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Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Review

Affordable, comfortable, and functional, this fleece offers the no-frills basics that you'd want in a jacket
columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review
Credit: Columbia
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Price:  $65 List | $34.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, warm, comfortable
Cons:  Bulky, hoodless, poor layering
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By James Lucas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 7.0
  • Comfort - 20% 7.0
  • Breathability - 20% 6.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 6.0
  • Weight - 15% 6.0
  • Weather resistance - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 hits the basics of fleece without hurting the wallet. This jacket uses the generic MTR (Maximal Thermal Retention) Filament Fleece in a bare-bones model that's warm and comfortable. Though bulky and without thumbholes, a hood, much breathability, or many of the features of the high-performance jackets in this review, this piece did well for casual day hikes and around-town days. At an affordable price, this jacket served our testers well with casual use.

Editor's Note: On November 14, 2022, we added the Steens 2.0 to our line up.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $34.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$169 List
$169.00 at REI
$110 List
$82.50 at Amazon
$59.37 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$50 List
$29.89 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, warm, comfortableComfortable, warm, simple, versatile, breathableAthletic fit and performance, breathable, technically proficientBreathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsAffordable, cozy, simple
Cons Bulky, hoodless, poor layeringFew features, less technical, no thumb loopsThin with little warmth, little leisure wear transition,Average weather resistancePoor layering, bulky, lacks breathability
Bottom Line Affordable, comfortable, and functional, this fleece offers the no-frills basics that you'd want in a jacketThis lightweight piece has all the warmth of a mid-layer jacket but with a highly breathable design that's ideal for colder, active adventuresThis highly technical fleece works well during high-intensity outdoor activity by offering performance and breathabilityHighly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat valueThis price-point jacket provides ample warmth and a casual feel
Rating Categories Columbia Steens Mou... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Mountain Hardwear S... Outdoor Research Vi... REI Co-op Groundbre...
Warmth (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Breathability (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Layering Ability (15%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Weather resistance (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Columbia Steens Mou... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Mountain Hardwear S... Outdoor Research Vi... REI Co-op Groundbre...
Type Midweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight
Measured Weight 16.6 oz 12.5 oz 13.3 oz 13 oz 11.6 oz
Main Material 100% polyester 100% Polyester 100% polyester 94% polyester, 6% spandex 100% polyester
# of Pockets 2 3 2 3 2
Unique Features None Slim-fit hood, quick drying Raglan sleeves, thumb holes, three-piece fitted hood Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding Stretch binding at waist and cuffs
Hood Option No Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Light on the wallet, the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is a jacket made from 100% polyester MTR filament fleece with two cozy, zippered handwarmer pockets. Additionally, snug elastic cuffs and a hem cinch help trap heat and keep out cold drafts. Due to its bulky cut, this isn't our favorite piece for layering, but it gets the job done around town and on short hikes.

Performance Comparison


columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - with a comfortable, casual feel, the mountain steens offers a decent...
With a comfortable, casual feel, the Mountain Steens offers a decent jacket at a low price.
Credit: James Lucas

Warmth


The mid-weight Steens 2.0 uses 100% polyester MTR (maximum thermal retention) fleece to battle the cold. While it feels plush, the jacket's not as warm as many of the other models in this review though the stretchy bungee cord hem cinch and the large elastic cuffs helped keep the warmth in and the cold out. The lager cut of the jacket also added a bit of warmth through the extra coverage.

Comfort


The Steens Mountain 2.0 fits oddly with the long arms bunching around the cuffs, the collar pressing against the throat, and the jacket having an oversized feel to it. The collar did help fight the cold while biking or riding a chair lift and the MTR fleece felt plush against our testers' skin.

columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - the collar comes close to the throat though the arms had an excess...
The collar comes close to the throat though the arms had an excess of material seen in a lower photo.
Credit: James Lucas

Weather Resistance


Though it won't keep you dry in a rainstorm, it does have a bit of weather resistance and is fairly lightweight. Light drizzle beads up on this fleece, but heavier rain will soak through, so be prepared with more of a shell if there's major precipitation. Without thin gridded areas for breathability, the Steens does a nice keeping out the breeze, but it is a fleece, and its design is geared towards insulation, not wind resistance.

Weight


At 16.1 ounces, this jacket can easily fit into a backpack. While it has a decent weight-to-warmth ratio, it wasn't anything notable. The jacket felt a bit bulky, especially in the shoulders. The lack of features definitely streamlined this jacket but it didn't make it as light as some of the other jackets in this review.

columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - with a bit of a bulky fit, the mountain steens performed less than...
With a bit of a bulky fit, the Mountain Steens performed less than favorably in athletic pursuits.
Credit: James Lucas

Breathability


The Steens Mountain 2.0 is uniformly thick over the entire jacket. This simple design keeps the price down but it doesn't breathe well. This is adequate if you're on a chilly morning bike ride and you want to keep the wind out, or if you're fishing in a cool mountain stream, but if you're running or hiking quickly uphill, you're likely going to sweat, making this jacket less of a performance piece and more of a casual wear jacket.

columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - this jacket is made for more casual wear than athletic use as the...
This jacket is made for more casual wear than athletic use as the breathability is less than ideal.
Credit: James Lucas

Layering Ability


The bulky cut of the Steens 2.0 doesn't lend itself to layering. Under multiple layers, the bunching up of the fabric on the sleeves is noticeable and annoying. Under a hardshell or an appropriately sized wind layer our testers weren't bothered as much — just make sure your shell is big enough to accommodate this hefty fleece.

columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - the mt steens lacks thumb holes which traditionally help with...
The Mt Steens lacks thumb holes which traditionally help with layering. The cut of the jacket also bunches a bit at the elastic cuffs, adding to the difficulty of layering.
Credit: James Lucas

Should You Buy the Columbia Mountain Steens 2.0?


For the price, this jacket does well as an insulating layer for day hikes, fishing trips, car camping, and staying warm while in the yard. It doesn't score as well with more technical applications but the price is hard to beat.

columbia steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket review - a price-point jacket, the columbia fleece offers adequate warmth but...
A price-point jacket, the Columbia fleece offers adequate warmth but lacks in terms of performance.
Credit: James Lucas

What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?


If staying warm and saving money are your primary concerns, then the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 will deliver. We don't recommend it for backpacking, ski touring, or climbing because it doesn't offer a high level of breathability; the bulky cut also makes it difficult to wear underneath multiple layers. It makes a good, inexpensive jacket for around-town use. Another option similar to this jacket is the REI Groundbreaker, which comes in at a slightly less expensive price. The Outdoor Research Vigor is next in line when it comes to price, and it offers one heck of a deal.

James Lucas
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