The Dynafit Radical jacket is a simple and clean hardshell designed with ski touring in mind but will work 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 moderately heavy ripstop nylon face fabric. Its feature set is simple but functional, but its strengths are protection from severe weather and its excellent mobility. Despite not winning an award, we found it to be one of the highest scorers in this comparative review, and it's a very worthy and dependable hardshell deserving of more accolades.
Dynafit Radical Review
Cons: Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips
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Our Analysis and Test Results
If there was one jacket in this review that would best compare with the Dynafit Radical it would be the Arc'teryx Alpha FL. Where that jacket is light, simple, and designed with alpine climbing in mind, the Radical is light, simple, and designed with ski touring in mind. Both use a Gore-Tex Pro membrane, although the Radical adds the C-knit backer that makes it noticeably quieter and less crinkly to wear, especially with the hood on.
The Radical was one of the most robust jackets when it came to weather protection, and that attribute combined with small arm vents means that it was a better choice for use in stormy weather than it was for warm days in the sun. Despite being explicitly designed with European-style ski touring in mind, we think it will work better than most for alpine climbing or general mountain use as well. Really, there is nothing this jacket won't do well, and if you are looking for a very high quality hardshell, we would recommend including this one in your search.
The Radical was one of the top performers when it came to weather protection, rated the same as the Mountain Hardwear CloudSeeker, another backcountry skiing specific jacket. We love its long hem with a drop in the back. It also has long sleeves that won't ride up when moving about. In our shower test, which substituted for testing in an actual downpour that we couldn't produce, we found that the Radical performed impressively well.
There is no doubt that its DWR and face fabric combination proved to be simply the best at shedding water without allowing even a drop to soak in. Its hood has a moldable wire brim that is just wide enough to direct water off to the sides of the face, but its high collar aids in protecting one from getting wet on the face. With or without a helmet the hood fit great, and it was the only jacket designed with one pull cord for the hood. Even though we had our reservations, this design worked flawlessly, and thus we loved its simplicity. We rated it almost as good as The North Face Summit L5 FuseForm GTX.
Our size 50/L jacket weighed in at 14.8 ounces on our independent scale. While this is certainly light, it was roughly average in comparison to the jackets we tested for this review and was slightly heavy considering the few features included in its design. Regardless, it won't be the weight of this jacket holding you back, so don't look for any excuses here! It was lighter than the Arc'teryx Beta AR, a jacket that uses the same Gore-Tex Pro membrane, but was just heavier than the Patagonia Pluma, which also uses the same membrane.
Mobility and Fit
Our head tester is 6'0" tall and weighs in at around 160 lbs. He has broad shoulders but a skinny torso, and we ordered him a size 50/L, basically taking a guess as we couldn't get a clear idea from Dynafit's website of which size to choose. On the hang tag inside the jacket it says "US M" but we think this jacket fits much more like the other larges in this review than the other mediums. It is spacious in the torso in a good way, allowing for plenty of layering underneath, but it is not baggy in any way.
The hem and sleeves are quite long, and the hood is plenty large with or without a helmet on. We thought this jacket was equally as mobile as the stretch fabric Rab Firewall, without constriction in the body. However, we found that if we were wearing a helmet with the hood and collar all the way up, then there was slight constriction on our face and neck, but not quite as bad as we experienced with the Mountain Hardwear CloudSeeker.
Venting and Breathability
This jacket uses a Gore-Tex Pro membrane with C-knit backer and a medium light face fabric that was not specified (we would guess 40D). While Gore-Tex Pro has indeed gotten lighter and more breathable over the years, it still felt about average when it came to breathability on our stationary bike test, and nowhere near as cool or breathable as the Outdoor Research Interstellar which uses different air-permeable membranes.
The best bet for staying cool in this jacket is ventilation, and for that purpose, it has a two-way front zipper and dual under-arm vents. These vents are not your standard pit-zips; they run from the armpit along the sleeve to just above the elbow, and so are shorter than what you may expect. Since the ventilation options are a bit limited, we couldn't give this jacket a score anywhere close to the CloudSeeker.
It is obvious that the Dynafit Radical was designed to be sleek and simple, and it has effectively accomplished this task. It has two handwarmer pockets that rest above harness or waist belt height. On the inside are found dual mesh stash pockets designed for carrying skins, but while we did manage to stuff our fat powder skins into them, we wish they were about an inch wider for easier use.
They seem to be made with narrow Euro-width skins in mind but still work well for holding other small items. There is also a small zippered pocket on the bicep of the left arm. The dual hem drawcords work just fine but leave a loop of cord hanging down. On the other hand, the single hood drawcord found on the back of the head works fantastic, and so we love its simplicity. Taken as a whole, the features of this jacket are slightly underwhelming and performed roughly the same as those found on the Arc'teryx Beta AR, but were not quite as remarkable as the Cohaesive buckle heavy design of the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.
The Radical is designed to be used for backcountry skiing, and that is a great use of this quality jacket. It will perform better on bad weather days, and may not want to be worn on the uphill when the weather is nice. Despite its design bias leaning toward skiing, we think this jacket serves just as well for climbing or other winter sports.
The Radical retails for $499, which is a bit of a steal compared to the 450 Euros you would be charged across the pond. It is an average price for a high-quality Gore-Tex featuring hardshell, but still costs a lot of money. Since we found this to be one of the higher performing jackets in this review, we think it presents good value.
The Dynafit Radical is a very solid but simple hardshell that does an awesome job protecting from terrible weather, which is exactly what you want a hardshell for. It scored well compared to the competition, and so we think it is very worthy of consideration when shopping for hardshells. It makes a great choice for skiing, and also works just as well for ice climbing and mountaineering.
— Andy Wellman