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Outbound Reviewed: Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket - Men's

The perfect windbreaker for early morning starts and windy days on the rock.

By: Liam McNally + Save to a List

The Alpine Start Hooded Jacket from Black Diamond is ideal for exactly what its name suggests. Whether I'm wearing it for an early morning climb in Tuolumne Meadows or for any dawn patrol mission, it's a fantastic choice to block crisp morning air, moderate winds, and even light rain.  

As you may be able to tell from this photo, we had pretty strong winds on our climb up Hermaphrodite Flake and Boltway. At times, it was actually deafening, which made for a solid surge of adrenaline while leading the slabby, featureless sections of Boltway. Even after the sun and temperatures rose, the Alpine Start was still the perfect choice, finding the balance to cut out the whipping wind without being so heavy that I would overheat in the midday sun. 

The fit is on the slim side which is perfect for climbing. I hate to have extra bulk getting caught up in my harness or around my body. Additionally, the underarm gussets allow for a full range of motion which obviously comes in handy for climbers. 

I've squeezed the Alpine Start through chimneys and mild off-widths and it shows no signs of wear and tear. The Schoeller NanoSphere material used (pretty rad technology, see below) throughout the jacket give it its durability and resistance to water and oils without sacrificing breathability. This is a super light version of the material, so if you'll be in heavy wind and rain, I'd suggest a heavier jacket.

Other features I love about the jacket:

  • The hood easily fits over a climbing helmet.
  • The cuffs are fitted well and stretchy, allowing me to easily slide them up if I'm getting warm.
  • The hem has a drawcord to block out the elements from your waistline.
  • The entire jacket can be stuffed into the chest pocket...and speaking of pockets...

The one feature I don't like so much is that there are no hand pockets on the abdominal area of the jacket. I 100% understand BD's thinking here: this is a minimalist, lightweight jacket and its primary use case is climbing, in which your harness renders stomach pockets pretty much useless. However, during the approach, or when I wear it around camp or around town, I really miss those pockets. Maybe it's something that will just take getting used to, or maybe this jacket is really only valuable to me when I'm climbing. Either way, it's a minor annoyance that I think is worth mentioning. Otherwise, I give this jacket a 10/10!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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