Black Diamonds for His Closet

Post by blogger | January 26, 2013      

Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell -- Schoeller StretchWoven nylon shell with three layer waterproof laminate, NanoSphere technology.

Two nights ago we stepped into the dazzling new Rio Tinto Center of the Natural History Museum of Utah. As we walked up the stairs, we passed corridors full of interesting stuff, beautifully presented in state-of-the-art displays, new technology preserving a rich heritage — a fitting place for Black Diamond’s new clothing launch. Briefly introduced in 2002 before getting shelved in order to focus on hardgoods, BD has a five year plan for full immersion into the softgoods market. The first step is the 2013 men’s collection.


Black Diamond's manifesto illuminates the elegant entry of the Rio Tinto Center of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Use. Design. Engineer. Build. Repeat. This cycle has underpinned Black Diamond’s equipment creation for the past 55 years. Drawing on their ethos for producing reliable gear that stands up to the rigors of outdoor life, Black Diamond developed three collections for its initial offering that are designed to function like a toolset. “A modular organization, a set of features in service of functional needs, and a clean, cohesive design language come together to form a set of simple solutions to the often complex problems we face in the vertical arena.”


Black Diamond's fit model is lean and athletic. The goal is streamlined and efficient garments, patterned and fitted for movement in the vertical environment.

Schoeller, Primaloft and Polartec are the trio of the line. As backcountry skiers, we’ve long been fans of Schoeller. And there’s a group out there that have coveted their 2002 Black Diamond Schoeller pieces. Indeed, when we were traversing the Ozthal Alps in Austria last spring, an Alpinist proudly wore a vintage BD shell, faded from years under high altitude sun, but still his favorite. Now the cult can update their feathers, and others can join the flock.

Dawn Patrol is Black Diamond’s Schoeller collection. Constructed with Schoeller’s stretch-woven, breathable fabric and finished with NanoSphere durable, water-repellent finish to repel moisture and stains, the pieces are designed for a lean and athletic fit. The samples we tried on had length where we like it — long in the arms and torso, without the beer belly pooch. The Dawn Patrol collection offers hybrid pieces, combining materials to deliver active and protective benefits without weight or restriction. The line includes a hybrid shell, hybrid bib, touring pant, approach pant, hoody and jacket.

Stance and Access are Black Diamond’s PrimaLoft collection. Desiring to cover the basics, synthetic insulation is offered with two fill technologies in three weights. Stance, available in two weights of PrimaLoft Synergy, is designed to be worn over your shell on route, or hunkered down in bad conditions for warmth and comfort as cozy as a sleeping bag. Access incorporates PrimaLoft One insulation, hybridized with Schoeller stretch panels that are treated with NanoSphere to create pieces that support athletic endeavors in winter climates. The collection offers a parka, hoody, jacket, pant, hybrid hoody, hybrid jacket, and hybrid vest.

Crag, Solution and CoEfficient make up the Polartech collection. Crag Polartec Windbloc shell with brushed fleece backer is a casual, climbing-capable piece that is available as a hoody or jacket. Solution is designed as a second layer insulator, comes in hoody, jacket, and 1/4 zip. CoEfficient address three critical needs — warmth, breathability, and fast dry times, comes in hoody, jacket, vest and pants.


The plan.

Available in stores Fall 2013. The men of WildSnow will be testing pieces while the all the poor WildSnow Girls have to wait — women’s collection won’t be available until Fall 2014. Boohoo.


The color palette.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


32 Responses to “Black Diamonds for His Closet”

  1. Daniel Dunn January 26th, 2013 12:26 pm

    I’m excited. Huge fan of Schoeller (my Cloudveil pants are getting worn out). And I like the BD fit model, who they’re going after, more of a Euro fit, for the lean, muscular, in shape types, not the average overweight American.

  2. Dan January 26th, 2013 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the report Lisa (Dan from Ruth Mtn. July 2011). Is there sizing info? Esp. pants for ski mountaineering? And color? Does everything have to be black? News Flash: Light color clothing is a big help for “body heat production management”. For me, a big problem with USA manufacturers of back-country ski clothing has been the sizes available. S, M, L and XL does not work for every body, esp. pants, even if one is fit and trim. And it is not practical to adjust the length of most ski pants. Jackets and shirts seem to fit most folks (skiers and climbers anyway), including myself. For pants, however, I have only been able to find a decent fit from European manufacturers (Mammut, etc) because they suscribe to the novel concept of inseam lengths and waist size in various combinations. I always assumed that the huge number of skiers in Europe provided the economy of scale needed to make a profit from manufacturing pants with inseam and waist combinations other than S, M, L and XL. Lately, though, the “back-country” is fairly busy here in the west and it seems that there might be enough of us… BD used to have a light colored, light-weight Scholler fabric alpine climbing pant with a tough elastic in the cuff area. They worked fine for both climbing and skiing. I still have my pair…full of patches, because they fit and function so well, esp when it is warm and sunny up there on the glaciers, etc. I look forward to checking out the new BD clothing line. Hopefully, some of it will fit. BTW: For me, the regular gear/clothing reports from Wildsnow are valuble and I appreciate them. If it were not for, I suspect that a lot of your readers would not know that much of this stuff even existed or was worth buying. I used Lou’s report on the Active Shell and Neoshell jackets to make a recent purchasing decision. For my needs, I chose the Active Shell jacket and am amazed at how well it works. Now let’s see how long it lasts….love those European TRs too.

  3. California Dream'in January 26th, 2013 1:46 pm

    Thought the market was already saturated, but hey..what do I know?
    Always interested in quality down jackets for alpine climbing..looking forward to the expanded selection.

  4. Tuck January 26th, 2013 1:48 pm

    Wow. Nice looking stuff, and another +1 for the lean fit model.

    Guess I won’t be able to pick up BD gloves at my local Patagonia store after this…

  5. Jane January 26th, 2013 2:02 pm

    Any unisizing charts available. Is xs offered?

  6. Lou Dawson January 26th, 2013 4:10 pm

    Dan, I’m so glad you found our Active Shell info useful. That stuff really is amazing, isn’t it? Many of these new “super breathable” fabrics just blow my mind.

    As for the BD clothing launch, it was cool but lacked something in the model department….


  7. Lou Dawson January 26th, 2013 4:14 pm

    And, stretch woven still rules, other than in the PNW…

  8. Lisa Dawson January 26th, 2013 6:59 pm

    Hi Dan!
    You bring back good memories of a fun day in your beautiful mountains. I love skiing in the Cascades, even if I have to crawl thru a bit of avy debris to get there.

    Avy crawl

    You bring up good points about sizing. Hopefully Black Diamond will take note. We didn’t receive sizing information but I updated the post to include BD’s color palette. Their goal is to avoid fleeting trends while offering a scheme that can be combined in a number of ways — 1) color matched top to bottom, 2) high low complementary pairing of bright tones with dark tones of the same family, and 3) super high contrast and bold color mash ups. I thought the colors were classy with a tasteful range of conservative to brighter hues.

  9. Dan January 26th, 2013 8:15 pm

    Lou and Lisa: Looks like BD has covered all the bases at least color-wise in their upcoming clothing line. I hope the Scholler fabric pants will fit me! Thanks.

    Active Shell follow-up comment: I picked the Active Shell (Arcteryx….on sale) specifically to wear when it is snowing, which is frequent in the NW. Also, it generally is not very cold (mid 20s to low 30s). During those conditions I find that all I need is a mid-weight capilene top, a Marmot dri-clime vest and the Active shell jacket. I put it all on at the car and don’t remove anything until back at the car…typically 6 to 8 hours later during winter months. It is amazing how dry I am at the end of the day. I don’t care about the relative rain proofness of the Active Shell vs Neoshell. If it is raining at the parking lot in the morning, we just head back to the coffee shop or pub. If it starts raining while on the tour, we simply turn around anyway. Also, I wear the hood while it is snowing. Otherwise, the hood only acts as a device for collecting snow with subsequent consequences, such as snow down the back of my neck. Looking forward to reading about new gear. Thanks again.

  10. Matt January 26th, 2013 10:16 pm

    I wasn’t in the Alps with you but I have a faded BD shell that I wear all the time. Hard to believe that it’s 10+ years old and still bomber. I hope the new clothes will have the same quality control.

  11. OMR January 26th, 2013 10:16 pm

    Overweight American vs. European school-girl. What about lean, rugby-player types?

  12. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2013 6:59 am

    Regarding comment moderation here at WildSnow, we’ve had a lot of false positives in terms of our spam blocking and such. I’m tuning it all, should be much better once I’m done with the work so keep posting your comments and hopefully enjoy fewer being held in moderation by accident. Lou

  13. Phil Miller January 28th, 2013 10:43 am

    I thought Patagonia and BD were sibling organizations. Am I way out of date? Was there a split or spinoff somewhere along the line?

  14. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2013 11:17 am

    Phil, shows you the power of branding perception. They were founded by the same people, but at this time have absolutely no business relationship I know of. It happened back when Chouinard Equipment existed, they started doing clothing, then did spin that off as Patagonia. But after that, when Chouinard Equipment ceased to exist, any formal business relationship ceased as well (as far as I know, anyway). Going forward from that, a lot of people were friends with each other in the different companies, and there was a lot of cross pollination and even inter-marriage (grin). Perhaps what causes the confusion is that Patagonia is still owned by Yvon Chouinard and his wife, while, again, there is no “Chouinard Equipment” company (it morphed into Black Diamond.)

    According to a business writer Yvon “and his wife are sole owners of Patagonia, a privately held company that brought in $414 million in sales last year…”

    If you google all this, you can find about a week’s worth of reading. (grin)

  15. Tuck January 28th, 2013 11:35 am

    When Chouinard Eq. went bankrupt, the employees bought the assets from Chouinard and reformed as Black Diamond Eq. in Utah.

    The only relationship now, as far as I’m aware, is that Patagonia stopped making their own gloves a few years ago, and they now sell only BD gloves in their stores.

  16. Sue January 28th, 2013 1:12 pm

    I hope the 2014 women’s line includes schoeller, especially schoeller pants. Any way of communicating this to Black Diamond?

  17. Carl (the other one) January 28th, 2013 1:13 pm

    Any chance of a larger color chart so we could see what the actual clothes look like? Or better yet some photos of more pieces of clothing? Or is that not ready yet? Because so far the new BD clothing line seems pretty big on hype and bloviation (there’s, not yours Wildsnow 🙂 ) and pretty small on meat. Other than the nebulous “fit” what makes their cloths any different than the other 40 brands? 15 years ago they were one of a few Schoeller/stretch woven jacket/pant makers – now there’s dozens.

  18. Zapped78 January 28th, 2013 9:29 pm

    Chinese-made like their skis? Nothin like earnin turns in the latest sweatshop styles and goin Mach 1 all about the down on the latest chicom kit….those nuns running for the border probably couldve used some good gear too. If its not china-made, well then hoo-ray for BD!

  19. Zeb January 29th, 2013 4:54 am

    Is Active Shell similar to neoshell? I have an EMS neoshell jacket, which is really great. I’ve tested it more on the bike than on snow, but it keeps me nicely dry–no claminess whatsoever.

  20. Lisa Dawson January 29th, 2013 8:16 am

    Zeb, Neoshell is more water resistant and a bit heavier than Active Shell. Lou goes into detail in his previous post comparing lightweight shells:

  21. Zeb January 30th, 2013 7:45 am

    @Lisa–thanks for the link. I may have missed it, but there didn’t seem to be a comparing the breathability of Active Shell and Neo Shell. As I said, the breathability of Neo Shell seems quite magical to me. As to brands, my EMS is nice and minimal–just two pockets–and on the low end of the price spectram.

  22. Lou Dawson January 30th, 2013 8:32 am

    Zeb, in my experience Active Shell breaths a bit better, but not so much better as to change my life. I like it when I know the weather will be fairly dry, as I can leave the jacket on and depend on it to breath while I’m exercising (which can be done with the Neo as well, but perhaps not quite as well). But as mentioned in my comparo, it’s not suitable for full-on wetness protection. The thing about Neo is that it’ll work for most wet situations, as well as breath amazingly well. If I can carrry only one shell and I don’t have much choice about weather, I’d carry the Neo, but if I can wake up in the morning and chose whether to go or not, I generally bring the Active.

  23. Willis Richardson January 31st, 2013 9:48 am

    I was re-reading the comments about the clothing model and styles. The impression from the model is another line of clothing for people maybe 6″ feet tall weighing 130 pounds with no ass and no leg muscles. I also don’t understand why there are no light colors for some of the pants. You can’t spring ski with black pants on in most areas without developing a maximum skin rash regardless of the venting.

  24. Matt January 31st, 2013 10:32 am

    Surprising move from BD, and I hope this won’t take their focus away from making great climbing and ski gear. Looking at what happened over the years to companies like TNF that started having quality control issues with technical stuff when sales of mainstream clothing picked up, I’m sort of hoping this doesn’t become too successful. I’m using a bunch of stuff from BD like rock and ice protection, the kind of gear that you really need to trust. The jackets look pretty good though.

  25. Chris K February 1st, 2013 7:41 pm

    Second the comment about rugby types. Patagucci et al size their pants for people with no hips and pencil thighs. Some of us who move upward actually develop large quadriceps and hamstrings…I’m tired of having to buy pants too big to be able to move in them.

  26. Tyler February 6th, 2013 1:52 pm

    @Dan – We looked at the BD clothing line back in October. No fit chart to provide, but I can tell you they are not launching with pant lengths, just “standard” inseam lengths.

    @Carl – After looking at the full spectrum of clothing for the forthcoming Fall/Winter 2013/2014, I can tell you that more and more companies are using recognizable 3rd party fabrics: Polartec, Scholler, Gore-Tex, Pertex, etc. Really other than style and fit it’s really hard to appreciate the difference between a lot of brands today. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that you are getting quality goods from whoever makes clothes that fit you.

    @Zeb – I did a test for a blog I write for regarding breathability of new fabrics. I have been less impressed than Lou in this regard.

  27. Willis Richardson February 6th, 2013 2:54 pm

    Manufactures don’t even know what standard pant rise or pant lengths are today from what was considered standard measurements. The clothing produced today is low in the rise and long pant lengths fitting people with narrow waist, no leg or butt muscle and this is not how athletes are built. Just look at all the clothing Patagonia is dumping out at 40-60 % off because no one can wear the stuff. There is absolutely no quality control on the products in regard to sizing. The fabrics made today are indeed a miracle but the control of sizing is unacceptable. I can’t believe manufacturers through stuff out there and think people will buy it. If you have a 36 waist and 32 length inseam, you should not have to try on 10 brands in sizes 34 to 38 to see which fits. It is absolutely absurd. It suggested none of the designers are athletes.

  28. Dan February 6th, 2013 9:58 pm

    Especially with pants, there is the issue of “vanity” sizing. That is, label a 34 inch waist as 32 inches, etc. More than a few manufacturers are doing this with jeans, dress pants, etc. I just assume the knothead clothes designers will try it with ski pants too. Personally, I really don’t care what the numbers are, only that the item fits me. I guess this is a trick to get folks back into the retail shops and “off-line”? Maybe when the BD clothing line finally shows up on store shelves, the pants will fit me. Otherwise, I am stuck buying non-USA made ski pants form Mammut, et al. Remember the sans-a-belt slacks? Now there is an idea whose time has come for ski pants application!!! I should be in marketing, eh?

  29. Willis Richardson February 7th, 2013 7:52 am


    Dude, you are very much from back in the day day with the sans-a-belt concept.; however, I like the idea. Good on you.

  30. Nick March 28th, 2013 2:51 pm


    I just took a quick look at the breathability tests that you presented on your blog comparing various garments. Although I applaud you for actually trying something like this, I have to disagree with you on what the data is showing. While I might agree with you that the relative humidity is a contributor to how wet your clothing may get and what is important in terms of perceived moisture, what is really more important is how much moisture actually ends up in your middle and base layers.

    You also noted correctly that there are other factors which contribute to the % or relative humidity such as temperature, amount of hydration, exertion, various individual-characteristics. But I might say that those are probably more important to what you are seeing in the data. For example, even with a constant amount of water in a volume of air, the relative humidity will drop as the temperature rises. So, when you state in the blog that the initial drop in relative humidity was due to increasing breathability, it may have nothing to do with that at all. The temperature of the air under the shell may have increased due to exertion with no concomitant change in the amount of water in the air and the relative humidity would have, by definition, dropped. Or, the temperature may have increased faster than the amount of sweating which would have resulted in the same initial drop.

    On the other hand, the data you have collected may still be relevant and quite useful. Have you tried also plotting the temperature that you got off of that sensor and/or back-calculate the absolute humidity? The latter may actually tell you more about the rate of change and/or may normalize out some of the other individual factors. Did you also normalize out by individual tester, or are all results from one individual?

    Like I said, I applaud the attempt, but the data and your conclusions need to be evaluated a bit more carefully.

    Let us know what you find out if you get the chance to revisit it.


  31. Willis Richardson March 28th, 2013 4:59 pm

    I think we should just go back to the old tried and true 60/40 cloth.You knew the strength and weakness of the fabric as well as being able to waterproof it and still have good weather protection. I believe in fabric development today but each product contents are similar but vary greatly on how each person reacts to its use. One guy buys a jacket with rat fur particles in and thinks it’s the greatest invention since Twinkies. Another guy buys a jacket with deer poop particles and never had it so good. They switch jackets and one guy has a rainstorm going on in the jacket, and the other guy gets case of giant hives and has to go to the emergency room. The fabrics perform but seem to perform entirely different for each person. This discussion is getting to scientific for me.

  32. Nick March 28th, 2013 6:33 pm


    Yup, you are correct on all counts. Minimizing the number of variables, such as tester idiosyncracies, e.g. rat fur allergies, is always a good thing in scientific testing. 😉

    The other thing is that perception in testing can be quite subjective, ie. “I barely could tell I was sweating…”, so I admire the approach that Tyler used to try to get at the breathability issue – reported material moisture transmission rates aren’t always the most relevant. The actual construct of the clothing is also important. Anyways, I was just trying to help with objectivity by refining what data and how the data should be examined.

    I was going to offer to help look at the data, but I realized I better get back to my work-related data. Otherwise, I won’t be able to afford that highly breathable clothing. 😆

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