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Dynafit Radical Review

A solid hardshell that thrives in bad weather
Dynafit Radical
Photo: Dynafit
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $500 List
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  ⋅  Nov 8, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • 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 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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Dynafit Radical
This Product
Dynafit Radical
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $500 List$332.50 at Backcountry$249 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
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Pros Awesome weather protection, fits great, very mobileLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable priceCheap, ultralight, solid weather protection, impressive breathabilityStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathableGood ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof
Cons Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffsCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hemNo internal pockets, poor ventilation, unreliable hood drawcordsHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet on, fragileInterior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords
Bottom Line A solid hardshell that thrives in bad weatherThis hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as wellAn affordable hardshell that can get the job doneThe best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are keyThe lightest hardshell that includes pit zips
Rating Categories Dynafit Radical Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In... Marmot Knife Edge
Weather Protection (30%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Mobility And Fit (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Features And Design (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Dynafit Radical Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In... Marmot Knife Edge
Pit Zips Yes No No No Yes
Measured Weight (size large) 15.4 oz 11.8 oz 11.0 oz 11.2 oz 12.4 oz
Material Gore-Tex Pro with C-Knit backer Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric Gore-Tex Active 3L AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% Polyester
Pockets 2 side handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 2 internal stash 1 external chest, 1 internal chest 2 hand 2 handwarmer, 1 chest 2 hand, 1 chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 1 3 3 3 1
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper Yes No No No No

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 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.

Performance Comparison


The Dynafit Radical is specifically designed for backcountry skiing...
The Dynafit Radical is specifically designed for backcountry skiing and it proved to be our favorite hardshell jacket for that purpose.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weather Protection


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.

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

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.

Although 15.4 ounces isn't especially svelte for a hardshell jacket...
Although 15.4 ounces isn't especially svelte for a hardshell jacket, it's one of the lightest among hardshells that include underarm zips to improve ventilation.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


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.

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

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.

Hardshell jackets are designed for technical winter uses like...
Hardshell jackets are designed for technical winter uses like backcountry skiing or climbing. The Dynafit Radical seen here is specially designed for skiing but it also performed while ice climbing.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

The interior layer of the 3-layer fabric is Gore-Tex C-Knit backer...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

The Radical's underarm vents aren't like most other pit zips --...
The Radical's underarm vents aren't like most other pit zips -- they're substantially shorter and include a zipper that is only one-way.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

The Dynafit Radical has a section of its cuff cut out. It looks...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

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

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's waist drawcords are easy to operate with gloves, but...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


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.

Our lead tester stoked on powder skiing and the performance of his...
Our lead tester stoked on powder skiing and the performance of his Dynafit Radical jacket and bindings.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


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