The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody.

In my quest to find a decent wind shirt i have bought the Rab Boreas pull on and the Montane lite speed to name 2 well known offerings, i was very close to buying the Rohan Ether shirt too but i bought the trousers instead and what a disappointment they were although i would probably agree that the material is more suited to a wind shirt rather than trousers.

I found both the above offerings disappointing but more so the Rab which i have never been able to wear for any length of time. I cannot put my finger on why i don’t like it but its probably a mixture of small annoying things. The Montane is ok but it tends to billow out in the wind, it sweats and the sleeves have scuffed quite badly.

So when i came across the Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody in Ellis Brigham’s i wondered if it was going to be just another item for the wardrobe if i bought it.

I tried the medium size on and found it a bit tight. (Must go on a diet) The Large fitted me better.
medium is my “Normal” size so it must be designed for the fit lean Alpinist type rather than a plodder. The length is fine and I did buy it.

I like the material, the weight and the feel. It’s a lightweight  Schoeller fabric that stretches in all directions.80g/m2 fabric, 93% nylon and 7% elastane. 230gr (L) My scales. 204gr (M) Spec.
Because i went for the Large size the sleeves are a touch long but to be honest i like the longer length sleeve, so that i can pull them over my hands and delay the need to use gloves.

The outer face of the fabric has a DWR finish and this will prevent a sudden shower soaking you through and with the hood in place it will keep you cosy.
I have purposely kept the wind shirt on in the rain to see just how it performs even though it isn’t meant to be a waterproof shell.  I must admit to being pleased with it. During one quite heavy shower of rain that lasted about 20 minutes i was only slightly damp around my chest area. Certainly not soaking by any means. Water beads well on the surface. The outer fabric is robust and can take a good amount of scuffing unlike my Lite speed

The jacket is a simple design and it doesn’t have hand pockets. Just one average size chest pocket that doubles as a pac pocket for storage. The sleeve cuffs are elasticated and are not adjustable. They are not too tight and allow gloves to be used without over stretching the elastic but keeping the wind out.

The hem has a draw cord and toggles on the right side. I did read a review on this wind shirt prior to me buying it that said the drawcord was adjustable from the inside pocket. There is no inside pocket on my jacket, maybe it had one when it first came out.

The hood is a generous size but not overly so. It is said to be helmet compatible but i havn’t tried it.
It is tensioned from both sides of the face and at the rear of the head to reduce volume. The front tension cords locate on the inside so you need to have a play around with the tensioning before use so that you don’t have to keep adjusting it on the hill. I have found this works ok. The peak is not stiffened or wired. The fit is good and the material close fits around the chin when fully closed.

The 2 zips are YKK standard not water resistant. The main zip has a baffle behind it.

The main thing though, does it stop the wind. Is it a true wind shirt. Well yes it does. It works well.
Even though the fabric excels in the breathability stakes, better than both the Rab and the Montane it still stops the wind very well.

I find myself wearing it most of the time now and that for me speaks volumes. I check the weather and if its not prolonged rain then i will wear the Alpine Start. Its ideal gear for the TGO Challenge.

What do i like.
The feel and fit is excellent.
Its well made, although it comes from Bangladesh and not made in the USA.
It does the job of protecting you from the wind and can be worn at anytime except prolonged spells of rain.
Decent length.
Not sweaty.
It cleans very well and maintains DWR.

What don’t i like.
I don’t like the front of the hood. Some support would be better but it does close nicely around the head. I would prefer a narrow peak as well.
The advertising badge on the back. Embarrassing IMO. The one on the front is enough.
Not much else at all really.

Cost at Ellis Brigham £119.99

This jacket was purchased with my own money and i have no financial relationship with Ellis Brigham.


Dawn said...

You must be building up a wardrobe of windshirts Alan? Mind, we all do it, get a bit of kit and find it is just not quite right and consign it to the back of the cupboard.

AlanR said...

Yes you are right Dawn. I must move the Rab Boreas and the Montane Lite speed on to new homes. I should go through my gear really and make some room in the wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I have (amongst other things) a Lightspeed and agree about the billowing. Wearing it unzipped - to allow for a bit of ventilation - can be a real irritation. I like the Montane Featherlite (pullover - quarter zip) for running, but it has no hood and no pockets; at least my very old one doesn't.

I quite like my Paramo Fuera smock, but it only has a single 'kangaroo pouch' pocket and it's a bit heavier than the two Montane items. I thought a lightweight waterproof might double up as just a windproof in colder weather but mine - a Jack Wolfskin Vapour Trail - has turned out to be nowhere near as breathable as I'd hoped. I am an unpleasantly sweaty individual though.

The never-ending search for the elusive item of perfect kit, eh?

AlanR said...

Hi Dave, thanks for your comment. Yes your right, its difficult to get something just right unless your involved in the gear industry or money is no object. I thought I had cracked it with both the Rab and the Montane but you just know when something is not quite right because you don't automatically pick it for hikes. Since having the Alpine hoody my automatic pilot picks it every day. It doesn't just do the job its a pleasure to wear It fits onto my best gear list without a doubt.

Anonymous said...

The good thing is that if you do find something you really take to, and it's a decent brand (like Rab), it should last you a while.

AlanR said...

Thats very true Dave. Its not often i actually completely wear out my gear. (Except shoes and sleeping bags). I have some gear going back to the 1970’s from Sprayway.

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