Black Diamond Fineline Stretch Rain Shell Review
I’ve found that the only way to guarantee that I always have a raincoat with me in the mountains is if it’s light and compact. In the Colorado Rockies, the chance of a passing thunderstorm at high elevations is constant pretty much all summer long, but when the weather forecast looks pretty good it’s sure hard to commit to carrying a pound or more to bring a raincoat.
Of course, getting caught far from the car can be pretty brutal – those storm-driven raindrops are around freezing temperature – and getting soaked can be highly consequential in on a rock climb that might take hours to descend from.
Hence, I used to generally alternate between carrying a pound-plus bomb-proof raincoat when I was pretty sure of rain, a thin less-than-waterproof thing when rain was possible, or just roll dice and carry nothing at all. With this Fineline shell from Black Diamond, however, I don’t have to make that choice anymore, since it only weighs 8 oz (Men’s medium). It’s fully seam-taped, and the BDdry 2.5-layer membrane is rated to withstand 10,000-mm water column test, solidly waterproof.
The Fineline raincoat is a great stash-in-the-pack emergency rain layer and suits me really well for rock climbing. The design is simple, yet effective: Just a hood with a drawcord, a zipper, and a front chest pocket (accessible while wearing a harness) that inverts into a carrying pouch. Very bare-bones, but that’s what keeps the weight down. Stuffed into its pocket, this raincoat measures about 7 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches, small enough to fit in a fanny pack for running and shorter than most cams if you hang it on your harness.
The cut is what I’d expect for a lightweight raincoat: a little slim, so I can wear a sweater or lightweight synthetic puffy under it but not a big down parka. The hood fits a helmet well and can cinch down onto a bare head, and the waist is cut a bit low so the jacket stays tucked into a harness while monkeying around with the arms – a must for rock climbing.
Black Diamond Fineline Stretch Rain Shell
The only thing I’d like to see changed on this raincoat would be the addition of Velcro-closure wrist cuffs. The cuffs on this jacket have elastic, but can let some cold wind/rain in while doing fast sports like biking or skiing. For $25 more, BD’s Stormline shell has closeable cuffs and pit zips, but it weighs 2 oz more and has hip pockets instead of a chest pocket – less useful for rock climbing. Amongst these light BD jackets, I think the weight savings and simplicity of the Fineline jacket is worth it. It’s lightweight storm-proof protection you can always have at the ready.