BLACK DI­A­MOND HELIO AC­TIVE SHELL

Backpacker - - Shells -

OUR TAKE Long tours in vari­able con­di­tions de­mand a set-it-and-for­get-it shell. If that’s your M.O., the Helio—with its soft hand and im­pres­sive breatha­bil­ity—is your pick. We put it on for warmth on chilly, early-morn­ing tours and blus­tery sum­mits, and left it on for the steep grunts in be­tween. Its light­weight ny­lon face fab­ric is crin­kle-free, and Gore-Tex Ac­tive with a thin, comfy C-Knit backer jet­ti­sons ex­cess heat. “The 16-inch pit zips helped me reg­u­late my temp on Col­orado’s Berthoud Pass in 25°F weather, but I’m not sure I even needed them,” one tester says.

THE DE­TAILS Two hand pock­ets sit above a har­ness and fit skins; the hood stretches over a hel­met, ad­justs pre­cisely via a sin­gle cord, and turned back fat flakes and grau­pel with its mold­able wire brim. The Helio packs down to grape­fruit-size.

TRAIL CRED The 30-de­nier face fab­ric is tightly wo­ven, so it’s not del­i­cate: “I didn’t get any dam­age on my climb down ex­posed rock in Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park’s Dragon’s Tail Couloir, even when the shell rubbed against gran­ite,” re­ports a tester. $399; 12.8 oz.; m’s S-XL, w’s XS- XL; black­di­a­mon­d­e­quip­ment.com

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