This unusual waterproof jacket never needs to reproofed. After testing, our equipment editor Chris Townsend gives it the thumbs-up.
The latest Columbia OutDry Extreme waterproof jacket has the same design as the OutDry Extreme NanoLite I reviewed last year (and which is still available). The main difference is that the new jacket has a mesh layer on the inside, hence the name. Columbia says this mesh “enhances breathability, stretch and next-to-skin comfort”. Otherwise, the fabric is the same with the waterproof microporous membrane and taped seams on the outside, which means there’s no DWR treatment to wear off – so the jacket never needs reproofing. I’ve found this design works well. It does have an unusual shiny look though and the black taped seams standout except on black jackets. This doesn’t bother me but may not appeal to everyone.
Columbia describes the Mesh as having a “body skimming fit with end-use mobility in mind”. If you want to wear the jacket over more than a base layer a size larger than usual might be needed. That said, I found the large easily roomy enough to fit over a midweight fleece. There’s a fair amount of stretch too, adding to ease of movement.
The Mesh Jacket has a good adjustable hood with a stiffer peak than that on the NanoLite. When tightened it allows side vision while protecting the sides of the face. The pockets are roomy. The bottom of them is cut off by a hipbelt but they’re still usable. The main zip and the pocket zips are water-resistant ones.
The Mesh weighs more than the 225 gram NanoLite but is still lightweight at 365 grams. The mesh inner feels much softer and better against the skin than the smooth shiny inner of the NanoLite. Breathability is quite good. The mesh has felt damp after hours in heavy rain but this hasn’t transferred to inner garments much and there’s been no visible condensation. I think the mesh is holding condensation until it can pass through the outer fabric. There are no underarm zips but the pockets are mesh so provide some ventilation if left open.
Of course, as there’s no DWR to wear off the breathability won’t decline during the life of the garment, as it will with garments with DWR unless they are reproofed regularly. I think this makes OutDry Extreme garments especially useful for long distance walks where reproofing a garment isn’t really feasible.
The Mesh is a good three-season hillwalking jacket that requires less care than garments with a DWR treatment.