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.
Dynafit Radical Review
Cons: Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffs
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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