Columbia Mission Air II Jacket

They Say – This outerwear jacket uses Columbia’s unique Omni-Tech technology which provides waterproof breathable protection by keeping outside elements from getting in, while still allowing moisture vapors to move away from the skin.

Complete with stow away hood, zip-closed pockets, drop tail and adjustable sleeve cuffs.

We Say - First impressions were that the jacket has a great appearance. The arms are regular length and cover me down to my hands. They fit perfect and the sleeves are wide enough to slip over and fasten around large winter gloves with no fuss.

The jacket did however appear to be made a little short in the body. I feared this shortness might let a draft in around my side or back, mainly when I was raising my arms above my head for scrambling but even when just raising them up to eye-level to take photos. However, after wearing it for the month I can say that it hasn’t caused me any issues in this area, such is the good fitting at other points of the torso, such as under the arms, which ensure that it doesn’t ride up.

The hood is adjustable at the back with a velcro fixing so although it is floppy – there’s no wire or firm band of material around the brim to keep it perky – you can either have it down low over your eyes if the wind and rain is coming at you, or pulled back quite high up the forehead if the rain is light and you want a full field of vision. There is an adjustable toggle on the right side of the hood that can be pulled to make the hood tighter. It’s easy to work even with winter gloves on. You just pull the cord down and then outwards and the outwards motion fixes it in position.

I used it a few times during our regular cook-ups on the beach. The first time I did this I noticed that although my trousers got three holes in them from sparks, the jacket did not. This is an unexpected bonus. I spend a fair bit of time around open fires (and I’m often close to them when it’s winter and I want to stay warm as well as cook) and whilst I’m not expecting this jacket to withstand every spark that flies its way, I’m happy that after two fires it’s still without a hole.

I’ve been wearing the jacket in combination with a Columbia Passo Alto Fleece, which I’ll review next month. Under the fleece I’ve always had a good standard base layer on (either Columbia or Helly Hansen). This has kept me warm enough whilst on the move in weather down to minus 2 degrees but when sat around, such as on the beach cook-up days, I wished that I’d put my thermals on under it all.

Regarding the Mission Air Jackets’ ability to keep you dry, there are 2 things to talk of. The first is how it behaves if you’re walking hard and starting to sweat. Does the sweat stick around and leave your wet and uncomfortable? Well, my walks this month have involved moderate ascents and I’ve tackled them at reasonable pace, that is, a pace that allows me to enjoy my surroudings, and I haven’t noticed any problems. Sure, I sweat, but by using the zip wisely the jacket allows me to let moisture out as and when needed so that I stay pretty comfortable. It’s hard to tell if the Omni-Tech technology is of great benefit when I’m walking as I’m the type to take responsibilty for my own comfort, hence I regulate using the zip and if I start to sweat a lot, I just slow down a bit, maybe stop for five minutes, relax a while.

The second thing to consider is how the jacket fares in a rain storm. There have been a fair few of them this month, snow too, but there has been no leaking or wet fleeces to contend with. I always put my phone in the outside pocket too (I know, I should use a waterproof case, or at least put it inside my fleece pocket, but I always forget a case and I can never hear it if it’s inside the fleece pocket!) and that’s still working fine so I’m confident that the material hasn’t let in water. I must point out here that the longest I’ve been out in the rain is 3 hours at a time.

The neckline is comfy and very weather resistant in its design but doesn’t offer the cosy factor that perhaps a fleece lined collar does.

The pockets are well placed; when I was wearing my pack with the waist strap done up I could still use them easily without having to stop walking. My pack is a modern Jansport one, it sits high on my hips, with the lower edge of the belt strap touching the top of my hip bone (as opposed to my old 1980′s Berghaus pack which was made to sit very low). If your packs sits high as mine does, then you’ll have no issues with getting to your pockets when you’re on the move in this jacket.

Finally, I’d like to mention the colour. I’m not a fan of bright colours on the mountainside. Some say that it helps you to be located if you are in need of rescue. I’d say that you should always carry a silver space blanket in your day pack to do this job (and to keep your warmer if you need that), there’s no need to pollute the mountain view with your bright red or orange clothes. So I was really pleased with this colour of this jacket. I know this jacket also comes in a rather bright blue, which I wouldn’t have been particularly keen on, but the one Columbia sent me was just perfect. It’s a nice, muted green that blends in well with the surroundings and doesn’t annoy the hell out of me or any others who enjoy their landscapes looking as untainted by man as possible.

Columbia’s Ethical Policy – We asked Colombia about their ethics. Where is their product made, how did they ensure good practice in the workplace and in sourcing materials, that sort of thing. Here’s their statement;

“”At Columbia Sportswear, we are committed to building a company of which we can all be proud – not only of the innovative products we create and the financial results we achieve, but the manner in which we achieve them. Whether it’s responsible sourcing, giving back to our communities, or reducing our environmental impact, we believe corporate responsibility is a companywide effort. We want you to be proud to wear our products, and use our accessories and equipment anytime you step into the Greater Outdoors. Stakeholder input is invaluable to the continuous improvement of our corporate responsibility programs.”

—Tim Boyle, President, CEO, and Director

This past December, Columbia Sportswear was featured globally on CNBC in a short film about HERproject produced by Responsible Business Television (RBTV). The film (viewed here: http://www.columbia.com/corporate-responsibility/About_Us_Corp_Responsibility,default,pg.html) highlights the need for health education for female factory workers in developing countries and illustrates how HERproject addresses these needs by providing workplace programs that link women’s health to business value. The film was included in a broadcast of several short RBTV films on CNBC Asia, CNBC Europe and CNBC USA.

Several Columbia Sportswear factories have participated in HERproject over the last two years and thousands of workers have received health education through this program. HERproject has seen impressive results overall, including a 60% increase in the number of prenatal medical visits among workers as well as a 41% increase in knowledge of STD symptoms.

One of the Columbia Sportswear participating factories has seen concrete business impacts in regards to employee recruitment as a result of HERproject, “We have women coming to us looking for work, so we don’t need to go in search of female workers anymore. We are seeing the business benefits of this program with our own eyes,” said Factory Management from one of our participating factories.

For more information on HERproject, visit www.herproject.org

ummary - This Mission Air II Jacket has proved itself well suited to my needs during a month that’s seen it perform decently in snow, rain and sub zero temperatures. I would have liked to have had a firmer rim on the hood, and a little more of a snug feel to the collar wouldn’t go amis, but overall, if you’re looking for a waterproof jacket thats going to keep you warm, dry and comfy whilst on the move, this is a fine choice.

To find out more about Columbia and to see their full range of clothing please check their website out http://www.columbia.com/

 

Comments are closed.