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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Columbia Dub Mountain Parka > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron
Columbia Dub Mountain Parka
Initial Report: Oct 20 2007
Field Report: Jan 3 2008
Long Term Report: Feb 15 2008
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Height: 1.7 m (5' 8")
Weight: 68 kg (150 lb)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA
Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently starting getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.
Material: Rip-stop nylon, down
Weight (as stated): n/a
Weight (measured): 1 lb 14 oz (863.6 g)
Colours Available: Dark Adobe, Jet, and Curry
Sizes available: Small through to Extra Large (Large received)
Complete parka: 30.5 oz (863.6 g)
Dub Shell: 15.8 oz (448.9 g)
Down Jacket: 14.6 oz (414.5 g)
October 20th 2007
The Columbia Dub Mountain Parka is a two piece system. It consists of an inner down jacket and an outer rain/wind shell. Either piece can be worn alone or both pieces can be worn as a system. The inner down jacket is a 550 fill as stitched onto the inner wind flap with 75% down and 25% feather as written on the inner care tag. The jacket has five loops, one on each wrist and three along the back of the collar. There are five pockets, two large inner mesh pockets as well as an inner Napoleon slash-like pocket with zipper. There are two outer hand warmer pockets that are lined with a micro fleece. The outer pockets do not have a zip closure, but do have a flap that covers the pockets from the back. This means that hands need to thread into the pocket by reaching towards the back then reversing towards the front. The down jacket can be tightened around the bottom with a bungee draw-cord as well as one around the top of the collar. The toggles are sewn onto a short loop that seems to allow for one handed tightening. The collar has a seam down the middle that allows the collar to fold down when not needed up. The wrist bands are a soft micro-fleece that has a moderate amount of give. They are soft on the wrists and not tight at all. The jacket's zipper has an inner flap with a piece of fabric taping to protect the more delicate nylon from the zipper teeth.
The Dub shell has a lot of features. It too has five pockets, two large inner mesh pockets, two hand-warmer pockets and an outer Napoleon slash pocket. The slash pocket is located on the left side of the jacket, easily accessible for a right handed person. Both the hand-warmer pockets and the slash pocket have rubber coated zippers to prevent water from entering. With the zipper pulled all the way up, the pull head is hidden under a small fabric flap to further protect the pocket form water entry. The shell has pit zips with the same rubberized zippers but no recessed heads. All the seams are taped. High wear corners have a small fabric dot further sealed on top. The shell has a bungee cord draw-cord at the bottom of the shell as well as a powder skirt that is mildly elastic and has rubber lines on the inside to grip to an under-layer. This powder skirt hangs down from the inside of the shell and has two snap buttons on one side and three on the other side to keep it closed. The tail of the shell is a little longer than the front with a pleasing scooped shape.
The three attachment points located on the inside of the collar on the shell, are recessed up behind a small flap. The flap is part of the hood system with has a three way adjustment as well as a pocket to tuck the hood into when not needed. The hood pocket closes with four hook and loop tabs. The main zipper of the shell has two outer flaps and one inner flap. The inner flap had a micro-fleece piece sewn into the top part of the flap near the neck and chin area. The sleeves have hook and loop closures to tighten around the wrists. The shell is a darker adobe colour around the waist with a lighter adobe colour at the bottom and over the shoulders and arms. The down jacket is also of the same lighter abode colour.
I received a men's large parka as according to the sizing chart, that was the size that would fit comfortably over my hips. The parka is a little big on top which was to be expected. The parka is not uncomfortably large on me but I find that sitting down with either the down jacket or the shell completely closed does cause the material to puff out around my waist. The sleeves are also a little too long but I have always liked the extra length as it means I can pull my hands up into the sleeves to keep my hands warm when I don't have gloves handy. When the pieces are separated, the down jacket is a very nice fit but the Dub shell is rather large and the sleeves seem to be excessively long. The shell feels like it is a whole size larger than the down jacket. I find I have to tighten the cuffs around my wrists to prevent the sleeves from getting in the way.
I have found that the dark adobe colour is very pleasing. It is not quite orange and not quite brown but a pleasing mix almost like rust. My impression of the parka is that it looks very nice and seems well made. There is a good deal of attention to detail evident in the parka construction. From the way that the external zipper pulls are recessed, to the micro-fleece around the cuffs to the extra snap for the powder skirt, everything has been thought through. The parka does smell characteristically of down, I really can't describe the smell other than slightly musty.
This parka is a total system. The down jacket is comfortable on its own as well as when paired with the outer shell. They both fit together very well. The shell sleeves are slightly longer than the down jacket and the shell hangs longer to fully protect the down jacket from the elements as well as help keep out drafts. The five tie points are easily reached when the parka is on allowing for the outer shell to be removed while leaving on the inner down jacket. The hang tag that I received with the parka claimed that the powder skirt and hood were removable but I have found this to not be the case. This leads me to wonder if the hang tag was for a different model.
My test plan over the course of the test period will be to wear either part separately as the weather dictates or together when the weather gets cold enough. So far, I find myself pulling on the down jacket and using it as a sweater when I get a little chill as it is comfortable to wear. This parka will be my winter coat both on and off the trail. I will evaluate how low I can comfortably take the parka down to and how many extra layers I will need to stay comfortably warm. I look forward to taking this parka on the trail as well as on the ski slopes.
January 3rd 2008
I have so far mostly worn the Dub parka on four day hikes, an overnight and a car camping trip. I also have been wearing the parka as my primary jacket to evaluate long term wear. The down insert has made a great sweater on occasion when I have been very cold inside. Since the weather has gone cold, I haven't worn the shell more than a few times alone. I now wear the two pieces together as winter wear. I have found that there is still plenty of room, without being too big, under the down insert to fit extra base and fleece layers as needed. I have not worn more than one extra fleece layer under the parka. The few times I did wear the shell alone, I found the shell to be quite large on me. Without the down jacket underneath, the shell feels like it is one whole size larger than the down jacket when I wear it alone. With the down jacket, the shell arms are a little larger but the fit is much better.
I have taken this parka out on four day hikes of varying lengths and at somewhat varying temperatures. The first day hike was about 3 miles (about 5 km) along the Potomac in Virginia. The trail started off graveled and graded and gradually became rough with climbing. Temperatures were around 50 F (11 C). The next day hike was about 6 miles (about 10 km) in length along a different stretch of the Potomac, again in Virginia, that is rougher with more rocks and climbing. Temperatures were again about 50 F (11 C). The day had started off with a light drizzle that disappeared after the first mile. The shell did a good job of repelling the light drizzle. The next two day hikes were in the same location and about the same distance, 6-7 miles (about 10-11 km) with rough terrain and more climbing over rocky terrain, again this was along the Potomac in Virginia. Temperatures were about 40 F (4 C) and 35 F (2 C) on these two trips. The wind was higher and colder on the first hike on that section causing the temperatures to feel quite cold.
I have also taken this parka on an overnight backpacking trip. The total mileage was about 6 miles (about 10 km) and the weather was about 50 F (11 C) during the day. I found with the cooler weather that I hiked with the full parka but vented heat by either leaving the front unzipped or unzipping the pit zips. The weather dropped to about freezing overnight. I found that since my sleeping bag wasn't quite cutting it, I needed to wear the parka in my bag to stay warm. The down jacket was comfortable to sleep in and didn't bind up as I rolled. The back collar of the down jacket has darkened some, likely due to sweat (or ring around the collar). I have noticed no other signs of colour changes nor signs of odour accumulation. I will likely be washing the jacket shortly and I will check to see if the darkening around the collar washes away.
The car camping trip saw temperatures near the freezing mark for most of the night. The parka was mostly worn around camp and to the kayak launch sites. I wore the parka with another fleece layer underneath to stay warm as we sat around the fire. As with many pieces of hiking clothes, the materials are flammable. I tried to stay out of spark range but I somehow managed to catch one and it left a very small hole on the right sleeve. Thankfully it didn't cause the shell to catch fire but simply melted the material. I found the hole the next morning. So far, it has not affected performance, but I will be putting a small piece of patch tape on the underside.
I have taken to hiking with the parka fully assembled. I normally start off a little cold and, depending on the weather, I will either heat up nicely and maintain a good temperature, or I will start to get heat buildup in the warmer weather. When the heat starts building up I simply unzip the outer shell and let it flap in the wind until I cool off some. I will sometimes unzip the pit zips too. For the most part, I have noticed that the down jacket is not wind resistant and I use that to my advantage when cooling off. I don't use the pockets much when I am actively hiking, but the plethora of pockets does make it easy to stow plenty of small items. A few times, the plethora of pockets has lead to my forgetting which pockets something was stashed leading to much pocket searching. I also noticed that the down jacket has a horizontal button hole near the inside slash pocket for holding a pen.
Most of the zippers are rubberized making them water resistant but a little more difficult to zip up and down. I have to grasp the jacket sleeve when opening or closing up the pit zips. I normally wear a small day pack on my day hikes and have to open the pits in two motions, one below the shoulder strap and one above. The shoulder straps help hold the shell in place while I am working on the zipper.
My plan will be to continue using this parka as my primary jacket and to take it out on more overnight trips to determine how it holds up to constant wear and how well it resists odour. I hope to encounter more rain than I have in order to see how it really holds up in a downpour. In a light drizzle, the shell beads up the rain and the beads can be brushed or shaken off. The shell does seem to absorb some water into the fabric but I have not noticed any water bleed through yet.
Long Term Report:
February 24th 2008
I have been using the Dub Parka as my sole coat almost every day for the last 4 months. The external shell and the down inner jacket have held up very well to the long term wear. For most of the last two months, I have been using the parka pieces together. Even on the hikes and backpacking trips I took, I wore the parka as one piece. I used either the front zipper or the pit zips to help regulate my body temperature to prevent overheating. Overall I have been pleased with the fit of the parka and how well it keeps out wind and rain. For the separate components, I have been pleased with the down jacket in cool weather with no wind, as a pillow while backpacking and indoors as a sweater. For the shell, I have been pleased with its wind breaking and keeping the rain out, but I have not been so pleased with the fit. The arms are noticeably longer than the down jacket and overall the fit feels about one size bigger than the down jacket. This is much more room than is needed over the down jacket. It also means that when I wear the shell alone, I am floating in the jacket. Since I don't fit the shell very well, I can't really comment on the four-way stretch of the fabric as I always had plenty of room to move.
I have taken the parka out on two overnight backpacking trips as well as a quick hike out in the rain. The first backpacking trip was a quick 0.5 mi (0.8 km) hike into the campsite late at night with an early morning hike out to see the sun rise. I wore the parka as a unit as it was quite cold. Even with the two layers, I had a wool base layer and thermal fleece shirt. After about 5 minutes of hiking, I had warmed up and was opening up the pit zips and front zipper. After that I stayed warm without over heating. The campsite was close to sea level with little elevation. The overnight low was about 25 F (-4 C). It was cold enough that the condensation on the tent and the surface of the water in the canal froze overnight. Once at camp, I used the down jacket to act as a pillow. This worked out nicely if a little lumpy. The lesson learned was to empty out pockets before using clothes as a pillow.
I took the parka out for a short hike when it was raining as I just hadn't been able to encounter rain while on any long backpacking or hiking trips. The hike was about 1 mi (1.6 km) and about 20 minutes long and after that the rain stopped. During the 20 minute hike, the water beaded up on the shell surface. At the taped seams, I noticed that the water seemed to seep into the fabric of the shell but didn't penetrate to the interior. Water also seeped in at any point where the shell rubbed against something. So the cuffs showed seepage from rubbing against the side of the shell. I found the hood was not quite deep enough to protect my glasses and lower face from the rain when I looked up from the trail but was fine as long as I kept my head down. The hood toggles are adjustable with thin gloves on.
My last trip out with the Dub Parka was an overnight backpacking trip with a 10 mile (16 km) total mileage. The hike in was about 5 mi (8 km) over relatively flat terrain with a fairly good pace of about 3 mph (4.8 kph). The temperatures started around 35 F (2 C) and dropped steadily to about 25 F (-4 C) by bed time. The down jacket and shell were worn as a unit as there was enough of a wind to penetrate the jacket. After the first 20 minutes of hiking, I had to unzip the shell and open up the pit zips. I found that even with the gently breeze and the pace, very little heat relief seemed to come from the pit zips. In the end, I had to remove hat and gloves to bleed off enough heat. At camp, the down jacket was wet with sweat at the armpits, neck and back; all the locations that my pack pressed against. The jacket dried out while wearing it around camp. I also tried to use the down jacket as a pillow but it really is not soft enough. I found my ear would hurt from being pressed against it.
Overall I really enjoyed using the Columbia Dub and see this becoming a part of my gear pile. I found the down insert very flexible to use, either alone or with the shell. On my last trip, I was able to fit, a base layer, thermal layer, and fleece layer under the down jacket in a bid to stay warm. The jacket had enough room to accommodate all those layers and I didn't feel like the 'Stay Puff Marshmallow Man'. The shell I haven't liked as much simply because it is quite large on me. But it does work well in the rain and wind. The plethora of pockets does sometimes make it easy to misplace items. Each piece has 5 pockets. ÊI do find stray feathers from time to time on my fleece layers but the jackets still has good loft. The down jacket has not picked up any sweat aromas, but the down does smell like wet feathers that have dried. I have not had a chance to wash it as it recommends washing and drying alone.
This concludes my report series on the Columbia Dub Mountain Parka. Thank you for following this series and I hope you have found it useful.
Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Columbia Dub Mountain Parka > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron