Why we like it Impeccable fit, superior breathability, and above-average weather resistance for a softshell made this a tester favorite for done-in-a-day alpine assaults.
Protection On a shoulder-season climb in the Cascades, one tester transitioned from drizzle to open-faucet rain to snow—all without having to break out a hardshell. “I kept looking down at my shoulders, expecting to see them wet out, and it never happened,” he says. Testers reported it took about two hours to feel damp in light rain, despite the lack of seam taping. Credit Schoeller’s DWR-like NanoSphere treatment, which (at a microscopic level) mimics a leaf’s textured surface to repel water and dirt.
Breathability Testers raved about the B.D.V.’s “easy to put on, hard to take off” comfort range: One sweat-prone tester tackled chilly peaks and rainy forests in temps ranging from the high 20s to low 60s, but says, “I never got damp.” Another reported only minimal sweat buildup on an uphill grind with a large pack that blocked venting.
Mobility Testers said the stretchy fabric (93 percent nylon, 7 percent elastane) “moved like a second skin” when they reached for slickrock handholds in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. The cuffs aren’t adjustable, but stretchy wrist panels accommodate gloves.
Fit Testers called the streamlined cut near-perfect: slim, with a touch of extra length on the arms and just enough hem drop to protect the rear without interfering with packs or harnesses. Note: It also comes in a hooded version ($199; 14.9 oz.).
$179; 13.8 oz.; m’s S-XL; blackdiamond.com