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Columbia Ready to Roam Collection :: Long-Term Review

Columbia Ready to Roam

Columbia’s Ready to Roam Collection is yet another signpost along overlanding’s winding road to the mainstream. The Portland, Oregon-based sportswear giant launched its adventure-travel-focused layers and outerwear last year, supported by a tire-tracked media campaign featuring lots of Jeeps and overland influencers from the depths of Instagram. The company even waded into the “What is overlanding?” discussion with a lengthy post on their Tough Mother Outdoor Guide blog.

I’m not sure Columbia will resolve that thorny issue, but what they have done (mostly) successfully is engineer a line of clothing and footwear with functional design and thoughtful touches for vehicle-bound adventures. I had a chance to thoroughly evaluate a handful of products from the Ready to Roam Collection in various conditions over the last five months. I came away impressed with some aspects and less so with others. The apparel I tested included the Landroamer Down Parka, the Landroamer Quilted Shirt Jacket, the Landroamer Utility Pants, and the Landroamer Explorer Waterproof Boot.

Columbia Landroamer Explorer Boot

The Columbia Landroamer Explorer Boot

Before diving into the specifics of each, let’s dispatch with one global critique across the line. I am a hair’s breadth under six feet tall and wear my 140-145 pounds fairly lightly. Except for the Explorer boots, all the other pieces in the ensemble were too big in every dimension, even though I ended up with the smallest available sizes. Donning the medium-sized shirt jacket had me feeling like it was 1986, and I was eight years old trying on my father’s original Bugaboo ski parka. I still swim in the shirt jacket even after swapping it for a smaller size. Ditto for the Landroamer parka and the utility pants. I ascribe some of this to Columbia’s general aesthetic: more outdoorsy suburban dad and less modern Swiss alpinist. The sizing at the left end of the scale just isn’t small enough, and it only gets larger with the Big and Tall options on the right end.

This observation is, admittedly, body-type dependent, but it’s important to point out if you’re looking for a particular kind of fit or if you don’t have a chance to try the clothes on before you buy. Prepare for straight lines and boxy shapes.

Landroamer Explorer Waterproof Boot, Men’s Size 10.5

The Explorer is my favorite piece I tested in the Ready to Roam collection. I’ve never owned Columbia footwear before, and several things stood out to me immediately. The boot is explicitly designed to be driver-friendly, with bantamweight construction, a narrow toe box, and a rounded heel for smooth pedal operation. Excellent flexibility at the ankle and a relatively thin midsole allow for easily finessed adjustments on the throttle or the clutch. I generally avoid driving in hiking boots specifically for these reasons—stiff soles, binding uppers, and wide toes make for clumsy times at the controls. The Explorer addresses all of those problems perfectly.

Columbia Ready to Roam Landroamer boot

This boot also performs admirably outside the vehicle and around camp. The sticky Omni-Grip outsole features tiny 1.5-millimeter lugs on the midfoot (left bare on many boots) for a little extra grip on roof tent ladders or climbing into truck beds. They are also confidence-inspiring in wet and icy conditions. The aforementioned flexibility contributes to the boot feeling broken in from the first time you slip it on. On my second day with the shoes, I took the Explorers on a nine-mile hike with an elevation change of over 1,500 feet and returned to the truck with perfectly happy feet—impressive by any measure. The standing-in-the-creek-up-to-your-ankles test proved the waterproof claims for its full-grain leather construction. These are one of the best pairs of mid-height hikers I’ve ever worn.

$105-$140

Landroamer Utility Pants, Men’s Size 32/32

Columbia took a vehicle-centric approach to the execution of their Landroamer pants as well. The lightweight, breathable, and largely water-repellent fabric (also featuring SPF 50 UV protection) does a nice trick of sliding smoothly across the driver’s seat, regardless of whether it’s cloth, vinyl, or leather. The legs are reinforced with a more robust material on the heels, knees, and at the corner of the slash-style right-hand pocket where you clip your EDC. The emphasis on utility extends to openings at the knee for inserting pads (a boon for working on the ground around your rig—when airing up or down, for example), a D-ring accessory, leg hem cinches, two zippered security pockets, and a cell phone pocket.

Columbia Ready to Roam utility pant

My general sizing grumbles also apply to the Landroamer pants, as my 31-inch waist falls between available sizes, so I’ve had to consistently use the integrated waist drawstring (a unique feature) on the 32/32 test size. The legs have zero taper, so the general feeling is one of bagginess, but it makes adding a long thermal baselayer simple. The large pull on the zippered left rear pocket can bite into your backside in the open position when seated in the truck but also in the closed position if your seats have high side bolsters. I did appreciate the Omni-Tech cloth’s resistance to stains, including from nasty automotive fluids like gear oil, and they have worn exceptionally well even after many washings and weekly use.

$95

Landroamer Quilted Shirt Jacket, Men’s Size Small

The snap-front shirt jacket is my new favorite category of mid-weight coat, and it is an ideal layer for vehicle-based explorers. Insulated enough to keep moderate chill at bay outside your rig but svelte enough to be comfortable inside behind the wheel, the shirt jacket means you don’t have to constantly add or subtract clothes as you move in and out of the cab. I also like the inherently casual style, and the Landroamer has that in spades with its quilted soft-touch 100 percent cotton outer shell. Note that this is not a foul-weather layer, as the cotton is not water-repellent.

The functionally smooth nylon liner slides easily over long-sleeved garments without bunching them, and the sheer polyester insulation is warmer than its light weight might suggest (the jacket only weighs 1.49 pounds). Generous interior pockets can store a big pair of gloves or a beanie, and it also features two exterior pockets. After a number of washings, the Landroamer shirt jacket began to break in and feel extra soft, like an old familiar flannel. I wish the cut of the Landroamer had more taper, as the fit tends to billow out at the sides, again making it easy to add a layer or two beneath, but a pain to put one over it.

$110

Landroamer Down Parka, Men’s Size Small

So warm is the Landroamer Down Parka that I didn’t have a chance to genuinely test it for much of its time with me. That all changed when the temperature at my home in Montana plummeted to -20°F (and below) as an Arctic air blast rushed down from Canada in January. Once that weather pattern settled in, I really put it through its paces. The Responsible Down Standard-certified 650 fill power insulation does its job in concert with the breathable yet waterproof Omni-Tech outer fabric to keep the warmth in but your skin respirating comfortably.

I changed a flat tire in the Landroamer parka on a day when the windchill dipped to -30°F, and it kept my core remarkably comfortable, even as I worked up a sweat hauling wheels around. The detachable hood stays put whether you have it up or down, and for a heavy jacket, the range of motion in the arms is second to none. There are a plethora of pockets (probably too many to be genuinely practical), and the parka-length cut covers the gap between your sweater and your pants effectively, even when kneeling. That length also has you either sitting on the coat or bunching it up behind your back when driving. Finally, while the bulky styling says you’re ready for the Iditarod, the Landroamer also features Columbia’s idiosyncratic golden Omni-Heat Infinity lining that adds a touch of unexpected bling. It will have you feeling more Usher than musher.

$300

Read more: Overlanding: A Road to Resilience for Veterans

Images: Columbia, Julie Edwards

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Stephan Edwards is the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Find him at @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.