Columbia Windefend ½ Zip

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Manufacturer Description

You can try to outrun the wind, but don’t be surprised when it turns on you. Made for pushing on through brutal headwinds, the Windefend sports an innovative hybrid design that blends the best of breathability, mobility, and action-oriented protection. The garment’s front is made from a supple windproof softshell that cuts arctic gusts during forward-moving activities, while Omni-Wick stretch fabric graces the back area for ventilation and supreme freedom of movement. An Omni-Shield advanced repellency treatment also keeps out light rain. Customize your ventilation by adjusting the half zip at center front, and store small essentials in the multi-functional pocket at left upper arm. Reflective detailing keeps you safe in low light conditions.

Features

  • Front fabric – 100% polyester Windefend
  • Arms & Back Fabric – 90% polyester/10% Elastane Slick Knit
  • Omni-Shield advanced repellency
  • Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
  • Windproof front panel
  • Front zip – 31.7 cm (12.5 in)
  • 4-way comfort stretch
  • Reflective detail
  • Multi-functional sleeve pocket – 8 cm wide x 10 cm tall (3.1 in x 3.9 in)
  • Part of the Titanium Collection
  • Measured size medium
    • Weight – 325 g (11.5 oz)
    • Center back – 73 cm (28.7 in)
    • Pit to pit – 56.5 cm (22.2 in)
    • Sleeve length – 91.5 cm (36.0 in)
  • Retail – $70

YMMV Review

Now that we are into the fall and winter weather cycle, cold and blustery days are becoming increasingly more common. I have always been one who tends to be warm when running so jackets that do not breathe are generally not good for me. This fall Columbia sent me a set of the Windefend ½ Zip Top and Pants for me to review. Columbia has really been working on changing their brand perception by coming out with new technologies and body mapped products like these.

Wearing the Top - Front View

Design / Construction ★★½☆☆

The Columbia Windefend ½ Zip Top is part of the Titanium Collection. Columbia’s Titanium Collection blends innovative design, fabrics and technologies with an active fit for intense activity. The Windefend Top is a blend of two fabrics. The front chest fabric is a lightweight softshell with a laminate inside to block the wind. The rest of the garment is made of a polyester/spandex knit which breathes better and has a bit more stretch. Both fabrics have 4-way stretch but the front chest fabric is slightly less stretchy. In the front there is a zipper to adjust the ventilation of the top.

All the seams on the Windefend Top are flat locked for comfort against the skin. These seams have also been strategically left off the top of the shoulders for more comfort when wearing shoulder straps. On the left arm there is a multi-functional pocket. This pocket secures by a fold over flap. On the chest, left sleeve, and back there are reflective elements for low light visibility. The Windefend Top features two other Columbia technologies: Omni-Wick and Omni-Shield.

Wearing the Top - Back View

Omni-Wick is the ultimate moisture-management technology for the outdoors. Its superior wicking properties move moisture away from the body and enable perspiration to evaporate quickly. During physical activity, increased body temperature causes perspiration. Normally this results in damp, clammy, and uncomfortable clothing. With Omni- Wick clothing, moisture is quickly wicked up into the fabric, and away from the wearer’s skin. The moisture spreads out across the surface of the fabric where it quickly evaporates. This wicking/evaporation process keeps the wearer cool and the clothing dry. You stay dry, which helps regulate temperature, prevent chafing and keep you comfortable all day.

Omni-Shield delivers protection from the outdoors where you least expect it but need it most. This coated fabric resists all liquids below 170º F from absorbing into the yarns and staining the garment (without any effect on the feel of the material). The fabric itself will also dry 3-5 times faster than untreated fabric, without holding moisture like a conventional fabric, meaning it stays lighter even when it’s wet.

The construction of this top I slightly less finished than the other Columbia items I have tested recently. The fabrics are nice but the flatlock seams are not tight as they should be. In several places the seams have frayed or are a bit crooked. You can see this better in the picture of the pocket.

Fabrics - Windproof on the Left, Breathable on the Right

Fit ★★½☆☆

The Columbia Windefend Zip is a mixture of trim fit and loose fit. The torso has a little extra room, just enough to wear a baselayer underneath and not have too much room. The shoulders fit just how I like it for a running top. There is enough room for mobility and they are not constricting. The fabrics are nice and stretchy so the top moves well when you do. The length in the torso is nice and long. The collar around the neck is comfortable whether zipped up or not. Now where the top misses on fit is down through the arms. Starting at the upper arms and through the cuffs they feel like the arms get looser. The arms are nice and long which I like but there is way too much room in the wrists. If you take a look at the picture you can see how the wrist cuffs can cover my hand. I wish these were a little tighter and had thumb loops.

Performance ★★★☆☆

The top has performed as expected. I have used it on days ranging from 25 to 50 degrees and in all types of weather. The front panel does block the wind and is comfortable against the skin of you choose not to wear a baselayer. The top is surprisingly warm, enough so that it was a bit too warm for me when there was no wind and temperatures were above 40 degrees. The stretchy fabrics breathe and wick moisture well. I think this top does better when there is some wind rather that when there is not. The front zipper helps regulate the temperature when you do overheat. The left sleeve pocket is large enough for gels or keys but it is only a fold over pocket so security may be an issue. Too bad the pocket does not have an audio port, if you want to use an mp3 player the cord must come out of the pocket making it even less secure. I have been caught in a light rain on one run and rain does bead up and run off. If the rain is anything stronger than a light rain, it will eventually soak through. When I did overheat in this top the Omni-Wick technology worked as it should, wicking moisture to the outer fabric to evaporate off.

Multi-Purpose Arm Pocket

Overall ★★½☆☆

Overall the Columbia Windefend 1/2 Zip was one of the few Columbia products that I have not been impressed by as of late. The colors are a bit on the interesting side but everyone will always have different opinions on color. I think that this can be a good option for a thicker build but for someone like me with a thinner build the arms are just too loose. The fabrics chosen are soft and stretchy and are comfortable. Unfortunately the top is just missing a couple features and the finished look of some of their other items. It does not seem like this will effect durability but time will tell. The top retails for $70 which is a bargain compared to other similar products. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros

  • Stretchy fabric
  • Good value
  • Good mix of windproof fabric and breathable fabric

Cons

  • Loose fitting arms
  • Sleeve pocket not entirely secure
  • Flatlock seams are not as clean as they should be

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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