Black Diamond B.D.V. Hoody and Pants

Matt Zia reviews the Black Diamond B.D.V hoody and pants for Blister Gear Review.
Black Diamond B.D.V. Hoody

Black Diamond B.D.V. Hoody

Materials :  Schoeller® stretch-woven nylon (200 g/m2, 93% nylon, 7% elastane) with NanoSphere Technology


  • Adjustable, helmet-compatible hood
  • Half-zip design stows in zippered chest pocket with a carabiner clip loop
  • Climbing-specific gusseted underarm panels
  • Stretch cuffs
  • Drawcord hem

Manufacturer Listed Weight: 424 g

MSRP: $119.40

Black Diamond B.D.V. Pants

Matt Zia reviews the Black Diamond B.D.V hoody and pants for Blister Gear Review.
Black Diamond B.D.V. Pants

Materials :  Schoeller® stretch-woven nylon (200 g/m2, 93% nylon, 7% elastane) with NanoSphere Technology


  • Harness-compatible, internal ladder-lock waistbelt
  • Two-way zippered fly
  • Two zippered hand pockets, one zippered rear pocket, one cargo pocket with Velcro closure
  • Climbing-specific gusset
  • Articulated, pre-shaped knees
  • Adjustable drawcord cuffs

Manufacturer Listed Weight 430 g

MSRP: $189

Reviewer: 5’11”; 165 lbs; Waist: 29”; Inseam: 32”

Days Tested: 20

Locations Tested: Indian Creek & Castle Valley, UT; Owens River Gorge, Mammoth Lakes, Lovers Leap, & High Sierra, CA; Red Rocks, NV

For a long time, I was not a fan of soft shells. My early experience with them was soured by overly thick fabrics and oddly cut proportions. I’ve come to find a new appreciation for them, however, mostly due to pieces like the Patagonia Knifeblade, the NW Alpine Fast/Light pants, and most recently, the Black Diamond B.D.V. kit. All of these pieces are quite thin and lightweight, and essentially uninsulated.

Black Diamond markets their B.D.V. line as a “four-season second skin for alpinists.” I was interested to check out this claim, and to see how the B.D.V. hoody and pants compare to other soft shells I’m familiar with.


I’ve had issues before with the fit of some Black Diamond apparel. Their upper body layers seem to fit true to size—I consistently fit into a Medium, just as I would with any other company’s gear.

But their lower body layers always seemed oddly cut. Either the length was right and the waist was huge in a Medium, or the waist was right and the length far too short in a Small.

Based on the size chart on the Black Diamond website, I opted to go with size Small pants for my 29” waist and 32” inseam, and I’m impressed with the fit. The waist fits me very well, and the built-in belt makes small adjustments easy.

The legs are slightly shorter than I personally would like, but the stretch of the Schoeller fabric makes the length less of an issue. I’ve only had them ride up when high-stepping while climbing, something that happens with every pair of pants I’ve worn.

Matt Zia reviews the Black Diamond B.D.V hoody and pants for Blister Gear Review.
Matt Zia climbing Puma (5.12-), Indian Creek, UT in the Black Diamond B.D.V. pants.

The size Medium B.D.V. Hoody fits true to size, and I really appreciate the cut of the sleeves in particular. They are cut long and slim, which allows for easy movement without excess fabric getting in the way.

The hood is also cut tall and fairly narrow to fit over a helmet while still providing a wide field of view.


My all-time favorite soft shell fabric is the Polartec Powershield Pro (PSP) which is found in the Patagonia Knifeblade (my favorite soft shell layer). The PSP fabric is supple and comfortable, and is amazingly weatherproof (my Knifeblade still beads up water after nearly two years of heavy use) while still staying breathable.

For a more detailed look at how shell fabrics actually work take a look at our Outerwear 101.

The Schoeller fabric used in the B.D.V. kit is advertised as being biased further to the breathable side of the waterproof/breathable spectrum than PSP. Unlike insulated soft shells which typically feature a thin fleece lining, or even the Knifeblade which has a knit tricot liner, the B.D.V. does not have any sort of lining on the inside of the fabric; the Schoeller sits directly against the skin.

Breathability and Waterproofing

I’ve been impressed with the fabric on the B.D.V. so far. It’s definitely not quite as weatherproof as the PSP—I’ve noticed the face fabric wets out more quickly than PSP in an afternoon shower, but the Schoeller fabric much more breathable.

I was able to wear the B.D.V. hoody and pants for the steep approach to Mt. Whitney in approximately 45ºF weather without sweating noticeably more than I would have in a t-shirt. The B.D.V Hoody and Pants are the most breathable soft shells I have ever worn.

NanoSphere Coating

The B.D.V. does not have a traditional DWR coating like the Knifeblade, rather, the Schoeller fabric utilizes something called a NanoSphere coating which is designed to repel not just water, but also dirt and oil.

The NanoSphere coating deserves its own article, but in a nutshell, it is a microscopic coating applied to each individual strand of yarn in the fabric that textures the fabric surface. Similar to the surface of a leaf, the textured fabric surface prevents adhesion of water, dirt, or oil molecules. Instead of sticking to the shell, water and dirt rinse off easily.

Although I was initially skeptical, I saw a significant boost from the NanoSphere coating in keeping the B.D.V. fabric clean. Even after a month of wear, the fabric shows very little visible dirt or staining. Although the B.D.V. does not have a DWR coating, and soaks through significantly quicker than a DWR coated fabric, I did not notice a significant decrease in breathability once the fabric soaked through, probably in part due to the lack of dirt and oil clogging the fabric.

NEXT: Durability, Features and Issues, Etc.

2 comments on “Black Diamond B.D.V. Hoody and Pants”

  1. I don’t see how ‘unlined’ softshells can weigh that much…this whole “category” is just so ridiculous…I mean, some “softshells” weigh 4 ounces, and others >2 pounds… It is time for some new terminology or something.

    • Hey Alvin,

      The term ‘softshell’ is a very broad descriptor and can describe many different jackets. What every softshell has in common is a fabric that is weather resistant, highly breathable, and stretchy. The widely varying weights of softshells have to do with the different additional features companies design pieces with. Some softshells are intended as very light layers, essentially a stretchy windshirt, and have looser weaves, thinner fabric, etc. Others are designed as heavier duty layers, almost replacing a hardshell, and have a tighter weave and thicker fabric. Despite the weight difference (in addition to the differences in intended use), both the heavy and the light jacket will share the properties I mentioned earlier, so the term ‘softshell’ is appropriate to describe both.

      Much in the same way, a ‘hardshell’ can describe a beefy, 50D Goretex Pro jacket with pit zips, multiple pockets, a large hood, and a powder skirt, or can describe a lightweight 30D Goretex Paclite jacket with a singular chest pocket, no pit zips, and a slim cut hood.

      Hope that helps clarify.


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