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Dynafit Radical Review

A solid hardshell that thrives in bad weather.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $500 List | $499.95 at REI
Pros:  Awesome weather protection, fits great, very mobile
Cons:  Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffs
Manufacturer:   Dynafit
By Jack Cramer & Andy Wellman  ⋅  Oct 31, 2019
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 8
  • Features and Design - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Dynafit Radical jacket is a simple and clean hardshell designed with ski touring in mind, but we think it works well for nearly any mountain sport. It uses a Gore-Tex Pro membrane with C-knit backer to improve breathability and quietness, paired with a relatively durable ripstop nylon face fabric. We think its most significant strengths are its severe weather protection and excellent mobility. Although its feature set is simple, it's also super functional. Our biggest complaints are the wrist cuffs, which don't stay closed well, and underarm vents that seem to be a little too short. Despite these flaws, it's still a favorite among our testers and our Top Pick for Backcountry Skiing.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Dynafit Radical
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $499.95 at REI$425.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$562.46 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$194.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$549.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Awesome weather protection, fits great, very mobileLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable priceUnrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fitStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathableOptimally designed pull-cords and buckles, recycled nylon face fabric, athletic fit, Patagonia guarantee
Cons Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffsCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hemExpensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathabilityHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet on, fragileExpensive, not super breathable, hood not as protective with a helmet on
Bottom Line A solid hardshell that thrives in bad weather.This hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as well.A serious hardshell for serious adventures.The best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are key.A versatile hardshell that can handle any mountain environment or activity.
Rating Categories Dynafit Radical Arc'teryx Alpha FL Mammut Nordwand Advanced Outdoor Research Interstellar Patagonia Pluma
Weather Protection (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
7
Weight (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
Mobility And Fit (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Venting And Breathability (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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6
Features And Design (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
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6
10
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8
Specs Dynafit Radical Arc'teryx Alpha FL Mammut Nordwand... Outdoor Research... Patagonia Pluma
Pit Zips Yes No Yes No Yes
Measured Weight (Size) 15.4 oz (L) 11.8 oz (L) 16.0 oz (L) 11.2 oz (L) 14.2 oz (M)
Material Gore-Tex Pro with C-Knit backer Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric 3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer 40D 3L 100% recycled nylon plain-weave Gore-Tex PRO shell, with a 15D GORE Micro Grid Backer Technology & a DWR finish
Pockets 2 side handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 2 internal stash 1 external chest, 1 internal chest 2 front, 1 internal 2 handwarmer, 1 chest 2 high handwarmer, 1 chest, 1 interior chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 1 3 3 3 3
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper Yes No Yes No No
Stuff sack or pocket No Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Although the Dynafit Radical didn't win our Editors' Choice Award, its similarities with the eventual winner, the Arc'teryx Alpha FL, are worth mentioning. Where the Alpha FL is light, simple, and designed for alpine climbing, the Radical is light, simple, and designed for ski touring. Both use a Gore-Tex Pro membrane in jackets that feature notably athletic fits. Where these hardshells differ is that the Radical adds underarm zips for venting and interior stash pockets for storing touring skins.

The Radical is one of the more robust jackets when it came to weather protection, and that attribute combined with the short arm vents means that it's a better choice for stormy weather than warm days in the sun. Despite being explicitly designed with European-style ski touring in mind, it also works great for alpine climbing or general mountaineering. Really, there is nothing this jacket won't do well, and if you are looking for a very high quality hardshell, we would recommend considering this one during your search.

Performance Comparison


The Radical is a hardshell made with a Gore-Tex Pro membrane and designed for ski touring  as we are here crossing the Connaught Creek Bridge on Roger's Pass  BC. It was one of the top scorers in our comparative rankings.
The Radical is a hardshell made with a Gore-Tex Pro membrane and designed for ski touring, as we are here crossing the Connaught Creek Bridge on Roger's Pass, BC. It was one of the top scorers in our comparative rankings.

Weather Protection


The Radical is a solid performer when it comes to weather protection. We love its long hem with a drop in the back for keeping snow out.


It also has long sleeves that don't ride up when you're moving about. In our shower test, which substituted for testing in an actual downpour that we couldn't conjure, we found that the Radical performed impressively well.

The Gore-Tex Pro fabric on the Radical beaded water with ease throughout our months long test.
The Gore-Tex Pro fabric on the Radical beaded water with ease throughout our months long test.

This test also left no doubts that the combination of its Gore-Tex Pro fabric and durable water repellent (DWR) finish can easily shed and without allowing even a drop to soak in. Its hood has a moldable wire brim that is wide enough to direct water off to the sides of the face, while its high collar also aids in ensuring stray drips don't sneak inside. With or without a helmet, the hood fit great, even though it is only one of a few jackets designed with a single drawcord to adjust the fit.

Although 15.4 ounces isn't especially light for a hardshell jacket  it's near the top of the field for hardshells that include underarm zips to improve ventilation.
Although 15.4 ounces isn't especially light for a hardshell jacket, it's near the top of the field for hardshells that include underarm zips to improve ventilation.

Weight


Our size large jacket weighed in at 15.4 ounces on our independent scale. While this is certainly light, it is roughly average in comparison to the other jackets we tested and slightly heavy, considering the limited features included in its design.


Regardless, the weight of your skis and boots is much more likely to slow you down in the backcountry than a couple of extra ounces from your hardshell. Also, keep in mind, that the lightest hardshells don't offer pit vents, and we think those are crucial in a ski touring hardshell.

Our testers love the atheletic fit of the Radical that allows for extra layers on cold days while still providing exceptional mobility.
Our testers love the atheletic fit of the Radical that allows for extra layers on cold days while still providing exceptional mobility.

Mobility and Fit


The lead author is 6'2" and weighs in at 175 lbs. He has broad shoulders but a skinny torso, and we ordered him a US large, basically taking a guess because we couldn't get a clear idea from Dynafit's website of which size to choose.


In previous years there were some sizing problems, but we think the latest version fits like larges from American-based companies. It is spacious in the torso, allowing you to add an extra layer for cold days, yet it doesn't feel baggy or obstruct the view of your feet.

The hem and sleeves are quite long, and the hood is plenty large with or without a helmet on. We think this jacket offers as much mobility as any we tried with no constriction to the arms, shoulders, or torso. However, we found that if we were wearing a helmet with the hood up and the collar completely zipped, there was mild constriction on our face and neck. It's almost not enough of a problem to complain, but we hope Dynafit can fix it in the next version.

The interior layer of the 3-layer fabric is Gore-Tex C-Knit backer. The company claims this makes the fabric 10% lighter and 15% more breathable. We also think it feels better than most other inner layers.
The interior layer of the 3-layer fabric is Gore-Tex C-Knit backer. The company claims this makes the fabric 10% lighter and 15% more breathable. We also think it feels better than most other inner layers.

Venting and Breathability


This jacket uses a Gore-Tex Pro membrane with C-knit backer and a medium light face fabric with an unlisted denier (we would guess 40D).


While Gore-Tex Pro has indeed gotten lighter and more breathable over the years, it still feels around average when it comes to breathability on our stationary bike test, and not nearly as cool or breathable as some propriety fabrics from other companies that use air-permeable membranes, such as Outdoor Research AscentShell or The North Face Futurelight.

The Radical's underarm vents like most other pit zips -- they're substantially shorter and include a zipper that is only one-way.
The Radical's underarm vents like most other pit zips -- they're substantially shorter and include a zipper that is only one-way.

Your best bet for staying cool in this jacket, therefore, is ventilation, and for that purpose, it has a two-way front zipper and dual under-arm vents. These vents are not standard pit-zips, rather they're shorter openings that run from the edge of the armpit along the sleeve to just above the elbow. This location reduces their functionality to some degree, but it might help minimize armpit irritation during huge days.

The Dynafit Radical has a section of its cuff cut out. It looks pretty cool but greatly reduces the surface area contact and reliability of the closure.
The Dynafit Radical has a section of its cuff cut out. It looks pretty cool but greatly reduces the surface area contact and reliability of the closure.

Features and Design


It is obvious that the Radical was designed to be sleek and simple, and it effectively accomplishes that task.


It has two handwarmer pockets that are positioned above harness or waist belt height. On the inside, there are two mesh stash pockets designed for carrying skins. We did manage to stuff our fat powder skins into these, but the tight fit had us wishing they were an inch wider. Although they seem to be made with narrow Euro-width skins in mind, they still work well for holding other small items like gloves or a hat.

There is also a small zippered pocket on the bicep of the left arm. Unfortunately, this arm pocket is too small for a phone, so you'll be storing that in one of the hand pockets or your pants. The dual hem drawcords work just fine but leave a long loop of cord hanging down. On the other hand, the single hood drawcord found on the back of the head works fantastic, and we love its simplicity. Taken as a whole, the features of this jacket are slightly underwhelming.

The Radical's waist drawcords are easy to operate with gloves  but when they're cinched down they leave a length of elastic that feels awkwardly long.
The Radical's waist drawcords are easy to operate with gloves, but when they're cinched down they leave a length of elastic that feels awkwardly long.

Value


The Radical runs on the expensive side, but its price in America is a steal if you check out what they're charging across the pond. If we compare it to other high-quality hardshells made with Gore-Tex Pro fabric, the Radical costs roughly average or slightly below. Since we think this is one of the best jackets in this review, we think that means it offers a pretty good value.

The Radical is really at home ski touring  but it's also versatile enough for alpine climbing or rainy hiking.
The Radical is really at home ski touring, but it's also versatile enough for alpine climbing or rainy hiking.

Conclusion


The Dynafit Radical is a solid but simple hardshell that does an awesome job protecting from terrible weather, which is exactly what you want a hardshell to do. Although it isn't a top performer in any particular area, it scores well across our rating metrics. It performs well while ice climbing and mountaineering, but where it really shines is on snowy slopes, which is why we give it our Top Pick Award for Backcountry Skiing.


Jack Cramer & Andy Wellman