After 3 ascents of Mount Washington, a half dozen days of ice climbing, and 24,000 feet of skiing powder at Wildcat Ski Mountain today, I’m ready to share my thoughts on the Black Diamond Convergent Shell Jacket I received earlier this Fall.
I’ll be honest when I received this jacket my initial assumption was it was a typical high-end hard-shell. Since I prefer the breathability of my EMS Fader Softshell Jacket for most of my mountain excursions I didn’t think I would be wearing this hardshell often for in my experience hard-shells simply don’t breathe enough for high output. The exception in my book is extreme wind-chills (like Mount Washington Ascents), and skiing in cold temps (like today).
What I didn’t realize, was this really isn’t a hard-shell, it’s a hybrid. The lack of stretch panels had fooled me. This jacket does not claim to be waterproof. It uses “Windstopper Active Shell“, which is windproof, water-resistant, and highly breathable. Like the Epic fabric that I was introduced to through Wild Things Equipment many years ago this is a superb mix of highly water-resistance and breathe-ability.
Run after run today I confirmed this jacket is 100% windproof as we dealt with -20 to -30 wind chills. The hood easily fit over my ski helmet and adjusted to move with me as we shot through the glades that have really filled in with the 2 feet of snow this past week.
Let’s hit a few more highlights of this highly technical piece;
1) Weight: 13.5 ounces with the performance of a hard-shell.
2) Pack-ability: Easily crushes down to the size of a large grapefruit
3) Convenience: 2 chest pockets that are easily accessible when jacket is tucked into a harness plus 2 hand pockets. The left chest pocket has this cool internal soft pocket to stow a smartphone with a small port to feed your headphone cable through. Brushed microsuede liner collar lining.
More technical information and a product video from the manufacturer available here.
Bottom Line: A very technical high-end hybrid jacket that looks & performs like a hard-shell but is more breath-able than any hard-shell I have ever used. If you shy away from hard-shells for fear of over-heating, or if you need more wind protection than your well loved soft-shell, this jacket should be on your radar!
You can also purchase one directly from Amazon here and doing so will help support this blog!
Disclaimer: While this jacket was provided to me via my employment with EMS Schools the opinions above are certainly my own. This post contains affiliate links.
January Ice Screw Contest Winner: Congrats to Mechanicalchris who has won 2 brand new Omega Pacific ice screws in my first ever contest. Thank you to the 80+ people who liked North East Alpine Start on Facebook last month and the 18 folks who subscribed! It’s really nice to know that time spent trip reporting and reviewing products is worth it. New contest coming soon… stay tuned…
See you in the mountains,
4 thoughts on “Black Diamond Convergent Shell Jacket Review (and contest winner announcement)”
Any comments on the feel of the interior tricot backer? Is it relatively soft or more like a bare-bones lining of most hardshells?
There is brushed microsuede collar lining that is very soft on the chin when fully zipped up. The rest of the interior is run of the mill lining like most hard-shells, but it doesn’t feel clammy at all. That being said I would almost always wear this piece with light long sleeve under it so the issue would be moot for me. Hope that info helps in your decision!
Does the lack of stretch panels mean no stretch in the fabric at all? What I’m getting at is should I order for a softshell slim fit? Or if it doesn’t stretch do I need the extra room to move with?
No measurable amount of stretch. The large size fits my 5′ 9″ 180lb frame well with room for appropriate layers. Hope that helps!