Gear Reviews

Black Diamond Helio Active Shell

Most comfortable shell from the Fall/Winter 2018 Gear Guide.

Brand: Black Diamond Gear Reviews

Model: Helio Active Shell


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.


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.


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.

Weight: 12.8 oz.

Sizes: Men’s S-XL, Women’s XS- XL

See more of the best Hardshell Jackets for Winter 2018

See the entire Winter Gear Guide