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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Columbia Hot to Trot Softshell > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

May 08, 2011



NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.



Hot to Trot
Photo courtesy of Columbia
Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear Company
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $130 US
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 14.8 oz (420 g)
Style/Color Tested: Sea Salt
Other colors available: Oxide Blue, Black
Size Tested: Women's Medium
Other size available: XS, S, L, XL
Made in China

Material Content:
Fabric: 92% polyester/8% LycraŽ elastane jersey 3L Butter softshell


collarThe Columbia Hot to Trot Jacket is a soft shell jacket which is water-repellent, windproof and thermally reflective with comfort stretch material to accommodate movement. There is no insulation layer in this jacket. The water-repellency is Columbia's Omni-Shield coated finish which is supposed to resist all liquids below 170 F (94 C) from absorbing into the yarns and staining the garment. The fabric itself is also supposed to dry 3-5 times faster with the Omni-Shield treatment than untreated fabric. The thermal reflective lining is Columbia's Omni-Heat material which is supposed to help retain heat while dissipating moisture.

The one-way front zipper has a draft stop the entire length and a zipper garage at the top to keep the zipper from touching my face. The front zipper has a stout zipper pull with an ergonomic shape that is large enough for me to easily find and use. There are two zippered handwarmer pockets which are fleece lined with a fine microfleece. The zippers have corded zipper pulls attached. The inside lining of the handwarmer pockets have an opening at the top to provide large internal pockets.

The hem has a drawcord adjustment which can be adjusted at the side seam on the inside of the jacket hem or from inside the handwarmer pockets. There are cuffs sewn inside the ends of the sleeves to provide a nice fit to the wrists.

The collar stands up but can also be folded over to stay away from my face. There is a hang loop at the base of the collar. There is no hood.


Omni-heat liningThe first thing that I noticed is how much thicker and heavier this jacket is than my other softshell. The material is really soft and comfortable to the touch. The color is very light (nearly white) although it does have an off-white almost very light grey hue to it which is good. I like the color description of 'sea salt' since it seems very accurate. The material does not seem to wrinkle easily at all.

I tried it on and really like the fit. It fits more like a fitted shirt than a loose-fitting jacket although there is still room for me to layer some warmer clothing underneath. The material is comfortable because of the stretchy characteristic and also because it is soft. I have gotten compliments on it from the very first wearing from several different people and have had several people want to feel the fabric.

I really like the cuffs that are sewn in. The material is soft and silky. They stay close to my wrists and help to keep out the draft.

cuffThe thermal reflective lining is a shiny metallic pattern of small silver dots on a black background.

There is a 'Columbia Titanium' logo on the left sleeve and a small Columbia logo (logo only) below the left pocket.


Washing instructions:
'Machine wash cold. Permanent Press. Powdered detergent. Rinse thoroughly. Wash separately. Do not bleach. Tumble dry permanent press low. Iron low. Do not use fabric softener. If present, do not iron decal. Do not dry clean.'


The Columbia Hot to Trot is a well-constructed, comfortable and fashionable softshell jacket.

Likes so far:
More substance than a light shell
Great styling
Fleece-lined pockets

Dislikes so far:



with down vestDuring the Field Testing period I wore the softshell as my primary jacket. I wore it nearly every day, wearing it to work, for lunchtime walks, running errands and for outdoor activity. I wore it for 7 snowshoe hikes, 6 morning runs, 2 day hikes and 2 mountain bike rides. I also wore it for disc golf multiple times.

Loon Lake, Orion Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 4.0 mi (6.4 km); 6,327 to 6,800 ft (1,928 to 2,073 m); 38 to 48 F (3 to 9 C); cloudy to breezy conditions

Echo Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 5 mi (8 km); 7,300 to 8,000 ft (2,225 to 2,438 m); 33 to 40 F (0.5 to 4 C); deep snow conditions; partly sunny; up to 25 mph (40 kph) wind gusts

Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 5.8 mi (9.3 km); 6,327 to 6,700 ft (1,928 to 2,040 m); 35 to 55 F (2 to 13 C); deep snow conditions; sunny

Sierra at Tahoe, Sierra Nevada, California: 3.5 mi (5.6 km); 6,600 to 6,800 ft (2,012 to 2,073 m); 27 to 30 F (-3 to -1 C); deep powder conditions; light to heavy snow

Yosemite National Park, California; 2 mi (3 km); 4,000 ft (1,220 m); 24 to 31 F (-4 to -0.5 C); fresh powder conditions; partly sunny

Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park, California; 8 mi (12.6 km); 7,250 to 7,385 ft (2,210 to 2,251 m); 18 to 24 F (-8 to -4 C); clear conditions; 5 feet (1.5 m) of fresh powder!

University Falls, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 mi (3 km): 4,000 to 4,200 ft (1,220 to 1,280 m); 24 F (-4 C); partly cloudy; deep powder conditions

Foothills of the Sierra Nevada (California): 3 miles (5 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C); muddy conditions

Fern Canyon, Van Damme State Park (California): 6.7 mi (11 km); 50 to 350 ft (15 to 107 m); 45 to 50 F (7 to 10 C); partly cloudy


water dropletsThe first thing I noticed about the jacket was that the white color definitely does not absorb warmth. On cold days, I could feel the sun's warmth on my black pants while I couldn't feel any warmth through the jacket. While this is normal based on color, it is something that I have to keep in mind when considering how warm or cool I'll be on a given trip.

I wore the jacket with a variety of clothing underneath ranging from simply a short-sleeved shirt to multiple layers of a long-sleeved thermal layer with a down vest or fleece. The jacket fits just right even with the extra layers underneath. The lining is somewhat uncomfortable against bare skin while wearing short sleeves. It just doesn't have a cozy feeling. I really like the cuffs and found them to keep out the cold while being comfortable on my wrists. The hand pockets have a nice fleece lining which makes them cozy. I found the hem drawstring to be easy to adjust and used it in deep powder conditions to keep snow from getting under the jacket. I really didn't use the hem cord adjustment in the hand pockets.

I wore the jacket multiple times in the rain and in heavy snow where the drops built up on the fabric. It has remained completely waterproof so far. The water droplets bead up as seen in the photo. I have worn it in windy conditions with the worst being 25 mph (40 kph) winds across a frozen lake. I never felt any wind penetrate the fabric.

During the Field Test period, I machine-washed this jacket 2 times in cold water. The white color seemed to pick up dirt on the cuffs and collar which triggered me to wash it. There have been a few stains that came out easily in the wash. I didn't ever notice any body odor aromas despite getting very sweaty at times. The durability has been very good. The jacket looks as good as new and has no wear areas despite wearing it many times with a pack.


The Columbia Hot to Trot is a comfortable, versatile and durable softshell jacket.

Fleece-lined pockets

Lining is cool and stiff against bare skin



During the Long-Term testing period I wore the softshell approximately 19 times including 2 snowshoe hikes, 4 morning runs and 1 day hike. I also wore it to work, for lunchtime walks, running errands and for disc golf.

Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 3.8 mi (6.1 km); 6,327 to 6,700 ft (1,928 to 2,040 m); 32 F (0 C); deep snow conditions; sleet to snow stormy conditions. I wore the softshell with a thermal base layer halfway and then also with a light down jacket on the hike back.

University Falls, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 mi (3 km): 4,000 to 4,200 ft (1,220 to 1,280 m); 32 F (0 C); partly cloudy; deep powder conditions. I wore a base layer and light fleece underneath.

Foothills of the Sierra Nevada (California): 11.5 mi (18.5 km); 1,200 to 1,500 ft (366 to 457 m); 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C); overcast conditions. I wore the jacket with a short-sleeved shirt for the early part of the hike but removed it since it was too hot for the rest of the day.


On the Loon Lake snowshoe hike, it was stormy with the temperature right at freezing. It changed from freezing rain to snow all day so there were water droplets on the jacket that after a few hours soaked in, but my clothes beneath remained dry. No moisture seeped through. I have used it as an umbrella in downpour conditions while I run between buildings at work. Overall I have found the jacket to be completely waterproof.

My morning runs ranged from 45 to 55 F (7 to 13 C) with some light breeze. I wore it with a short-sleeved shirt underneath and still was too hot after a mile (1.6 km) or so and had to remove the jacket. During that short time, the jacket got clammy and felt uncomfortable against my bare arms.

I washed the jacket one more time during this test period. The white fabric starts to show dirt on the cuffs fairly easily, but the fabric is stain-resistant and has performed quite well considering its light color. The durability has been very good; there are no signs of wear or deterioration despite lots of use over the past several months.

I found the best use for this softshell to be in colder conditions where I needed a heavier layer. In warmer conditions I found it not to breathe very well and found myself wishing I was wearing a very light shell instead.


The Columbia Hot to Trot softshell is a comfortable, stylish and durable jacket that I find best suited to colder weather activities.

Fleece-lined pockets

Doesn't breathe very well in warmer conditions

This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Columbia and for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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