Warm, waterproof and breathable: Columbia's new insulated jacket impresses

Senior editor Harry Wilson tries out Columbia’s Outdry Ex Diamond Down Insulated Jacket
  • Mar 31, 2017
  • 696 words
  • 3 minutes
jacket coat Columbia winter waterproof Expand Image

Have you heard the one about the guy who refused to ditch his old winter coat? The one he bought in London, England, almost 10 years ago? The one that was really best suited to an English autumn, not a Canadian winter? Have you heard about how, when the snow and wind whipped into Ottawa, he insisted on layering a sweater and a fleece under said coat? Can you imagine how difficult it was for that guy to move his arms? Or carry a backpack? Or do anything more active than walk — sorry, waddle — the frigid streets of the capital?

Yes, that guy was me, but I’m happy to say that my dogged faith in that threadbare garment has ended, thanks to Columbia’s Outdry Ex Diamond Down Insulated Jacket, which I’ve been testing since December. Here’s why it’s now my go-to winter jacket.


This jacket is made to shed moisture. The OutDry Extreme waterproof-breathable shell kept me dry in snow and rain, and the 800 fill-power goose-down insulation kept me toasty on days when the mercury dipped to the mid –30 C range, even with nary more than a T-shirt on underneath. See you later, sweater! Adieu, fleece!

Expand Image
The jacket features an attached helmet-compatible hood with peripheral adjustability. (Photo: Michela Rosano/Canadian Geographic)

Style and fit

Let’s just say that when no less than three complete strangers separately approach you within an hour on a frigid day in Old Montreal to tell you they love your jacket and ask where you got it, you’ve got the style thing locked down. Still, before I put the jacket on for the first time, I was vain enough to worry that it would look too puffy, but I needn’t have been concerned. I’m chalking it up to what Columbia calls its active fit (“a body-skimming fit with end-use mobility in mind”), but the jacket’s cut was perfect for my 190-pound frame. Whether I was on a winter hike in Gatineau Park (with a backpack!) or skating on the Rideau Canal (with newly mobile arms allowing me to clasp my hands behind my back!), the jacket gave me the freedom of movement I’d so sorely lacked with my old coat.

Other features

There are many, including the adjustable snap-back powder skirt, the drawcord-adjustable hem, the contoured sleeve cuffs that cover more of the top of your hand, the two-way zipper underarm venting (which has allowed me to wear the jacket in balmier weather) and (if you’re like me) a must-have interior pocket.

Expand Image
The adjustable snap-back powder skirt on the jacket’s interior (Photo: Michela Rosano/Can Geo)


I have only two. After about three months of use, the jacket’s two-way front zipper still occasionally sticks at the bottom. A quick bit of fiddling sets it straight, but it can be frustrating. The Velcro closures on the cuffs also seem to have lost their stickiness quickly, forcing me to pull them tighter to get to the part of the closure that hasn’t been used as much.


Related Content


What lies beneath: Ghost gear in our oceans

Ghost gear — lost or abandoned fishing gear — is a major problem in our oceans, but renewed efforts are underway to clean it up

  • 1487 words
  • 6 minutes
Javier Frutos wears Columbia jacket on ship


Gear Review: Columbia cold weather gear in Antarctica

Creative Director Javier Frutos puts a Columbia jacket, gloves and baselayers to the ultimate test at the end of the world

  • 646 words
  • 3 minutes
rain jacket, columbia, eco


Gear review: Columbia OutDry Extreme Eco jacket

Constructed without dyes and PFCs, and made with recycled material, this Columbia rain jacket from the brand's latest Eco line is as high performance as ever.

  • 537 words
  • 3 minutes
Columbia OutDry EX Platinum Tech Shell


Gear Review: Two fall jackets from Columbia

The Departure Point jacket and OutDry shell have you covered this season, rain or shine

  • 658 words
  • 3 minutes