This sprawling review (co-written with Ryan Stuart) evaluated 2020’s new jackets to select the seven best models—including “Gear of the Year.”
Layers to keep you moving no matter the weather
Black Diamond Highline Stretch, $299
Waterproofing, breathability, durability, packability, comfort, sustainability—usually, you’re lucky if your jacket has a few of these attributes. The Highline has all of them. Most notable is the PFC- and palm-oil-free DWR treatment from Green Theme Technology. It uses no water, unlike most DWRs, and is applied at the fiber level, making it more permanent than topical coatings that wear out over time. It also hardens the jacket’s individual fibers, which Black Diamond claims reduces microplastic shedding and increases the jacket’s overall lifespan.
We tested the Highline by bush-whacking uphill in the rain for three hours, followed by a hose-down. It came through without a scratch or leak. Don’t worry, though—the Highlight Stretch doesn’t feel like armor. Its durable three-layer construction is still comfort- able, thanks to light, stretchy 15-denier nylon that is unrestrictive despite a slim fit, and a jersey-knit lining that has the feel of a well-worn tee.
What we noticed most was breathability. With the pit zips cracked, we never overheated, even on a soggy, 70-degree day (far warmer than this jacket is built to handle). Weighing un- der 13 ounces—light for such a bomber shell—and packing down to grapefruit size, it’s the whole package. 12.7 oz (men’s, pictured) / 10.7 oz (women’s)