Trail Tested: Columbia Nail Gun II Pant, Carabineer Mountain II Parka

Products, Riding Gear — on March 11, 2010 at 10:04 am
Columbia Nail Gun II Pant, Carabineer Mountain II Parka

Columbia Nail Gun II Pant, Carabineer Mountain II Parka

Just one rain-soaked ride in cold temperatures should be enough to make one realize the importance of dressing for inclement conditions out on the trail. Others, like myself, have needed countless bone-chilling misadventures to learn that, no matter the season (especially at elevation), you must always be prepared for the weather to turn against you at the drop of a hat.

I made a resolution to find the perfect set of gear for a cold, wet and windy day’s ride after a bracing tour in Maine last season. Comfort, ventilation, long-term quality, big pockets and the ability to adapt to changing conditions were my top priorities. After an exhaustive search, I settled on a high-end set of gear from Columbia: the Carabineer Mountain II Parka and matching Nail Gun II Pant. It wasn’t a cheap set, but it’s the nicest foul-weather riding gear I’ve ever owned.

The Carabineer Mountain II Parka is listed at $325, and selling online for about $280. All of the seams are waterproof, and its innovative construction removes stitches and shaves a lot of weight. This is the lightest insulated jacket in my closet, and the snap-in, removable 550-weight down liner is quickly removed when the sun peaks out and warms the day.

Columbia’s Omni-Tech construction means it’s entirely waterproof, breathable and, as mentioned, every seam is fully sealed — preventing the invasion of wind or water. Also, the hood stows away when not needed.

The Carabineer Mountain II Parka is very stylish (available in four different colors and five sizes up to XXL) for use on those boring, non-riding days. It’s not insulated enough for below-zero weather, but it’s extremely light, doesn’t feel bulky at all and is the perfect trail jacket for all but the coldest conditions.

The Nail Gun II Pant ($150) is equally exciting, and reminiscent of my highly durable Carhartt pants — but with much more adjustability, better waterproofing, vented thighs, more pockets and the same attention to style and detail that makes the Carabineer so great.

Made with the same waterproof and breathable Omni-Tech construction (and in a matching color), the Nail Gun II Pant feels durable without being heavy, cumbersome or too abrasive. The waist has easy-adjust tabs, and the five big pockets leave room for phones, cameras or whatever else you’ve got. Also, the inner boot liner prevents moisture or cold air from infiltrating at the ankles.

With worksite levels of durability, extremely high quality construction, a fashionable design and high-tech materials that preserve ventilation while blocking moisture, this pricey Columbia set is well worth it. And, I even got several “nice gear” compliments, which is uncommon on the trail, but duly noted. — Tom Kaiser

Price: $325 (Carabineer Mountain II Parka),

$150 (Nail Gun II Pant)

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