Our review of the Black Diamond Women’s Stormline Stretch Rain Shell
Words by Ellie Clewlow
Along with the entry-level Treeline shell, the Stormline Stretch lightweight waterproof comes in at the lower end of US outdoor brand Black Diamond’s range of rain jackets. It uses an in-house PU-based waterproof membrane called BD.dry in a 2.5-layer construction, as opposed to the 3-layer build typical of premium shells. Then again, this approach keeps everything low in terms of weight, bulk and price.
Price: $159 / £140 (available from Alpinetrek.co.uk)
The result is a practical, affordable and very packable outer layer. It also has one other feature that ensures it stands out from the pack, namely its flexibility. Unlike most waterproofs, the Stormline uses a stretchy face fabric for added comfort and freedom of movement. This ensures it works well for dynamic activities like climbing, scrambling, mountain biking and even trail running, in addition to hiking and hillwalking.
The BD.Dry membrane used in the Treeline and Stormline shells has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm Hydrostatic Head. While that isn’t quite storm-level protection, it’s a good benchmark for a spring-summer hillwalking waterproof. As such, this jacket can cope with drizzles and showers, as well as the odd sudden downpour.
When it comes to breathability, it’s true that 2.5-layer shells typically don’t breathe as well as 3-layer hardshell jackets, and the Stormline is no exception. Luckily, you can get around this slight shortcoming to some extent by opening up the generous pit zips, which work well for dumping excess moisture vapour fast.
Other features are similarly well thought out. Whereas a lot of other lightweight jackets are minimalist and streamlined. Often even omitting basic elements such as hand pockets – the Stormline has two good-sized pockets with storm flaps. The jacket also stuffs into its own right-hand pocket. You also get a helmet-compatible hood with rear volume adjustment and a stiffened peak, which works pretty effectively. Sleeve cuffs and hem are also adjustable thanks to chunky tabs and a fitted drawcord. The centre front zipper is also a highly water-resistant YKK design.
In terms of fit, we found the cut to be fairly generous, which is typical of many US outdoor brands. Black Diamond describes the women’s Stormline Stretch jacket as a regular fit, but try it for size, as you may wish to drop down a size.
It isn’t quite as light or as packable as some of its rivals, like the Patagonia Storm 10, the Montane Minimus or the Alpkit Gravitas, but it still weighs under 300g and compresses down to a small size, so it stashes neatly into a daysack.
All in all, it’s a solid performer as an everyday jacket that can also front up to weekend hiking and hillwalking. It’s stretchy and comfortable, reliably waterproof with a great hood, and has those useful pit zips to ward off too much fuggy build-up in humid conditions or high-output scenarios.