Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody review
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Apr 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm #1315445Stephanie JordanSpectator
@maiaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to:Apr 10, 2014 at 6:52 am #2091467Ian ClarkBPL Member
@chinditsLocale: Cntrl ROMO
At this point of my expendable income, I can easily work around not owning a wind shirt.
Just curious, what are you packing in to GRCA a tank of nitrous?Apr 10, 2014 at 7:09 am #2091475
"Just curious, what are you packing in to GRCA a tank of nitrous?"
Packraft, canyoneering gear, eight days of food: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=89240Apr 11, 2014 at 9:13 am #2091911WarrenBPL Member
@icensnowLocale: New England, USA
Thanks for the review. I too and exited about the advance in windshirt material and wasn't aware of this product. Appreciate your time and effort.Apr 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm #2092165
Great review. The subjective lack of wind proofing is of concern to my use of windshirts. Especially at the price point.
I own an odd Patagonia windshirt. It is brown (tan? Khaki?) in color and more richly featured than the ones I have seen :
– button hood closure
– softer, quieter and slightly heavier fabric
– corded hood adjustments
– somewhat more robust zipper (I don't know the weight)
The only thing I don't like about it : the baggy fit is not ideal for biking.
I've used it for everything else. It has held up for more than 3 years. I bought another that I have in storage for when my current one gives out.
Patagonia : you might want to consider bringing this back. With a tweaked fit.Apr 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm #2092176
You described the Houdini Special Edition that Patagonia last made in 2012. It was part of their MARS US Special Forces line. It has the same air permeability as the '08-'12 standard Houdini @ 35.4 CFM.Apr 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm #2092550
Great to know! Where could I find stats on air permeability?Apr 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm #2092616
Patagonia never discloses air permeability information. I posted this information at http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=87696.Apr 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm #2092666
Hi everyone! First real post on BPL.
Great review, the performance chart is really interesting. I was convinced it was the windshirt i was looking after, but sadly the fit does not work for me. The medium was too snug and the Large too loose at the stomach (while still being way too tight at the neck opening).
I have checked the Arc'teryx Squamish which has a great fit for me, and I was wondering how do you think it compares with the Alpine Start. What wind resistance quotient, precip resistance quotient and breathability quotient would you give the Squamish?Apr 14, 2014 at 8:46 am #2092812
Mattieu, I haven't used the Squamish, so I can't be specific in my comments. It is certainly well regarded in most respects, though I understand the fabric was changed recently, which clouds the waters.
I'm skeptical the DWR would be as good as the Alpine Start, simply because the only other fabric I've seen in the same league is the Wild Things Epic windshirt and pants.Apr 14, 2014 at 11:47 am #2092874
Thanks for the answer David! I will try to check the Wild Things Epic windshirt.Apr 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm #2092906
Dave is a hunter and so I believe he tested the 2013 Metacam color version of the WT 1.0. This is a MUCH better windshirt for aerobic activities than the optional 2014 Coyote color WT 1.0.
The fabrics were probably commonly specified, by Wild Things, for their life-time DWR (EPIC process) and their relatively high hydrostatic head. They appear to have been sourced from two different mills and they differ appreciably in their air permeability. The Metacam color version is 29.8 CFM and the Coyote color version is 1.8 CFM.Apr 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm #2092951
Yes, mine was multicam. Weird there would be such a difference.Apr 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm #2092954
Thanks Richard for your comment. I was looking at the wrong jacket in their all-mountain collection.
It is weird that there is a big difference in air permeability. Good to know!Apr 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm #2093888Jim SweeneyBPL Member
@swimjayLocale: Northern California
Perhaps it's in the article somewhere, but what is the SPF of the BDAS? I've been using a Rab Boreas, and have liked it, but clearly the newer fabrics are worth looking at.Apr 17, 2014 at 9:34 pm #2094176
I don't know Jim, I assume it has a decent amount. I found the Boreas too warm as a sun shirt, and think the A Start would be also.Apr 24, 2014 at 10:39 am #2095943
Quite a bit of information in this thread :
1. Fabrics differ from model year to model year
2. … and sometimes even color to color
3. Information on fabrics are generally not provided by manufacturer
Given the above information it seems like the only way to figure out if a garment (in this case windshirt) works is to buy it and try it on a few trips. Given the prices being charged, my personal opinion is that if a manufacturer/retailer does not have a 100% return policy then it's best to buy elsewhere.Apr 24, 2014 at 11:45 am #2095968
All very true, and buying from a company or retailer with good customer service is often worth paying a higher price. I have a list of companies with whom I'll never do business again after they did poorly honoring a warranty or return (looking at you Mountain Gear!).
That Wild Things apparantly uses different fabrics (or fabric variations) for the two colors of the tactical windshirt is rather unusual. I assume having a camo pattern printed on a technical fabric is part of the justification, but still, weird.Apr 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm #2096047Paul HatfieldBPL Member
I'm going to repost my thoughts on the Black Diamond Alpine Start.
This is a comparison of 2014 Black Diamond Alpine Start (BDAS) with a 2014 Rab Alpine Jacket (RAJ), based solely by trying them on (no field use).
Overall the BDAS is more shirt-like, and the RAJ is more jacket-like. The RAJ is better for layering over insulation layers, and looks much more attractive than the BDAS when layering over insulation layers.
The sleeve length of the BDAS is perfect for me. The sleeves of the RAJ are about 1 1/2 inches longer than the BDAS, and though straight cut, tend to billow at the cuff for me.
The Scholler fabric in the BDAS is a 2-way stretch fabric. The orientation on the stretch is horizontal in the torso of the garment (This is in contrast to the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody, which orients the stretch vertically.)
Via breath-testing side-by-side on new jackets, in my opinion, the Schoeller fabric has slightly higher air permeability than the Pertex Equilibrium of a new RAJ. This is in contrast to Richard's measurements on a new BDAS and *used* RAJ.
If not using a helmet or hat, the brim of the BDAS hood might need to be rolled back. If you cinch down the drawstring, the hood does not want to turn with your head. When you turn your forehead with the hood cinched down, the hood resists you turning your head and rubs across your forehead. If you don't cinch down the hood, it's okay for non-windy conditions, but in windy conditions, it will blow black. The hood on the RAJ is much more sophisticated and sorted out, bordering on brilliant.
The front neck area of the BDAS is on tight side when fully-zipped. It might not be comfortable if fully zipped, even if your neck is thin. If you have a large neck, the neck would probably be unbearable zipped up. Zipped down 3 or 4 inches, it is fine for me.
The BDAS and RAJ utilized the same zippers, a coil zipper. The zipper of the BDAS works well and doesn't catch on the zipper flap. (The zipper on the Rab often catches on the zipper flap, at least just trying it out in the house.) What is the purpose of a zipper flap on a wind jacket anyway?
The RAJ has a lot of extra fabric in the chest and torso for me. The BDAS is more trim fitting.
The length of both jackets is okay for use with a backpack. In the front, they are just about the same length, but in the rear, the Rab has a drop tail which makes it about 3" longer. I prefer the Rab's drop tail.
My hipbelt just covers the bottom of the zipper of the hand pockets of the RAJ. I wish the pockets were just about 1 inch higher.
The RAJ has a lot of extra fabric in the stomach area, and when I sit down, or I fasten my pack's hip belt, the stomach area balloons out.
The BDAS has a much cleaner front, having only a single chest pocket. The pocket is okay-sized, but not large enough for gloves. I wish pocket was higher on the chest. If I put a camera in the pocket, it sits quite low… more towards my stomach than chest.
If you are going to use the hood a lot, or like walking with your hands in your pockets, or layer over thick layers, I would suggest the RAJ. If you rarely use a hood, and prefer a cleaner front, the BDAS might be better.
Recommendations for Black Diamond:
1. work on the neck fit
2. work on the hood
3. move the chest pocket higher
4. make the tail of the jacket longer
4. go to a YYK Vislon zipper instead of a coil zipper
Recommendations for Rab:
1. remove some of the fabric from the torso
2. move the pockets 1" higher
3. consider a more durable fabric (based on reports of fabric pilling from others)
4. go to a YYK Vislon zipper instead of a coil zipperApr 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm #2096090Rick MBPL Member
delMay 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm #2100232Paul HatfieldBPL Member
Hendrik has a detailed review up at
Unfortunately he tested a jacket larger than he normally wears so he did not notice the neck fit or hood issues.May 28, 2014 at 10:57 am #2106560Wim DepondtBPL Member
@wim_depondtLocale: The low countries
I must admit that I initially returned my first Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody (BDAS) due to the fit around my neck. After David’s review, I decided to give it a second chance (and sizing up to partially mitigate the neck issue).
I do most of my hikes in Western Europe, blessed with Atlantic depressions coming and going. A durable DWR is therefore paramount to me (read: permitting me to keep my WPB as long as possible stashed away in my backpack).
I recently returned from a four day backpacking trip in Cairngorms, Scotland. I wore my BDAS virtually all the time when tramping up and down the munros and corbetts (the breathability is +/- on par with e.g. the RAB Boreas or RAB Alpine). I witnessed wind driven rain showers and drizzle on the third and fourth day. On that fourth day, I felt rain getting easily through the fabric around the shoulder area.
Upon returning, I tested the state of the DWR. It was still extremely good with the exception of the shoulder areas, where it was completely gone: water went immediately and without any delay through that area of the fabric. Applying heat only restored the DWR around that area to a mediocre level.
My hypothesis is that the Nanosphere coating is what the label says: a coating. Extensive abrasion – e.g. due to the shoulder straps of a backpack – will brush it away fairly fast. But I can vouch for the its durability on the rest of the fabric. A big bonus of the woven fabric is that one can ‘belay’ a WPB over it without much discomfort (well, actually, more comfort as BDAS then acts as a moisture buffer). And it dries pretty fast. As David already stated: the fabric is a big plus of the BDAS.
Luckily, I still have more than three litres of Grangers wash in left…
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