think it could work if intelligently applied to this user community.

    p.s. Outdry tech was utilized by Mountain Hardwear a few years before Columbia, just never used it in the same way.

    pps I could talk all day about this stuff, but I appreciate that you have already written so much of it already and I can refer friends/colleagues to your blog!

  12. Brian M. Haycraft on April 30, 2016 at 7:51 pm


  13. Woubeir on May 1, 2016 at 8:51 am

    BTW, about the shorter release cycle of Gore (12 weeks instead of 18 to 24 months): Gore claims the shorter cycle is part of their new strategy, with shorter cycles and initially only a few selected partners. I guess we will see if this strategy will also be used in future releases.

  14. Luke on May 24, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Aren’t Frogg Toggs and the like more or less an exposed membrane with no face fabric? I didn’t think the various non-woven polypropylene shells where DWR dependent either. Unless what I said isn’t true, I refuse to call Columbia’s shell revolutionary, and would give more credit to FT.

    • Andrew Skurka on May 24, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      In theory they might be similar, but performance is entirely different. FT get destroyed with any abrasion, whereas Outdry Extreme seems about as durable as a rubber slicker.

    • Woubeir on May 25, 2016 at 5:20 am

      FT is actually a classic 3-layer construction. Only, it uses polyprolylene and that is by origin very waterrerellent. A DWR should still improve that a bit, but we all know how long it lasts. 🙂
      But, as Andrew already pointed out, it’s weak point is it is very fragile (at this moment).

      • Luke on May 25, 2016 at 11:49 am

        Which variety? they have at least 3 different fabrics (not counting the ones with a woven poly face). The heavier one might be 3-layer (tek toad?) but the ultralite line doesn’t seem to be.

        I’m sure durability is vastly different, but that seems a change in degree, not in kind.

    • Andrew Skurka on May 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Let me give a more detailed response than I first wrote with my phone.

      FT is a conventional 3-layer laminate with a microporous membrane (i.e. it has tiny holes in it like eVent, and it’s not reinforced with a hydrophobic PU film like Gore). More details on their website.

      The microporous membrane is very breathable so long as the face fabric does not wet out, which is dependent on the quality of the DWR. With FT, the polypropelene face fabric is very fragile, which IMO makes it suitable only for no-abrasion applications like hiking on well manicured trails. Even so, I suspect the fabric will wear out simply due to repeated packing and folding. At least it’s inexpensive.

      The breakthrough with Outdry Extreme is that the membrane is on the outside, and no DWR is needed. I’m unsure if it’s a microporous or ePTFE-PU like Gore. Columbia is hush about it, besides describing it has “extremely breathable” or something meaningless like that. The fabric is very tough, and I’d have no concerns bushwhacking through Alaskan alder or willow with it. In terms of applications, this puts it in an entirely different class than FT.

      • Woubeir on May 25, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        Outdry Extreme uses a microporous PU.

  15. Daniel on October 21, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    Just found you’re article on this and thought I’d drop a comment since I’ve now owned a Columbia Outdry Extreme ‘Platinum’ jacket for about 6 months now. I live in New Zealand, and it rains here A LOT. In the time of I’ve owned it, I’ve probably done about 12 days walking in absolutely pouring rain, and about 30 days overall carrying it. Some of those rain days involved bush-bashing through some very dense jungle. So I haven’t had it for a super long time, but enough to make some preliminary observations:

    1. I’ve never gotten it to wet out, and I’ve tried really hard. Even after a day of pushing through very dense jungle type bush for two 10 hour days in the pouring rain (fun times), water still beaded off of it. It’s not like it’s dry to the touch, but it’s wet in the same way that say a cheap tarpaulin feels wet. The water doesn’t soak in like it does with traditional WP/BR jackets. I’ve even tried scratching it with a fingernail and then a stiff brush, which should destroy a DWR coating, and it still beaded water fine.

    2. Because of this, it dries very fast. I had a couple of good opportunities to compare it’s drying time to other jackets, and after a night in a damp cabin, the exterior fabric on everyone else’s jackets were still damp while mine was dry (I had wiped it with a towel the previous night which got rid of most of the moisture, which doesn’t work with traditional jackets).

    3. The breathability is okay with the pit-zips closed, and fine with them open. This being said, I haven’t had it over a Summer yet, which will be the real test. The breathability is not as good as a brand-new Event Jacket out of the box, but much better than one after it’s been saturated or used for a long time. I didn’t get clammy sleeping in it in temperatures of about 40-50 F.

    4. It is surprisingly durable, I haven’t noticed any wear on any high stress areas (arms, shoulders under the straps, back). (I’ve read the ‘shoulder patches’ on the Diamond model are just decorative, and not actually any different from the rest of the fabric. But I haven’t seen one because what’s the point of paying $200 more for the Diamond when all you get is a different wicking fabric on the inside and fake shoulder patches).

    5. It’s not light, but not overly heavy either, my size large weighs in at 16.37 oz. I find the weight acceptable given how much use it gets, since it rains here so much. But it is probably overkill in a areas where it doesn’t rain much or for very long at a time. Personally I find the weight penalty an acceptable trade off for a jacket that doesn’t wet out and dries very quickly.

    That’s been my experience with it, and I’m pretty happy with my purchase. Though overall, I feel like the fabric engineers at Columbia nailed it, but then they gave it to a lousy design team. It’s fine, but there are a few features on it that are moderately annoying; discussing them here would make this post too long.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 22, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Great feedback, thanks for chiming in.

    • Thomas on May 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      Daniel – agreement:
      Here in the rainy Pacific Northwest, when it’s 36 degrees F outside, and raining constantly, I have worn the Outdry Extreme with a sense of confidence. This is what I want my exterior shell to be when it’s raining: 100% waterproof — not interested in “breathable”. Also, the thick, tough, rubberized texture of the exterior fabric feels warm, like it’s more insulated against the cold compared to a thinner rain shell. I have to monitor my level of exertion to protect against overheating/ perspiration — the vent zips help to some degree. It’s heavier than alternative ultra light rain shells, but the confidence factor is reassuring against possible bad rain / weather conditions.

      • Woubeir on May 4, 2020 at 1:14 pm

        If you’re not interested in WPB, then why are you wearing a WPB jacket ? A waterproof jacket already exists for a very long time.

  16. Dom on April 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Great post
    I can add a bit of detail to the paramo question posted earlier.
    It is an excellent system, even when in wetted out state, it’s a soft shell that is as waterproof as a hard shell. As a result of its bulk, whilst it is quiet and very “breathable”, it is warm.
    There is another interesting system in the uk made by Keela. It works a bit like the old goretex z liner system (from the 80’s, if anyone remembers that!), but more durable. Again, the keela system is warmer to wear.

  17. Paul on January 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Hi Andrew!
    I was just wondering if you’ve had more experience with Columbia outdry jackets since you posted this? If so, I’d love to hear more of your impressions.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 15, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Yes, I have. I have the older, heavier version; this spring Columbia is releasing a lighter version that is similar in weight to the GoLite Active. My experience has been very good. The fabric is tough, somewhat breathable (although venting is still far more effective), and has remained waterproof after several years of regular use.

      • Dan W. on February 9, 2018 at 12:52 am

        Hi, I’d be very interested to learn how this Columbia Outdry Extreme drama pans out in 2018. Rain gear is a very frustrating core item because it can represent a sizable financial investment. I have buddies who drop $450 on cottage NeoShell jackets from Triple Aught Design (TAD) simply because they change the color. I’m sorry, but, I don’t have this type of disposable income. The Columbia Ex products seem reasonably priced if they live up to the hype. This is a fascinating topic IMHO.

  18. Paul on February 9, 2018 at 8:51 am

    It looks like the lightweight Columbia Outdry jacket is now available:

  19. Justin on March 16, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I have used the Columbia OutDry tech “Gold” jacket on extended trek in Patagonia, and I do not agree with the above assessment (Daniel). While the material did bead and was appropriately water proof, the breathability was shameful, and still resulted in wetting out from within. I am currently testing (for myself) the lighter weight norh face product, and it also appropreiately waterproof, but have not used it on extensive BP trips, so cannot comment on breathability yet. I wear it nearly every day in rainy San francisco spring weather

  20. Simonas on January 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Dear Andrew, seeing that this is an old post, I am hoping that you’ve since had an opportunity to compare Goretex Active Shakedry to Columbia’s OutDry Extreme in person. If so, I would appreciate it if you could share your experiences and observations regarding their long-term durability in the field. In one of your comments, you mentioned that you’ve been using OutDry Extreme with “very good” results. Would you recommend it over Gore-Tex Active for situations where abbrasions from tree branches and friction from a heavy pack are the main concerns?

  21. Christopher S on July 21, 2022 at 11:50 pm

    In general I am super critical of WPB fabrics – the term breathability I find hilarious in general – most are 0CFM meaning that if you literally try to breathe through them they will not pass any air – they are literally non “breathable” by definition.

    That being said I have been very consistently impressed by some of the newer air permeable membranes – I have done extensive testing and even sewn up some simple waterproof bivies using them – and they actually very much surprised me in how much better they were. A few years ago I just started basically ignoring fancy lab tests like MVTR as I found it rarely translated to much, if any, real world benefit (especially vs mechanical ventillation like you talk about). These new fabrics though actually being air permeable means that they do not require the weird pressure differential between inner and outer to work – they mainly just rely on actual airflow. I have found that when it is really windy I can actually feel the wind through the fabric (some more so than others) and they seem to dump moisture because of this much, much faster.

    Shelter use (in my bivy) was surprisingly when I found them to have by far the most benefit. I can produce far more moisture working hard going uphill than any waterproof jacket will be able to dump but in the case of a shelter there is only so much condensation produced and needed to be dumped off. In addition shelters have such a larger surface area (and also are directly getting so much airflow) that the stuff was pretty awesome. I made a simple rectangular bivy with a lightweight 2 layer goretex (meant for down parkas), another with a sort of heavyweight eVent, and a third with powershield pro (Polartec – same membrane as Neoshell but with a lower HH and higher CFM). Unfortunately I have not been able to use them side by side all at once but I have messed around with them enough in similar conditions that at least some conclusions can be made.

    1. The goretex was by far – not even close – the worst. In cold conditions there was condensation always on the inside – sometimes frozen or not depending on temp. I did not make a totally non breathable bivy but it was bad enough I can’t see myself ever using it.

    2. The eVent did much better and I would say was perfectly useable – it did have sometimes small amounts of ice on the inside but did very well.

    3. The powershield pro bivy I literally never was able to get condensation to freeze – it seemed to be able to dump moisture fast enough even when I purposely got in while sweating.

    All of these however of course still rely on traditional DWR and I am sure in extended rain or snow that the breathabilty would then become zero as the face fabric wets out. That being said this seems like it would literally be the perfect use case for something like Outdry EX – even if the “breathability” MVTR or whatever mumbo jumbo is far, far worse than any of the other membranes it might not matter for shelter use. Shelters do not really need that much moisture to pass compared to a person – just enough to keep up with a bit of condensation produced by someones breathe and maybe a small amount of water boiling – and it would never wet out. If Columbia could license the membrane to Mountain Hardwear (given they own them) I would imagine they could make a pretty damn nice single skin tent out of it. Maybe this is already in development or the fabric is just too expensive to produce but given we already have expensive single skin tents (like the Rab Latok or the Big Agnes Shield) I cannot imagine it would be all that pricey.

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