Columbia was gracious enough to send me one of the women's Peak Power Shell jackets with Omni-Dry technology to test out alongside a few of the other new waterproof breathable jackets I am looking at this winter. With a particularly stormy December here in San Francisco, I was able to put the Omni-Dry jacket through the ringer on some local hikes when even Lola wasn't too keen to venture out!
The Peak Power Shell features Columbia's Omni-Dry waterproof-breathable laminate membrane technology. Columbia's membrane is super light (only 7 grams per yard) and supposedly made up of over 50% air, making it highly breathable.
Apart from a few laps of ice climbing in the Ouray Ice Park, I mainly wore my Peak Power Shell jacket for numerous soggy hikes around San Francisco during November and December. On one particularly foul weather day, I took a few hour hike during an absolute downpour with gusting, cold wind (It was basically like standing under the shower with a high speed fan and someone throwing buckets of water at you every so often).
Even though I could tell the DWR coating was starting to give out a little and let rain soak into the face fabric (mainly around the seams), the Omni-Dry waterproof breathable membrane made sure I stayed warm and dry inside, protecting me from the wind, rain and even my own sweat.
Columbia's Peak Power Shell jacket includes pit zips and a 2-way front zipper to help you regulate your body temperature. The inside lapel snap is pretty ingenious as it lets you unzip your jacket completely but keeps the the two sides from flapping open in the wind.
Another feature I really like on the jacket is the silicone treatment on each shoulder which helps to keep your backpack straps in place. The fleece lined neck and bungee cinch hood offer that extra bit of warmth when you are battling some nasty weather. Since the Omni-Dry membrane and therefore jacket are so light, it is a no brainer to throw in your pack for an extra layer when the weather turns south.
Bottom Line: The Columbia Peak Power Shell with Omni-Dry is a fabulous jacket for even the most vigorous activity in wet and windy weather. I found the jacket a little too restricting in terms of movement (in the arms) and breathability for high alpine situations where you have periods of high intensity followed by periods of standing around in the cold.
I would probably wear the jacket for something like snowshoeing, however, where you are constantly moving and may not require so many underneath layers for downtime. The jacket fits similar to other Columbia apparel. A medium on me fits perfectly through the body and is usually a little short and tight in the arms.
The Columbia Peak Power Shell retails for $350 and is available now.