Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Paints Review
What do rain pants need to do? Keep me dry, not rip, and be as light as possible so I can afford to carry them on a wilderness excursion. If I can pull them on over a ski or mountaineering boot as hard-shell protection for days in variable conditions, that’s a bonus.
BD’s Stormline Stretch rain pants check all these boxes. The BD.dry 2.5 layer membrane is waterproof and breathable enough to wear while hiking or skinning in cold temperatures. These pants weigh 7.65 oz in size medium, light enough to stash in a summit pack. Even in summer in Colorado, I always bring a pair of rain pants for backpacking and bike-packing if there are thunderstorms forecast – whenever I get caught in that ice-cold rain, I’m happy to have dry legs. Typically I will wear rain pants around camp to keep the heat in, and only wear them while on the move if it’s pretty dang cold out.
I find a pair of lightweight shell pants can be a useful layer for ski touring and alpine climbing if I can take them on and off over my boots. I almost exclusively tour and climb in soft-shell pants because I sweat so much during hard efforts, but a wind-proof layer can be clutch on any alpine day when there’s bound to be some standing around.
I brought these Stormline pants along on a recent ski tour in the North Cascades. A primary goal of the tour was to make snowpack observations to assess avalanche hazard, so I knew we’d spend a lot of time standing around to dig and assess a pit.
These pants were a perfect tactic for lower-body insulation on a day like this: first thing in the morning I pulled them on for the frigid half-hour snowmobile ride up the valley – very grateful for wind protection! I stowed these shells for the tour up to the alpine zone, then pulled them back on when we settled in to dig the pit. The wind was gusting heavily at times, laden with moisture, and a pair of hard-shell pants kept me from losing too much heat through my legs.
I left them on for the rest of the tour, and found that even while climbing 20-30 minutes on the skin track my legs did not get too hot (temperature around freezing), so I’m pleased with the breathability of the BD.dry fabric.
Note that I could just barely pull these pants, size Medium, over my ski boots (305 mm sole length). If you have big feet for your height this might not work – check first.