Scoring well overall, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol jacket quickly became a favorite among our testers who were heading out on a day skiing at the resort or in the backcountry. Most noticeably, it offers a practical combination of precipitation protection and ventilation. Its breathability is sufficient for chilly alpine hikes and skinning up mountains, keeping us dry and blocking the wind almost completely. While we have no major complaints about the Dawn Patrol, some of our reviewers wish that the pockets were higher.
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Good mix of breathability and weather resistance, large internal pockets
Cons: No internal zippered pocket, large fit makes it less versatile, tight fitting hood with ski helmet
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell
|Price||$149.73 at REI|
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|Pros||Good mix of breathability and weather resistance, large internal pockets||Durable fabric, great fit, all-around usefulness||Inexpensive, great breathability, stretchy||Trim fit, abrasion resistant material, harness and helmet friendly||Incredibly light, very mobile|
|Cons||No internal zippered pocket, large fit makes it less versatile, tight fitting hood with ski helmet||Limited water resistance, fitted cuffs||Limited weather protection||Not as wet weather resistant, UK zippers can be awkward to use||Limited weather protection, few features|
|Bottom Line||With a good combination of weather protection and breathability, this is a great all-mountain option.||An all-around softshell jacket that is at home in the mountains but looks good in town as well.||While not the most weatherproof jacket, this wind resistant softshell allows for ultimate mobility for climbers and adventurers on a budget.||With a trim fit and intentional features with climbers, mountaineers, and skiers in mind, the Torque was our Top Pick for Climbing.||This lightweight jacket pairs well with a baselayer to keep you protected while climbing or hiking.|
|Rating Categories||Dawn Patrol Shell||Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody||Ferrosi Hooded||Rab Torque||Rab Borealis|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Dawn Patrol Shell||Arc'teryx Gamma LT...||Ferrosi Hooded||Rab Torque||Rab Borealis|
|Type||Stretch woven||Stretch woven||Stretch Woven||Stretch woven||Stretch Woven|
|Weight (size medium)||1.4 lbs||1.06 lbs||0.8 lbs||1.03 lbs||0.65|
|Material||63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane with DWR finish||Wee Burly (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane)||Body and hood: 86% nylon, 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop
Shoulders and lower sleeves: Cordura® 91% nylon, 9% spandex 120D stretch weave
|Ripstop Matrix||Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR|
|Number of Pockets||5||3||3||3||2|
|Adjustable Cuffs||Yes, Velcro||Stretch cuffs||Stretch cuffs||Yes, Velcro||No, lyrca cuffs|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol is an excellent jacket for technical mountain use, explicitly skiing. We loved using it in the backcountry, and it performed well when ice climbing, especially in drier climates like Colorado and California. This model excels where you don't need quite as much weather resistance and benefit from the added breathability that the Dawn Patrol offers.
The Dawn Patrol protects the user against an impressive amount of wind and water. Although this jacket isn't constructed with a water or wind-resistant membrane, we could have been easily fooled when fighting through freezing, 50 mph winds above tree-line. Similarly, the NanoSphere DWR coating resisted short afternoon showers when we forgot or neglected to bring a rain jacket.
In winter conditions, the Dawn Patrol will resist snow almost indefinitely, but snow that melts on your shoulders can eventually seep through. Overall, this was one of the more weather impervious shells we tested and is an excellent pick for any outing where you need an active layer that provides moderate protection from the elements.
One great advantage of softshell jackets without wind-resistant membranes is their increased breathability. The Dawn Patrol strikes a wonderful balance between weather resistance and breathability. We never felt clammy inside this jacket like we did while wearing The North Face Apex Bionic 2, but it wasn't quite as breathable as we'd like for super high output activities, like mountain running or cross-country skiing. But, when you pull the adjustable cuffs up to your elbows and unzip the main zipper, it's easy to cool down and vent.
For ice and rock climbing, the Dawn Patrol breathed adequately during the climb. When used for backcountry skiing, the jacket was breathable enough to wear the whole day without overheating.
Mobility & Fit
With arms that are cut super long and a technical fit to match, we found this jacket highly mobile, even without its stretchy material. When you have to strain and stretch for those out-of-reach holds and pick placements, you'll be glad you're wearing this jacket that doesn't expose your wrists to the elements as you're making your move.
Though the Gamma MX has been a favorite in the past, our reviewers felt a tad more mobile in the Dawn Patrol as it is a little looser fitting. In all, even lanky reviewers were happy with the Dawn Patrol's fit and mobility.
Our scales measured this jacket right at 1.4 pounds. It feels neither overly heavy or bulky. Still, it is far from the lightest shell in the review and isn't designed to be a piece that you throw in your backpack just in case. The Dawn Patrol is designed for alpine use and abuse and is meant to be worn more continuously (thanks to its solid breathability). The extra few ounces compared with lightweight shells like the Rab Torque was a negligible disadvantage for most of our reviewers.
We think that simple, well-designed features make a jacket stand out. Our favorite features are the two internal stash pockets for gloves or small items. Stash pockets are super useful when you need to take your gloves off for a few minutes and want to keep them warm against your body. Many of our reviewers wish these were common on more jackets, and they were happy to see them on this one.
While there are internal drop-in pockets, we hoped for a zippered internal pocket to keep our phone warm while riding cold ski lifts. While some helmets might fit underneath the hood of the Dawn Patrol, our Smith Camber helmet was a very tight fit, and it was much less comfortable when fully zipped up than the Gamma MX. Previous models of this coat have used a fleece patch on the neck and chin, but with only Schoeller fabric now, it is not as cozy as it once was, and we recommend wearing a Buff or similar neck gaiter when needing to zip this up all the way.
When it comes to style, it depends on what you're going for. If you're going for a super technical alpine look, then this jacket fits the bill. The hem is long, the sleeves feel longer, and the bright green we tested begs for sweet ridgeline shots. If bright colors around town aren't your style, you may find it looks out of place in coffee shops. We give this jacket a 6/10. While it looks great mid-adventure, it isn't a softshell that we'd likely wear around, though style is subjective. But if you want other people to know that you climb/ski/adventure, wear this jacket to your next social gathering.
For just $199, this top-scoring jacket is a fantastic bargain if you're looking for a technical softshell to face a myriad of alpine conditions. If you want a jacket that performs well and doesn't break the bank too much, the Dawn Patrol is an excellent choice. If you're really on a budget, consider the Best Buy winning Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody that retails for $129 and scored slightly higher than the Dawn Patrol. The Ferrosi is more breathable, less water resistant, and slightly less mobile.
The Dawn Patrol is a super versatile jacket that we loved skiing in. It maintained an impressive level of breathability for its water resistance and kept us comfortable longer than many other jackets. If you want a jacket that you can keep on all day this winter, look no further than this model.
— Ryan Huetter