Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody Review
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Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody
|Price||$63.75 at Backcountry|
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$34.93 at REI
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$23.99 at Amazon
$69.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Very stretchy, comfortable, minimal, versatile||Incredibly comfortably, stretchy fabric, top-notch hood with hidden cinch strap, reinforced thumb loops||Off-trail style, dobbyweave fabric wears well, ideal length, good overall sun protection||Inexpensive, bombproof, great coverage and sun protection||Uncompromising sun coverage and protection, unique built-in gaiter/face mask,|
tough yet comfortable fabric
|Cons||Lacks thumb loops, under the neck button/zipper, and pockets||Lack of pockets, no front zipper||Tight in the yoke, expensive, not as breathable as some competitors||Durability comes at the cost of breathability, heavier than other hooded sunshirts||Runs warmer than most other sun shirts, not as versatile|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight, stretchy, and simple hooded sun shirt that will fit in with most any activity||An excellent hooded sunshirt with a great balance of sun protection, breathability, and features||Comfortable with a great balance of features and functionality, this shirt is great on and off-trail||A great journeyman sun shirt, packing value that anyone can easily justify||The ultimate shirt for coverage, something we’re sure you could almost wear walking on the surface of the sun itself|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Alpen...||REI Co-op Sahara Sh...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody||Coolibar Andros Fis...|
|Comfort and Fit (30%)|
|Sun Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Alpen...||REI Co-op Sahara Sh...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody||Coolibar Andros Fis...|
|Sun Protection Level (UPF)||50+||50||50||50+||50+|
|Coverage||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, collar||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, hood|
|Features||Stretchy, under-helmet hood||Thumb loops, anit-microbial treated fabric||Roll-up sleeves, zip pockets||Large hood for added protection||Center finger loop, pony tail hole in hood, invisible chest pocket, shapable nose wire|
|Material||Polyester Stretch Textured Knit (87% Polyester 13% Elastane)||92% polyester, 8% spandex||Polyester dobby fabric||100% Polyester||Polyester/Spandex blend|
|Odor Control?||Polygiene||Antimicrobial treatment||No||No||No|
|Available SIzes||S - XL||S - XXXL||S-XXL||S-3XL||S - XXXL,
M Tall - XXL Tall
Our Analysis and Test Results
There's fabric that's stretchy, and then there's the fabric the Alpenglow Hoody is crafted out of, which we theorize may come from a completely different galaxy. The shirt may not include thumb loops, but you can pull the sleeves to cover your entire hand if you need to. It also doesn't have a button or zipper to keep the hood tight against the face, but the clever design of the shirt itself makes this almost unneeded. The stretchy fabric makes things sensationally comfortable, too, no matter if you're moving at a brisk pace or just sitting around the house.
Comfort and Fit
How stretchy can one shirt be? If you need to fit two people inside one shirt, the Alpenglow has got you both covered. Black Diamond calls the fabric "Polyester Stretch Textured Knit." It's composed of 87% polyester and 13% elastane (also known as spandex) and almost has the characteristics of a legging rather than a shirt. Leggings are comfy, so why not give your upper body some legging-fabric comfort too?
The cut of the shirt is fairly generous, but we still found it true to size. Do no size up if you're on the cusp; the Alpenglow will accommodate a wide spectrum of body shapes. Generally, this shirt worked well when coupled with a harness or pack; no pressure points were noticed. The shirt and sleeve length are also long, and we never felt the coverage to be lacking. Even though there isn't a button under the throat to keep the hood tight against the bottom of the chin, we found it stayed in place just due to the design of the cut: the top of the collar is extended by the hood itself, which makes a complete circle around the face. We found this very effective, and the hood is compatible for wearing over a helmet.
The fabric has a UPF 50+ rating, which translates to blocking over 98% of the sun's UV rays — more than adequate for most people. Black Diamond lists the shirt as having "BD.cool mineral-based in-fiber cooling technology," but we haven't found any real technical description of what this is exactly, so it's hard to say what it'll garner for the wearer.
Our guess is that this is a titanium dioxide treatment, but we haven't been able to verify that — so if you're sensitive to titanium microparticles, be aware. We can say that it does seem to be doing its job well.
The fabric that the Alpenglow is composed of is more light than heavy, which helps with breathability in a positive way. The fabric also has wicking properties found in most polyester sun shirts, allowing sweat to evaporate off the body adequately.
The fabric lays on the upper body fairly loosely, and loose fabric allows air to circulate easily throughout, keeping fresh air moving within the shirt's interior. No front zipper hurts the shirt's ability to expel heat quickly from the body, but we didn't miss it too terribly. The simplicity of the Alpenflow stood out as a benefit rather than a liability.
We'd be remiss not to mention that simplicity in design can also make a versatile piece of clothing. The Alpenglow Hoody works well for most outdoor activities without truly being a master at any of them. But we wouldn't have a second thought of grabbing this shirt off the rack for a cross country thru-hike or a week-long climbing trip out into the desert.
To be a dedicated travel shirt, we would love to see a pocket to store valuables in, but we do like the insurance the Polygiene anti-odor treatment provides when finding the time to rinse and wring the shirt is at a premium.
The lack of big, loud logos on this shirt helps it also fit into more laid-back atmospheres like a coffee shop date or even a casual Friday workday. Going from trailhead directly to taphouse in the Alpenglow would garner few, if any, strange looks.
After many days of climbing, trail running, bike commuting, and warehouse working, the Alpenglow Hoody held its own. We were a little surprised, as it was easy for us to equate such a soft, thin, and stretchy fabric with "delicate," but that's not the case.
The lack of details such as buttons and zippers only adds to the shirt's durability — less things to break! We do suggest avoiding putting this hoody in the drier, as excessive heat will damage the elastane.
The Alpenglow Hoody is almost spartan in its minimalism. A hood is, of course, an integral part of this sun shirt, but you won't find any zippers, pockets, or thumb loops. It's the polyester/elastane blend fabric itself that makes the biggest impact. Along with how stretchy it is and how this stretch facilitates covering you and moving with your body, the fabric also features the Polygiene anti-odor treatment and Black Diamond's proprietary cooling technology called BD.cool. All this, and the fabric still retains the highest protection rating of UPF 50+.
We personally love the stretchy fabric and intelligent cut of this shirt. If you're not sold on those qualities, the fact that you won't find even some basic features you may take for granted may turn you off from purchasing this particular shirt once you see the price. It's not the most expensive sun shirt we've ever tested and reviewed, but it's not a budget choice either. Given how durable and breathable it is — two qualities that are usually opposing, we do feel the price justifies the positive merits of the shirt itself.
The Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody looks good, feels good, protects admirably, and: did we mention how stretchy it is? It does lack some features you may not be willing to sacrifice, including thumb loops or a front zipper, but the unique hyper-stretchiness of the fabric really does set this shirt apart from other choices you'll find. If comfort is a major concern while staying protected from the high noon sun, this hoody will more than abide.
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