Review: Black Diamond Women’s FineLine Stretch Rain Shell

Review: Black Diamond Women’s FineLine Stretch Rain Shell
All photos: Dale Comley

All photos: Dale Comley

Black Diamond’s FineLine Shell is described on their website as a ‘lightweight stretch shell built for mountain adventures’. Naturally, a climbing trip to the Picos de Europa seemed like the perfect place to test it out.

We headed out to the Naranjo de Bulnes, its vast limestone walls stretching to almost 500m on its tallest face. To reach the peak we would have to hike for 5 hours along steep and winding mountain paths, weaving our way up through the clouds, before emerging above them to be greeted by a climbing wonderland. This gave me the opportunity to test the jackets durability on long hikes with a heavy bag, on multi-pitch routes tucked beneath a harness, and on rest day wanders exploring the area.

As a somewhat vertically challenged 5”3, I ordered the jacket in an XS–it fit well. It was a good length in the arms and body, and was a slim fit. However, I could still comfortably fit a long sleeve top and a fleece underneath.

The FineLine Shell is designed as a jacket built for mountain adventures. It’s the perfect jacket for multi-pitch climbing as you can pack it into its pocket, clip it to your harness, and it’s light enough at only 208g that you can just forget about it until you need it. Due to its stretchy fabric and helmet compatible hood, it’s also a good jacket to climb in if the weather does turn.

The BD.dry technology means its pretty waterproof, so it’s a good choice for long approaches when staying warm and dry before a big mountain day is paramount.

As mentioned above, the FineLine Shell zips into its pocket and has a carabiner clip loop, making it a great climbing jacket. Its adjustable helmet compatible hood means that as well as climbing in it, you can adjust the hood when you’re hiking so it fits well whatever situation you’re in. However, the one thing I really struggled with was the lack of pockets. Women’s clothing always seems to have a distinct lack of pockets, so jacket pockets are invaluable. It’s a shame that the FineLine only has a chest pocket as this makes it a much less versatile jacket.

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Once again, Black Diamond have designed a pretty swanky looking jacket. The simple aesthetics of the zip and logo being just a slightly different shade to the jacket works well, and it has a flattering slim fit. The FineLine comes in a good choice of colours: pale blue (pictured), a lovely bright turquoise, or a more conservative black.

The FineLine is the perfect jacket for mountain multi-pitches, and keeping you dry on long approaches. I love that you can zip it into its own pocket, clip it to your harness and forget about it until the ominous grey clouds roll in. It’s a jacket that looks great on and would be ideal for wearing casually, it’s just such a shame about the lack of pockets as its so much less versatile because of this.

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Bristol based climber & photographer