Black Diamond Cirque Shell
Black Diamond’s new softshell plays as hard as you do, every day.
BEST FOR: Alpine climbing, ski touring, trekking
Your favorite IPA just tastes good every time. It’s the brew you reach for when you need a post-mission victory beer. Sure, you might pick out a nice bottle of wine for date night, but after a day of playing hard in the high country, you’ll crack one of those familiar cans with a satisfied smile. Black Diamond’s new softshell is just like that IPA: The Cirque may not be BD’s fanciest, lightest or burliest shell, but nine times out of ten it’s the jacket I’m going to shove into the top of my pack.
The Cirque, weighing in at 7.6 ounces, is cut with a long, slim, body-hugging fit and layers nicely over technical midlayers like a down sweater or fleece, and fits well under a harness. The piece’s double-weave fabric is heavier than the ultra-light nylon used for BD’s Alpine Start hoody, it’s still very breathable, quiet and comfortable when moving quickly through varied alpine terrain.
The Cirque has a standard five-pocket design: two zippered hand pockets, one chest zip and two internal pockets. The helmet-compatible hood has a single cinch and a soft brim that actually holds its shape even after being crunched in a pack all day.
I really enjoyed the sleeves’ stretch cuffs. They tuck smoothly under gloves and eliminate any bunching of material around the wrist. I can also pull these cuffs up in one motion to quickly release heat while skinning or hiking uphill.
I’m most impressed with how well this jacket fits under a pack, as well as the freedom of movement it allows in all kinds of endeavors. I’ve worn this piece for everything from 20 mile missions up fourth and fifth class terrain, to wind-blasted bike commutes, to brisk morning skins with my friends. I also snuck in an accidental trail run with a light pack on after the weather turned foul during a high country hike. The Cirque shed rain like a champ and kept me totally dry.
And one of the best parts? The MSRP is under $200. So, hell, when you get yourself that well-deserved end-of-day IPA, you can go ahead and buy a round for the whole pub, what with the amount you saved on this shell.
Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.
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