When I’m traveling for climbing, whether on the road or abroad, I basically live in one outfit. The basic criteria for this outfit is that it must perform well in climbing situations, but it must also look good enough and be comfortable enough to wear in normal-life situations. Most important, it must be able to hold up for a couple of weeks of use, both on and off the rocks, without being washed.
This basically eliminates cotton, which, though comfortable and soft, degrades, dirties and stretches too easily to be useful over weeks of climbing and traveling.
Strike out Capilene and other similar synthetics, too. As you probably know, those things stink to hell after more than one or two hours of wear. How that happens is a dark, smelly mystery nobody quite knows.
To me, the best material for the climbing lifestyle is merino wool. It can be both warm and cool, depending on fabric thickness and weave. It’s soft and comfortable. It holds up really well to multiple days of wear. It’s durable. It can be washed in a river or sink without getting too stretched out. And it doesn’t stink.
I’ve tested various climbing hoodies over the years, but I’ve never found “the one” that I truly loved and fit my criteria for being an all-day every-day piece that would hold up to my active climbing/traveling lifestyle. That changed this spring when I got to test the new Black Diamond Deployment Hoody.
Black Diamond is now in its third season of producing apparel for climbing and skiing, with some pretty impressive offerings including the Modernist Rock Pants—a lightweight, stretchy Schoeller soft-shell pant that could easily stand up to a 15-pitch 5.12d in the Verdon (including a 30-meter crawl/grovel through a tunnel inside the wall) as it could look good enough to wear to a 5-star sushi restaurant in Monaco, as I recently discovered this past spring. One feature I really appreciate with the Modernist Rock Pants is the dual zipper, that can be unzipped from either side, which helps when wearing a harness.
The Deployment Hoody, along with the Modernist Rock Pants, is really an exceptional piece that has a few great features that make it so suitable to both climbing and lifestyle situations. First, the Hoody is constructed with a 60/40 blend of merino wool and nylon. The marriage of these two materials adds protection (nylon) on the outside, while the inside is warm, wicking and breathable enough to wear all day in a huge range of conditions.
The Deployment Hoody fits under a harness really well; the pockets are purposefully raised up to sit above a harness swami, but still look natural and feel ergonomic. The Hoody is also low-volume, which means it doesn’t feel “baggy” or bunched up when you wear it under a harness. However, because it’s stretchy, it moves with you really well.
At just under two bills, the Deployment Hoody is expensive, but when I break it down by the amount of hours I find myself spending in this thing, it’s seems worth it. Indeed, it certainly feels that way when you’re wearing it.