Gray skies in morning, no need for warning.

There's no need to cancel your plans if you wake up to skies that are more gray than blue, because the Black Diamond Men's Alpine Start Hooded Jacket keeps wind and light rain at arm's length. Slip it on when the gusts come out to play, and the climbing-specific gussets keep your arms moving freely even as its nylon face blocks the wind. The Schoeller softshell fabric is highly breathable, so you can hike fast and climb hard, and the jacket is treated with Nanosphere technology, making the stretch fabric resistant to both moisture and dirt. Weighing even less than before, it can be easily stowed into its own pocket when the sun comes out, letting you clip it to your harness or stuff it into a pack.

  • Softshell jacket for inclement weather on the crag or trail
  • Underarm gussets offer performance mobility
  • DWR treatment sheds dirt and light rain
  • Stretchy cuffs and drawcord hem seal out the chill
  • Adjustable hood can be popped for extra weather protection
  • Lightweight design packs down into its own pocket
  • Slim fit keeps bulk out of your way as you climb
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

Great Windbreaker

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: medium

I bring this with me any time i go climbing or trail running in cooler temps. packs down really small, extremely light and durable.

Broken Wind

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: Medium

This thing is great. I love how compact it gets, how light it is, and how it zips up into its own pocket. I'm also a fan of how the hood fits over my climbing helmet. I typically have it clipped to my harness on longer climbs. I would appreciate some more pockets, but I understand why they're not there.

Never Thought I'd Use a Windbreaker

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: Large

Windbreakers traditionally don't do much for me... too thin to be warm, yet they get clammy and sweaty the second you start to heat up. This thing is a totally different material though, actually a super thin softshell not a normal nylon windbreaker material. As a result, it is actually soft and comfortable against your skin, does an admirable job shedding heat (I use it for cool weather mountain biking mostly), and actually can shed a decent amount of water as well. To the extent that I use this is my "rain" jacket as well most of the time here in Utah where rain storms generally don't last super long.

Fit's perfect for sporty activities, at 6' 195lbs I wear a large and it's nice and trim. Can't wear much more than a long sleeve bike jersey underneath, but that's perfect for this jacket and that combo has gotten me through some pretty nippy mornings.

Must Have

  • Size Bought: L

For some this will seem like a niche piece to have, but this may be my most used jacket. It pretty much lives in my pack for whatever activity I am doing. It takes the edge of high winds, light snow, light rain, but is highly breathable. It's also great for a little extra warmth in the fall/spring when the temp drops and your in high output mode.

If you're looking for a light weight, packable, windbreaker/shell - this is by far the best option I've tried. After using the alpine start, the patagonia houdini feels like wearing trash-bag for a shell - the two products aren't even really comparable.

$160 for windbreaker type shell is on the high-side, but given the amount I've used this product over the last year plus, I think its worth it.

Great Jacket

    Use it for spring ski touring and throwing in the pack for those colder mtb rides.

    Would you mind sharing what size worked for you? It would help others like myself who are deciding whether to size up or down. Thanks!