Most helpful positive review
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Simplicity, Good Price and Great Function Equals this Awesome jacket!
on September 23, 2014
I didn't know how popular and well reviewed this jacket when I picked it up last summer at Burlington Coat Factory in NYC for a mere $29.99 USD.
I only needed a rain coat to wear to work over business attire during my Autumn season commute. The only rain proof pieces I had in my closet are $500+ alpine mountaineering Gore-Tex Pro Shell 3-Layer jackets (like the Arcteryx Alpha SV) that, at my age, have become too flashy and cumbersome to wear daily.
Along came this Helly Hansen Seven J. Its simplicity and brilliant fit is what won me before I even saw the price tag was not $100+ USD but a measly $29.99. Even at the retail of $100 this jacket is worth buying over pricier fare from Patagucci and North Face. It is simple, well tailored and does what it needs to do by keeping you dry and warm without the unnecessary frills and fancy.
Simple and easy to wear- this may not make sense to many but outdoors folk will understand me when I say many modern day rain jackets makers and brands do too many extra things on their jackets to make you want to buy them for copious amounts of cash. frills and fads come before fit and function. However with the 7 J you get one smooth main zipper (no annoying zipper pull trims), two deep mesh lined outer pockets that zip close, and one deep interior velcro-closure pocket. In addition you'll get a 3-way adjusting brimmed hood that is well sized. There are no fancy logo's, no contrasting stitching, no fancy tech jargon, no excess frills, no tattoo art, etc. on this jacket
Storm Flaps! - I miss storm flaps on rain coats. Not many jacket makers use them (looking at you Marmot/North Face/Patagucci) anymore in order to shed weight. But storm flaps are EFFECTIVE! It is almost like removing the driver's seat from your race car to make it lighter on the racetrack. Storm flaps here are velcro-closed so you can quickly close up the jacket to keep out a cold breeze when going from your car to the front door without having to fumble with a zipper. In addition it also makes the 7 J impenetrable to rain when rain comes at you sideways!
Articulated Sleeves - I have never paid under $300 for a rain jacket or any jacket for that matter that had this rare function of allowing you to use your arms in a 360 degree range of motion. Here the 7 J allows you to lift your hands above your head and fully rotate them around without the jacket's torso bunching up and hem lifting above your hips. Most jacket tend to ride up, bunch up or simply not allow you to move your arms above your head at all. This was a very nice surprise to find on a sub-$100 purchase.
Helly Hansen Weatherproof Guarantee - This company makes good rain wear and the 7 J lives up to that. It is very well waterproof and storm proof (meaning your face, head and neck can also be protected in foul weather. There are no pit zips (which can leak) and the velcro-closure storm flap system does well to keep water from getting through the main zipper. The pockets also have tiny storm flaps over them so water shouldn't get in.
Value and Price- I paid $29.99 for this item but even at $100+ this jacket is very well priced for what it offers. It is that good! It is well constructed and will last you for years! I'm in my 30s and I have Helly Hansen rain pants and other hiking clothing in my gear closet from when I was in my early teen years. Just remember NEVER use liquid detergents and fabric softners on rain wear. It will destroy the outer DWR treatment and ruin the synthetic nylon/poly fabric underneath. Use only powdered detergents or Nikwax.
THINGS OF CONCERN:
Weight - this is not going to be a good jacket for 3 season hiking or outdoor pursuits where pack weight and limitations are vital. The 7 J is bulky and much heavier than regular Alpine GoreTex jackets. It is also advertised as pack-able but there are no stow pockets on it nor does it come with a stuff sack. The best you can do is roll it up in the hood and cinch it down to the size of a football. Most alpine jacket cinch and stow to the size of an apple or grapefuit to give you a comparison.
Sizing - I usually wear medium in clothing. I'm a 38R chest, 5'9"/150lbs and the Small in this 7 J jacket fit me excellent. Going by the size of the small I can only guess that the Medium would have been down to my knees. Also many online video reviews show that this jacket is supposed to fit overly big to allow lots of layers underneath. I don't wear my clothing that big whether off and on the trail and having the size Small fit me exact is good for me. I can wear either two thick or three thinner base layers underneath with room for full motion left over.
Fabric - While the inner lining (2 Layer) is a fully seam sealed waterproof polyamide the outer fabric is not the best weave for a rain jacket. Sure it is DWR treated but it is a thicker nylon/poly weave (almost like Cordura) which means once the DWR wears away with time the fabric will soak on the outside until treated again. This soaking is especially bad with the fabric along the cuff, hemline and storm flap. Even so the jacket will remain waterproof but when it rain the soaked outside will stifle the breathable making you sweat inside and increase the weight of the jacket as you were it in the rain. This is probably how the cost is kept low on this jacket but all that means is good care will take it a long way. Absolutely No Liquid Detergents or fabric softeners when washing and only use powdered or Nikwax detergents.
That Mesh and Fabric Inside Lining - This is the lining that goes next to your body or skin. In the hood and torso it is net mesh, on the sleeves it is a polyester fabric (like the shiny material you find on the inside of an old school purse or cheap handbag). I never like this style of lining on a rain jacket. It does absolutely nothing in terms of weather protection and slightly anything for wear comfort. The mesh net on the inside of hood and torso is actually a good thing since this is where rain can get to easier and rain can soak into easier. The net mesh shouldn't soak anything but the sleeve nylon/polyester fabric lining can and will soak up water if you are not careful to cinch down the cuffs. This used to be a big flaw with the original classic North Face Mountain Light jackets from the 1990s.
Once the DWR wore off the cuffs, storm flaps and hem will soak up water which would migrate into the fabric lining next to your skin. Or rather the depleted DWR would leave the jacket outer layer soggy killing breathability. Once that happened you would sweat right into the fabric lining which would get wet and stay cold against your skin.
All said and done as long as you care for the DWR treatment this jacket is a 5 star piece that will last long enough for your grand children's grand children to wear!