When you combine modern, technical alpine apparel and American manufacturing, you get NW Alpine. A simple, yet highly functional brand engineered in the United States was what Bill Amos envisioned in 2010.
After drooling over the women’s line for months, I was able to test out the NW Alpine Women’s Black Spider Hoody in Charcoal. If you’re curious, the charcoal is actually more grey than the photos on the website suggest. The Black Spider Hoody is a technical, half-zip baselayer made out of Polartec Powerdry.
If you’re counting ounces on your next adventure, this won’t weigh you down; it’s only 10 oz. The Polartec Powerdry material is incredibly lightweight and quick drying. It was dry before I even pulled it out of the washing machine to hang. However, one of the biggest downsides to using a synthetic material is the scent. It’s got a slightly strange, plastic-y odor, even after several washings. It’s not overwhelming or even that noticeable, but when you start to smell, this thing really smells.
The Black Spider Hoody is form fitting with long sleeves and a long torso. No issues with layers riding or bulking up under harnesses here. And no issues with the sleeves stretching out over time. The sleeves come equipped with thumbholes for people like me who like sleeves over their hands at all times.
The baselayer also comes with a little chest zip pocket, but I haven’t found much use for that. It’s too small to fit anything of significance, and it’s too form fitting to have it look right with something in there.
Other cons? Biggest one is the hood. The Black Spider Hoody is designed with a balaclava hood, which is totally cool when it is zipped up all the way. However, something went a little awry in the part where the hood meets the shoulders. Unless you have the trapezius muscle of Hercules, you’re stuck with pockets of airspace and loose fabric on either sides of your neck. It doesn’t lay flush with your shoulders. This isn’t a big deal if you’re wearing more layers on top or if it’s zipped all the way up, but when those layers are shed, your neck gets pretty girth-y.
All in all, this is not bad for the price. It’s functional, simple, lightweight and warm. It has all of the features that I need, and can be easily taken from trail to town. I don’t find myself in situations where I need to wear it alone with the hood up, so the weird seams there are not a deal breaker. It might be if you need every single piece of the garment to be functional, though.
This was sent to me for review.