I love the tagline that Black Diamond has for this jacket – “There’s a fine line between splitter blue skies and afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains.” That is so true, and anyone who’s spent a season in the hills has a story of being caught out by unexpected inclement weather. That’s why it’s nice to have an ultralight, versatile shell like the Black Diamond FineLine. 

Black Diamond FineLine Stretch Jacket Features:

  • Built with BD.dry waterproof/breathable/windproof solution
  • Stretch shell fabric increases durability and comfort
  • Underarm gussets for added mobility
  • Adjustable, climbing-helmet-compatible hood
  • YKK Reverse coil PU coated center front zipper
  • Stows into external chest pocket with carabiner clip loop
  • Low-profile, elastic cuffs
  • Fit: Slim
  • Weight: 8.1oz
  • MSRP: $129.99
Black Diamond FineLine Stretch Waterproof Jacket Review

Gettin’ rained on in the FineLine

Light, stretchy, and sleek:

The FineLine has been a fine companion throughout the spring and early summer here in the PNW. I enjoyed taking it on some springtime ski touring, a few scattered day hikes, and a Mt. Hood climb. The diversity of these adventures speaks to the versatility of the FineLine: it’s a very light jacket, but it can do a lot.

The key to having a happy experience with a light jacket like this is reasonable expectations. This is not the same as buying a heavy-duty Gore-Tex shell that can last for years. Those jackets are heavier, use different waterproofing techniques, and tend to cost a whole lot more. The FineLine is an ultralight, highly packable jacket that’s meant for lighter use in lighter conditions.

Here’s what I mean by that. The FineLine uses a very light fabric (my guess is 20D, though BD does not say) which is treated with a polyurethane coating. That is the ‘.5’ in the 2.5L BD.dry fabric. PU is one of the lightest treatments available and it promotes a jacket’s ability to be waterproof and also stretchy. However, the flip side is that it degrades more quickly than, say, a Gore membrane. You’ll first notice this in high-wear areas like the shoulders and inner elbows.

Black Diamond FineLine Stretch Waterproof Jacket Review

Definitely a sleek design

So, all that to say, if you want this jacket to have a long and happy life, you need to recognize that it’s good for occasional use but shouldn’t be a daily driver in inclement weather.

The good thing, though, is that these traits result in an exceptionally lightweight and packable waterproof jacket. I took it on my ski tours and Mt. Hood precisely because of these qualities – I wanted to stay fast and move light with a minimal pack weight. The jacket clocks in at a measly 8.1oz, making it one of the lightest fully waterproof, seam-taped jackets available. It also packs into its single pocket, the chest pocket, with a carabiner loop to dangle this bad boy off your harness.

Black Diamond FineLine Stretch Waterproof Jacket Review

Careful seam taping on the FineLine

The FineLine’s other fine quality is how well it wears and moves with you. It’s a wonderful shell to use, especially while alpine climbing. The long, thin fit fits well underneath a harness. The fabric has inherent 4-way stretch, so it feels like you can do anything while you’re wearing it.

The jacket has a small, carefully tailored set of features. There are no velcro cuffs, just a slim little reach of elastic. There’s just a single pocket on the chest, which can happily accommodate your large phone and a couple bars. There’s a single hem adjustment and a single hood adjustment. The hood is spacious enough to accommodate a climbing helmet and still preserve side-to-side range of motion.

Black Diamond FineLine Stretch Waterproof Jacket Review

Packed and ready to roll

The Good

  • Very light, very packable
  • Stretchy fabric moves with you, and the tailoring is excellent
  • All features work as they should
  • Fairly affordable by the standards of waterproof jackets

The Bad

  • Won’t have as much longevity as more costly options
  • Some might miss hand warmer pockets

The Bottom Line: Black Diamond FineLine Stretch

This is such a great jacket for those who are looking for something light and packable. It doesn’t have the durability to be a daily driver in harsh conditions, but for that lightweight summer shell it’s hard to beat. The fit is excellent and the range of motion stands out.

Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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