Columbia Wildcat III Soft Shell
The Wildcat III Soft Shell has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best soft shell jackets for 2022.
Review of Columbia Wildcat III Jacket, Reg. Price $179, when on sale, the price is around $140.
It’s a soft shell parka which provides lightweight warmth thanks to the MicroTemp XF II polyester fiber lining, not removable. (Could not find the weight of the lining stated anywhere.) I purchased it because I already had 3 hard shells and its sizing was closer to fitting me than jackets of other companies which tended to have smaller necks and waists in Large.
Also, I had a Columbia hard shell with a zip out lining that I was generally happy with. I wanted something somewhat longer which it is with a back measurement of 30.5 inches. It has two front side pockets and a media pocket which I use for a package of Kleenex.
It has the Omni-Shield advanced repellency technology. The water, so far, has beaded up and rolled off. Its toughest rain exposure has been for about 20 minutes in a moderate rain while dog walking.
It was not until last week that I had cold enough weather here in Northern VA that I could really test out the jacket’s lowest comfortable temperature without additional clothing underneath. I hiked on the AT along the VA/WV line from Rt. 9, near Harpers Ferry WV. It was a cool day with temps probably around 40 but with winds of 25 to 30 mph, overcast, and brief periods of sleet. As I headed south, I was initially protected by the ridgeline which was above me.
Eventually, the trail edged up to the ridge and I could feel the wind’s blast making the wind chill in the mid-30s. The jacket was still warm, but my face was cold as the jacket’s hood does not give much side face protection. All I had under the jacket was a medium weight polypro long john top. Remember, cold sensitivities vary from person to person.
Today, I was able to test it in driving snow with some wind, temperatures in the low 30s. I should have worn my EMS light weight fleece shirt (no longer available) underneath. It was ok on the trail, but in the field, I was a little cold.
Pros: warm as qualified, water repellant in up to 2 hours of snow, 20 minutes of medium rain, wind resistant, and warm enough to the upper 30s as long as I’m moving. If I was still hunting, I’d want a sweater or medium weight fleece jacket or shirt underneath. (There’s room enough for added warmth.) Relatively lightweight at around 2.4 lbs. You will see shipping weight at 4 lbs., but that’s not the coat by itself.
Cons: hood does not protect the sides of your face. You may need to wear a balaclava or ski mask in colder weather or blowing rain or snow. Also, the hood has a front tip which drops down and blocks your distance vision. Need to wear a baseball cap or medium weight fleece hat to keep it out of the way. Glove pockets need to be deeper so you won’t risk losing your gloves. (To keep my gloves warm, I put them in the inside web “pockets” intended for goggles.) Lining should be removable.
It is advertised for skiing and snow boarding. I don’t do either so can’t comment on these uses. It has a snow skirt which I removed as it could interfere with reaching something on my equipment belt. It works fine as a day hiking jacket (which is what I do) when the temps will be below 50. Above 50, especially with sun, and you will likely be too warm quickly.
While it’s a little bulky, I could attach it to my North Face Big Shot daypack by pulling it through the compression straps which are above my shoulder straps. I’d not recommend it for backpacking unless it’s going to be cold. I’m aware that most backpackers prefer shells and the layering process.
Fill: MicroTemp XF II polyester fiber
Price Paid: Est. $144
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Historic Range: $108.00-$182.95
Reviewers Paid: $144.00