Black Diamond’s entrance in to the apparel market was met by much excitement, especially across the Atlantic. Its climbing hardware is known for reliability and high production values, and the same care seems to have been taken over its limited clothing range. It is aimed largely at climbers, but with a clear cross over into mountaineering and winter walking. The immediate impression of the Dawn Patrol Hybrid is one of quality. The zip pulls are anodized aluminium with a grip behind (although a bit slippery in wet), the cuffs are reinforced, the seams, inside and out, are immaculately sealed, and that’s not always the case.
The fit is also well thought out with little bunching up around the waist and only minimal hem lift. The fit is also helped by the stretch material that makes up half of the jacket. The main material is Schoeller’s c_change material – very breathable, very waterproof and very expensive. It’s based on a pinecone design according Schoeller it reacts to the warmth by opening out, and closes when cold. Some claim and we can’t test it, but this is the second jacket I’ve worn with it and it does seem very breathable and certainly waterproof. This is used in the hood, across the shoulders, at the front of the garment, and down the top half of the sleeves. The back and under the arms use Schoeller stretch-woven softshell, which is stretchy and breathable material but not waterproof. It will shed snow however, and there’s a DWR treatment. The idea is that where you sweat and where you use a backpack it will be cooler, and it is, but very heavy rain confirmed the softshell material isn’t waterproof. This makes it quite a specialist jacket – it works very well in snow and day-long energetic activities, but it wouldn’t be much use on The Great Outdoors Challenge for example.
I love the pocket configuration. There are two large chest pockets that don’t get in the way of any rucksack belts. They are big chunky zips, but wouldn’t be totally waterproof and there’s no baffle for the pocket – there is for the main closure. I can just about squeeze a map in the pocket. The right-hand pocket has a neat little extra pocket that takes an iPhone perfectly. The hand warmer pockets are neatly hidden behind an external baffle. There are two large open internal pockets.
So far, I think it’s a great interesting jacket, but I just can’t get used to the hood. Like many top end shells, the hood is helmet compatible, and usually that’s not too much of a problem with all the volume adjusters. However, I can’t get this one comfortable without a helmet. It adjusts around the face but you have to pull the cord from inside the jacket and it pulls up the chin very high, and the cords of the rear volume adjuster pull across my ears, or just under them. They are also attached to the chin pulling that in even more. I much prefer it when they adjust around the top of the head. I just couldn’t get it comfortable. An otherwise fantastic jacket.
The Velcro-style cuffs are easy to adjust, and the hem cord can be adjusted from within the handwarmer pockets.
At ISPO I saw some of Black Diamond’s, in particular those using Gore-Tex for the first time – hopefully the hood will have improved for non-helmet wearers.
I’m really looking forward to seeing more Black Diamond items.
Note: I’ve seen it cheaper than £300 online.
Pros: use of materials, pockets, stretch
- Details: Price: Ј300 Material: Schoeller stretch-woven and Schoeller's c_change Weight: 520g