Black Diamond Access Hybrid Hoody
An insulated jacket with a good amount of breathability…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $115
An insulated jacket with a good amount of breathability and stretch for cold weather climbing.
- Good insulation in body, back, and hood
- Stretchy side panels for mobility and comfort
- Excellent slim fit design
- Large zippers
After years of discomfort while cold weather climbing, I made it a priority to find a jacket better suited for cold weather. My previous solution was to climb in either a softshell jacket or a down jacket. The softshell was stretchy and breathable, but I’d be cold in 50 degree or colder weather. The down jacket was warmer but didn’t stretch and I was always afraid I would tear the shell material.
So the goal was to find a jacket that was both stretchy and insulated while being durable for climbing. The jacket that best fit my needs was the Black Diamond Access Hybrid Hoody, which also comes in a non-hooded version and a vest.
- Stretch Panels - The side panels run from the bottom of the jacket at the waist, up to the armpits and continue to the cuff of the sleeves. The panels are Schoeller softshell material (260 g/m2, 91% nylon, 9% elastane) which makes the jacket highly breathable, especially in the underarms. Also the stretchy sides make the jacket very comfortable and allow for easy movement while climbing. In the picture, the darker blue section is the side panel.
- Insulation - The rest of the jacket, including the hood, is insulated with PrimaLoft Silver Hi-Loft synthetic insulation (65 g/m2). The insulation is not too bulky and is similar to an ultralight down jacket versus and standard puffy down jacket. While climbing and at belay stations, I was sufficiently warm in 40 deg weather. However, if I was sitting long enough, I would start to get cold along the sides due to the uninsulated stretch side panels. Of course, this is the tradeoff of having stretch side panels, and for me the stretch and breathability outweighed the lack of insulation on the sides. Also, there is an LT version, which has less insulation using PrimaLoft Gold Insulation (40g/m2).
- Pertex ripstop shell - The shell material is made of Pertex Quantum GL which is ripstop and has a DWR coating (20d, 40 g/m2 nylon). The Pertex material is thin but so far has held up while climbing. On my last climbing trip, I did a fair bit of pressing with my arms, shoulder, and back and the jacket did not show any wear. A few times I’d brush my arm against a sharp rock and the jacket would snag, but again there was no tears or holes. The Pertex is a little shiny but far from looking like a trash bag. Also, it’s more of a smooth material than soft and makes some noise, but is not crinkly enough to be annoying.
- Slim fit - What sold this for me was the cut of the jacket. It’s very slim fit through the torso and arms. It’s also long enough to fit under my harness. In cool weather, I wear just a baselayer under the jacket and in cold weather I wear a baselayer and a fleece.
- Hood - The hood is helmet compatible and has a drawcord adjustment to cinch down around your helmet.
- DWR - On my last trip, I got rained and sleeted on but the jacket continued to keep me warm and dry. The outer material did eventually get wet but dried quickly. You can see the wet jacket in the picture below when we decided to bail due to the weather.
- Pockets - The jacket has two zippered hand pockets and one vertical zip chest pocket. The chest zip pocket is good sized, roughly 5"x 4" and can easily fit a camera or smartphone.
- Compressibility - Due to the nature of synthetic insulation, the Access Hybrid Hoody does not compress down as small as my down jacket. It does not stow into its own pocket, but you can roll it up and stuff it into the hood. See the picture below compared to a standard Nalgene bottle.
- The two other products I tried on were the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody and the Arc'teryx Atom Hoody. The Nano air is made from a unique stretch insulation that’s soft and comfortable. I loved the material but unfortunately, it had a boxy fit, and did not fit me well. Also the vertical zip pockets were on the small side and the zipper snagged easily. The Arc'teryx Atom has a similar side stretch panel design like the Access Hybrid. The shell material was softer to the touch, which I liked, but again the fit was not slim enough for me. If the Access Hybrid is too constricting for you, these two would be good options.
- Overall, I am very happy with the Access Hybrid Hoody. I have found all Black Diamond soft goods to be well made and this is no exception. The hoody has been exactly what I was looking for in terms of insulation and stretch and has been great to climb in during the cold months. There is also a women’s version which is very stylish.