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Backpacker Magazine – September 2011

Gear Review: Columbia Peak 2 Peak/Peak Power

Made with Columbia Omni-Dry this full-featured jacket is $40 less than its nearest competitor.

by: Steve Howe

Columbia Peak 2 Peak (Courtesy Photo)
Columbia Peak 2 Peak (Courtesy Photo)

The Best Shells. Ever.
See the other three.
>> The membrane Columbia Omni-Dry. Viewed under a microscope, this air-permeable polyethylene (PE) membrane looks like coral (see below). It’s highly porous like other air-permeable membranes, but PE is considered an ultrahigh molecular weight (UHMW) polymer. Translation: In its raw form, it’s extremely strong for its weight (a typical jacket uses 80 to 100 grams of membrane; the same amount of PE weighs only 14 to 18 grams). PE membranes are relatively new to the world of shells; it took Columbia several years to set its factories up with the right equipment and procedures.

>> The claim Columbia contends that PE is more hydrophobic than other membranes, so it doesn’t absorb water when infused with humidity (even for long periods), and breathability remains constant even when the garment is damp or humidity is high.

>> The jacket At $40 less than the nearest competitor, the price on this full-featured shell is a little easier to swallow. While testers deemed it the third most breathable of our favorites, it beat out many others and impressed us as a big improvement over past Columbia rainwear—and superior to some traditional Gore-Tex shells. “I wore it almost every day this winter guiding trips in the Wasatch, Antarctica, and the Alps and was super impressed with breathability,” says one tester. “In temps under 45°F, I can hike in it all day with just a baselayer underneath.” Our sweatiest tester reported that it got humid inside during a three-hour ski up White Baldy in the Wasatch Range with temps at 25°F, but “my midlayers were dry by the time I cranked off 50 turns.”

The fabric is a 50-denier polyester (poly doesn’t stretch when wet, and is more resistant to UV than nylon, but nylon is tougher). The Peak 2 Peak stood up to ruthless mountain treatment, like chimney climbing, yet is light and packable enough to use as a three-season backpacking shell.
Articulated elbows boost mobility, but the roomier cut, designed for more ample waistlines, caused our climbers to complain: One says that the extra fabric prevented him from being able to see his feet during a climb of the Great White Icicle in Utah. Testers were mixed on the wire-stiffened hood brim, which sheds rain well for trail use, but interferes with helmets and upward vision. Pockets are high for pack compatibility, and zippers are waterproof yet operable with one hand.

>>  Same technology/costs less Columbia Tull Creek ($240, 1 lb. 2 oz.)

> Price $350
> Weight 15.7 oz.
> Sizes men’s S-XXL; women’s (Peak Power) XS-XL
> Info columbia.com


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READERS COMMENTS

SteveG
Feb 09, 2012

The Columbia Tull Creek mentioned has 2 layers(double-ply) while the Columbia Peak 2 Peak has 3 layers(triple-ply). I don't know for certain but I'd guess the extra layer would mean better moisture management and/or durability.

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Oct 13, 2011

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wayne
Oct 04, 2011

i guess it comes down to your ability and desire to spend that sort of money on a coat that might be better than what you have now, i found the peak to peak for $200 on amazon, some sizes and colours were $160, i'm in NZ, here these coats sell for $400 and upwards.... i found the rab selling for $700, a reviewer on outdoors magic website who'd tried all the new fabrics said you could overload all of them with sweat under certain conditions so they arent a panacea against internal moisture buildup

wayne
Oct 04, 2011

i guess it comes down to your ability and desire to spend that sort of money on a coat that might be better than what you have now, i found the peak to peak for $200 on amazon, some sizes and colours were $160, i'm in NZ, here these coats sell for $400 and upwards.... i found the rab selling for $700, a reviewer on outdoors magic website who'd tried all the new fabrics said you could overload all of them with sweat under certain conditions so they arent a panacea against internal moisture buildup

JIm S
Sep 27, 2011

I am stunned at the cost of these jackets. Most of the hikers/backpackers I know will not be spending nearly $500 for a 20 to 30 percent increase in breathability in a rain jacket. These companies will sell many more if they cut the price in half.

meanolddog
Sep 27, 2011

If the unnamed testers are even finding problems with it, then it must be a really poor product, since the nameless testers generally gush over anything above $300 as the norm...So I definitely will be staying away from this product. I wouldn't even consider it for the cutting wood in the backyard.

John f
Sep 18, 2011

I am considering getting this but I can only have 1 shell and I need to use it in conjunction with a fleece for snowboarding. Will this work for that purpose or am I going to be disappointed when I hit the slopes?

John f
Sep 18, 2011

I am considering getting this but I can only have 1 shell and I need to use it in conjunction with a fleece for snowboarding. Will this work for that purpose or am I going to be disappointed when I hit the slopes?

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