Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Half Zip Hoody Review
Cons: Slim athletic fit requires a slim athletic body type, expensive, not as durable as cheaper synthetics
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Half Zip Hoody
|Price||$145 List||$86.25 at Backcountry|
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|$72.00 at Backcountry|
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|$65 List||$60 List|
$59.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Breathable and stretchy, useful features such as hood and thumb loops, highly adaptable to wide range of conditions||Supremely warm, exceptionally comfortable, front zip, shoulder panels keep things comfortable with a heavy pack||Unique seamless fabric paneling, warm and lofty Merino wool blend fabric, long sleeves and torso||Soft and stretchy fabric gives freedom of movement, great value, thumb loops||Affordable, very warm, fashionable fit, breathable|
|Cons||Slim athletic fit requires a slim athletic body type, expensive, not as durable as cheaper synthetics||More delicate than others, pricey, wool may lose shape and sag without proper care||Weak durability keeps this top a dedicated base layer, seams found converging in pinch points, pricey||Not as warm as wool layers of the same weight, risk of smelling if left unwashed after use||Finer thread Merino is not quite as durable, slightly itchy, shoulder top seams|
|Bottom Line||Unique features like thumb loops and a hood makes this Merino wool blend base layer super versatile||An uber comfortable, warm, and breathable 100% Merino wool base layer for the coldest of conditions||One of the best midweight base layers for when you need warmth and freedom of movement thanks to its fabric blend and seamless ventilation pattern||One of our favorite super stretchy, soft, and warm synthetic base layers for cool to cold conditions||This top delivers the fine qualities of a Merino wool base layer without the extreme cost|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Solut...||Smartwool Classic T...||Smartwool Intraknit...||Cotopaxi Liso Top||Meriwool Merino 250...|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Drying Speed (10%)|
|Layering Ability (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Solut...||Smartwool Classic T...||Smartwool Intraknit...||Cotopaxi Liso Top||Meriwool Merino 250...|
|Material||78% Merino wool, 22% polyester||100% Merino wool||53% Merino wool, 45% polyester, 2% elastane||84% recycled polyester, 16% spandex||100% Merino wool|
|Fabric Weight||150 g/m²||250 g/m²||208 g/m²||200 g/m²||250g/m²|
|Weight (size large)||8 oz||11.3 oz||8 oz||8.5 oz||10.1 oz|
|Available Cuts||Crew, 1/2 zip hoody||Crew, 1/4 zip, hoodie||Crew, 1/4 zip||Crew||Crew|
|Air Dry Test||45 min||70 min||45 min||40 min||40 min|
|Fit||Slim fit||Semi-fitted||Slim fit||Semi-fitted||Slim fit|
|Stitching||Flatlock seams||Flatlock seams||Flatlock seams (mesh inserts are seamless 3D)||Flatlock seams||Flatlock and flat seams|
|Shoulder Top Seams?||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Drop Tail Hem?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A lightweight, warm, NuYarn Merino blend base layer with a half zip, hood, and thumb loops? Yes, please! The Solution 150 Hoody comes with all these features as well as the warmth of a much thicker and heavier base layer while still drying and breathing like its svelte brethren. The tight, athletic fit makes it look almost too good to be when used hidden underneath your mid and outer layers, where it works exceptionally, thanks to its stretchy fabric.
The Solution 150 punches far above what its fabric weight would lead you to believe, thanks in part to the NuYarn Merino wool blend. This fabric adds considerable loft to the base layer when compared to more conventional ring-spun or core-spun yarn. Our lab tests show that you should consider this base layer to feel almost as warm as a 200 g/m² midweight layer.
To complement the warmth of the fabric, the extra long torso and drop tail hem can leave you confident that tucking in the Solution 150 will have it stay in place all day long. The extra long sleeves end in thumb loops to keep your sleeves from rolling up and drafts from entering between your gloves and coat. Our early morning sunrise bike commutes will attest to these attributes. The half zip comes right up to the bottom of the chin, and the helmet-compatible hood seals your head from the outside for particularly cold conditions without the need for an additional hat.
It's a rarity to feel comfortable wearing the same base layer you had on at the start of a 6,000-foot mountain climb as you do at the summit of the peak, but the Solution 150 Hoody pulls off this trick with ease. The secret is its ability to breathe well while keeping a comfortable level of warmth close to your body. We're impressed at how well this base layer can do just that, enhanced by how much you can thermoregulate at high output thanks to the front zip, hood, and sleeves you can roll over your elbows.
Sweating out the base layer was rarely a problem when the Solution 150 Hoody was worn alone, thanks to the NuYarn wool blend's wicking ability to transport sweat away from the surface of your skin and out into the environment coupled with the light weight of the fabric itself. And since breathability with the Solution was better than most wool base layers, it stays fresh for multiple wearings — music to the ears of ski tourers, backpackers, and those that want to treat their gear with a light touch by keeping it out of superfluous wash cycles.
Comfort and Fit
The slim, form-hugging, and athletic fit of the Solution works wondrously as a base layer that supports a plethora of additional tops layered on top of it without feeling bunched up and all out of place. Tuck the bottom of this base layer and use the thumb loops to keep the torso and long sleeves from riding up, and feel confident they'll stay in their place all day. The flatlock stitching throughout is both strong and barely noticeable on the skin, helping to prevent even the idea of chafing. The raglan sleeves — a design rarity for Merino tops — removes the usual top shoulder seam, making carrying a pack much more comfortable.
Generally, base layers comprised of a fabric blend with Merino and other components are a great showcase of the best parts of each. This tends to result in a stellar balance of comfort and performance. The Solution 150 Hoody is just such a case. The patented NuYarn technology, which wraps wool fibers around polyester filaments, means that, next-to-skin, this top feels incredibly plush, as though it was crafted of 100% pure Merino. Additionally, the inclusion of polyester means that the garment holds its shape better over time.
Our harsh abrasion test shows one weakness for this hoody: the thin, 150 g/m² fabric will get eaten up when pitted against the destructive forces of sandstone cliffs, thick underbrush, or other general abuse. This characteristic is shared with all wool and wool blend base layers, no matter the thickness. The synthetic fibers help marginally in resisting abrasion, but the garment will only be as strong as its weakest link. For maximum lifespan, use this base layer as a base layer: underneath other layers, where the relative delicateness of wool is properly protected — especially when taking part in outdoor activities where abrasive surfaces will be encountered.
In the real world, we happily didn't observe any premature wear or quality control problems with the fabric or seams. Even piling, which usually hits thin wool layers hard, hasn't been noticed on the Solution 150 Hoody, much to our surprise and delight. Washing and drying don't result in sagging or an out-of-shape garment either: the base layer looks just the same as when we first put it on.
The Solution 150 is one of the faster-drying base layers in our roundup. This is due to the thin, 150 g/m² NuYarn Merino wool blend fabric and comparing it to base layers made with 180, 200, and even 250 g/m² wool fabrics. Surprise! Thinner fabrics dry faster.
In the marketing materials, the NuYarn Merino wool blend is touted to dry at Mach speeds compared to 100% Merino wool. We've found the results to be more realistic: the added loft created by the Merino wool blend does in fact marginally benefit drying speed times. For the weight of the material, there's just more loft to the fabric, allowing more surface area for water to evaporate away.
In our real-world tests, we found the drying speed on the clothesline translated to excellent drying time out in the field. Carefully hand washing the Solution in a watering hole, then lightly hand wringing it was enough to get the base layer dry enough to wear again within an hour.
All the accouterments of the Solution (half zip, hood, thumb loops, extra long sleeves and torso) allow this base layer to act as a light, next-to-skin baselayer. No need to swap out this layer when you can unzip the front, take off the hood, and roll the sleeves up if you need to dump out some heat. Such flexibility makes the Solution 150 act almost like two separate layers in one.
The Solution 150 Hoody also integrates fantastically underneath other garments. The thin, stretchy fabric slides easily against both skin and other fabrics while also minimizing pinch points. On a five-day backpacking trip, we hardly took this layer off. We were happy to discover excellent freedom of movement both while we scrambled around ridgeline crests and tossed and turned in our nighttime bivvies. The tight, athletic fit means less bunching underneath mid and outer layers. The low-profile flatlock seams minimize chafing while moving about. Thanks to the raglan sleeve design, the lack of seams on the top of the shoulders means one less pressure point between your baselayer and heavy pack straps.
Should You Buy the Black Diamond Solution 150 Hoody?
This hoody has been the base layer we reach for the most to tackle everything from early morning autumn bike commutes and late-night hikes to shoulder season backpacking trips and nervous first dates. If the slim athletic fit works for you, we know that all the other promises of excellent comfort, breathability, and warmth will be delivered.
What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?
If a hood isn't something you want on your base layer, look closely at the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino 1/4 Zip. It's another lightweight Merino wool blend top with a front zip. You may not find it quite as warm, stretchy, or tight-fitting. For a comparable synthetic, consider the Cotopaxi Liso Top, which also sports extra long sleeves with thumb loops, raglan sleeves, and very stretchy fabric. The fit is looser and accommodates a much wider variety of body types.
— Justin Simoni and Aaron Rice
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