At the viewpoint in Khao Ngon Nak National Park in Thailand
At the viewpoint in Khao Ngon Nak National Park in Thailand; (photo/Andrew Taulbee)

Columbia Women’s PFG Freezer III Dress Review: An Ideal Outfit for Thru-Hikers, Travelers, and More

Hiking attire for women has certainly changed over the past few years, from shorts and a T-shirt to leggings and a sports bra.

I’d like to make a case for why a hiking dress is a great choice that shouldn’t be overlooked, specifically the Columbia Women’s PFG Freezer III Dress. I originally purchased this dress for a month-long backpacking trip throughout Central America, and then purchased a second one for a 2-month-long backpacking trip throughout Thailand.

As I currently live on the road, this dress has been my go-to hiking outfit because it keeps me cool on these hot summer days and protects my skin from the sun!

In short: Not sold on a hiking dress yet? Read on for why you should try Columbia’s PFG Freezer. If you’re looking for a lightweight, packable, no-wrinkle, and comfortable dress for your next warm-weather adventure; this dress is a great choice. I’ll even be wearing it as I hike the Appalachian Trail next year!

Columbia Women’s PFG Freezer III Dress Review

Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park, Ore.; (photo/Andrew Taulbee)

PFG Freezer III Dress Specs

  • Features: Omni-Freeze wicking fabric, Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
  • Fit: Active fit
  • Back length: 31 in.
  • Price: $50
  • Uses: General wear, traveling, hiking, camping, fishing

This dress is intended as a fishing dress, but it can be used for other uses like hiking and traveling. I don’t fish, but I know it quickly dries when it gets wet, not to mention its sun protection makes it a great option when you are on or near the water. It’s a really easy, singular piece of clothing to put on after swimming, too.

The dress is cool and quick drying, with 92% polyester and 8% elastane jersey fabric. It has Columbia’s Omni-Freeze accelerated cooling and wicking technology; the brand explains this as flat yarns that help disperse your body heat and push it away. The Freezer III dress also has Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun-blocking protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Whenever I look for hiking clothes, I always make sure they’re moisture-wicking and light. I continue to wear sunscreen, but it’s good to know that this dress protects you from the sun, too.

The sizes range from size XS to XXL, and there’s a plus-size version with sizes 1X, 2X, and 3X. For reference, I wear a size small, and I’m 5’3″. Its athletic or active fit is quite a flattering look.

Taking photos and hiking on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park, California
Taking photos and hiking on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park, Calif.; (photo/Andrew Taulbee)

One of my favorite aspects about this dress is that there are so many different colors! There are 18 prints on the website and even more prints available from past years. I chose a bright red pattern for Central America and a cooler tropical pattern for Thailand. With this dress, you’re sure to find a color and style you like for your next adventure.

Bonus: if you want even more coverage, this dress is also comfortable layering with a light tee or long sleeve underneath — the options are endless.

Dress Testing: Hiking

Hiking the Santa Elena Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park, Texas
Hiking the Santa Elena Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park, Texas; (photo/Andrew Taulbee)

This dress is now my favorite hiking outfit because it’s so comfortable and it keeps me cool with all of its features. It’s just one piece of clothing to put on (an amazing perk of wearing a dress), and it moves with your body as you hike.

The only thing I don’t like about the dress is the width and location of the straps when trying to also wear backpack straps. To help that, I put a cooling towel between my shoulders and the straps of the backpack. But overall, the comfort level of this dress during activity is great.

Dress Packability: Traveling

As we traveled throughout Central America, this dress was lightweight and very packable for my backpack, a Zpacks Arc Haul blast. It rolls up very easily and never wrinkles! As we moved through seven countries, this dress was perfect for walking around all day, hiking, and then hitting the town for dinner.

Two dresses rolled up in the Osprey Daylite Expandable Travel Pack 26+6, Nalgene for reference
Two dresses rolled up in the Osprey Daylite Expandable Travel Pack 26+6, Nalgene for reference; (photo/Xiaoling Keller)

I have since purchased another one for a 2-month-long trip abroad in Thailand that I took earlier this year. Again, the dress was perfectly packable in an even smaller backpack, an Osprey Daylite Expandable Travel Pack 26. We spent each day exploring different sights, and the dress kept me very comfortable and cool in the humid environment.

At the end of the day, it was easy to wash at night by hand, hang up to dry, and have a clean dress in the morning.

Columbia Women’s PFG Freezer III Dress: Conclusion

Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; (photo/Andrew Taulbee)

With hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews, other people have positive things to say about this dress too. If you want a hiking outfit that moves with you, keeps your body temperature cool, and protects you from the sun, this dress is great. Plus, Columbia offers a wide range of sizing, and it won’t break the bank. Happy trails!

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Xiaoling Keller
By

Xiaoling is a contributing writer for GearJunkie. She has just begun writing about hiking, camping, and backpacking, but she has been a lifelong lover of the outdoors. In the past five years, she has hiked 1,013 miles of the Appalachian Trail, visited 48 of 63 U.S. National Parks, traveled throughout Central America and Thailand, and moved nine times. She is currently based in Ashland, Oregon, working at REI before starting her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in March 2023.