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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell - Women's Review

This is a durable and comfortable shell with impressive mobility and breathability, perfectly suited for climbing and skiing.
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Price:  $199 List | $99.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Fantastic mobility, large adjustable cuffs, generously sized helmet-compatible hood, good sleeve and torso length, durable
Cons:  Fits a bit large, interior pockets do not zip, not as warm as some other contenders
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 27, 2018
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 7
  • Breathability - 30% 7
  • Mobility - 25% 9
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Versatility - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol is a stretchy, highly mobile, and durable softshell that's perfect for aerobic activities requiring a helmet, harness, or pack. It provides decent weather protection, excellent breathability, and, while on the slightly heavier side, doesn't feel cumbersome. This layer packs down small enough to not be a nuisance, and it's protective yet breathable enough to hike through frigid temperatures and climb in both sun and wind — an excellent piece for any swing season adventure. The fit on the Dawn Patrol is a bit baggy and boxy and it's also rather heavy, but if you require something with a little more material and a whole lot of stretch, this is a great layer.

If you want something more fitted and half the weight, our Editors' Choice for Warmer Weather, the Arc'teryx Sigma SL Anorak Pullover is an excellent option for less money. Our other Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is also more fitted and ideal for colder weather.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Fantastic mobility, large adjustable cuffs, generously sized helmet-compatible hood, good sleeve and torso length, durableHighly breathable, quick-drying, harness and helmet compatible, stowable hood, durableVery lightweight, excellent mobility, highly breathable, great fit, affordable.Super breathable, great sun layer, excellent mobility, chest pocket doubles as stuff sack, thumb loopFull-legth side zippers, excellent fit, windproof, lined, thumbholes
Cons Fits a bit large, interior pockets do not zip, not as warm as some other contendersNot very warm, only one pocketNot warm, only two pocketsNot warm, less durable than other options, hem adjustment piece is bulkyLess breathable due to windproofing, expensive
Bottom Line This is a durable and comfortable shell with impressive mobility and breathability, perfectly suited for climbing and skiing.This lightweight and streamlined pullover is a fabulously durable layer that breathes like a dream and dries lightning fast.This smart and ultralight softshell is extremely easy to move in and highly breathable - an excellent pick for the movement-minded adventure seeker.This thin pullover is perfect for when you just need that little bit of extra protection while standing in the sun, working up a sweat, or shimmying up a rock face.This innovative hoody ups the ante with great features like full-length side zips, fantastic mobility, and excellent weather protection.
Rating Categories Dawn Patrol Shell Sigma SL Anorak Pullover Rab Borealis - Women's Whirlwind Pullover Ultimate V SO Hooded Jacket
Weather Protection (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
3
10
0
8
Breathability (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
Mobility (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
Weight (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
Versatility (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Specs Dawn Patrol Shell Sigma SL Anorak... Rab Borealis -... Whirlwind Pullover Ultimate V SO...
Measured Weight - Size Medium (oz) 20.2oz 9.5oz 8.3oz 8.2oz 13.1oz
Material Four-way stretch woven with brushed back and DWR finish (235 gsm, 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane) Aequora Airperm - 86% nylon, 14% elastane Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR 86% recycled polyester, 14% spandex, 75D stretch woven 100% polyester
Lined/Insulated? No No No No Yes
Hood Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable
Helmet Compatible? Yes Yes Yes, underneath Yes Yes, underneath
Wind Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, windproof
Water Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 4 (2 hand, 2 no zip internal) 1 chest 2 hand 1 chest 2 hand
Adjustable Cuffs? Yes, Velcro No No No Yes
Available Sizes XS - XL XS - L XS - XL XS - XL XS - XXL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Dawn Patrol is an excellent layer for active adventures requiring natural movement and high breathability. This shell is created with climbing and skiing in mind — the hood is helmet-compatible, the cuffs are wide and adjustable, and the hand pockets remain accessible when wearing a pack or harness. While a few other pieces had better weather protection, overall we feel this is a fantastic layer for the serious outdoorswoman at a very reasonable price.

Performance Comparison


The Dawn Patrol is built for movement - no matter what we got into it served us well  though the fit is on the baggier side.
The Dawn Patrol is built for movement - no matter what we got into it served us well, though the fit is on the baggier side.

Weather Protection


This layer is highly breathable, but the trade-off is that it's not quite as warm as other pieces in our review. While it keeps the wind at bay, you will be able to feel the temperature when it's cold more readily than in thicker more wind resistant models. But when moving and keeping the heart rate up, this shell is great, even in pretty extreme wind and cold. Layering strategically underneath will also make a huge difference in bumping up the warmth factor of this jacket.

Despite high winds and low temps  the Dawn Patrol will keep you well protected and - as long as you're moving - warm enough.
Despite high winds and low temps, the Dawn Patrol will keep you well protected and - as long as you're moving - warm enough.

Regarding water resistance, the Dawn Patrol is a mixed bag. The body seems to keep water out effectively, but the arms and upper chest get saturated more quickly. Those areas may be constructed slightly differently to aid in breathability. Bottom line, while this shell will keep moderate moisture out for a bit, it's not going to protect you from any severe rain. But that tends to be pretty typical of a softshell and why it's a good idea to own a hardshell as well.

The Dawn Patrol isn't the best for water resistance - while it keeps moisture out on the torso  the arms and upper chest soak through faster. Here you can see most of the water being repelled and staying on the surface  but if you look closely just below the neck you can see that it's soaked through.
The Dawn Patrol isn't the best for water resistance - while it keeps moisture out on the torso, the arms and upper chest soak through faster. Here you can see most of the water being repelled and staying on the surface, but if you look closely just below the neck you can see that it's soaked through.

Breathability


The Dawn Patrol is excellent for breathability, making it a great layer for high exertion activities. Even when climbing on a mild day in the sun, we didn't feel overheated or stifled. If heart rate-inducing outings are your jam, this shell can keep up.

We could feel more cold penetrating this jacket than some other contenders  but the breathability is top notch and make this an excellent layer for aerobic activities.
We could feel more cold penetrating this jacket than some other contenders, but the breathability is top notch and make this an excellent layer for aerobic activities.

Mobility


Constructed with underarm gussets from four-way stretch fabric, this jacket is noticeably very mobile. Combine that with a generous, almost baggy fit (this may be a piece you want to size down if you're in between sizes), and you have a pretty winning combination. No matter what you're doing or what other accessories — helmet, harness, backpack — you need along the way, the Dawn Patrol feels like having on a favorite comfy sweatshirt, not a highly technical softshell.

The Dawn Patrol moves and breathes phenomenally  feeling like a favorite stretchy sweatshirt more than the high performing technical jacket it is.
The Dawn Patrol moves and breathes phenomenally, feeling like a favorite stretchy sweatshirt more than the high performing technical jacket it is.

Weight


The Dawn Patrol weighs in at 20.2 ounces, heavy for pieces in this review. We feel like the weight is well-distributed though, as the jacket does not feel overly heavy or bulky and can pack down to a manageable size to fit in a pack or a stuff sack on your harness.

The Dawn Patrol is heavy  but it's superior mobility and good fit keep it from feeling overly bulky or heavy.
The Dawn Patrol is heavy, but it's superior mobility and good fit keep it from feeling overly bulky or heavy.

Versatility


Despite being quite heavy, this is a versatile layer. It's well-featured, very durable, and appropriate for a lot of different endeavors. Our favorite feature is the combination of four-way stretch material and underarm gussets. This is what helps provide fantastic mobility for all your active outdoor adventures. In addition to having some of the stretchiest material in our review, this jacket offers zippered harness-compatible hand pockets, two mesh un-zippered internal drop pockets, an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, and nice wide velcro-adjustable cuffs. It also has a very generously-sized hood, one of the easiest to fit over helmets and heads of all shapes and sizes. The one drawback is that, when not wearing a helmet, the extra fabric that gets cinched during tightening creates "wings" on the side that can slightly impede peripheral vision.

This jacket has a larger  roomier fit that is great if you want to layer underneath but it doesn't provide quite as flattering a profile as other pieces in our review.
This jacket has a larger, roomier fit that is great if you want to layer underneath but it doesn't provide quite as flattering a profile as other pieces in our review.

Best Application


Because of the amazing stretch and breathability this layer offers, combined with the large hood, harness/backpack compatible pockets, and excellent sleeve and torso length, we feel it is best suited for rock and ice climbing, skiing, skinning, snowshoeing, and all manner of hiking. If you want to move and stay relatively warm but not stifled while doing it, this is a perfect layer to consider.

The Dawn Patrol kept us protected and moving with ease while on a very windy cold alpine hike.
The Dawn Patrol kept us protected and moving with ease while on a very windy cold alpine hike.

Value


The Dawn Patrol is well-priced for the quality of the jacket you get. It may not be the warmest layer we tested, but it was adequate. It provides superior mobility and breathability, and the stretchy fabric is highly durable. This jacket should have no problem lasting you for years to come, though a color other than white is recommended to better hide the inevitable dirt and scuffs of an active lifestyle.

Conclusion


We are impressed on almost every level with the Dawn Patrol, other than the fact that it is on the heavy side. This jacket has an excellent sleeve and torso length which is great for active endeavors. It offers the stretchiest fabric of any piece in our review and decent breathability. It's slightly less warm than some other pieces, and the larger cut gives it a more technical look, but the extra room also means you can easily layer underneath to boost the warmth factor if needed. The internal pockets don't have zippers which would be a nice addition, but we appreciate having them nonetheless. All in all, we find this to be a very decent jacket and recommend it to anyone looking for a stretchy and roomy softshell.

The Dawn Patrol is an all-around fantastic jacket at a reasonable price point. Recommended.
The Dawn Patrol is an all-around fantastic jacket at a reasonable price point. Recommended.


Penney Garrett