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Brand Spotlight: Columbia

“It’s perfect! Now make it better”

- Gert Boyle, Chairman of Columbia Sportswear Co.

The words of Columbia’s 92 year old chairman and business legend Gert Boyle, optimise the irreverent spirit and engineerial focus which has captured the attention of outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. They also make bullet-proof rainwear and it was this fact which caused Blacks to turn it’s all seeing eye on the brand.

Born and bred in Portland, Oregon, Columbia’s clothing and equipment is rigorously tested in the rugged landscape of the Pacific North West where the juxtaposition of landscapes, glacier topped volcanoes and lush rainforests reflect poignantly the disparity between seasonal climates. They are no stranger to the odd rain storm either, and it's this affinity with the broad stroke of the meteorological paint brush that helps them produce their award winning, weather bothering technologies.

Columbia does things differently

Since pioneering the use of Gore-Tex in 1975, Columbia has been at the forefront of waterproof, breathable innovation. Now 30 years on Columbia’s product team have disrupted the status-quo once again with a new waterproof system developed to eliminate wetting out and reduce your environmental impact. It’s called OutDry Extreme™ and it’s a waterproofing revolution.

“Not since 1824 when Charles Macintosh invented the rubber rain jacket has there been such a technological leap forward in waterproof fabrics.”

Subverting a conventional 3-layer construction, Columbia’s new OutDry™ technology promotes a waterproof membrane outer and a wicking next-to-skin liner which improves breathability and obviates the need for a DWR textile outerlayer. The benefits to this are manifold:

The OutDry Ex waterproof jacket in white
  • More environmentally friendly - eliminates the need for a DWR textile layer thereby reducing the organic material needed to produce it
  • Longer lasting - the outer waterproof membrane is non-textile and is therefore more resistant to dirt and oils
  • Easy to clean - OutDry Ex™ non-textile outer layer is wipe-clean thereby obviating the need for washing and replacing the DWR coating
  • Doesn’t wet out - waterproof membrane outer is less absorbent then a textile layer
  • - Dries quicker - therefore remains breathable even in heavy down pours
The OutDry™ technology is also used in their OutDry Ex Gold Down Jacket

It’s not just their free wheeling approach to design which shines at Columbia, they also have a less than conventional approach to product testing.

Columbia’s C.E.O. and Gert Boyle’s son Tim Boyle can vouch for that. He’s been pushed through a car wash, trapped in ice and abandoned on a mountain; literally risking his life to prove just how tough Columbia’s products really are.

Gert's son and Columbia's C.E.O. testing the new jacket

And only once the new product has passed the stringent quality checks can it proudly carry Gert’s ‘Tested Tough’ stamp of approval.

Columbia’s lawyers must be busy because they recently conducted a worldwide search pitting the ‘not so’ general public against some of the craziest interview tests imaginable, with participants competing to claim the enviable title of ‘Director of Toughness’. But before you throw your papers in the air and tell your boss where to go, the position[s] have now been filled.

The new directors of toughness Zach Doleac and Lauren Steele

Meet Columbia’s newest ‘Directors of Toughness’, the most extreme product testers yet and it will be there job to put Columbia’s newest most innovative products to the test, going to extreme lengths to prove just how tough they really are.

The Future

A company passionate about the outdoors and not concerned about preserving it is hypocritical and it’s pleasing to see Columbia is interested in posterity. Having recently expressed a concern about the outdoors and the effect they have on it, Columbia has committed its entire company to reducing its environmental impact. ECO warriors and ethical shoppers will be excited about the upcoming release of the OutDry™ Ex ECO, made from 21 recycled bottles.

Anything but valedictorian Gert is still answering her own phone at 92 and with the Directors of toughness about to start a whole new adventure it looks like Columbia has got big plans for 2017 and it goes without saying that Blacks is very proud to be a part of them.

Think your tough enough?

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Welcome! Willkommen! Konnichiwa!
(whispering) Now lean in we're going to tell you a secret…
Sam is not actually an outdoorsman! ...yet.

In fact Sam is actually quite new to this whole outside doors business, is that how you say it?
Sam lived in London for 4 years and claims that the closest he got to green space was when he re-painted his flat.
However, after moving to Japan to live and work as an English teacher Sam had the opportunity (and the time) to explore the length and breadth of the southern most isles of sleepy, rural Kyushu. It was here where the obsession with the great outdoors started. Nothing propels you faster along a trail than the knowledge of a long hot soak in one of Japan’s many Natural hot springs. Sometimes buried deep in the mountains!

On his travels Sam visited the hiking island of Yakushima, skied in Blistering snow in Hokkaido and completed a 3 day trek through the Tu Lan cave system in Cambodia, but more on that later.

For now though, Sam is making up for lost time by spending more of it in the great British countryside and exploring the beautiful hikes and trails we have right here on our doorsteps. Sam will be writing for the more lightweight outdoorist, soaking up as much knowledge he can about Modern Bushcraft, Design and Function, Books and much more.

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