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Photo credit: Columbia

Columbia Trail Running Set Review

17-Jan-19

Last updated: 17-Jan-19

By Ilsuk Han


Although it has been a mild Winter so far here in London, I’ve still been out testing the following three products from Columbia over the past couple of months:

  • Midweight Stretch Long Sleeve Baselayer Half Zip Shirt
  • Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt
  • Caldorado II Insulated Jacket

The Titan Ultra shirt and Caldorado II jacket are part of Columbia’s Trail Running Collection whilst the baselayer is for general outdoor use. I used all three items, both separately and together, for a range of activities including running, hiking and even golfing.

The Caldorado II jacket was my favourite from the test and the item I found myself reaching for the most often.

Midweight Stretch Long Sleeve Baselayer Half Zip Shirt

Features

  • Omni-Heat™ thermal reflective
  • Omni-Wick™
  • 4-way comfort stretch
  • Antimicrobial treatment protects this product from bacterial growth
  • Ergonomic seaming
  • Flatlocked construction
  • Thumb holes
  • 195 grams (Medium)
  • RRP £55

 

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Photo Credit: Columbia

PROS: WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE MIDWEIGHT STRETCH LONG SLEEVE BASELAYER HALF ZIP SHIRT

Omni-Heat thermal reflective is a pretty cool-looking feature where the inside of the apparel is coated with shiny metallic dots which claim to reflect heat back towards the body. In practice I couldn’t say I felt any extra warmth due to this feature but on the plus side, the silver dots seemed unaffected over multiple washings.

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Other positives include true sizing (the medium is a good snug fit), stretchy fabric (as described) and good length in both the sleeves and back.

CONS: WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THE MIDWEIGHT STRETCH LONG SLEEVE BASELAYER HALF ZIP SHIRT

A minor one but there’s too much room around the neck, even when fully zipped up.  Also, despite the Omni-Heat, I didn’t find it particularly warm, whether worn by itself or under midlayer.

Score  
Design 7/10
Features 8/10
Performance 7/10
Value 6/10
Overall 7/10

 

Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt

Features

  • Omni-Freeze Zero™ sweat-activated super cooling
  • Omni-Wick™
  • Thin & light
  • 122 grams (Medium)
  • RRP £55

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Photo Credit: Columbia

The first thing you notice is the material - it’s very thin and light.  It’s also not particularly stretchy, giving it almost a crepe-like quality.

Columbia claim that the Omni-Freeze Zero “blue rings react with sweat to lower the temperature of the fabric, so you feel cooler”. In practice, the shirt did seem to dry quickly but this could be as much due to the thin material as the technology.

PROS: WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT THE TITAN ULTRA HALF ZIP SHIRT

Despite initial doubts on the shirt’s suitability for colder temperatures, it was fine to use on its own in 5-10 degree Celsius and in combination with a baselayer when colder.  It’s also light and comfortably loose fitting with good wicking properties and dries quickly

CONS: WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THE TITAN ULTRA HALF ZIP SHIRT

I’d say the top is a little too thin, on the verge of being flimsy.

Scores  
Design 8/10
Features 8/10
Performance 8/10
Value 8/10
Overall 8/10

 

Caldorado II Insulated Jacket

Features

  • Omni-Shield™ advanced repellency
  • Omni-Wick™
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Drawcord adjustable hem
  • Reflective detail
  • Packable into security pocket
  • Polartec® Alpha Insulation
  • Thumb loops

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Photo credit: Columbia

PROS: WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT THE CALDORADO II INSULATED JACKET

I used this jacket a lot. It became a go-to item not just for running, but also walking, cycling, and virtually any kind of outdoor activity, including golfing. It was comfortable and effectively blocked out wind and chill, and took time to get uncomfortably hot during activities.

Polartec’s Alpha insulation material was apparently first developed for US Special Forces which faced extreme temperatures during the stop-start nature of combat and where shedding layers isn’t really an option. Whilst my trail runs were nowhere near as dangerous, I still appreciated the breathability provided by the insulation layer which works on an air exchange principle.

The jacket also benefits from the thoughtful placement of insulation in the areas that are key to regulating core temperature, including torso, neck and lower back. Putting the jacket on, as a result, was akin to wearing a midlayer in combination with a padded gilet. This is accentuated by the sleeves, while very stretchy, don’t offer the same level of warmth and wind protection.

I was very pleased when I discovered the thumb-loops - now the extra-long sleeves made sense!
In summary, The Caldorado II insulating material is fantastic and the Omni-Shield works great at keeping dirt off.  The thumb loops are very useful and the jacket is versatile, particularly for low-intensity activities.

CONS: WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THE CALDORADO II INSULATED JACKET

The only real drawback is the bulk and weight, but this is understandable given we’re dealing with an insulation layer rather than a membrane. When packed into its zippered chest pocket, the jacket is the size of a melon. Weighing in at 322 grams for a medium, it’s not particularly portable, but then I believe the intended use is for those activities where you’re working at moderate levels and therefore the jacket stays on.

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Whilst the Omni-Shield fabric is great at keeping mud and other dirt off the jacket, it isn’t water proof. The jacket can withstand light showers, but in prolonged rain the insulation becomes noticeably wet and feels heavier.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 9/10
Performance 9/10
Value 8/10
Overall 8.75/10

 

Conclusion

Hailing from Oregon, where it can often be wet and cold, Columbia ought to know a thing or two about protection against wintry elements during outdoor activities, and this shows in the three items tested, particularly in the Caldorado II jacket.

The company is also not short of innovations, as seen from multitude of technologies pre-fixed “Omni” such as Omni-Wick and Omni-Shield.  However, for Omni-Heat (as used in the baselayer) and Omni-Freeze Zero (as used in the Titan Ultra) in particular, I’d have liked to have seen some sort of statistics on the heat-retention and/or cooling rate to support their claims.

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In the case of the baselayer, in particular, I did really wonder if the technology worked as claimed, since I felt no additional benefit versus other baselayers.

Whilst the baselayer wasn’t ideal for me, the Titan Ultra was useful.  Despite initial misgivings with its minimal nature, it kept me warm enough, wicked sweat well and dried quickly. It worked well on its own in milder temperatures and over a baselayer when colder.

The Caldorado II jacket was the best in this test. Whilst I own several running jackets, including the Salomon Bonatti Pro and Montane Minimus, all of them are basically windbreakers with different degrees of water proofing and are not so good at keeping you warm, particularly once you stop moving.

The Caldorado II jacket, while not as packable, I found to be much better at regulating body temperature than others, and as result is getting a lot of use in what has admittedly been a fairly dry Winter.

About the Author: Ilsuk Han is a running shoe geek and gear nerd in general, he runs and drink beer, not necessarily in that order. IG @brocken.spectre

All photos are the author's unless otherwise stated.

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“Hailing from Oregon, where it can often be wet and cold, Columbia ought to know a thing or two about protection against wintry elements during outdoor activities, and this shows in the three items tested, particularly in the Caldorado II jacket.”

Where to buy

Columbia Women's Midweight Stretch Half Zip Longsleeve Baselayer View deal
Columbia Women's Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt View deal
Columbia Women's Midweight Stretch Half Zip Longsleeve Baselayer View deal
Columbia Women's Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt View deal
Columbia Men's Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt View deal
Columbia Men's Midweight Stretch Long Sleeve Half Zip Baselayer Top View deal
Columbia Caldorado II Jacket View deal
Columbia Women's Titan Ultra Half Zip Shirt View deal
Columbia Men's Caldorado II Jacket View deal
Columbia Men's Titan Ultra Half Zip View deal
Columbia Men's Midweight Stretch Half Zip Longsleeve Baselayer Top View deal
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