Fall is when your outdoor clothing proves itself. You want something that is going to keep you warm when the wind is up and the air is crisp, but that isn’t going to cook you when the sun comes out. Columbia recently launched their Landroamer line of fall wear and very kindly offered me a pair of their Landroamer Utility Pants and their Quilted Shirt Jacket to try out. I’ve worn each of them a few times now, including over the course of a Thanksgiving weekend that was doing its best to make fall look like new winter. So how did they stack up? Read on to find out.
The shirt jacket combines a cotton shell with nylon lining while the utility pants are predominately a polyester/nylon blend. I found that both items fit a bit larger than expected (more on that in the “Fit” section), but both were quite comfortable for extended wears. The fabric of the utility pants in particular felt quite nice. It’s soft and stretchy, thanks to a small amount of elastane (read: spandex) woven into fabric. The pants moved well. By which I mean, I moved well in them. I wore them on a couple of hikes, and for one otherwise best forgotten round of frisbee golf, and they were never restrictive. I ended up having to channel my inner gymnast a couple of times on the frisbee golf course and see how deep a stretch I could do to get around whatever obstacle I’d just thrown directly into, and it never felt like the pants weren’t willing to stretch as much as I was.
I found both the shirt jacket and the utility pants met or exceeded my expectations when it came to retaining warmth. The shirt jacket in particular felt like it was punching above its weight. The biggest test, so far, was crossing Canoe Lake in a tin boat at the start of the (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend in early October. It was a cold night, with a heavy mist that was auditioning for the part of light rain. Drizzly October nights on the water in Algonquin can get chilly, quickly. Having driven up from Ottawa that night, I arrived at The Portage Store in a t-shirt and threw the shirt jacket on overtop for the ride across Canoe. My wife picked me up in a 9.9 horsepower tin boat, which doesn’t sound that fast, but sure felt like it added some windchill to the equation. I was impressed by how well the jacket protected me from the wind. I was warm for the ride across, and stayed that way for the rest of the weekend. For reference, Thanksgiving in Algonquin was chilly this year. Daytime temperatures were low double digits on the Saturday, dropping down to low single digits for the rest of the weekend. I wore the jacket all weekend, with either a T-shirt or a midweight sweater underneath, and felt comfortable throughout.
The utility pants were also warm enough, but didn’t surprise me the way the shirt jacket did. They held up pretty much exactly as I would have expected given the weather. I was perfectly comfortable in them in both the relatively milder daytime temperatures and the cooler nighttime temperatures. I wouldn’t want these to be my only option if the thermometer is going to hover around zero for an extended period, but any concerns there could be fixed by throwing on a midweight base layer under the pants.
I am typically a medium when it comes to jacket sizes. For pants, I’ve got a 32 waist and typically find that 32/32 fits very well. For both pants and jackets, I prefer slim fit, as regular fit clothing sometimes feels pretty baggy to me. I found that both the jacket and the pants fit bigger than I expected. The pants were a bit longer than other 32/32 pants I’ve got, and felt a bit looser around the waist and thighs. The jacket just felt like it was a quarter size too big. It fit comfortably, and certainly wasn’t big enough to be unwearable, but if you’re someone like me who tends to trend towards the smaller side of medium, it would be worth it to check out both the small and medium sizes to find the one that fits best*.
*After writing this review I was able to do exactly that and found one of the small shirt jackets to try on. It was the exact fit I was looking for. I’ve since found this to be true with other Columbia jackets as well. I guess Columbia is just generous in its sizing.
The shirt jacket comes in black, dark stone and night wave, which are creative names for off white and kind of green? My jacket is dark stone and while I liked the look of it, I would probably go with either black or night wave if I were to do it over. Picking any kind of white for a hiking and camping focused jacket seems like poor planning. The jacket was already looking kind of dirty by the end of the first weekend of wear, and not in a good “I’m just back from camping” kind of way. More of a “I’m unfamiliar with how a washing machine works, and I’m not interested in learning” kind of way.
Other than the colour regret, I liked both the style and design of this jacket. It’s a button up, with easy to engage snap buttons down the front of the jacket (I feel like I shouldn’t have to specify that the buttons are on the front, but it seems like people are putting buttons everywhere these days). There are two pockets in the jacket’s exterior, perfect for warming cold, frisbee fumbling hands. There are also two deep pouches woven into the jacket’s interior. These are great for holding car keys, phones, wallets etc. None of the pockets have zippers or buttons, so I’d be wary about putting something like your car keys in the exterior pockets if you’re going to be wearing the jacket on a hike.
I really like the design of these pants. They come with six pockets (you can tell pockets matter a lot to me), four on the front and two on the rear. There’s also a knife pocket further down the left leg, if you’re someone who likes to accessorize with pieces of sharp metal. Two of the pockets, one on the front and one on the rear, have zippers, which is pretty much the ideal pocket situation as far as I’m concerned.
Another feature that I quite like is the internal drawcord around the waist. I mean, you’d probably want to wear a belt with these regardless, but the cord is a nice extra that allows you to tailor the fit around your waist to your exact comfort level. Speaking of drawcords, Columbia has built a couple more into the pant cuffs. This lets you cinch your pant legs around your ankles and prevents splashing up your legs on rainy hikes.
The pants are billed as water repellent and sun protective. Water repellent does not mean water proof, so I don’t think you can use these as an excuse to leave the rain pants at home if you’re hiking the west coast trail. If it’s a drizzly day in late spring or early fall though? They’re great! I wore them all day in a pretty aggressive mist that occasionally moonlighted as rain and never felt overly damp.
The Landroamer line is a good addition to a fall wardrobe. I was impressed by the warmth of the Shirt Jacket, and I loved the feel and versatility of the utility pants. From a canoe tripping perspective, while the utility pants would make great tripping pants, I’d be hesitant to bring the Shirt Jacket with me into the backcountry. It’s bulky and if it got wet it would be tough to dry out. For a front country campfire jacket? Or to throw on for a chilly day hike? I’m a fan. But for backcountry tripping it probably won’t make it into the rotation. That said, I don’t own a lot of backcountry clothing that I’d be happy to wear around the city running errands, and the Shirt Jacket has certainly made it into my fall city wear.
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