Early hands-on first impressions of a Polartec Windbloc jacket from Black Diamond's first ever clothing range.
We've just got our mitts on a very early example of the new Black Diamond technical clothing we told you about recently and is due out later this year. It's called the Crag Hoody and it's made from Polartec Windbloc, a windproof fabric with a fleece backer and a smooth, tough-feeling outside face.
Slick And Technical
The new BD clothing range is aimed at climbers, mountaineers and skiers and it's just as slick and technical as you'd expect from a brand that's built a reputation for producing some of the best-engineered hardware out there. Or that's the theory.
So what's the Crag Hoody like then? Pretty serious we'd say, in a full-on winter soft shell way. The fabric is a moderately stretchy, fleece-backed, completely windproof soft shell sort of affair with a nice substantial but soft-ish feel to it and a bit of added insulation from the fleece backer. It's a sort of classically North American burnt orange colour too. Weight is relatively hefty too at 720g, but you need to factor in the added insulation value,
Unusually, it's made in Nicaragua rather than the Far East and built quality looks pretty good to us. It gets an enormous helmet hood complete with hidden front adjuster cords, shoulders are seam free for pack comfort, sleeves are articulated. There are two fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets too.
There are some oddities though - the hood doesn't have any sort of rear adjustment, so while it fits well over a climbing helmet, it tends to droop forward if you're bare headed or just wearing a beanie, there's no hem cord and the cuffs, while using double fabric to prevent wicking upwards into the liner are also non adjustable. The hood thing only makes sense if you assume the jacket will always be worn with a helmet.
Last but not least, the fit is actually quite generous for a full-on technical jacket. Our medium sample is relatively long and while it has a nice fit - wide shoulders, tapered torso - there's enough room under it for a full-weight fleece and a micro-baffled down jacket. If you wanted a closer fit, you might even consider going down a size.
It might just be that the Crag is designed for extremely cold conditions where you'd expect to layer it up big time or it could be that BD's sizing is just a little on the generous size, hard to know without seeing the rest of the range.
Interesting stuff. It certainly feels like a warm, protective jacket in a windproof softshell fabric and looks the business too. The cut is nice, just a little more generous than we'd expect from the 'medium' sizing, but we're not convinced by the lack of hood adjustability - as it stands it's fine with a helmet, but really compromised without.
To be fair though, that might change with the production version, so we're not jumping to any conclusion right now. The same's true of the snug-fitting but non-adjustable hem. Price in the UK is reckoned to be £160 when the jacket's available around September 2013.
Watch this space for more. And in the mean time, check out both Ben Winston's launch report with images plus his video from the event.