Columbia Sleeker

This bargain-priced hardshell performs better than some shells that cost three times as much.

Brand: Columbia Gear Reviews

Model: Sleeker Jacket

Overall Rating: 4.2





During biblical rains that washed away trails in Banff National Park, the Sleeker proved a veritable Noah’s ark. And when a squall blew in while we were climbing a via ferrata on Canada’s Mt. Norquay, the hood slipped easily over helmets while tight-sealing cuffs kept out drips when our arms were extended. The trick to achieving high performance for a low price? Columbia uses its own waterproof/breathable technology rather than a pricier membrane.


The shell’s biggest tradeoff: Columbia’s two-layer Omni-Tech fabric offers middle-of-the-road breathability. But the 9-inch-long, mesh-backed hand pockets provide some airflow to compensate. Ding: The nylon inner surface feels rubbery against bare arms.


You get the latest zipper technology on the two hand pockets: Columbia’s smooth-running Lightrail. The thin, flexible zips are bonded directly to a lightweight strip of fabric, eliminating seams and bulky tape to cut weight and enhance packability.


The generous cut is great for layering or stocky frames.


The Sleeker stuffs to the size of a butternut squash.