The Columbia OutDry Ex Reign uses an unusual high-performance fabric. But can the design of the jacket deliver too? Chris Townsend takes this intriguing waterproof jacket on the hill to find out.  

OutDry Extreme is an excellent and unusual fabric. The waterproof layer is on the outside rather than sandwiched between other layers. This means there’s no need for any DWR treatment. The inside of the garment is a soft wicking material. I’ve found OutDry Extreme to be very breathable and comfortable to wear. The material does have a slightly rubbery look and the taped seams are on the outside. I don’t mind this. Performance is all!

Sadly, I don’t think Columbia has yet made a jacket as good as the fabric. In particular I have yet to try an OutDry Extreme jacket with a really good hood. The one on this jacket, the Ex Reign, has a peak that isn’t stiffened enough to deal with strong winds, a Velcro tab volume adjuster that doesn’t have the fit range of a drawcord, and front drawcords with awkward to use cordlocks. The hood can be cinched down quite close round the face but then there are bunches of material at the sides. The hood doesn’t move that well with the head either. For three-season use it’s okay though a better hood would be preferable. I wouldn’t want to use it in a blizzard though.

The Ex Reign has two huge pockets – they cover almost the whole of the waterproof jacket front. However, the zip openings are covered by a hipbelt. They’d be much more use higher up.  The Ex Reign has underarm zips that are quite easy to use. They’re only one way though.

The cost of the Ex Reign is low and the weight reasonable. The fabric makes it worth considering. I just wish the design were better.

Read more: Best waterproof jackets