SLC-based Black Diamond has been on the outdoor scene since 1957, and their products have won the loyalty of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and a long slew of awards for gear innovation and design. From hard goods like magnetic carabiners and backcountry skis to soft goods like cold-weather gloves and the Avalung backpack, which has saved countless lives during avalanches, BD has stepped up its game each season. And this continues as we look into fall 2013 with an all-new line of apparel.
The first in a three-year plan of…let’s call it “focused domination,” Black Diamond will deliver a line of men’s soft shells, base layers, and insulated fleece next fall, working with a variety of textiles including Schoeller, Primaloft, and Polartech. We got a sneak peak…
The Dawn Patrol Hybrid Jacket ($349, pictured left) employs a Schoeller stretch-woven nylon shell with body-mapped, three-layer waterproof laminate and NanoSphere Technology, which encourages dirt and water to run off the fabric much like the self-cleaning effect of certain plants. The jacket boasts backcountry- and climbing-friendly features like two massive chest pockets, zippered hand pockets, and an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood. The Access Hybrid Hoody ($249, pictured center), meanwhile, melds a nylon shell with Primaloft insulation and Schoeller stretch nylon side panels to insulate on ice and rock, and will be built for movement and warmth. It’s got a chest pocket, stretch-gusset cuffs, a drawcord hem, and internal drop pockets, and is part of their Primaloft-centric Stance and Access line. Pieces like the Coefficient Hoody ($159, pictured right) fill the need for base- and mid-layers, described as the Crag, Solution, and Coefficient line. This zip-up layer uses Polartec Power Dry fleece (80% poly, 12% elastine) to provide athletic stretch, fast drying, warmth, and breathability. It has a single chest pocket, stretch cuffs, a smooth-to-the-touch feel, and an under-the-helmet, clean-fitting hood.
At first blush the color patterns and overall designs are impressive—it’s clear that Black Diamond spent a lot of time considering every detail, rather than rushing these 24 style to the market. (Creds for this go to former Patagonia clotheshorse, Tim Bantle and an A-list design team culled from other apparel powerhouses). Some decisions, like the tight elastic cuffs on the fleece, may relegate the product to solely to the field, as the feature doesn’t lend itself wearing it around around town as much as it does to hanging at the crag. This single focus may make the also A-list price points somewhat dear. But the designers’ inventive use of multiple fabrics could be a smart collaboration in creating truly high-performance pieces that could easily find a place in an already-crowded market.
In spring 2014, Black Diamond will introduce men’s alpine and climbing products, with the first women’s outwear coming in fall 2014. Ski wear will follow in fall 2015.
We have a few prototypes in our testers’ hands right now, and will report back as we approach the official release of the new product to the masses.