COLUMBIA Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Short, Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt and Coolhead Ballcap III

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They Say;

Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Short Available at – Cotswold Outdoor http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/columbia-mens-silver-ridge-cargo-shorts-16210243?id_colour=123 

From boulder hopping to fjord fording, this multi-talented cargo works overtime to keep you cool and comfortable. It’s lightweight yet rugged, with an über-comfy cut featuring a gusset detail for ultimate freedom of movement. • Omni-Shade® UPF 50 sun protection • Omni-Wick • Classic fit • Side-elastic waistband • Gusset detail • Hook and loop closure • Zip-closed security pocket • Hand pockets • Mesh pocket bags 

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Men’s Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt Available at - http://www.columbia.com/mens-zero-rules-short-sleeve-shirt-AM6464.html

A super-cooling tech tee with stretch and sun protection, this soft and lightweight men’s shirt sports our industry-leading cooling technology, which reacts with your sweat to lower the material’s temperature and keep you cool during dynamic aerobic activity in the heat. • Omni-Freeze ZERO™ sweat-activated super cooling • Omni-Wick™ • Omni-Shade™ UPF 30 sun protection • Modern Classic Fit • Comfort stretch • Antimicrobial

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Men’s Coolhead Ballcap III 

Built for supreme temperature regulation and sun protection in the outdoors, this performance ball cap is outfitted with UPF 50 fabrication, a wicking, cooling sweatband, and our advanced Omni-Freeze ZERO® technology, which reacts with sweat to lower the temperature of the material. • Omni-Freeze ZERO fabrication lowers the material’s temperature • Omni-Freeze advanced cooling sweat band facilitates the release of heat and feels cooler to the touch • Omni-Shade UPF 50 provides premium protection from the sun • Hook and loop back adjustment

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We Say – I’ve been using this Columbia kit for the past 2 months, first whilst on a canoeing expedition in England and then on a 3 week backpacking tour of the Scottish Highlands. I also have tried it out trail running on the North Downs in southern England. This is what I think.

Firstly, I’ve found the kit good for trail running. The shorts don’t look like they’ll be suitable – they’ve got more of a hiking than a running look and feel – but coupled with a decent pair of underwear they felt good on my normal 10 mile cross country loop. Extremely lightweight, as is the t-shirt, and cooling. The cooling effect is not so noticeable early in the run but when you’ve got a sweat up and you round a corner or crest a hill and a slight wind hits you, you really feel the cool air circulating. It’s very refreshing indeed. Add to this the high SPF factor of all the kit, which is very important to me (I’ve got a touch of skin cancer on the ears at the moment – very common among trail runners – and it’s not very pleasant) and it’s an outfit that’s very suitable for the trails. The hat is also very suitable for road running in warmer climates (I’ve been using it on all of my road runs the past few weeks) and I intend to use it when I run in Sri Lanka later this year.

The outfit as a whole is all well suited for hiking and general tourism as it is for running. It looks good enough for walking about a town or city when you’re on your way to or from the hike get in/out point and it’s hardy enough to take on a serious backpacking tour. I wore it for most of the 8 days we spent on the West Highland Way and also for a 4 day expedition to the remote peninsula of Knoydart. Here’s me at our wild camp spot Knoydart.

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Columbia also do a ladies outfit that we’ll be reviewing later that has the same comfy shorts, top and cap; here’s a look at Lamia wearing it whilst on our English canoeing tour.

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The claims that Columbia make about the cooling effect and being anti microbial are impressive and I have to say that I agree with the first (whilst hiking you get the same cooling effect when you’ve a sweat up and a wind blows as you get whilst running) although not with the second, as on the second day of wear whilst hiking the top did begin to smell a little. Some would say this is normal but I usually expect my tops to stay fresh-ish until at least day 3 of any hike.

Because of the smell issue I did have to rinse the shirt out a few times during the tour and discovered that it dried easily. If I washed it as soon as we broke camp about 3 or 4pm and wrung it out completely and hung it up inside the tent, it was ok for wearing the next morning.

The shorts’ belt is a clip-in affair and it’s very easy to use – essential when you’re getting dressed in the dark for a pre-dawn start (or more likely for me, when leaving the tent at midnight for a wee whilst on a campsite) – and the lower pockets are secure. When I had my rucksack on I used the lower pockets more often as the rucksack belt didn’t infringe on them as it did the upper side pockets.

Obviously the shorts got dirty on trail and about camp – sitting on the ground does that, as does using a petrol stove that gets sooted up pretty bad and is easily transferred when you’re cooking/packing up the stove – but they wash up well and have no visible signs now of the tough 3 weeks tour they just lived through. Same goes for the shirt and cap, they wash up very well and don’t snag at all, meaning they look the same now, after 2 months of heavy wear, as they did when I got them.

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I’ll finish with a word about the cap’s velcro loop fixing (the mechanism that tightens it after you’ve put it on). It’s very soft and when you put the cap on back to front, as I do often (especially when I have my headcam on whilst canoeing, hiking or running), it doesn’t hurt your forehead at all, or leave an imprint. My last running cap was an ‘Under Armour’ one and it wasn’t very comfy at all when I had a head cam on, so this lightweight Columbia cap is a vast improvement on that.

Overall this is a very interesting ‘cooling’ technology and Columbia have produced a great multi purpose outfit. Not many of us are made of money nowadays so it’s a bonus if you can have a single set of quality kit that you can use on varied occasions, rather than having to buy 3 or 4 lots of specialised kit because they’re only good for one activity each. I can use this Columbia outfit for pretty much any outdoors activity I choose (my current activities being canoeing, hiking and trail running) as it’s got a high SPF, it’s lightweight, dries quickly when I wash it (or when I fall in the lake/river!), comfy and it looks good. Pop into any Cotswold Outdoor shop to check the kit out yourself, or see it online here:

http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/columbia-mens-silver-ridge-cargo-shorts-16210243?id_colour=123 

http://www.columbia.com/mens-zero-rules-short-sleeve-shirt-AM6464.html

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