Sep 18 2013

Review: BD Dawn Patrol Pants


Black Diamond's Dawn Patrol Touring Pant for 3 Franklin$.

Black Diamond’s Dawn Patrol Touring Pant for 3 Franklin$.

When Black Diamond announced they were going all in on clothing, I was fairly confident they would do a good job with respect to functionality first without ignoring fashion. Of the few pieces I’ve worn and used so far, they hit the nail squarely on the head.

Keep in mind it isn’t like I had not experienced the quality of BD clothing before. There’s an old, but still quite capable pullover wind shirt in my BC wardrobe that remains tough enough to withstand abrasion and a steady wind. It is mildly water resistant too, able to shed snow as long as you’re driving heat out with a little earn your turns action. It also gets a lot of use when I’m pretending to be Paul Bunyan.

Made with Schoeller
That tradition is carried on in spades with the new Dawn Patrol Touring Pants by Black Diamond. The design is simple and clean and BD didn’t waste time with a knock-off but uses premium Schoeller® fabric to provide a level of breathability that prevents overheating on a climb, but sheds wetness when it needs to. It isn’t the best option for riding lifts on a soggy Sierra storm day, but for most other conditions the water-resistance is good enough.

Side Zips
Additional venting beyond what Schoeller® intrinsically delivers, which is already a lot, can be had with side-zips that start mid-thigh and run to your ankle. It is acceptable and allows the possibility of stepping in to them with boots on because they open to the bottom and provide only a short tunnel to snake your boots through, but if BD is so inclined, I wish the zipper started higher up the thigh. It would make putting on knee pads easier. It’s a tele/snowboarder thing.

Gaitors are slim and trim but hold snug and secure over ski boots.

Gaitors are slim and trim but hold snug and secure over ski boots.

The Gaitors
The gaitors are spartan but effective, adding little weight. There is less excess material to deal with yet the elastic expands to yield a strong grip on the top of your boot, below the top buckle. Categorically I’m in the gaitors are stupid camp, but these are pretty acceptable and should satisfy the gaitors rule camp as well. A smart compromise. They’re secured with a velcro clasp and metal snap on the inside, plus a second solid metal snap on the outside.

Skiers will appreciate the proprietary ballistic material on the inside of the ankle. It feels durable, but only time will tell for sure.

Sadly there is no butt pocket. It wouldn’t be so bad and I understand the reason, since these pants are intended for alpine climbing as well and you don’t want a wallet under your harness. However, the real issue is there simply aren’t enough dadgum pockets. C’mon BD, three just ain’t enough. How ’bout another thigh pocket on the left and with a lil’ more volume too. Thanks.

The suspenders for the Dawn Patrol Touring Pants are superb, even to the point of modifying your existing pants to use them.

The suspenders for the Dawn Patrol Touring Pants are superb, even to the point of modifying your existing pants to use them.

Suspension System
Despite the nit-picky complaints above, BD’s Dawn Patrol Touring Pants will unquestionably be my new go-to pants allowing my Mammut Champs to linger longer by avoiding the aging that comes from regular use. When I need more pockets the Champs will be called to duty. They’re being replaced mostly because the suspenders of the Dawn Patrol’s are young and wide, providing a lot of stretch and comfort over my shoulders. Best of all, the length adjustment is made with a metal buckle. The elasticity will expire before the adjustment fails whereas suspenders that adjust with Velcro (the Champs) will inevitably fail to hold position and lose their stretchiness.

Suspenders hook on, or slip off, easily.

Suspenders hook on, or slip off, easily.

One consequence of using a buckle is the suspenders take more effort to adjust through the buckle, making removal tedious at best. BD overcomes that with a clip that hooks to a simple fold in the material of the waist band. Solid and secure, yet removable and replaceable. You can bet the BD branded version won’t be cheap, but quality never is. With those metal buckles and some ingenuity, you could enhance a pair from Home Depot as replacements. Nice job guys!

Regarding fit, age is not allowing me to fit into the pants I wore twenty years ago, and my biggest concern was these pants would be too slender. Not so. They are cut to provide plenty of stretch for movement without binding but were not loose. Call me a few pounds overweight and you’ll get the idea. If you’re fit, these should fit just fine.

Overall a solid two thumbs up except if you’re looking for something baggy that hangs below your crack. If you’re in the market for a pant that vents without needing vents, but provides ‘em anyway, be sure to try a pair on.

Black Diamond
Dawn Patrol Touring Pant
MSRP: $299
Waist sizes available: 30″, 32″, 34″, 36″, 38″

© 2013

  • buildakicker

    A little to slim for me and my 6’3″ 210lb bulldozer frame, but nice looking. I agree on the “water resistance” … seldom I’ve found you need a full waterproof pant unless you sit on the lift all day.

  • http://ThompsonPass.Com/ Matt Kinney

    Nice looking clothing by BD. Check them out. I just picked up a pair of Co-Effecient pants for utility and active use.

    Those pants with suspenders are a great idea and allow for less sweat on the back compared to fuller bibs. My issue with using suspenders in the past is they get all stretched and worn out. But if you need better suspenders, leave it to BD to solve that issue.