I have to admit that I was initially leery of purchasing…
Price Paid: $110
I have to admit that I was initially leery of purchasing this jacket. I saw it multiple times in store, and varied from hating it to loving it on more than one occasion. By the end of it all I think the sales staff was a bit annoyed, but when researching a good hardshell you need to be certain you want it as it should last you years.
The fit is nice, as I have a fairly athletic slim build and although this jacket isn't tight it does not billow or bag out like other hard shell jackets I've tried. In addition to this the face fabric has a nice smooth chalk like feel to it, that does not reflect much light (Good in a bright blue jacket) and the watertight zippers appear and feel to be of high quality.
So I have been using this jacket for around 6 months now and have a lot that I love about, and some not so great things that I would like to say about it.
To begin with the pit zips were incredibly stiff when the jacket was new. More so than those used by Arc'Teryx or Mountain Hardwear. However within about two weeks time they broke in to my wear type and I hardly notice they are there, even when wearing a thin layer underneath.
Another factor is the breathability. Columbia Sportswear is picky about sharing the waterproof / breathable ratings on their garments, instead hoping to win customers over through experience. While it made me more cautious at first (and did delay my choice to purchase the jacket) the experience has been great. It keeps me dry, and best of all when I sweat it does really breath so I don't soak myself out from the inside.
A couple of things that could be improved would be the inclusion of a powderskirt (on a hardshell this long it should be a given that many people will use it in an area where that extra protection would be helpful, especially for the price) and the option to use the interchange system Columbia has developed so I can snap or zip in my Ballistic Fleece.
Over all it's a very solid piece that should last for years, as it is a Columbia product. 4.5 out of 5 stars.