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Columbia Kruser Ridge - Women's Review

The updated Kruser Ridge
Best Buy Award
Price:   $115 List | $41.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Longer cut, asymmetrically cut sleeve cuffs, inexpensive, simple, supple
Cons:  Sleeves are tight and don't leave much room for layering underneath
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Columbia
By McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday

Our Verdict

The Kruser Ridge is a basic softshell jacket with a super low price. It's half the cost of our other Best Buy Award winner, the Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody - Women's. The Kruser Ridge wins our Best Buy Award not only for being remarkably inexpensive, but for maintaining the soft, flexible, and attractive feel typical of a softshell. The other contenders for the Best Buy Award, The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie - Women's ($170) and the Patagonia Adze Hybrid ($189) both have a thicker, stiffer feel and are not as supple as the Kruser Ridge. Both the Apex Bionic and the Adze Hybrid offer more weather protection - they are windproof and more water resistant — but the Kruser Ridge offers more comfort, breathability, and flexibility. For a simple, everyday softshell, the Kruser Ridge is a steal!

Product Update — May 2017
Columbia informed us of recent updates to the Kruser Ridge. This jacket is now a little longer with a small change to the pocket design. All other features, and its low price, remain the same. The new version is pictured above, and details on the update are below!


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Softshell Jacket for Women Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Updated Kruser Ridge vs. the Previous Version


Columbia confirmed with us that the Kruser Ridge received a minor update. The changes aim to improve the fit, where the torso was lengthened. There are also minor updates to the hand pocket design. We expect similar performance in the updates model, with a slight increase in protection with the longer torso. Check out the side-by-side comparison photo of the two models, with the latest version on the left and the model we reviewed in hand on the right.

The updated Kruser Ridge
Columbia Kruser Ridge

Here's a summary of the key differences:
  • Longer Torso — Columbia informed us that they increased the length of the torso, which should increase coverage.
  • Pocket Design — The pockets also got a minor update. The zipper is now covered with a flap of material. The zipper was exposed in the previous model.

We have not tested this latest iteration of the Kruser Ridge from Columbia. Therefore, the analysis below continues to reflect the previous version of this jacket.

Hands-On Review of the 2015 Kruser Ridge


The Kruser Ridge is a simple, pliable softshell for everyday use in cool weather. It does not have a hood but does offer a longer hemline and sleeves for more coverage and protection. We find it to be an excellent everyday shell.

Performance Comparison



It is hard to beat the inexpensive  classic appeal of the Kruser Ridge shell. It is the perfect piece to throw on for a winter hike or dog walk and makes an excellent everyday layer. The low cost makes it the perfect softshell for someone who has never owned one before.
It is hard to beat the inexpensive, classic appeal of the Kruser Ridge shell. It is the perfect piece to throw on for a winter hike or dog walk and makes an excellent everyday layer. The low cost makes it the perfect softshell for someone who has never owned one before.

Breathability


Constructed from an OMNI-SHIELD 100% polyester softshell, which has a fleecy backing that is soft against the skin, the Kruser Ridge breathes decently well. It doesn't feel as airy as the Editors' Choice winning Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's or the Marmot ROM - Women's which has extra breathable panels under the arms. However, this piece does feel as if it allows for the release of more moisture than North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie - Women's or the Patagonia Adze Hybric.

A close up of the Omni-Shield material of the Kruser Ridge. It has a wind and water resistant exterior and a soft  fleecy interior.
A close up of the Omni-Shield material of the Kruser Ridge. It has a wind and water resistant exterior and a soft, fleecy interior.

Weather Protection


The biggest detractor to the Kruser Ridge's weather protection is the fact that it does not have a hood option. When the weather is wet and windy, we find this to be a necessary feature. However, if you plan to use this jacket only for activities such as nordic skiing or walking the dog, a hood might not be needed, and would instead become an inconvenience. The lack of a hood also allows it to be worn underneath other jackets if the weather gets really cold or wet. The exterior of the jacket is wind and water resistant, but is not windproof like the Patagonia Adze Hybrid or Apex Bionic. It repels a light misting of water, but doesn't provide the same water bead-up as the more hard-faced Adze. If you need tough weather protection, we would suggest one of these other budget models, but if you are looking for comfort and classic everyday style, we prefer the Kruser Ridge.

Mobility


The fabric of the Kruser Ridge is soft and flexible, allowing for decent movement and comfort. It is more pliable and comfortable than either the Apex Bionic or the Adze, which both feel stiffer, most likely due to the addition of a windproof membrane layer. However, the sleeves are tight, and if a thick layer such as a fleece is worn underneath this jacket, they become restrictive. This fit makes this jacket a better outer layer when only wearing a t-shirt or a thin base layer underneath.

We have worn this jacket hiking, cross-country skiing, and for everyday around town use and have found it to be plenty mobile for these activities.

Weight


At 1.02 pounds for a size small, the Kruser Ridge remains lightweight and unimpeded by unnecessary bulk or fancy features. Additionally, the lack of a hood keeps the weight down significantly. This casual outer layer is the perfect lightweight jacket to toss into your backpack on a cool weather hike.

The hem of the Kruser Ridge adjusts with toggles so it can be cinched tighter against wind or bad weather.
The hem of the Kruser Ridge adjusts with toggles so it can be cinched tighter against wind or bad weather.

Features


The features list on this jacket is basic and spare: two zippered hand-warmer pockets with a soft fleece lining and a drawcord hem. There is no hood, no chest pocket, no velcro sleeve cuffs, and not even a fleece chin guard. This utilitarian design creates the perfect everyday jacket free from unneeded clutter and techy-looking extras.

The Kruser Ridge doesn't have many features  just 2 hand pockets  but the insides are lined with very soft and comfortable fleece  making them a pleasure to dig your hands into.
The Kruser Ridge doesn't have many features, just 2 hand pockets, but the insides are lined with very soft and comfortable fleece, making them a pleasure to dig your hands into.

Style


The look of this jacket is modern and simple, yet also classic. It doesn't stand out in any way, but blends into the crowd quite well. We do like some colors more than others, but as long as you pick one you like, you should be happy with this piece for years to come. It is worth noting that the Kruser Ridge is cut much longer than most other softshells, providing more coverage and protection of the rear. We also find this flattering. Additionally, the sleeves are cut asymmetrically, covering more of the back of the hand while leaving the wrist underneath free for movement. We like this small detail. This is the softshell we find ourselves reaching for the most often when running errands, meeting friends for coffee, or just going about our daily business. It looks casual and sleek and is comfortable with just the right amount of functional protection.

The sleeves on the the Kruser Ridge are asymmetrically cut so that they are longer on the tops of the hands and shorter underneath the wrists. We find this to be comfortable and warm.
The sleeves on the the Kruser Ridge are asymmetrically cut so that they are longer on the tops of the hands and shorter underneath the wrists. We find this to be comfortable and warm.

Best Application


Due to this jacket's lack of windproof protection and the absence of a hood, we don't recommend it for long days in the mountains, downhill or backcountry skiing, or overnight trips. This softshell is wonderful for less extreme activities such as hiking, walking the dog, cross-country skiing, gardening, snowshoeing, or wearing as a light barrier from the elements on an a daily basis.

If you are looking for a shell to wear ice climbing, we suggest the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket - Women's which are both built with features tailored towards a climber. If you want a windproof shell, we like the Patagonia Adze or the much lighter Mammut Ultimate Hoody - Women's made from Gore Windstopper.

Value


Though we don't always give our Best Buy Award to the least expensive item in our review, in this case the price difference from the rest of the field is quite noticeable. This jacket isn't our favorite, but for the price it is amazing. It earns the Best Buy award for being a more than adequate shell at a bargain cost. If you want to try a softshell for the first time, or just need a jacket to get you through some colder days outside, the Kruser Ridge is an easy choice since it is inexpensive and comfortable. However, if you need more weather resistance, we also favor the windproof Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody- Women's. It has more features at twice the price, but is also twice as burly.

Conclusion


If you want a softshell at the cheapest possible price, or you need a simple layer for everyday use, this is your jacket. Overall, we find that what you get for $115 with the Kruser Ridge is pretty outstanding. The next least expensive jacket is almost double the price, but is it twice as good? We don't think so. This Columbia piece offers a lot for the money, and could provide the wearer with a versatile, comfortable layer for many cool weather outdoor activities.

The Kruser Ridge is longer than most of the other softshells we tested. This added coverage adds comfort and looks nice.  This also prevents the jacket from riding up when the arms are raised.
The Kruser Ridge is longer than most of the other softshells we tested. This added coverage adds comfort and looks nice. This also prevents the jacket from riding up when the arms are raised.

Other Versions


Kruser Ridge Plus-Size
Columbia Women's Plus-Size Kruser Ridge Softshell
  • Plus size version
  • Available in the extended sizes of 1x, 2x, and 3x
  • $125

Columbia Ascender Jacket
  • Men's soft-shell jacket
  • One of the best casual, around-town jackets we reviewed
  • $115

McKenzie Long
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