Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Lacks weather protection
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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