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All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

- JRR Tolkien

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Gear

Mar 02, 2018

Advanced Jacket Technology for the Adventurous – Columbia OUTDRY™ Ex Mogul Titanium Jacket Review

Stay Dry, Warm and Mobile with the Columbia Men's OutDry™Ex Mogul Titanium Jacket.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

I venture south from Luxembourg into the snowy mountains of the Bas-Rhin region of France, passing through picturesque towns en route to hike among medieval castles. Given the assignment of creating an unbiased, non-sponsored review of the Columbia titanium jacket, I decided to field test it in the castle lands of France. I filmed my exploration of the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg to test the Ex Mogul on a snowy hike in below freezing temperatures.

I park in a wooded area and set out on foot in search of the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, a medieval castle in the Vosges mountain range.

As I step out of the car, I’m hit with a game-time decision: What do I wear underneath the Ex Mogul? The temperature is minus 3 degrees Celsius outside, so if I make the wrong call, I’ll be suffering by the time I reach the castle. Most winter jackets that I’ve owned in the past were a dual system. You pair a thin outer shell with a thicker fleece-lined undercoat. But what sets the Ex Mogul apart is that it’s a hybrid – it includes both the moisture blocking exterior (OutDry™) as well as a warming interior layer (Omni-Heat).

Today, I don’t want to juggle my layers. Typically, I’d get frustrated taking one off as my body heats up, then racing to put it back on when I turn a corner to face the wind. Although I have enough room to wear a hoodie underneath the Ex Mogul, I decide to wear only a T-shirt. There’s no turning back now. If the Ex Mogul can’t handle the cold, then I’ll be testing my mental toughness as well.

© The Outdoor Journal

I hike through knee-deep snow toward the towering structure set atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Rhine. The morning sun does little to cut through the chill, but I push on. Despite the below freezing temperatures outside, the Ex Mogul does a great job of regulating my body temperature so that I don’t get too hot or too cold. There are ventilation zippers in each side that I can adjust during the peak moments of the hike when my heart is pounding in my chest.

© The Outdoor Journal

The first thing I notice when I slide into the Ex Mogul is that it feels like a soft, comfortable base-layer with a weightless outer shell. My hands slip comfortably into thumb straps or “comfort cuffs.” Honestly, these make me wish that all my clothing had them. The Omni-Heat inner layer efficiently retains body heat, so the overall weight of the jacket is minimal. The fact that it was designed for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team is noticeable, as I felt free to scramble, climb and move in all directions.

The other thing I notice is that this jacket feels like technology. The advanced insulation on the inside is coupled perfectly with the stretchy, waterproof shell. The exterior of the shell has a resin-like quality, similar to a rainproof tent. Its OutDry™ membrane provides fully waterproof protection, even when drenched in snow. Wearing this jacket almost makes you wish that an ominous black cloud would rush in over the horizon and dump buckets of rain, because it feels so prepared for it.

Pros:

Dryness Guaranteed: Many times in the past I’ve gone skiing and become damp from head to toe even before lunch. So much so, that lunchtime break is not a quick pit stop to refuel – as I could hit the slopes all day – but mostly to dry out my gear by the fire. Those days are staying in the past now, because the OutDry™ technology is so effective that it really does deserve the trademark.

Drivability: When I get into the car with my other ‘fancy-schmancy’ jacket – I immediately rip it off because there is too much fabric to sit comfortably in the driver seat of my SUV. In contrast, the Columbia titanium jacket takes up much less space and allows my arms the range of motion to perform maneuvers on the wheel the way that only I, Tom Cruise and Jason Bourne can.

Comfort: If Christopher Walken was here, he’d say, “You’re gonna want more cowbell!” In that same vein, once you try on the Columbia titanium jacket, “You’re gonna want more comfort cuffs.” They’re a thoughtful addition to the expert design in creating a breathable membrane between you and the elements.

© The Outdoor Journal

Cons:

Tarp Texture: This might not come through in the photos, so I’ll warn you, the outer fabric of the coat is not like other coats. Depending on your taste, you might say that the texture is reminiscent of a rainproof tarp or tent. And if you’re being nasty, you could say its more reminiscent of a trash bag.

Rain Slicker Aesthetic: This jacket isn’t made by Hefty – it’s high-quality Columbia gear designed for expert skiers. But keep in mind that the exterior material makes it feel more ski specific or raincoat specific than for general, casual use.

Semi-fit Compromise: The semi-fitted silhouette could be baggy on certain body types. The jacket wears well on my compact frame. But if you have long arms and you’re on the leaner side of the spectrum, it could be too baggy. Some buyers might prefer a slimmer fit.

Weight: If you’re used to wearing a jacket system that pairs the outer layer with an insulated fleece, then you’ll notice that the Ex Mogul is heavier than your typical outer shell. On the flip side, it’s much warmer than your typical shell.

© The Outdoor Journal

Sustainability:

The Columbia titanium jacket is made from responsibly sourced materials designed to last for many seasons in all kinds of weather. Columbia’s Rethreads program gives customers a discount in exchange for used clothing and shoes (from any brand), which are then donated or recycled. Additionally, Columbia is a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which is an independent nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of factory workers and providing independent monitoring of factory conditions.

Final Say

The exterior layer of the Columbia titanium jacket feels like an impenetrable barrier to moisture. Meanwhile, the interior feels like a soft, warm base-layer. The jacket is light, fitted and allows for full range of motion. Bring on the rain and bring on the snow!

Specifications:

  • Made in Indonesia
  • Color: Black/Sage
  • Material: [membrane/laminate] OutDry (2-layer), [face fabric] 84% nylon, 16% elastane [lining] 89% nylon, 11% elastane
  • Insulation 60g Omni-Heat Thermal
  • Seams: Fully taped
  • Fit: Semi-fitted
  • Length: Hip
  • Center Back Length: 30in
  • Hood: Removable, adjustable
  • Pockets: [external] 2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest, 1 pass [internal] 1 goggle, 1 security
  • Venting: Underarm zippers
  • Powder Skirt: Removable, snap back
  • Recommended Use: All mountain riding, all mountain skiing, freeride/powder riding, freeride/powder skiing, freestyle and park riding, freestyle and park skiing, casual
  • Manufacturer Warranty: Limited lifetime

MEN’S OUTDRY™ EX MOGUL JACKET
$269.90
Find out more here

Feature Image © The Outdoor Journal

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Reviews

Jul 03, 2019

Gear Review: Dark Peak NESSH Jacket

Buy one, give one. A Sheffield, UK-based startup outdoor brand brings the one-for-one business model to outdoor clothing.

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WRITTEN BY

Apoorva Prasad

Does the world really need another [insert new clothing or gear item]? After more than a decade as an outdoor journalist and having hit the floor of trade shows year after year, I found it impossible to show any kind of genuine excitement or interest over the latest [insert marketing-driven fancy-word-for-a-zip-or-waterproof-layer]. For years now I’ve been content with a few pieces I’ve acquired over the years that have proven their worth. A bomber Millet down jacket for hardcore use, an Arcteryx ultra-light shell for alpine climbing among others. The cold, hard truth is, apart from the invention of some very lightweight and strong fabrics, incrementally improved waterproof-breathable inserts and coatings; clothing technology has not significantly advanced in the last decade or so. Whatever we do, 99% of the consumer population who buy outdoor gear or clothing don’t need anything beyond what already exists and has existed for a while. Making and buying new stuff simply perpetuates a flawed economic model that encourages consumerism and is bad for the planet.

So what the world does need is a better business model.

When Dark Peak reached out to us to do a review of their Kickstarter-launched NESSH down jacket, we were, therefore, intrigued not because of the impressively complete tech specs of the product itself, nor the genuine credentials of the team – those were a given for any new product today – but by their mission and business model.

  1. A reasonably priced jacket that sells direct to consumers – unlike mainstream brands, built around a lot of marketing and distribution costs, requiring the company to sell even more simply to justify their model.
  2. Buy one, give one away to someone who really needs it. Just like well-known consumer brands Tom’s and Warby Parker, Dark Peak donates a new jacket (via homeless shelters) for every jacket sold on their website.
Press Photo

This model is not new, of course, given that Tom’s has been doing it since 2006. However, the outdoors industry – a USD 800+ billion behemoth – has, for the most part, refused to leverage its size to genuinely do good in the world. So it was a refreshing change to hear Dark Peak’s pitch and note their Kickstarter success.

Cut out the expensive retail spaces, middle-men, third-party licensing fees and so on, and you get a high-quality product (it is made in Asia, like all other major brands) at something like half the price.

The jacket they give away is not the same as the one you buy, of course. It’s non-branded and made with different, less performance-oriented but equally warm, weather-resistant materials. Given our own beliefs at The Outdoor Journal, we felt this deserved a real review.

Dark Peak launched the jacket on Kickstarter, blowing past their goal of £15,000 to eventually raise £107,084.

It took a little while to get my hands on the actual jacket – shipping couriers seemed to have some problem with my address in Helsinki, Finland, which is where I tested it over the winter. In other words, yes, the weather was cold.

I received a maroon colored, lightweight NESSH (UK S, US XS size) jacket that came with some very positive first impressions. The build quality and shape were almost better than I initially expected. But I was genuinely struck by the weight or lack thereof. A 340g winter jacket is very, very light indeed. It comes complete with details that are more common in the higher-end models of more mainstream and expensive brands. Integrated wrist gaiters with thumb loops? Check. Two-way YKK zips? Check. 10D Nylon shell inside and outside? Yep. 850 fill down with hydrophobic coating? Check. (The company says that the down is “responsibly sourced” and certified by Responsible Down Standard). You can also choose to get the same jacket with 3M synthetic insulation too, should you prefer that (or spend more of your outdoor time in wetter conditions).

The jacket is clearly made for outdoors people (in other words, shaped to fit your body, and not built like a rectangular sack, unlike many a brand. I find it almost impossible to fit in many other jackers, which, understandably, seem to be built for people who have bulging middles and larger waists than shoulders).

If you haven’t spent time in Helsinki, Finland, well, the weather in winter is a bit weird. It can go from -20 C to 0 C overnight – and then repeat the thermometer yoyo again and again. It was almost disconcerting to have such a lightweight jacket on while going about daily life, but it worked as long as it was not too deep in the negatives. More importantly, it worked while I was active, including a bit of skiing and ice-skating – in fact, it was a great deal more lightweight, athletic and comfortable than most of the major brand-name jackets I’ve used or own. That may relate to the fit and cut – in general, I fit better in the UK or European brands than US ones, which is a function of body type – but it felt like the Dark Peak team had made an effort to build a product that is genuinely for outdoor enthusiasts, and not the average retail consumer (think about it – bigger brands need to sell to the widest possible audience to maximize revenues and profitability). While I haven’t taken it on an all-day, multipitch climb yet, so far it really feels like this may soon become my favorite warm layer to have with me, assuming the jacket survives the shred. I’m really quite curious to put it through the serious beating in my pack and up a climb, later in the year.

Press Photo

Dark Peak’s jacket genuinely feels like a very high-quality, ultra-light high-end 850 down jacket, the kind you’d usually buy from a well-known brand like The North Face or similar and expect to pay nearly twice as much for. And the fact that they’ve indeed gone with the one-for-one business model, makes Dark Peak’s NESSH a jacket we’ll recommend without hesitation. Go buy yours on their website here.

Pros: A highly affordable, high-quality technical jacket backed by a purpose-driven business model.

Cons: The website feels incomplete and buggy. The athletic cut and shape and technical nature of the jacket may not be for everyone, or appropriate for business meetings!

Rating: 5/5.

Full Disclosure: The Outdoor Journal received one NESSH jacket for the purpose of this review.

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