Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond First Light Hoody Review

Price:  $249 List | $159.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, breathable, cute style, stow-away system
Cons:  Heavy, slim-fit, not super compressible
Bottom line:  This winter wear jacket does a great job balancing warmth and breathability.
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
Weight (ounces):  16.30 oz
Relative Compression (1 = most compressible, 11 = least compressible):  9
Number of Pockets:  3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest)
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond First Light Hoody balances warmth and breathability with its mobile face fabric and excellent insulation. It features 60-grams of insulation in conjunction with a nylon-elastane shell, keeping you protected from the elements while you ski, hike, and play during the cold days. While it's one of the heavier jackets in this review, our testers did appreciate that it stows away into its own pocket (that isn't water-resistant). It also has a carabiner loop to clip the jacket to a harness or backpack. With a slim-fit, but sufficient length through the arms and torso, it fits a plethora of body types. Just be aware that it doesn't layer as easily as other jackets, simply because the inner liner is cozy but somewhat sticky.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Friday
March 9, 2018

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The Black Diamond First Light Hoody is a excellent winter-wear jacket for all sorts of cold-weather activities.

Performance Comparison


The First Light Hoody has many comfort features and a cute look.
The First Light Hoody has many comfort features and a cute look.

Warmth


Providing ample warmth on cold days, the Black Diamond First Light Hoody scores a solid seven out of ten. The 60-grams of PrimaLoft Silver coupled with its Nylon-elastane shell does a decent job keeping wind and cold while keeping in warmth.

Warmth features include the bomber hem-line cinch and non-adjustable hood. While this jacket is warm, it's not as warm as the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody, our Top Pick for Winter Recreation. The Proton has 90-grams of Coreloft hydrophobic insulation throughout the body, providing better insulation for colder temperatures.

This jacket features 60-grams of PrimaLoft Insulation.
This jacket features 60-grams of PrimaLoft Insulation.

If you're in the market for a less technical jacket, check out the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush insulated jacket instead.

Weight & Compression


Scoring a five out of ten in this category, the First Light is the second heaviest jacket in this review, weighing a little over one pound. We are happy to note that despite its weight, it does compress into its own breast pocket. We found this useful when ice climbing and hiking when we had to put the jacket away. One thing to note is the breast pocket stuff sack is not water resistant. So clipping it to a harness in nasty conditions is not a great idea.

The Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is a jacket that is lighter and more compressible (with similar warmth and breathability), but it does not have its own stow-away system. If you're looking for the lightest jacket in this review, be sure take a gander at the Patagonia Micro Puff, our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures. It only weighs 229 grams and compresses to the size of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Surprisingly  this jacket compresses into its interior breast pocket. While it is compressible  it's the least compressible of the jackets with a stow-away system.
Surprisingly, this jacket compresses into its interior breast pocket. While it is compressible, it's the least compressible of the jackets with a stow-away system.

Weather Resistance


Featuring a continuous Nylon-elastic shell and hydrophobic insulation, the First Light kept us protected from the elements. While it wicks away rain well with its DWR-treated outer, we were happy to learn that it also does a decent job keeping out the wind. It scores a seven out of ten in this metric.

The First Light offers decent weatherproofing, it's not as good as our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Xenon X, (featuring a Pertex Quantum Shell) or the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush (with a 100% polyester triple plane ripstop outer). And it's much more water resistant than other competitors like the Arc'teryx Atom LT, our Top Pick for Aerobic Adventures. Because of the First Light's continuous shell design, it keeps out air, but it's not as breathable.

Here we shovel snow on a wet  snowy day. This jacket wicked away moisture and kept us dry.
Here we shovel snow on a wet, snowy day. This jacket wicked away moisture and kept us dry.

The BD First Light Hoody is more weather resistant than quilted contenders like the Patagonia Nano Puff because the quilted baffles allow air to move through the stitching pattern. Overall, don't be afraid to wear it if the forecast calls for mild precipitation, but wear a shell if it's going to dump wet snow or rain.

Comfort & Coziness


With notable comfort features, our testers were happy with the performance and features of this jacket. One of the most important features is the mobile face fabric that moves with the body while in motion. Our testers also really liked its three pockets (two handwarmers, one inner breast) and easy to grab zip pulls that are glove compatible. We loved the helmet-compatible hood but wished for a pull string at the back for a more precise fit, especially in stormy conditions.

While we love the stretchy face fabric, some of our testers noticed that the liner material is more 'grabby' than other jackets like the Arc'teryx Proton AR or quilted jackets like The North Face Thermoball.

The large interior pocket stores keys and phones easily. It's also where the stow-away system is located.
The large interior pocket stores keys and phones easily. It's also where the stow-away system is located.

As a result, we found that it was not as easy to layer over a wool base layer. This jacket scores an eight out of ten. But because it doesn't have ample comfort and cozy features like both the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush (with a fur-lined hood and collar) or the fleece-lined OR Women's Ascendant Hoody, its not the creme de la creme of the comfort and cozy metric.

This jacket is helmet-compatible.
This jacket is helmet-compatible.

Breathability


With decent breathability, its Nanosphere shell allows moisture to escape readily, scoring six out of ten in this metric. During our early morning runs, we found it did a good job at keeping us dry. However, it wasn't as breathable (or warm) as the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody. If you're in the market for the best in breathability, be sure to check out the Patagonia Nano Air, our Top Pick for Breathability or the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody.

Style & Fit


Earning a six out of ten, this jacket is stylish enough to wear out with friends to dinner or to the local climbing crag. Featuring a stretchy continuous face fabric with a stitched brick pattern on the front, and long horizontal bricks on the back, our testers thought this jacket was cute. While it's not as stylish as the Arc'teryx Atom LT or the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush, we reached for it on a daily basis to wear to work or out to the bar.

Regarding fit, many of our curvier testers mentioned it fits tighter around the hips and shoulders than other jackets, but the stretchy fabric accommodated them nonetheless. Our taller testers thought the arm and torso length was just right.

A look at style and fit of the BD First Light Hoody.
A look at style and fit of the BD First Light Hoody.

Best Applications


With a nice balance of breathability, warmth, and weather protection, we think this is an exceptional winter wear garment. Feel free to take it out on colder Spring or Fall days, but trade it in for something lighter when the temperature begins to go up. In winter it was great for hiking, wear around town, skiing, and ice climbing. Feel free to use it for a lot more than just that! Just don't expect to fit a tonne of layers (or an extra jacket) underneath because of its slim fit.

Value


With many great features and decent performance across the board, the $250 price tag is great. That said, it's not the best deal in this review. Be sure to check out the Editors' Choice, the Rab Xenon X, only costing $235. Or, if you're not in need of a technical jacket, take a gander at Our Best Buy award winner, the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush for just $130.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond First Light Hoody provides a sweet balance of warmth and breathability. Take it climbing, hiking, skiing, and more. It's best for colder days and best as a stand-alone insulated jacket.

The BD First Light Hoody is great for any outdoor activity. Take it hiking  skiing  climbing  camping  and more. Enjoy it throughout three seasons as a wear-alone piece or as an extra layer in the winter.
The BD First Light Hoody is great for any outdoor activity. Take it hiking, skiing, climbing, camping, and more. Enjoy it throughout three seasons as a wear-alone piece or as an extra layer in the winter.

Amber King

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Most recent review: March 9, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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