Protection Whether we were skinning uphill in persistent rain or hunkering down against 45mph winds, the Black Diamond Helio proved a fortress—without feeling like one. “It performed on par with other top-tier winter shells, but far exceeded them in packability,” one tester says. (It smooshes down smaller than a liter-sized Nalgene bottle.) The face fabric is a weight-saving 30-denier nylon, but it still stood up to branch snags during tree skiing.
Breathability The three-layer Gore-Tex with a C-Knit backer (a very thin, soft knit liner that enhances breathability and lowers weight) isn’t quite as airy-feeling as Active Shell (see adidas), but we still found it impressively comfortable. Full-length pit zips help vent body heat.
Features The hood fits over slimmer mountaineering helmets, but not ski helmets. Minimalist design, like a single hood adjustment, keeps weight down (though the hood toggle is hard to grab).
Fit The Helio’s medium, slightly stretchy cut fits a midweight puffy underneath. m’s XS-XL