Alrighty then. Let’s get this review underway. I purchased the Men’s Black Diamond Sharp End Shell in size Large for year round use in inclement weather. Activities for me currently include hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, skiing, and even standing for multiple hours in the rain during spring soccer games with winds up above 20 mph. I do climb, but mostly indoors at this point so I cannot attest to the climb-specific attributes at this moment.
I wanted a jacket to replace my last GORE jacket which was stolen. I wanted GORE-TEX PRO with at least one inner pocket, pit zips, hood and which fit me slightly below the waist, but not as long as a ski or snowboard-specific jacket. (I understand there is no perfect solution for waterproofing and breathability but I felt I’d give a jacket which had GORE’s best offerings a go. Magua understand moisture management very well).
~Nice matte black color. If KITT from Knight Rider wanted a new look, he’d go with matte black.
~Pockets sit lower near the hip which is more comfortable for resting hands. (I realize that this may cause a problem with some harnesses.)
~Inner pocket. Keep stuff dry. Yay.
~Waterproof zippers. Ditto.
~Pit Zips for venting. Ditto Ditto. Don't skimp on the vents.
~Lightweight (I’m not climbing thousands of feet but perhaps I’d go with a lighter jacket if I were).
~Sleeves were adequate in length when arms were lifted and also to hide hands if not wearing gloves.
~Integrated cord pulls. These really are a nice touch.
~The collar. I’ve seen this over and over where jacket collars come so close to the neck, jaw, and chin that it constantly touches. A major annoyance for me and probably the biggest reason I returned this.
~Zippers. They were pretty stiff. Perhaps they would relax over time?
~Pit Zips. These are located quite far back on the rib cage and required a lot of twisting to unzip. This was exacerbated by the stiffness of the zippers themselves. (Go-Go Gadget Arms!)
~Upper back. When I reached out with both arms forward or crossed my arms in front of me, the jacket got quite tight . More so when I layered underneath. (I do lift some weights, but the Mr. Universe title is not on my radar.)
~The hood, although roomy enough for a helmet, did not seem as adjustable as it could be if, say two more cords were added on the front like some jackets have. (If the idea was to save weight, I get it. But if I can’t see what I’m doing, then the loss of functionality is a no-go for me).
Black Diamond makes some fantastic products and I'd give it 4.5 stars and say it runs "slightly small" if the system would let me. It might fit the next person perfectly, but I bet those pit zips will make anyone frown... I did really like this jacket and wanted to keep it, but in the end, the better fit and functionality of the Arc’Teryx Beta AR won out. I wish I could leave feedback regarding the durability and moisture management, but alas, it was not to be.
6ft, 195lbs, Sleeve length to middle of hand with slightly bent elbow 36in, Chest 45in, Waist 35in. Sorry ladies, I’m taken. ;-)