Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie

Long-Term Review: Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie

If you’re looking for a super lightweight, breathable softshell for rock, alpine, skiing, running, etc. Black Diamond’s Alpine Start Hoodie is worth checking out.  This simple and lightweight layer cuts the wind, sheds light precipitation and keeps the sun and bugs off all while breathing very well.  It’s not waterproof though so any continuous rain or snow will quickly soak through.


  • Weight: 210g (mens medium)
  • Material: Schoeller® stretch-woven with NanoSphere® Technology
  • Pockets: Chest pocket
  • Hood: Helmet compatible, adjustable
  • Other:
    • Packs into chest pocket
    • Drawcord along the hem
Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie
The Alpine Start’s hood is almost too small for a helmet but it works and fits even better without a helmet.

All the frills have really been stripped off the Alpine Start hoodie leaving a simple but very functional jacket.  There is only one pocket, the cuffs are simple elastic affairs and there’s no liner, padding or reinforcement.  Despite this simplicity, the Alpine Start is obviously well thought out.  The chest pocket is big enough for a cell and some snacks and doubles as a stuff sac.  The elastic cuffs fit well around the wrist but can also be pulled up and out of the way when climbing.  The overall fit of the jacket combined with the stretchiness of the softshell material allow it to climb very well and not pull out of the harness.  Simple but very functional!

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie
The elastic cuffs fit well at the wrist but can also be pulled up around the forearm when climbing.

I’ve been testing the Alpine Start hoodie for over a year now and have found it to be incredibly versatile and useful in every season.  It’s a fantastic layer for rock and alpine climbing in the summer and fall when I just need a little more protection from the wind and sun than my tee shirt provides but don’t want my movement restricted.  In the winter it’s light and breathable enough to wear on the up track when skiing or approaching an ice climb while cutting wind and keeping me from getting covered in snow when going through brush.  In the spring on long ski tours or hikes it’s a great sun protection layer, etc.  Just a great piece, year round!

One surprised with the jacket is just how durable the light fabric turned out to be.  After all the abuse I’ve put the jacket through there’s little sign of wear and no holes.  A much more durable piece that the Patagonia Houdini.

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoodie
I wore the Alpine Start hoodie on a long glacier crossing to get to this rap. It kept the sun off but was breathable enough that I didn’t overheat.

Pros:      Durable, stretchy, breathable, light, simple, well thought out, climbs well

Cons:     Nothing of significance

Overall: A great piece for any activity where you need some protection from the elements but don’t want to overheat: ski touring, climbing, running, hiking, etc.  It keeps the wind and sun off while not restricting movement or providing unwanted insulation.

A sample of the jacket was provided for review but this didn’t influence our review in any way of course.