Though you’d think it should be a given with anything billed as a raincoat, we’ve worn enough duds in our day that didn’t keep us 100% dry to feel it important to start with the basics: the Black Diamond Fineline Stretch Rain Shell performed it’s number-one function wonderfully and kept the wet out.
Moving on. This jacket has a number of features that will make it a desirable option for light and fast mountain excursions. At a little over 7 ounces, its feels almost weightless when on, packs down to the size of a grapefruit, and zips easily into its lone breast-pocket. When packed, it has a keeper-loop to hang it from your harness, but we’d advise backing it up.
The Fineline also lives up to the middle part of its name: the nylon woven fabric from which it’s made has ample give, and gussets in the armpits mean it doesn’t restrict your motion in unfortunate ways. Also, the hood comfortably fits over a helmet and has a semi-stiff brim to shield your eyes from those pesky drops.
This would be a good item to cram into your pack on an alpine rock day—even when it’s bluebird skies, there’s always the chance or rain in the alpine!
Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice.