Columbia Dub Mountain Parka
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
February 18, 2008
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Huntington Beach California USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear Company
Web site: www.columbia.com
Product: Dub Mountain Parka
Style #: SM7614
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $279.99 (US)
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight: 2 lb 1 oz (936 g)
Weight of shell: 1 lb 0.8 oz (476 g)
Weight of inner liner: 1 lb 0.2 oz (460 g)
Color tested: Black
Other colors available: Dark Adobe, Jet and Curry
Size tested: Extra Large (also available in Small, Medium and Large)
The Columbia Dub Mountain Parka (hereafter referred to as the Dub or parka) is a two-toned (black and dark grey) two piece parka aimed at winter pursuits. It arrived with three hang tags attached. One had the size, color, style number and name, one mentioned the features of the Titanium line, of which this is one, and the last had information about the Tech Interchange 5-point Lightweight System. What is strange is that the information listed is mostly wrong. It says that it has a removable hood and a removable powder skirt. They do not remove. (More on them later.)
The Dub Mountain Parka is not listed on Columbia's web site.
I requested an extra large to accommodate my long arms and to allow me plenty of layering room, should I need it. It fits well.
A quick primer on 2.5 layer fabric. In the past few years many companies have come out with their "own" 2.5 waterproof/breathable fabric. The two and a half layers are as follows. First is the shell material of the garment, usually some type of breathable nylon. Denier (think thickness) can very greatly. A waterproof/breathable membrane is laminated to one side (what will be the inside of the garment). Over the membrane the "half layer" is actually a raised pattern made by printing a polymer onto the membrane. This saves the weight of a true liner and is suppose to aid in transferring moisture away from the skin and to help alleviate the plastic clammy feeling of the membrane.
The outer shell is made of "nylon Omni-Tech 2.5L stretch ripstop". This is the proprietary 2.5 laminate that Columbia uses in their lightweight offerings. It is fully seam taped at all sewn seams. The other seams are welded construction. As an added touch, where seams meet in a right angle (like where pockets are) a grey patch of reinforcing material has been adhered over the seam to keep it from blowing out. They can be seen in the picture to the right.
(Note: I have a two-year old parka from their Titanium series that I use mainly for skiing. The quality of this parka is head and shoulders above my older one. I am very impressed as I go through the parka writing this report. Good job, Columbia.)
As with all 2.5 laminate materials in my experience the inside of it has a cool-to-the-touch plastic-y feel to it. Just the nature of the beast. But much better than others I have used.
At the top of the Dub is the "three-way adjustable" hood. It is fixed to the body and is not removable. A sliding cord-keeper on a draw cord to either side of the hood adjusts it for tightness around my face. Under a hook-and-loop flap in the back is a single cord that will tighten it around my head. The whole thing will roll down and store inside of itself with the use of four hook-and-loop patches to turn it into a fat collar. Centered at the back is the Titanium Series "T" logo.
On the left side of the chest is a welded pocket accessible by a vertical waterproof welded zipper. The zipper sits under a covered zipper hood to keep water out at the top. The Titanium name is printed at the top of the pocket. The pocket is not very big, a pair of glasses or wallet can fit, but not a pair of goggles.
Two lower pockets have vertical waterproof zippers also. The openings of these are only 5.8 in (14.7 cm) wide. It is a tight fit for my bare hands. I will see how they do when wearing gloves in the field. The inside of the pocket is lined with mesh. A second layer of mesh is sewn over it to create another pocket accessible from the inside of the Dub. The mesh allows the pockets to be used to vent the parka.
A 12 in (30 cm) waterproof zipper runs beneath each arm to form a hiking necessity for me, the pit-zip. They open directly to the inside of the parka with no mesh under them.
A black nylon YKK zipper runs down the front of the parka. It is not waterproof, but does have a three piece storm flap system to keep the elements at bay and to act as a snag-guard. All of the zippers have 2 in (5 cm) nylon cords as zipper pulls.
At the inside bottom of the Dub is the non-removable 5 in (13 cm) snow skirt. It secures with the help of two snaps. It has 4 ribbons of rubberized elastic at the bottom to keep it from sliding around, and the top half is a Spandex-like material to allow plenty of stretch and flexibility.
The cuffs do not have any elastic but adjust for tightness with the use of hook-and-loop backed straps.
The Dub comes with a removable inner jacket that provides insulation. It can be worn alone or in conjunction with the Dub shell. (The Shell can be worn alone also.) It is held into the shell with the "Tech Interchange 5-point Lightweight System". This consists of 5 loops, three at the collar and one at the end of each sleeve of the shell that attach with a snap closure on the inner. That is it. They do not zip together at the sides like many of their two part systems do, including my other parka.
The nylon inner uses sewn-through quilted construction to keep the down/feather mix in place. (According to the inside consumer label it is 25% feathers.) The name and logo are in the same places as described earlier on the shell. A nylon zipper runs full length to the top of the collar making it stand up Cadet-style. A draw-cord behind the collar lets it be snugged in around my neck to trap heat. The zipper is backed by a 1.2 in (3 cm) draft stop that has a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) snag guard over it. At the top of the draft stop "550" has been stitched. I can only guess that this refers to a down fill rating. But with the note about 25% feather content I have to wonder about that.
There are hand-warmer pockets at the lower sides. They are clam-shell closure type. An elastic edged curved flap goes over the opening. The pockets are fully lined (both sides) with micro-fiber fleece. Opposite those pockets on the inside of the liner are two mesh pockets. They are pretty good sized, wider than they are deep.
The washing instructions are the normal, machine wash cold, tumble dry low. Do not iron, bleach or dry clean.
This concludes the Initial Report, the following is from the first two months of real world use.
I used the shell of the Dub all over the big island of Hawaii. The most constant use was in the jungle areas above Hilo and in Alakak State park. Temperatures were from 84 to 76 F (29 - 24 C), high humidity and lots of rain. Trails varied between black-top, scraped lava, crushed and packed lava rock, dirt and mud. Off-trail terrain was either on lava or in mud.
It has seen a lot of use in Minnesota both for day hiking at Buffalo River State Park and walking on dirt farm roads in the country. I used it as my everyday coat also for 18 days in Moorhead MN during the test period. The temps during use have ranged from 40 F down to -16 F (4 to -27 C).
I wore it on an overnighter to Little Round Valley and from there to Mt San Jacinto in the first snow storm of the winter. 10 days and two more storms later we were back to the same area for another one. I wore it in falling snow for one of the days. The temperatures on the two trips ranged from 40 F to 20 F (4 to -7 C). Below is a picture at the trailhead of the first trip.
I took it with me on a snowy 2-day trip to Bryce National Park. The temps were from 36 F down to 5 F (2 to -15 C) and in snow to almost 3 ft (1 m) deep where drifted.
My first use of the Dub was as a rain coat in Minnesota (MN) and in Hawaii. The shell was worn alone for this use. The 2.5 layer fabric worked very well to stop water. I never saw any leaking from the seams or fabric itself.
It also seemed to breathe OK for the MN use but the Hawaii trip was another matter. The very high humidity there made the Dub seem as breathable as piece of plastic. On one hike back up from a waterfall I was running up the trail to where I had left Jenn at the trail head. The Dub was getting so wet on the inside from the increased activity combined with the humidity that I finally took it off and just let it rain on me. The pit zips made no difference in those conditions. Here is a picture of it in use at an easier accessed waterfall.
On one November day-hike in Minnesota the temperature was 33 F (0 C) and the wind was blowing 25 mph with gusts to 42 mph (40 to 68 km/h). The Dub did a good job of blocking the wind and I wore the down inner. After walking hard for about a mile I started warming up but it was too cold to go without the inner jacket. I unzipped the inner and partially unzipped the shell along with opening the cuffs to regulate heat. This worked quite well. I did not notice any moisture build up in the inner lining so I assume that my body heat was driving it through the down and out of the shell.
On the two backpacking trips in the snowy mountains of California the Dub worked wonderfully as a wind shell and to keep the snow off me. I used the pit zips to good effect on these trips. I was able to work them single handed and the waterproof zippers never snagged. I really like them.
The down inner does not work very well as a pillow though. I always stuff a Therm-a-Rest pillowcase with my down sweater or jacket. The Dub does not fill it enough to be comfortable. By the same token it is not nearly as warm as any of my other down pieces.
Using the Dub shell and inner together in camp was fine. I was warm there, but in MN at negative temps with a wind blowing the Dub was cold. I will share my opinions of this in the Long term Report after more use.
So far it has held up well to being stuffed repeatedly. I find no problems with it so far. The pockets work great, I like the zippers on them too. The chest pocket is perfect for my camera.
This concludes my Field Report. The following reflects the final two months of testing and use.
I used it in Minnesota for two overnight trips. Once was at Maplewood State Park the other was at Buffalo River State Park. The temps there were between -3 and 8 F (-13 to -19 C) in snow from 5 to 12 in (13 - 30 cm) deep. It was also used for day to day wearing in temps down to -19 F (-28 C) and wind chills to -31 F (-35 C) and many days of snow.
I used it skiing Snow Valley in California at 9000' (2740 m) elevation with temps at 24 F (-4 C) and very windy.
It came with me for one last trip in Utah to the Wasatch Mountain Range. This was an overnight trip with Jenn. Elevations to 9,200 ft (2,804 m) with a low temperature of 14 F (-10 C) with wind gusts. We had a little snowfall on the hike back to the trailhead.
Here is a picture of it at Maplewood State Park in Minnesota.
The Dub has me torn. The parts about it I like, I love! The parts that I dislike really disappoint me. It truly is a tale of two pieces.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Let me talk about the outer shell first. I love it. I like the feeling of the fabric a lot. It feels more cloth-like than any 2.5 layer fabric I have seen. Since most of them are very clammy feeling that means a big deal to me.
I love the zippers. I have not had one of them snag. I am able to work them with one hand, with gloves on and with a pack on. I retired a very expensive expedition parka after one winter because the zippers drove me nuts fighting with them in lousy conditions. The pit zips are better than any of my rain coats and as good as my current shell that was bought mainly because of its welded waterproof zippers.
The weight is wonderful too. This is a winter shell that weighs the same as my current rain coat. I like it so much that it is going in the gear room as my every-day rain shell. It will see many days on the trail this coming year.
But what won't be along for the ride is the down inner. This has been just as unimpressive to me as the shell has been impressive. And I blame it all on one thing, the down.
The quality of construction has been fine. The inner has held up to being stuffed into and out of my packs a lot. And as this year saw me doing a lot of flying back and forth between northern Minnesota, Utah and California it has been stuffed a lot in my Osprey Circuit commuter pack. (It is kind of cool to watch the looks on people's faces as it comes out of it. "That big ol' coat was in there?")
And it has proven to be warm when the temps did not get too low. When used in conjunction with the shell it has been good for me down to about 10 F (-12 C) with no wind. When worn as a down sweater alone it is good around 30 F (-1 C) as long as there was no wind. But when the wind is blowing the parka has major cold spots at the zipper and along the seams of the inner.
The reason that the seams are cold is because the down does not loft up enough to push around the sewn-through design of the coat. So it leaves bare spots along them which the cold goes right through.
I was very cold using it skiing, and in Minnesota I had to wear expedition weight base layers with it. But I have not been able to use it the way I like to because the down is not a better quality fill.
I have two down sweaters that weigh the same as the Dub inner that have more than twice the loft of it. Both are far and away warmer than the Dub inner. And both use higher quality fill.
I use my down for a pillow as mentioned in my last report. The Dub is almost useless to me for this job. It just makes a flat package. I have to add my shirt to it in the pillow case to make it more comfortable.
I like this parka a lot and wish that Columbia would think about using a higher quality fill for it. Maybe even another ounce (29 g) of it too. I realize that it would cost more to do so but I for one would spend the extra money for a better and more usable parka. I believe that I get what I pay for. (Well maybe not that parka with the cruddy zippers…)
I like the direction that Columbia has gone with the Dub Mountain Parka. I just would like to see them keep going a little further with it. I thank them and BackpackGearTest very much for letting test it. Hopefully I can try an improved version next year…
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella