When Patagonia first introduced the Houdini, a super lightweight storm shell that packed into its chest pocket, it created a cult-like following. Everyone who spent time climbing or running in shoulder season mountain conditions owned one. Thin and easily stowable in a hydration vest, the Houdini offered a layer of wind and light rain protection without the bulk of a full-fledged outer layer. The popularity of ultra-lightweight shells sky-rocketed. The race was suddenly on for who could make the lightest, smallest packable shell. Enter the Black Diamond Deploy.
Weighing in at an astonishing 48 grams, roughly the weight of two slices of bread, the Black Diamond Deploy is the lightest wind shell on the market. Made with a super-thin, but durable Japanese 5 denier fabric that’s exclusive to Black Diamond, the jacket features a brand-new-to-market YKK lightweight zipper using mesh tape that’s 40% lighter than any other zipper. It packs down to the size of a golf ball via an integrated pocket in the collar. While the Deploy is primarily designed for wind protection, it’s also DWR treated, giving it light moisture protection.
So where does the Deploy fit in with other ultra-lightweight shells like the Patagonia Houdini or Black Diamond Distance? I don’t think it’s going to replace them, but in the right application, it’s better. For fast and light mountain runs and alpine climbs where space is at a premium, nothing beats the Deploy’s size and weight-to-protection ratio. It easily fits in any running short pocket without bouncing or stuffs into a chalk bag pocket, something the beefier shells may not be able to do. And with Black Diamond’s full commitment apparel warranty where they’ll repair, replace or refund it if you’re not satisfied, it’s worth adding the Deploy to your fast and light setup. $159. Buy now