The Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody has recently been replaced by a newer jacket Black Diamond Accesss Hoody which is now 700-fill down. Some of the below review is still relevant, but I recommend reading my updated list of all epic down jackets here.
Cold Forge uses a unique blend of down and synthetic fabric, which makes the jacket heavier, but also warmer.
The most notable aspect of this blend is that it ensures the jacket remains warm in wet conditions, making this hoody our Editor’s Choice.
The jacket has an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood which means you won’t need to sacrifice warmth for safety. While it is on the heavier side, we've set out all the features for you to decide for yourself if this is the right down jacket for your adventures!
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Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody uses PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend (70% down, 30% polyester) as filling for the jacket, and a ripstop shell and lining.
This jacket is incredibly warm and well insulated, with the added benefit of staying that way in wet conditions. The blended filling is not very common, however, it appears to have worked out well in this instance.
There are several other notable features on this hoody. The hood is adjustable and helmet-compatible, and the underarms are gusseted to allow for easier movement when climbing up.
These two features would indicate that the jacket was constructed for winter climbing. The drawcord hem is multi-purpose: it seals in warmth, prevents drafts and prevents the jacket from riding up during a climb.
The Cold Forge contains 4 pockets: 2 internal and 2 external, all of which are zippered. The external pockets are perfect for keeping hands warm, while the internal pockets could be used to store valuables and snacks.
The jacket weighs 20.3oz (575 grams), putting it on the heavier side of lightweight, however, the features could more than make up for that.
See Other Down Jackets
Finding the correct down jacket for hiking and adventures at altitude for your needs and budget can be a tricky task and sifting through the troves of reviews can be time consuming and confusing. To make things easier, check out our expert review on the five best down jackets for hiking here.
Warmth, Insulation and Draft Prevention
The Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody is created with a 70% down and 30% polyester blend. This blend of PrimaLoft Down provides the same warmth and insulation as other down jackets, with one exception: it stays warm in wet conditions as well. Due to the blend, the filling is less likely to become pulp when confronted by moisture, and the polyester also provides added insulation.
The Cold Forge has a longer cut, along with a drawcord hem, which provides extra protection against drafts. The cuff design does leave a lot to be desired, however. It only reaches the wrist and rides up often, which would allow cold air to enter. The hood is probably one of the best features on the Cold Forge, since it is adjustable to seal in heat and prevent drafts, as well as being helmet-compatible.
Weight and Water Resistance
Due to the PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend, the jacket is heavier than other jackets in its category. The mix of 70% down and 30% polyester, causes the Cold Forge to weigh 20.3 oz (575 grams).
This extra weight might seem like a put-off to many, however, it ensures that the Cold Forge is perfect for wet weather. The main concern when dealing with down jackets, is moisture. The mix of down and polyester ensures that the Cold Forge will remain warm even during wet conditions. It also decreases the chance of down turning to pulp due to moisture, like sweating. The Pertex shell is treated with a durable water resistance (DWR) coat as well, ensuring that the jacket will shed light rain and snow easily.
While many may decide that the extra weight puts this jacket at the bottom of the list, it was our second favourite jacket, after the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. We felt that the extra weight became irrelevant when compared to the advantage of warmth and dryness in wet conditions.
Durability and Breathability
This jacket has a mixed filling, as well as a Pertex 20D Microlight shell. The filling is where most of the 20oz weight comes from, since the shell and lining are lightweight. The Pertex shell, while lightweight, is very durable and suited for climbing. It also ensures that the jacket is breathable and not constricting.
Pertex fabrics are designed and created with cold, wet climates in mind. The fabric is engineered to be lightweight, breathable and durable. The shell is treated with durable water repellent (DWR), which not only sheds light moisture, but also ensures that the jacket will experience less wear-and-tear due to wet conditions.
If you are worried about the DWR being ruined during a wash, there is no need for concern. Once the jacket has been tumble-dried, the DWR will be restored. However, it is advised that you send your jacket to professional cleaners, who will know how to treat it appropriately.
Comfort and Ease of Movement
The Cold Forge is perfect for climbing. It has a slightly longer hem length, with drawcords to seal in heat and prevent drafts. The hem won’t ride up while you are climbing, ensuring that you maintain your core temperature. The adjustable hood is helmet-compatible, which means you won’t need to sacrifice warmth for safety.
Due to the mix of down and synthetic insulation, the Cold Forge is warmer than most down hoodies, and remains that way in wet conditions, where other hoodies may fail. The mix of polyester in the filling also prevents the down from clumping, which can be very uncomfortable, especially if you are mountain climbing.
Another feature that ensures comfort while climbing, are the gusseted underarms. These ensure ease of movement when reaching up. You won’t need to worry about your jacket constricting your movement while climbing, as it moves with you easily.
There was one problem as far as fit and comfort are concerned: the poor cuff design. Unlike the hem, the cuffs are shorter than we would like, and it often rides up, exposing the wrists to chilly air, and allowing drafts to enter up the sleeves. You could combat this by wearing long, insulated gloves.