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 membrane with C-knit backer to improve breathability and quietness, which is paired with a relatively durable ripstop nylon face fabric. We think its biggest strengths are 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.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 8, 2021 to provide info on the latest version of this jacket, the Radical 2.
Dynafit Radical Review
Cons: Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffs
Our Analysis and Test Results
Dynafit released an updated version of the Radical, the Radical 2. This hardshell is constructed from the same materials but has undergone some style upgrades. The pocket configuration has also changed; the handwarmer pockets are angled differently, and Dynafit has nixed the sleeve pocket entirely. There are still two internal mesh pockets. Compare the Radical we tested (left) to the Radical 2 (right).
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 membrane in jackets that feature particularly athletic fits. Where these hardshells differ is that the Radical adds underarm zips for venting and interior drop pockets for stashing 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 designed with European-style ski touring in mind, it also works great for alpine climbing or general mountaineering. Really, there's nothing this jacket won't do well, and if you are looking for a very high-quality hardshell, we would recommend taking a hard look at this one during your search.
The Radical is a solid performer when it comes to weather protection. We love its low hem and a noticeable drop in the back to keep the powder out.
It also has long sleeves that don't ride up when you're moving around. 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.
This test also left no doubts that the combination of its Gore-Tex fabric and durable water repellent (DWR) finish can easily shed water 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, while its high collar aids in ensuring that no stray drips sneak inside. With or without a helmet, the hood fits great, even though it is one of a few jackets that feature only a single drawcord to adjust the fit.
A size large jacket weighed in at 15.4 ounces on our scale. Although 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 on your hardshell. Keep in mind the lightest hardshells don't offer pit vents, but we think they're crucial in a ski touring hardshell.
Mobility and Fit
The lead author is 6'2" and weighs in at 175 lbs. He has broad shoulders but a skinny torso, so we took a guess and ordered him a US large because we couldn't get a clear idea from Dynafit's website of which size to choose. We were ultimately pleased with this guess.
In previous years we had some sizing problems, but we think the latest version fits similar to larges from American-based companies. It is spacious in the torso, supplying enough room for adding an extra layer on cold days, yet it didn't feel too baggy or obstruct the view of our 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 testers' faces and necks. It's almost not enough of a problem to complain about, but we hope Dynafit can fix it in the next version.
Venting and Breathability
This jacket uses a Gore-Tex membrane with C-knit backer and a medium light face fabric with an unlisted denier (we would estimate it at 40D).
Although Gore-Tex has indeed gotten lighter and more breathable over the years, it still felt around average when it came to breathability in our stationary bike test. That means it's 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.
Your best bet for staying cool in this jacket, therefore, is ventilation, and for that purpose, it offers a two-way front zipper and dual under-arm vents. These underarm 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 its functionality to some degree, but it helps minimize armpit irritation during huge days.
Features and Design
It is obvious that the Radical was designed to be sleek and simple like Dynafit skis, and it effectively accomplishes that task.
It has a pair of handwarmer pockets that are positioned above harness or waist belt height. On the inside, there are two mesh stash pockets designed for stashing touring skins. We were able to stuff our fat powder skins into these pockets, but the tight fit made us wish 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 accessory 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 drawcords on the hem work just fine but they leave an excessively 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 the simplicity this lends to the whole hood design. Taken as a whole, the features of this jacket are slightly underwhelming.
The Radical runs on the expensive side, but its price in America is a steal if you check out what it retails for across the pond. When we compare it to other high-quality hardshells made with Gore-Tex fabric, the Radical costs roughly average or slightly less. Since we believe this is one of the best jackets in this review, that means it offers a pretty good value.
The Dynafit Radical is a solid but simple hardshell that does an awesome job protecting from terrible weather, which is exactly what a hardshell should do. Although it isn't a top performer in any particular way, it scores highly in all our rating metrics. It performs well while ice climbing and mountaineering, but where it really shines is on snowy slopes, which is it earns a Top Pick Award as our favorite hardshell for Backcountry Skiing.
— Jack Cramer & Andy Wellman
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