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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Columbia Hot Shot Shell > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron
Columbia Hot Shot Shell Jacket
Initial Report: Mar 24 2008
Field Report: Jun 30 2008
Long Term Report: Sep 2 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.
MSRP: $185 USD
Material: "100% nylon Omni-Tech® 2.5L Enthuse Ripstop" from Columbia website
Weight (as stated): n/a
Weight (measured): 10.6 oz (300 g)
Colours Available: Grappa (purple), Black, Pewter (grey), Gypsy (red)
Sizes available: Small through Extra Large (Large received)
March 24th 2008
The Columbia Hot Shot is a very light minimal shell. It has a two point adjustable hood, in can be cinched around the face and the hood depth can be adjusted with a hook and loop tab at the back of the head. It has a three point internal attachment system to keep inserts in place. There are attachments points at each wrist and one at the back of the hood collar. There is also a loop at the back of the hood for hanging the jacket up. The wrists can be adjusted with hook and loop tab and interestingly, the top part of the cuffs, the part that meets the back of my hand is scoped to be longer. The shell has two external hand warmer style pockets that are very large with long zippers. All the zippers have flaps to cover and the main front zipper has a zipper guard underneath. The inside of the pockets are made of mesh. The outside of the shell has white lines along the arms and spots on the back that seem to be piped on like a seam sealing treatment. The lines do not correspond to any seams but instead are reflective.
I received a men's large shell as according to the sizing chart, that was the size that would fit comfortably over my hips. This shell is very light and seems to float around me a little. The fit is relatively good in that I have room for my hips but I tend to have a little too much room in the shoulder area. Understandable, but it also allows for lots of layering room. The sleeves are actually a pretty good fit and I love the adjustable cuffs. I really hate elasticated cuffs. The material of the shell is thin and light. The material is also a little crinkly around the zipper flaps. Might have to do with the stiffness of the material. I also noticed that this shell is very light on extra features. It has the bare essentials. I noticed there are no pit zips but the side pockets are absolutely huge. I am hoping the pockets can double as a ventilation point and the location means any wind generated by walking will enter from the front. I will look into how true this is and how well it works in cooling me with and without a pack.
I have a Columbia down insert that I will also be using under the shell on occasion as the weather warrants. The insert takes a five point tie down whereas the shell only has three points. I am interested in seeing if the three points are enough. Over the course of testing this shell, I will be taking it out on night hikes, backpacking trips, and day hikes. I am interested in how well the reflective piping will stand up to packing abuse as well as any rubbing generated from walking and my pack. Although we had a very dry year last year, I think this year is shaping up to be a little wetter.
My test plan over the course of the test period will be to wear this shell on all outdoor trips. I have several hikes and backpacking trips coming up in the Maryland and Virginia areas. I also plan on wearing the shell to work and back to look into long term wear and tear of the material with daily wear.
June 30th 2008
Since receiving the Hot Shot shell, I have been using the jacket on day hikes, backpacking trips and to tool around town. I have taken the shell on two car camping trips of three days each, one multi night backpacking trip, and at least three day trips. This amounts to 13 days of accountable use and many days of wearing the shell to and from work.
The two car camping trips happened in April. One was a four night trip and the other a two night trip and the weather was fairly constant each day and night. On the first trip, the weather was fantastic during the day but dropped to about 50 F (10 C) at night, the last night felt colder as it was pouring rain. It rained off and on over the trip mostly in the evenings and early morning. I put the shell to good use to stay both warm and dry while it was raining. I combined the shell with a down insert and rain pants to stay dry. The second trip out was with similar overnight lows of 50 F (10 C). It rained the second night out causing the temperatures to drop. It picked up raining again somewhat early on the last morning and the rain shell came in handy especially combined with rain pants. I was able to finish packing everything in the car and tie down the kayaks without getting wet. Due to the limited coverage of the hood, my face and glasses did get wet.
There where three day hikes that occurred in the Northern Virginia and Maryland area of the Potomac. One hike was Difficult run in Virginia, which is a 5 mi (8 km) loop hike. Weather was overcast and temperatures about 50 F (10 C). There was no rain but the shell was definitely a plus against the wind on the over looks. The next hike was in Maryland on the Gold Mine loop, a 6 mi (9.6 km) total distance hike. The weather was warmer, and the sun was out, temperatures were about 65 F (18 C). I ended up peeling off the shell as I was getting too hot. The last hike was in the Difficult Run area but took different side trails. Distance was about 2 mi (3.2 km) and was in the early evening after sunset. Temperatures were about 60 F (15 C). As we were on a star gazing hike, the shell with a down insert was greatly appreciated against the cooling night air.
The multi-night backpacking trip was down in the George Washington National forest at about 1100 ft (335 m), over a two night, three day trip. Temperatures were about 80-85 F (27-29 C) during the day and dropped down to about 50-55 F (10-13 C) over night. I didn't really have much of a chance to hike in the shell as the day time temperatures were simply too warm. The shell came in handy at night when the wind started to pick up a little and the temperatures cooled off.
As a shell, I found the Hot Shot has been performing very well in keeping me dry against the rain, but I find that the lack of ventilation is a challenge at times. In warm weather, when I was wearing only a t-shirt, I find my arms stick to the inside of the shell in an uncomfortable manner. This seems to occur over a range of temperatures and seems to depend more on how hot I am than how hot the actual air temperature is. I tried to keep the large pockets open for ventilation but I find that doesn't help so much. It is also not very good to keep the pockets open when it is raining as anything inside the pockets, or my shirt in the pocket vicinity gets a little wet.
I find that the hood of the shell is not that generous and while my head does stay dry, my face and glasses get wet if I am not looking down. The shock cord draw cord around the waist and hood are nice, but require two hands to operate in order to tighten or loosen. The pockets are very large and generous and I like to store maps, snacks and bandannas in the pockets. My backpack hip belt does interfere with pocket item retrieval, but this is true of all my jackets.
I will continue to wear the shell over the next phase of the test. As the weather will becoming increasingly warmer, the shell will primarily be used as a wind and rain shell, to be pulled on only when needed, and for use around the campfire at night for warmth with base-layers. As ventilation is an issue, I will look further into whether the pockets can be used for some ventilation. I will look further into long term wear and tear, and if I have a chance, how well it blocks the wind from chilling me. I have already tested in the rain, but if a chance to use the jacket in driving rain comes up, I will gladly look into how well the shell keeps out the precipitation.
Pros and Cons so far:
Long Term Report:
September 2nd 2008
Over the last two months of long term testing, I have taken the shell on two more backpacking trips as well as carried it around as a just-in-case shell. I did use the shell on my way home from work twice to ward off unexpected rain. The first backpacking trip out was to the Dolly Sods in West Virginia. This was a three day, two night backpacking trip. Temperatures were in the high 80's F (about 30 C) during the day and low 60's F (about 15 C) overnight. The shell didn't see much use during the day, but was used mostly at night to ward off the evening chill.
The next trip was out in the Shenandoah National Park and was an overnight trip. Although the trip started at 3300 ft (1000 m), the temperatures didn't necessitate a shell. There was a 2000 ft (610 m) elevation drop before setting up for camp. The shell remained packed for the entire trip as the temperatures didn't drop enough before it was time to sleep.
Overall I have found this to be a good lightweight shell that packs down nicely and takes up little room. While it does come out looking very wrinkled, it has handled the packing for weeks on end and I have seen no signs of wear from the packing. With a little wear time, the wrinkles eventually come out. The jacket has held up very well in the wear department and hasn't picked up any odours from being worn while backpacking. The jacket is well made and I have not noticed any peeling of seams, peeling or wear of the reflective piping or weakness in the material.
I did find that the shell does seem to lack ventilation and I had difficulty wearing it when hiking, especially with a pack on. There are conditions I find I can hike with the shell on, but those conditions are rather subjective and depend on how fast I am moving and how cool the weather is. I tried to leave the generous pockets open in an attempt to ventilate the interior, but it didn't work. And one time it was raining and I needed ventilation but leaving the pockets open during a rainy walk was starting to allow water to enter through the pocket openings.
The hood is not as deep as I would like nor does it have a brim. As such, my face and glasses will sometimes get wet in the rain. The shell did work great to keep the wind from cutting through my clothes, it worked best if I had a long sleeved shirt underneath, otherwise the shell would stick to my arms and leave me feeling cold. It also worked great at night in camp to keep a layer of warmth around me when combined with a thermal top. The pockets are quite generous and I found I could store plenty of stuff in them when tooling around camp, but not so much when hiking as the hip belt interfered with pocket access.
This concludes my long term report on the Columbia Hot Shot Shell. I hope you have enjoyed following this test series.
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