Looking to set an example for the rest of the outdoor industry, Columbia today introduces a high-performance shell that is PFC-free. You now get all the non-wet out and superior breathability benefits of OutDry Extreme with the added benefit of eco-friendliness.
Thanks to Greenpeace, the issue of PFCs in outdoor gear has gained worldwide attention. Widely used in water repellency treatments, PFCs do not readily break down and therefore accumulate in the environment. They are known endocrine disruptors, creating a major health issue for both wildlife and humans. While non-PFC alternatives already exist, the performance level is not quite the same as your standard hard shell.
Pretty much all of the industry has gone from using the more harmful C8 to the quicker to break down short chain C6, but brands readily admit that an equivalent PFC-free high-performance solution has not yet become available. That is until now.
With the invention of OutDry Extreme and completely turning waterproof breathable shell construction on its head by ditching the face fabric altogether, Columbia realized it would not be too much of a stretch to eliminate all PFCs in the jacket. Instead of adding DWR to the membrane for a bit of extra durability and water repellency, they left it out in the ECO membrane and used a dye-free and 100% recycled moisture wicking fabric on the inside of the jacket.
Each jacket uses the equivalent of 21 plastic bottles in its recycled fabric. All the trims on the OutDry Extreme ECO Shell are made from recycled content as well–labels, toggles, zipper, pulls, thread, and eyelets. Once you are done with the shell, simply recycle it through the Columbia ReThreads program.
This will be Columbia’s first bluesign approved product–the standard for sustainable textile production. In order to qualify, the product must eliminate harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and meet standards for environmentally friendly and safe production.
Last week I was in Chamonix with Columbia and had the opportunity to wear the OutDry Extreme ECO Shell for a week of hiking in the pouring rain. I stayed dry, the jacket never wet out, and remained extremely breathable throughout.
The OutDry Extreme ECO Shells come in two styles (tech and casual) for both men and women, and will retail for a pretty great price of $199–availability is expected by December 1st. As the jackets are dye-free, you get the Italian style white as the only option for the moment.