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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Columbia Peak 2 Peak or Peak Power > Test Report by Chad G Poindexter

COLUMBIA MEN'S PEAK 2 PEAK JACKET
TEST SERIES BY Chad "Stick" Poindexter
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 19, 2011
FIELD REPORT - August 29, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - October 29, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Poindexter
EMAIL: stick1377 (AT) gmail (DOT) com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I love backpacking! However, with only two years under my belt so far, I would still consider myself a little green to it all, so to say… Initially, I started out with heavy gear but since then I have gone lighter, although I still use a little of it all. I have gone from tent to tarp, canister stove to alcohol stove, sleeping bag to quilt and quite happily from synthetic to down. All of my hiking so far has been in the South East United States, and up to this point has been with friends or family.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1


Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear Company
Manufacturer's Website: www.columbia.com
Product: Men's Peak 2 Peak Jacket
Year of Manufacture: 2011
MSRP: (US) $350.00
Size Tested: Large (Also available in S, M, XL and XXL)
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 15.9 oz (451 g)
Listed Center Back Length: 30 in (76 cm) ~ Verified Accurate
Color Tested: Red Hot (Also available in Black and Compass Blue)
Fabric: 100% Polyester 3L 50 Denier Plain Weave
Omni-Dry Ultrabreathable Waterproof Technology
Fully Taped Seams
Attached Adjustable Storm Hood
Vented Underarm Zips
Invizzip Zippers on Pockets
Articulated Elbows
Security Pocket on Sleeve


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Columbia Men's Peak 2 Peak jacket (hereafter referred to simply as the "jacket") is a sleek, light-weight jacket which relies on Columbia's new Omni-Dry technology to keep me dry. The Omni-Dry technology is described as a highly air permeable membrane, which is stated to keep water from coming in, while still allowing moisture to escape from within. The jacket does all of this, while still maintaining the ability to block out the winds! And to make it even better, Columbia states that the Omni-Dry material weighs in at 7 g (0.25 oz) per square yard which makes the jacket quite light-weight.

Starting at the top, the hood is fixed to the jacket so it is not possible to remove the hood. The outer material actually folds back underneath the brim of the hood, which makes the brim somewhat thicker feeling than the rest of the hood. As well, there is a 13 in (33 cm) stiff wire that runs around the brim of the hood which allows the brim to be shaped.

The hood features quite a few different ways to get a good fit. On the back of the hood is a hook-and-loop fastener which allows me to adjust the volume of the hood. Beneath the flap that covers the hook-and-loop fastener is a thin, round shock cord with a rubber cord lock which allows the circumference of the hood to be adjusted. There is also a shock cord which is fed through a soft polyester channel which lines the inside of the hood around the brim. However, near the bottom of the hood, a short section of the shock cord is run along the outside of the jacket and feeds through a short plastic sleeve with a notch in the side. To lock the shock cord in place, the cord is pulled tight and then simply slid up into this notch. (See picture below.)

IMAGE 2


The front of the Peak 2 Peak jacket uses a full-length, one-way YKK # 5 water-proof zipper which measures 29 in (74 cm) long. Attached to the zipper is a rubber pull tab. There is a soft polyester backing which runs the entire length of the zipper. At the top of the zipper (near the chin), this backing wraps back around to the front of the jacket, which creates a soft chin guard as well as a zipper keeper for the zipper when fully zipped up.

Located on the top of the sleeve, just below the left shoulder, is a security pocket which measures 5.5 x 7.5 in (14 x 19 cm) which appears to be bonded to the jacket. The pocket features a 5 in (13 cm) Invizzip zipper with a 2 in (5 cm) corded pull-tab. The zipper heads on Columbia's Invizzip zippers actually feed over the top of the fabric, hiding the actual zipper from sight. This gives the appearance that there is not a zipper at all. These Invizzip zippers are used on all 3 of the pockets on the Peak 2 Peak jacket.

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There are 2 chest pockets which also appear to be bonded to the jacket about mid-way up the front of the jacket. Each pocket measures approximately 6.5 x 10 in (16 x 27 cm) and uses the same Invizzizip technology as found on the security pocket. As well, each of these zippers have a 2 in (5 cm) corded pull-tab too. The zippers which allow access to the pockets are placed closer to the mid-line of the jacket, which means that the contents of the pocket will rest almost directly below the breast area.

There are underarm vents (pit-zips) located under each sleeve. The vents are opened/closed by means of a two-way zipper which measures 12.5 in (32 cm) in length. Each zipper features a 2 in (5 cm) nylon pull-cord. The zippers are covered by a 1 in (2.5 cm) storm flap. Also, about 3 in (8 cm) from each end of the underarm vents, there is a small, 2 in (5 cm) strap sewn to each side of the vents. (See picture below.) These straps appear to simply keep the vents from opening to wide.

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At the end of the sleeves are large, adjustable hook-and-loop straps which offer a wide range of adjustability.

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The bottom of the jacket features an adjustable hem as well. A piece of shock cord measuring 47.5 in (121 cm) is fed through a channel across the entire bottom of the jacket and attached at each end. The cord exits the channel at each side of the jacket and is fed through a plastic cord lock.

All seams on the inside of the jacket are taped. The lining on the inside is fairly soft to the touch and does not feel plastic-like. The material on the outside has a brushed, soft finish, however, the jacket as a whole feels somewhat crinkly.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I was immediately impressed that the inside of the Peak 2 Peak jacket didn't feel all plastic-like and sticky, like I thought it may. I tried it on with only a T-shirt and the inner lining felt fine against my skin. This is nice since our temperatures have already exceeded 90 F (32 C) and I do not plan on layering much under this jacket throughout this test series.

I did try the jacket on over my down jacket (just for kicks) and found it to be a little tight. But to be fair, I ordered this jacket to fit me, rather than sizing up so that it would accommodate layering underneath it better. As far as fit in general, the jacket fits me close with just a single layer on underneath, but not too close to cause any discomfort. I am able to move around comfortably with this jacket zipped up; this includes reaching out, away from my body, as well as over my head.

I really like the adjustable wrist cuffs. The straps are large enough to grab securely and at the same time, not to bulky to make the cuff feel bunched up when I need to tighten the straps down. As well, with all the adjustments on the hood, it too can be adjusted very easily and quickly to fit my head, whether I am wearing a hat or not.

The main front zipper is a little tight, so I will be sure to see if that loosens up a little with use. Although, all of the other zippers on the jacket glide easily enough to work with one hand.

I like that the chest pockets are nice and big, as well as easy to access. With the zipper located near the mid-line of the jacket, it is quite natural for me to reach across my chest to the pocket on the opposite side and reach inside the pocket. This way I can reach all the way into the pocket, rather than sticking my hand into the middle of the pocket.

I also like the fact that Columbia included a hang loop on the inside collar of the jacket. It is nice to hang my jacket by a loop rather than by the jacket itself and hoping it doesn't get torn.

The one thing that I will miss on this jacket is the hand pockets. According to Columbia's web site, hand pockets are listed, however, on the jacket, there are none to speak of. So, I will see how I fare without my hand pockets...

TRYING IT OUT

This afternoon after returning home from work we had a thunderstorm roll in, so I suited up and went out to play in the rain!

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The water rolls right off of the outer shell! After the storm blew by and my wife told me it was time to come in, I gave the jacket a very quick shake and it was almost instantly dry. The jacket looked (and felt) as though it had to sit inside while the storm passed through...

SUMMARY

Initially, I am quite impressed with the jacket. There are no loose seams or peeling tape. Everything appears to be in good working order.

THINGS I LIKE:
1. Non plastic-like feeling inner lining.
2. Large adjustable wrist cuffs.
3. Easily adjustable hood.
4. Water rolls right off.
5. Hang loop on the inside collar.

THINGS I AM NOT SURE ABOUT:
1. No hand pockets.
2. Front zipper is somewhat hard to zip up.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the course of the last couple of months, I have carried the Columbia Peak 2 Peak jacket on five day hikes as well as a single overnight hike. Unfortunately though, I never got to wear the jacket while it was actually raining while hiking. Although, I did find myself wearing it during the cooler early morning hikes. Of course I have also donned it each time rain poured from the sky around my home or in town.

I have carried this jacket to Big Hill Pond State Park on four separate day hikes. The temperatures have ranged between 55 to 100 F (13 to 38 C), and I experienced no rain on any of these trips. Earlier in the testing phase the mornings were cool which allowed me to wear the jacket comfortably, however, later in the testing phase the 100 F (38 C) afternoons were simply hot and humid. The general elevation at the park is 500 ft (152 m) with little change either way.

IMAGE 1
Packed up on the trail at Big Hill Pond


I also carried this jacket with me on a day hike to Sipsey Wilderness in Alabama, in which both of my children accompanied me. The temperature was a super-hot 95 F (35 C) and the air was very humid and with hardly a breeze to cool us down. The general elevation was 700 ft (213 m).

I also carried this jacket with me on an overnight trip along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. The temperatures ranged from a mild 65 to 85 F (18 to 29 C). The elevation was up-and-down between 2,900 to 4,000 ft (884 to 1,219 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Although this jacket has not yet needed to be used to keep me dry while on the trail, it has kept me dry on a few other occasions. Over the past few months, I have worn the Peak 2 Peak jacket while walking through storms to get to my car or to get into work during downpours. Granted these have been short trips, no more than 5 - 10 minutes each time, I am happy with the way that the jacket has beaded the water right off. Also, once it is time to come in, with a quick shake, the jacket is as dry as it was before being subjected to the elements!

That is not to say I have not worn the jacket in the field though. During the earlier testing months when the temperatures were still cool, I wore the jacket on some of my early morning day hikes to help knock the chill off (and not to mention to catch those early morning spider webs also!) With just a short sleeve synthetic under shirt and this jacket, I managed to stay warm enough while hiking in 55 F (13 C) temperatures. During this time I kept the jacket zipped up to about my nipple-line and the pit zips were closed. I loosely cinched the cuffs down and I managed to stay at a comfortable temperature (meaning I did not work up much of a sweat). Happily, the inside of the jacket did not feel clammy or stick to my skin, which made it that much more comfortable.

On another mid-morning day hike I wore the jacket again over the same short sleeve shirt, zipped up to my nipple-line, pit zips closed and cuffs loosely cinched. This time the temperature was around 70 F (21 C), however, the hiking was pretty easy. I wore a pack with about 10 lb (4.5 kg) with some of my essentials and a little food and water in it. I hiked for 3 hours straight, just trying to push myself to build up a good sweat inside the jacket. After about 45 minutes I unzipped the pit zips all the way to let a little more air in, however, I left the front zipper zipped for the remainder of the hike. Once I came to a stopping point and pulled the jacket off I was surprised at how wet the inside of the jacket felt, especially considering that it did not feel that wet while wearing it. While I prepared my lunch, I laid the jacket out in the sun, opened up with the inner lining facing up. About 45 minutes later it felt dry to the touch. However, at this point I opted not to wear the jacket on the hike out.

I have been pretty happy with the durability of the outer shell so far as well. Many of the trails at Big Hill Pond State Park are not well maintained so I am usually pushing through some rough spots. So far the outer jacket shows no sign of rips or tears, or even scratches.

Although, I have noticed that the outer shell does show dirt quite easily. This is not necessarily a problem, but I am wondering if it continues to hold dirt if the shell will continue to breathe as well as it has so far. The front of the jacket has collected a lot of dirt so I simply washed it off with water and scrubbed it with a towel. So far this has worked fine to remove any visible dirt.

All of the zippers continue to work fine and the front zipper has loosened up over time with some use. The pull tabs are easy to find when blindly unzipping the jacket and are holding up good as new!

I am still unsure about the pocket design. I have yet to need the pocket on the shoulder and most of the time forget it is even there. I have used the chest pockets to hold my wallet and a camera and they work fine for this. The zippers are situated so that they are still easily accessible even while wearing a pack which is a big plus. But, I am still really missing my hand pockets. While I am actually hiking it is not a problem, however, once I stop hiking and then choose to keep the jacket on, it is almost unnatural feeling for me not to have those pockets there. I have caught myself many-a-time sliding my hands along the area where hand pockets would normally be...

I have also used the jacket for a few other uses. I have used the jacket as a ground sheet to lay out all of my other gear on. (This may be where much of the dirt comes from that was on my jacket.) As well, I have used the jacket as a pillow, both on the ground and in the air!

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Pillow Mode


I have been very happy with the way the jacket fits me as well, with or without a pack. The jacket seems to fit as though it has been tailored to fit me. The sleeves do not ride up when reaching out, again, with or without a pack on (big plus!) All along my torso the jacket is just loose enough not to confine or restrict me or my movements, but not too loose as to get in my way. Also, I have not needed to use the cinch in the bottom hem. When the front zipper on the jacket is zipped up, there is about 1 to 2 in (2.5 to 5 cm) of space between my waist and the hem of the jacket. This is close enough for me to keep most of the drafts out (although in colder weather I am sure I will tighten it up just a little so it is nice to know it is there.)

SUMMARY

At this point, I really am very happy with this jacket. That does not mean that it is perfect though...

LIKES:
1. Inner lining feels great next to skin, even while sweating!
2. The jacket fits me very well. Particularly in the sleeves (no riding up!)
3. The cuffs are easy to adjust and are not bulky.
4. The jacket breathes well.
5. Water rolls right off.
6. Dirt cleans off pretty easily.

DISLIKES:
1. No hand pockets.
2. Dirt shows up easily.

So, like I said, I am really happy with this jacket so far. Everything about this jacket is sweet, however, the lack of hand pockets are really weighing on me...

So, check back in around the first of November to see what my final verdict on this jacket is...

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On the Appalachian Trail


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this phase I carried the Columbia Peak 2 Peak jacket with me five more times while on the trail or while camping. I carried it with me on three day hikes, one overnight Cub Scout camping trip and on one overnight trip that didn't quite make it all night long. Of these times, I only needed to wear the jacket on two of these trips: the first time on one of the day hikes and then again while hiking out in the middle of the night on the near overnight trip.

All three of my day hikes were at Big Hill Pond State Park in Tennessee. The first two hikes were warm and sunny, with an occasional faint breeze. The temperatures during both of these trips were between 85 and 95 F (29 to 35 C). The third hike was a morning hike. The temperature was around 55 F (12 C) and the skies were a bit overcast, which let loose an occasional light rain shower and winds. (Great news for me!) The general elevation at the park is 500 ft (152 m) with little change either way.

Our near overnight trip was in the same park and at the same general elevation. The temperature was around 80 F (26 C) and considering it had rained the previous day, the air was a bit humid. However, the rain was not completely done, as my son and I still encountered a few very brief and light rain showers that continued throughout the day and as well as when we hiked out around midnight.

IMAGE 1
Crawling under a blow down at Big Hill Pond


The Cub Scout camping trip took place in a large field at Brice's Cross Roads National Battlefield Site in Mississippi. The skies were clear and quite windy at times and the temperatures were between 50 to 69 F (10 to 15 C). Elevation here is about 450 ft (137 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Of the five times that I carried the Columbia Peak 2 Peak jacket, I only actually used it on two of the hikes. On both of these trips, the rain was fairly light and really only came in spurts. However, the jacket performed as expected during these times, meaning the jacket kept me dry and blocked the cool winds on my early morning hike.

Other than the above mentioned times, since receiving the jacket I have used it every chance I got around home or in town. To date, the jacket will still bead water off of it the same as it did as on the day I received it. Although, I have noticed that where the pockets are bonded to the jacket, this area will slightly wet out after a few minutes in the rain. As well, drying the jacket off is a snap, quite literally. Just a quick flick of the jacket and just about every bit of the water will fly off (so my wife will allow me to carry it in the house, even after a hard rain).

Other than fit, the inner lining of the Peak 2 Peak jacket has been my favorite feature of this jacket. Even when working up a sweat inside the jacket, the inner lining does not feel all wet or clammy against my skin, not to mention all plastic-like. But, the inner lining does take a slightly longer amount of time to dry than the outer shell of the jacket, however, by just laying the jacket out with the liner facing up (preferably in the sunlight) will dry the jacket out pretty quickly.

Also, as I have mentioned already, the shell does a great job at blocking the wind. I have still yet to feel like I needed to cinch the bottom of the jacket closed due to the already close fit, although, it is only just now getting colder. (However, due to the close fit, I cannot layer anything thick under the jacket comfortably so I will not be able to use the jacket during the colder months anyway.) I have also noticed that unless I cinch the hood around my face, wind can easily sneak in around my head. This is expected, however, I have found that on some of my other jackets, less wind will sneak in when not cinched closed. I feel like this is because the other jackets have a deeper hood, meaning that the side of the hood will extend out farther from the front of my face.

During the day hike, my pack weight was only around 11 lbs (5 kg), and then on the near overnight trip my pack weight was about 24 lbs (11 kg). While wearing either of the packs over the jacket I did notice some slight restriction in my range of movement, however, not too much to cause any discomfort. Most of the restriction was in the shoulder areas, and in the sleeves. When reaching forward, the cuffs on the sleeves tended to ride up my arm more than when not wearing a pack. But, like I mentioned, it was not enough to be too bothersome.

The pockets on the jacket work well with my backpack's straps, meaning the straps do not interfere with accessing the pockets. And considering that I do not like to put bulky items in pockets in this location, the straps do not restrict the amount of space in the pockets. The pocket on the sleeve is also accessible while wearing a pack; however, reaching across to access the pocket is a bit harder while wearing the pack. Regardless, I have yet to actually use this pocket for anything.

To date, the jacket still remains to look pretty new. The stitching has held up, the zippers still work and the cords and cord locks still work. There are also a few (hard-to-notice) spots in which I have had to clean dirt from the jacket with only some water and a towel. Since receiving this jacket this past April, the jacket has held up as expected.

On a few other notes, I still miss my hand pockets. Even if they were positioned in a manner that would not work while wearing a pack with a hip-belt, I still miss them. Hand pockets are ingrained in me.

As well, at 15.9 oz (451 g) I would not define this jacket as lightweight (and especially so when hand pockets are not an included feature). Granted though, it is lighter than some...

Also, packed size has not been an issue for me since receiving the jacket since I store my rain shell outside my pack for quick access when I need it.

IMAGE 2
Set up at Big Hill Pond on our near overnight trip...

SUMMARY

The Columbia Peak 2 Peak jacket has been an outstanding jacket when it comes to fit and function, although there are a few things that in my opinion are missing, or could simply be different.

LIKES:
1. Fit. While wearing a thin, lightweight base layer this jacket fits me perfectly.
2. Inner lining. Even when wet, it feels dry and non plastic-like against the skin.
3. The jacket keeps me dry.
4. The jacket breathes well enough so that I feel dry inside, even while sweating.
5. Adjustable hood.
6. Large adjustable wrist cuff.
7. Hang loop inside of jacket.
8. Dirt cleans off fairly easily.
9. The jacket dries out/off easily.
10. The shell blocks wind.
11. Pit-zips.

DISLIKES:
1. No hand pockets.
2. Dirt shows up easily.
3. In my opinion, and considering the lack of hand pockets, the jacket is heavy.

CONCERNS:
1. Would like to have a deeper hood.
2. Outer shell will wet out where pockets are bonded to the jacket.

So, as can be seen, my "like" list is much longer than my "dislike" list, however, the few items in my dislike list weigh heavily on my decision to continue to use the Columbia Peak 2 Peak jacket. Regardless, I want to extend my thanks to Columbia as well as to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this jacket. It has been fun!

SIGNATURE

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Chad Poindexter
~Stick~

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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