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Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody Review

A lightweight, stretchy, and simple hooded sun shirt that will fit in with most any activity
Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody
Photo: Black Diamond Equipment
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $85 List | $84.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very stretchy, comfortable, minimal, versatile
Cons:  Lacks thumb loops, under the neck button/zipper, and pockets
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Justin Simoni ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 8
  • Sun Protection - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Simple and simply superbly stretchy, the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody, our Top Pick for a Sun Hoody, makes a solid choice for those who want a streamlined sun shirt that still keeps them protected. You won't find zippers, buttons, or thumb loops on this shirt, but the fabric has a high UPF 50+ sun protection rating and can stretch over any part of your body that needs covering. Polygiene anti-odor treatment is a welcome addition to the shirt, allowing you to stretch out the number of times you'll need to throw it in the wash. Simple has its benefits: fewer things to break or get caught in whatever you're hiking through.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $84.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$65 List$23 List
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Pros Very stretchy, comfortable, minimal, versatileOff-trail style, dobbyweave fabric wears well, ideal length, good overall sun protectionGreat value, lightweight, very breathable, looks good off-trail, excellent comfortGreat in the water, very breathable, impeccable coverageInexpensive, bombproof, great coverage and sun protection
Cons Lacks thumb loops, under the neck button/zipper, and pocketsTight in the yoke, expensive, not as breathable as some competitorsOnly UPF 40, doesn't pack as well as others, difficult sleeve-capture tabsLess versatileDurability comes at the cost of breathability, heavier than other hooded sunshirts
Bottom Line A lightweight, stretchy, and simple hooded sun shirt that will fit in with most any activityComfortable with a great balance of features and functionality, this shirt is great on and off-trailGood-looking and a great value, this shirt floats around the torso and has a smart selection of featuresA second skin solution for fun on the beach and in the water especially when sun protection is of the utmost importanceA great journeyman sun shirt, packing value that anyone can easily justify
Rating Categories Black Diamond Alpen... Mountain Hardwear C... Columbia Silver Rid... Patagonia R0 Hoody Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody
Comfort And Fit (30%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Sun Protection (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Breathability (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Versatility (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Specs Black Diamond Alpen... Mountain Hardwear C... Columbia Silver Rid... Patagonia R0 Hoody Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody
Sun Protection Level (UPF) 50+ 50 40 50+ 50+
Coverage Long sleeve, hood Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, hood Long sleeve, hood
Features Stretchy, under-helmet hood Roll-up sleeves, zip pockets Roll-up sleeves, anit-microbial treated fabric Drawcord, brim, thumb loops Large hood for added protection
Fit Technical fit Regular Regular Form-fitting Relaxed
Material Polyester Stretch Textured Knit (87% Polyester 13% Elastane) Polyester dobby fabric Omni-Wick Ripstop 100% polyester four-way stretch (85% recycled polyester, 15% spandex) 100% Polyester
Odor Control? Polygiene No Antimicrobial treatment No No
Available SIzes S - XL S-XXL S-XXL S - XXL S-3XL

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.

Performance Comparison


The stretchy hoody on the Alpenglow is comfortable and well-designed.
The stretchy hoody on the Alpenglow is comfortable and well-designed.
Photo: Nolan Anderson

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.

Need sun protection for two? The Alpenglow can accommodate with its...
Need sun protection for two? The Alpenglow can accommodate with its uber-stretchy fabric.
Photo: Justin Simoni

Sun Protection


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.

Protected and cozy in the Alpenglow.
Protected and cozy in the Alpenglow.
Photo: Justin Simoni

Breathability


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.

The stretch of the fabric will never impede movement.
The stretch of the fabric will never impede movement.
Photo: Nolan Anderson

Versatility


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 Alpenglow makes a good choice for any outdoor activity.
The Alpenglow makes a good choice for any outdoor activity.
Photo: Shay Castle

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Durability


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.

Stay protected while both climbing and belaying.
Stay protected while both climbing and belaying.
Photo: Nolan Anderson

Features


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+.

Impossibly stretchy.
Impossibly stretchy.
Photo: Shay Castle

Value


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.

A long length means this sun shirt hoody will fit under climbing...
A long length means this sun shirt hoody will fit under climbing harnesses and backpack hip belts.
Photo: Nolan Anderson

Conclusion


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.

The sleeves are long and extremely stretchy.
The sleeves are long and extremely stretchy.
Photo: Shay Castle

Justin Simoni