The Black Diamond Vision Hybrid Hoody is exciting – not because it’s another potential solution to the alpine layering problem of warmth vs. weight vs. weather-readiness. Although it is exciting for that reason, the real appeal of the Vision Hybrid Hoody is in its cutting-edge weight-saving tech. It sports PrimaLoft’s Cross Core insulation, a blend of PrimaLoft Gold and NASA-developed, silica-based aerogel. Not to stop there, it’s shelled with a superlight liquid crystal polymer ripstop. What is aerogel? What is a liquid crystal polymer? And does any of this go beyond technical mumbo-jumbo? Well, read on and let me tell you.
Black Diamond Vision Hybrid Hoody Features:
- Japanese Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) ripstop for reinforced durability in high abrasion areas
- 60g PrimaLoft Cross Core Insulation with Aerogel for weight-efficient insulation
- Two harness-compatible zipper hand pockets
- Right-hand stow pocket; Zippered chest pocket
- Single internal drop pocket
- Integrated hem elastic draft gasket
- Elastic cuffs
- Single pull, climbing helmet-compatible hood
- Weight: 430g
- MSRP: $295
Visions of Shed Grams
Let’s start with the PrimaLoft CrossCore insulation. PrimaLoft consistently delivers quality insulation, but this jacket’s offering is even more special for its feature of aerogel, an extremely lightweight and efficient insulator. Aerogel has been around since the 1930s, but NASA has recently discovered how to reinforce the material with polymers, making it significantly more durable. In part, that’s what’s made it fit for use as insulation for a Mars Rover, and over-qualified for use by the general public.
So is the jacket warm? Absolutely. It has the warmth of a much heavier jacket. The insulation is thin, pliable, and super effective. It even kept me decently warm when wetted out on a snowy hike. And in spite of its warmth, it’s also reasonably breathable. I’m on the aerogel train.
The only things that don’t work with the jacket’s warmth-retaining setup are the openings – primarily the cuffs and the waist. The cuffs are half elastic, but not fitted tightly enough to keep out a draft. The waist is also drafty. Unfortunately, the integrated draft gasket really doesn’t do work unless you’ve opted for the jacket in a size that’s skin-tight. With an elastic cinch waistband, we wouldn’t have that problem.
So what about fancy feature number two, the Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) ripstop? LCP made a big splash in the outdoors scene in 2019 when Arcteryx introduced it in their line of AR packs, and a handful of brands have been rolling it out in various product lines since. Ultimately, LCP is a big deal for outdoor gear because of its low weight and high tensile strength for very low denier thread. Practically, that means that companies like Black Diamond can create durable jackets with super thin, light material.
It should come as no surprise that the Vision Hybrid Hoody’s shell is very thin and light. Black Diamond used a 20D nylon fabric with a tight LCP ripstop grid, and it’s nearly nonexistent. In fact, it even has some translucence to it. As for durability, I did pick up a small hole over the course of 2 months of testing. This jacket saw climbing days where it rubbed up against the rock, splitboarding days where it was cyclically pulled out of and shoved back into a pack, and hiking days where it caught the ire of scrub I was bushwhacking through.
With such a thin shell material, I’m not surprised it got a poke somewhere along the way. Still, I think that the LCP ripstop worked exactly as intended. The LCP grid contained that tiny hole completely. If it weren’t for this fancy ripstop, I believe the hole would’ve grown much larger, perhaps even developing into a full-blown tear.
Some of the other touches on the Vision Hybrid Hoody are a hit, while others are a miss. The pockets are plentiful and well placed, and I appreciate that. Two zippered hand pockets, one zippered chest pocket, and one great big internal drop pocket – that’s all the storage I need, maybe more. With that said, the zipper pulls across the board are small and flat, making them quite difficult to operate with gloves. A precise pinch does it, but it’s a needless challenge.
Eventually, we’re going to have to talk about the hood. When wearing a climbing helmet, the hood is fantastic – well-fitted, tracks with your head wonderfully. However, if you aren’t wearing a helmet, the hood does not work. It’s enormous. It engulfs half your head when cinched down, covering your eyes completely. If you don’t cinch the hood down, it doesn’t turn with your head at all. It’s a real catch 22, and it detracts from the jacket quite a bit. Like most, I rely on my hood when I’m cold in the alpine. I’m surprised to see such a significant design oversight in a jacket that’s progressive in so many other ways.
Fit: I’m a lean 5’11 and 170 lbs, and I have a long wingspan. I tested a size Large and found it to be a nice, semi-tailored fit in all areas except the hood. The hood seems to be built for one of the Pep Boys.
- PrimaLoft CrossCore insulation with aerogel rocks
- LCP ripstop successfully stopped a rip for me
- Very light and plenty packable
- Reasonably breathable
- Great pockets
- Hood only really works over a helmet
- Zipper pulls are a bit dinky
- Integrated draft gasket doesn’t do the job
- A bit pricey
The Bottom Line: Black Diamond Vision Hybrid Hoody
This jacket is an amalgam of cutting edge outdoor gear technology and new ideas. While some of them work, some of them don’t. The liquid crystal polymer ripstop and the Primaloft CrossCore insulation with aerogel both prove their mettle. Meanwhile, the integrated draft gasket and mis-designed hood leave much to be desired. All in all, the Vision Hybrid Hoody is a versatile all-arounder worth a version 2.
Buy Now: Available from Black Diamond