Whether you’re out in the scorching sun, or the wet and cold, the new line from Columbia Montrail has some solid choices to add to your line up.
Here’s what we thought:
For the Feet
As part of this kit, we hammered on the Variant X.S.R. through all kinds of terrain and conditions. Out of the box this shoe really doesn’t really look like a serious running shoe (one tester dubbed them their ‘hobby joggers’), but all testers were pleasantly surprised with the comfort, durability, and versatility of the shoe.
The rubber is grippy on rocks and performed exceptionally well on rugged terrain – but hop off the trail and onto the pavement, and you’ll still find a smooth and comfortable ride. Not the best-looking shoe out there, but an excellent choice if you’re looking for an all-around, do it all shoe.
For the Cold
Starting from the top, the Outdry EX Caldorado Shell provides some serious protection from the elements with fully taped seams, elastic cuffs, and an adjustable hood. Underarm venting helps keep a little airflow moving through, though as with most fully waterproof jackets, testers did experience some minor moisture build up, especially in warmer weather or during higher exertion, creating more sweat.
We loved how light and packable this jacket it, and really liked the addition of the hood and a zippered chest pocket (many similar jackets have NO pockets!) for keeping things close to the heart. Overall testers were very pleased with how dry the jacket kept them.
If you’re not going to be wading through snow, but need a little extra warmth, the Bajada Ankle Tight is a good choice for keeping warm when the temps drop, but having a few inches exposed at the bottom helps vent excess heat and keep things comfortable. They fit well, looked better than expected, and came in handy on several wet and cold adventures.
For the Heat
The F.K.T Short Sleeve Shirt is specifically designed to deflect the sun off of the materials as well as provide a soft cool feeling on the skin. This shirt was tested on multiple runs, including a 15 mile run in the heat. The material does seem to be overall cooler than most other fabrics and it didn’t seem to heat up even with the sun shining directly on it for several hours. The fabric is extremely light and comfortable.
The fabric does an excellent job wicking sweat and drying quickly. While the sweat was on the fabric it seemed to feel much cooler on my skin than a typical wicking fabric. On a long 15 mile run in the heat my upper body and core felt remarkably cool the entire run and I never overheated.
One tester expressed concern with the front zipper made for venting, noting that while it was nice to have the zipper option for venting, they experienced some rubbing when zipped up. Only slightly annoying, but worth dealing with to have the cooling fabric.
*Note that if you wear this in colder weather, it’s cooling features still work, so it’s not recommended to keep you warm!
The Visor is a simple and comfortable way to keep the shade on, but allow ventilation out of the top of your head. Nothing fancy here, but it is quality, comfortable and works well. One tester did note that it does not fit larger heads (Hat size ~7.5+).
And finally, to round out the kit, the Neck Gaiter is designed with sun protection, wicking and cooling features in mind. Testers used it as a sweatband and it did a very good job of soaking up the sweat and drying quickly. The band breathes and doesn’t ever feel too hot, so it felt comfortable wearing in hot or cold weather.
We really like the versatility of the piece. It can be used it on your head, but also used it as a neck gaiter and to cover your face on a windy ridge. The band performs in the heat and in moderate temperatures, but it wasn’t extremely warm when it was cold.