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Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody - Women's Review

A warm and breathable quilted jacket that is also stylish.
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Price:  $260 List | $258.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, breathable, cute style, amazingly versatile fit, comfortable
Cons:  Lacks weather protection
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 6, 2020
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weight & Compression - 20% 6
  • Comfort & Coziness - 20% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Style & Fit - 5% 9

Our Verdict

Looking for breathable warmth? The Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody has an incredibly comfortable construction that'll help you keep you dry throughout the day. It's a heavier jacket that offers awesome warmth (especially in a layered system) while off-loading heat as you hike local trails. Its one of our favorites to wear out on the town as the quilted patterns and colors are comfortable and super cute. It's gotten many compliments from friends that see it and wear it. Unfortunately, it can't really hold its own in the face of serious weather and needs to be layered with a shell if you're in wet climates. Enjoy the glorious stretch of this super comfortable contender all season long! It's also surprisingly packable for its weight.


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Pros Warm, breathable, cute style, amazingly versatile fit, comfortableGreat style and colors, lightweight warmth, warm when wet, versatile use, durableWarm, lightweight, packable, windproof, water resistant, slippery smooth face fabricsVery warm, almost weather proof, flattering fit and style, packableWarmth, many comfort features, very weatherproof
Cons Lacks weather protectionExpensiveNot breathable, boxy fit, zipper gets stuck in fabric and can ripNot breathable, tight across the backNot breathable or very packable
Bottom Line A warm and breathable quilted jacket that is also stylish.A veratile wool-insulated jacket with fantastic overall performance in a reversible package.Warm and compressive, this continuous shell jacket is an excellent option for all types of adventures.The warmest synthetic jacket tested.A very affordable and high performing non-technical insulated jacket.
Rating Categories Black Diamond First Light St... Swisswool Piz Bial Rab Xenon Hoodie - Women's Avant Featherless Hoody Heavenly Hoody
Warmth (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
9
Weight & Compression (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
4
Comfort & Coziness (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
Weather Resistance (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
Breathability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
4
Style & Fit (5%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
Specs Black Diamond... Swisswool Piz Bial Rab Xenon Hoodie -... Avant Featherless... Heavenly Hoody
Weight 16.25 oz 12 oz 8.75 oz 14.75 oz 21 oz
Number of Pockets 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest) 4 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest, 1 stuff sack) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest)
Insulation PrimaLoft Silver Active (60gsm, 100% Polyester) 88% virgin wool, 12% polylactide 60g Stratus 3M Thinsulate Featherless Insulation 100% polyester
Outer Fabric 80gsm, 93% Nylon, 7% Elastane 100% recycled nylon Pertex Quantum Atmos ripstop 20D woven Storm-Lite DP II
Lining Light weight stretch woven nylon 100% nylon Nylon Nylon Luscious Pile Fleece, 100% polyester
Hood Option? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Built-in stash pocket? Yes No Yes No No
Cuff construction Elasticized cuffs Elasticized cuffs Elasticized cuffs Elasticized cuffs Internal elastic cuff
Warranty Information Lifetime; will repair, replace, or refund, no questions asked 30-day return Lifetime warranty with original proof of purchase - includes repairs Lifetime warranty Limited lifetime warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody offers breathable warmth on the go. It offers a super comfortable fit and style that is good to go on any type of adventure, whether its a Tinder date or your first ice climb. It is warmer than most of the mobile-faced jackets tested but is also heavier and less breathable. Even though it offers superior breathability in comparison to other types of jackets, its really best for active use that isn't that sweaty. For example; ice climbing or as a belay jacket for rock climbing. It's also a great choice for hiking.

Performance Comparison


A jacket that is warm  breathable  and quite stretchy. It's super comfortable and fit to take you up mountains and travel wherever you want to go.
A jacket that is warm, breathable, and quite stretchy. It's super comfortable and fit to take you up mountains and travel wherever you want to go.

Warmth


This jacket offers more warmth than most of the mobile-faced jackets tested, but it's not quite as warm as the more insulated contenders. Loaded with durable PrimaLoft Active Silver insulation, it offers a decent amount of warmth.

The First Light Stretch is built with PrimaLoft Silver insulation  offering decent warmth as long as the temps don't dip too cold.
The First Light Stretch is built with PrimaLoft Silver insulation, offering decent warmth as long as the temps don't dip too cold.

We often chose it on camping trips where the mornings presented shiver-worthy conditions. Its thicker design keeps the heat in, as does the cozy hood, large hand-warming pockets, and adjustable hemline. We wore this jacket when it was super cold as our outermost layer with a fleece and base layer layered underneath. We also wore it on warmer days with just a t-shirt. If you need a little extra warmth, put it under a looser shell to add even more warmth to your cold-weather arsenal.

Weight & Compression


Weighing in at 16.25 ounces, this is one of the heavier jackets tested. It feels heavier than the lighter jackets when worn, but surprisingly compresses to quite a small package!

A heavier jacket that compresses into its own stuff sack in the interior pocket of the jacket.
A heavier jacket that compresses into its own stuff sack in the interior pocket of the jacket.

Its chest pocket has an expandable mesh area that can take the bulk of the jacket and roll it up into a small package. It's a great option to wear on a cold day or to pack into your backpack. While it's not the lightest, its higher amount of insulation is a tradeoff for the slight increase in weight.

For its a larger size  it's surprising how small it can get.
For its a larger size, it's surprising how small it can get.

Comfort & Coziness


This is easily one of the most comfortable jackets that we've worn. While many jackets score high in this metric, this one stands out for its softer face fabrics. The interior is smooth, making layering over and under quite easy. We absolutely love the large handwarmer pockets that are huge and smooth inside.

We love the roomy pockets.
We love the roomy pockets.

The interior pocket is large. This is where the jacket stuffs into itself.
The interior pocket is large. This is where the jacket stuffs into itself.

The hidden chest pocket inside the jacket offers additional storage, large enough to easily fit a phone and a snack. The elasticized hem, cuffs, and hood are also well-fitted, with the hood having a cinch cord to make for a specific fit around a helmet or hat. Overall, this jacket is quite cozy and comfortable. Wear it all day long and put larger layers underneath it if you need it.

We LOVE the helmet compatibility. Of the jackets tested  this one offers some of the best performance. It doesn't pull the jacket in odd ways when on and stays in place.
We LOVE the helmet compatibility. Of the jackets tested, this one offers some of the best performance. It doesn't pull the jacket in odd ways when on and stays in place.

A roomy hood to accommodate helmets both small and large.
A roomy hood to accommodate helmets both small and large.

Weather Resistance


We had really high hopes for this jacket to be a little more resistant to the weather. While the face fabric is composed of Nylon and a plant-based water-resistant technology called EcoRepel Bio, it does some work to cut the wind, but not a whole lot. When layered appropriately, the whole system works quite well, but with just a t-shirt underneath, we could really feel the wind blow through its porous insulation. Water also doesn't fair very well. When in light rain, it'll repel nicely on the fabric, but eventually saturates.

We enjoy the first snow of the season. For simple weather conditions like a little wind or rain  it's fine  but performance stops about there.
We enjoy the first snow of the season. For simple weather conditions like a little wind or rain, it's fine, but performance stops about there.

In our water tests, where we sprayed each jacket with a showerhead for two minutes, this jacket performed really poorly. The water beaded for about 10 seconds before completely soaking through. While most jackets just soak through the first layer, this one soaked all the way to the back of the jacket, becoming drenched completely. While water didn't accumulate in the layers like in other mobile-faced jackets, it still didn't do very well. If you want to wear this breathable coat into rainy conditions, you best have a shell, or you're going to end up wet.


While the material originally starts beading up water  it eventually soaks in completely. In the image on the top right  you can see that the water absorbed through the material completely. It is far from waterproof.
While the material originally starts beading up water, it eventually soaks in completely. In the image on the top right, you can see that the water absorbed through the material completely. It is far from waterproof.

Breathability


We absolutely love the breathable nature of this insulated jacket. We love to wear it hiking and backpacking. We tested it while running and found that under a lot of aerobic strain, it does a decent job at venting and off-loading heat. However, it's not nearly as good as thinner jackets with a mobile-face design. As a result, we like to keep this jacket on hand for lighter and less aerobic activities like ice or rock climbing and hiking. It's also a wonderful super warm mid-layer to be worn underneath a shell.

The interior liner is quite porous  offering decent breathability for hiking or other sweaty endeavors.
The interior liner is quite porous, offering decent breathability for hiking or other sweaty endeavors.

Style & Fit


We love, love love the style and fit of this quilted, and soft mobile face jacket. When ordering, we knew from previous experience that these jackets can be more fitted. Since we wanted to add layers underneath, we sized up to a medium (our tester is 5'6, 145 lbs, medium build), which was the right thing to do.

This jacket has nice length in both the arms throughout the torso as seen here.
This jacket has nice length in both the arms throughout the torso as seen here.

Cute and stylish enough for travel and beyond.
Cute and stylish enough for travel and beyond.

The jacket offers a very versatile fit with a lot of length in both the arms and the torso, and also through the waist and bust. Even with a larger size, it doesn't look boxy or baggy, but the baffled, mobile face design looks chic, neat, and quite cute. It doesn't have that classic outdoorsy look and can be worn pretty much anywhere.



A look at the fit of this jacket. This is a size medium for a 5'6"  145 lb tester with an athletic build.
A look at the fit of this jacket. This is a size medium for a 5'6", 145 lb tester with an athletic build.

The baffles are sewn in a flattering way, highlighting the natural curve of the female body, looking cute on just about any woman that we've seen it on. This is one of our favorites for its fit and style. It also has a lot of cute colors to choose from.

The arms and torso are quite long.
The arms and torso are quite long.

Value


The price of this jacket isn't so bad, especially when you find it on sale. There aren't many jackets out there that offer this amount of warmth that also have a breathable nature. If warm, cute, and breathable is what you seek, this is of great value. However, if you want something a little lighter, there are several other higher-performing options out there.

From camping to climbing to exploring the world  this warm and breathable jacket is a great choice. Here we make coffee before heading out to climb for the day on a cool morning in Nevada.
From camping to climbing to exploring the world, this warm and breathable jacket is a great choice. Here we make coffee before heading out to climb for the day on a cool morning in Nevada.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody is super cute with an amazing cut and style. It offers warm performance that breaths on the go. It's a wonderful option for wearing out to friends with dinner or while ice climbing at your favorite waterfall. It's not our top choice for super aerobic activewear, and its far from weather-proof.


Amber King