Review: Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody

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Julie Ellison
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black diamond alpine start

One tester who has shunned softshells for the last five years finally came around thanks to the Alpine Start Hoody: “It’s perfect for everything from high-elevation summer objectives to shoulder season to sunny winter days,” she said. “And it packs down to the size of a grapefruit so it goes wherever I go.” The Schoeller stretch-woven fabric was incredibly breathable when climbing in temps up to about 65°F, and testers never had a problem with restricted movement. “I put this on during a foggy morning in low-40s temps before starting a 13-pitch route in El Potrero Chico, Mexico, and still had it on eight hours later when the mercury crested 60° and the sun came out,” one tester said. “And the material didn’t snag or shred on the crazy-sharp limestone of Potrero, unlike my partner’s pullover.” This full-zip jacket with a helmet-compatible hood has elastic cuffs and hem, and it packs into its own chest pocket, with a loop you can clip to your harness. A low-profile fit goes nicely under a harness without baggy-belly syndrome but is still sizeable enough to wear a few fitted layers underneath.

Conclusion

With a full-zip design, hood, super-stretchy fabric, great breathability, excellent durability, and wind and water resistance, there’s nothing to dislike about the Alpine Start Hoody. It will carry you from alpine summits to summer boulderfields.

$149; 8.8 oz.; blackdiamondequipment.com

Further Reading
Review: Our Top 5 Ultralight Shells