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Winter Wardrobe Clothing Reviews

Waterproof & Windproof outer layer

Columbia Compounder jacket

Every now and again you come across a real game changer and the Columbia Compounder jacket is one. Gore-Tex has been the market leader for breathable jackets for thirty years but Columbia is seeking to change this with their Omni-Dry and Omni-Wick EVAP systems. The latter in particular is cleverly designed, spreading moisture across the surface of the material allowing it to evaporate quickly and easily. The net effect is a jacket which doesn’t feel like a plastic bag, yet is waterproof, windproof and breathable, even during periods of high exertion and in the worst conditions.

Columbia Compounder jacket. Photo: Ben Marchant

I have been riding this technology for a full year and I have tested it back to back with Gore-Tex on the same off-road course. The results were truly astounding. On a tough sustained climb of a few miles, I was opening the Gore-tex jacket fully to try and increase the air flow and still overheating. However with the Columbia one I was still fully zipped and comfortable come the summit. The jacket has pit-zips, but to be honest I haven’t used them once.

In the rain it is as good as Gore-Tex, and handles mud and splatter really well too. The tail is dropped enough for cycling and the pockets are good with proper waterproof sealing and storm flaps at the top. I ride with my cell phone in the chest pocket and it is dry and safe regardless of the conditions.

The only thing that marks it out as anything but a purely cycling-specific item is the hood, although it is helmet compatible. It is extremely lightweight and packable and I have been wearing this year round. Highly recommended.

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