Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Shell ReviewAugust 27, 2018
- Stretchy fabric
- Comfortable fit
- Highly breathable
- Tight around hips
- Smaller pockets
The Black Diamond Recon Stretch is constructed out of BD.Dry 3 layer material that is fully waterproof, windproof and breathable. Its highly waterproof rating of 20,000 mm is equivalent to that of the Stio Raymer. The stretch fabric is both comfortable and versatile for backcountry skiing or in bounds days while allowing room for additional insulating layers underneath. Testers loved the feel of the jacket which holds up well in all conditions while also being lightweight and durable with no signs of wear after testing for the season. The entire jacket is seam-sealed so testers never experienced any water getting through stitching areas or any problems with clamminess on warmer days. During the one season of testing, users never experienced any issues with durability.
The Recon Stretch has all the standard features of a versatile shell. It has a good fitting powder skirt that can be taken off to save some weight on backcountry expeditions or for warmer spring days. It doesn’t have wrist gaiters which are present in almost all the other shells in this test, but does have large wrist cuffs with a Velcro tab to tighten the cuff down snugly so that air doesn’t go up the sleeves. The large helmet compatible hood has an elastic cord cinch to tighten down for any size head or helmet. The Recon Stretch has a good amount of storage space though it doesn’t compare to the Strafe Pyramid which has excessively large and numerous pockets. The Recon has one exterior chest pocket which is a great size for a phone though it doesn’t have a hole for a headphone wire like some of the other jackets in this test. Testers thought the hand pockets could be slightly bigger but appreciated the two additional mesh pockets on the inside of the jacket for things like extra layers, gloves or a place to stash skins. Testers really enjoyed the durable waterproof zippers with large pull tabs which made it easier to open and close the pit zips with gloves on. The Black Diamond Recon also comes equipped with a RECCO reflector.
The BD.Dry fabric of the Recon Stretch has a rating of 20,000 mm waterproofness which held up great in all conditions that were tested. Thanks to the seam seal tape throughout the jacket and flaps covering all the exterior pockets, testers never experienced any problems with water leaking into the jacket. Testers also appreciated the option to use the snow skirt if wearing the shell in heavy snow conditions where they wanted to protect from any chance of snow coming in from underneath.
The Recon Stretch is a great shell for temperature control due to its breathable fabric and decent sized pit zips. The BD.Dry fabric is rated at 20,000 g/m2 over 24 hours which is even higher than the specs for the Stio Raymer which testers loved for its breathability. The pit zips are a good size to dump heat when skinning uphill and easy enough to open with gloves on because of the oversized pull tabs. Breathability is arguably the most important feature for a shell and testers were really pleased with the Recon Stretch. They never experienced any issues with clamminess inside the jacket and therefore thought it was a great option for backcountry outings. As a typical shell, the Recon Stretch has no insulation for warmth but when used in combination with well insulated base and mid layers, testers stayed plenty warm on colder days at the resort.
Testers overall were pleased with the fit and comfort of this jacket. The stretchy material allowed for plenty of mobility which is great for a touring specific jacket. This jacket is slightly stiffer compared to the other women’s specific jacket, the Patagonia Departer, so it feels more like a dedicated ski touring jacket versus an all-around waterproof layer. The sizing was consistent with other brands and testers liked that it was plenty long to go over snow pants without allowing snow to get in. However, one complaint from some testers was that the size small was tighter on the hips compared to other jackets in the test.
Style & Value
Testers enjoyed the sleek style of the Recon Stretch which has a modern look and feel that is equally at home at the resort or in the backcountry. It comes in four muted color choices that should match well with most pants while not being too flashy. This jacket is also a great value at $379 which is at the lower end of prices for a ski shell. The Stio Raymer which was also a top rated jacket is almost exactly the same price at $375 and only the Patagonia Departer at $349 is significantly cheaper but overall scored a bit lower in most categories compared to the Raymer and Recon Stretch.Continue Reading
Adrianne Bouchard is a triathlete, skier, backpacker and lover of all things outdoors based in the Tahoe area.