Outdoor Research Men's Helium II Jacket
|Price:||$131.33 - $172.97|
- Pertex® Shield+ 2.5L
- Fully seam taped
- Stuff pocket w/ webbing loop
- Zippered chest pocket
- Reflective trim on hood
- Adjustable hood
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Built for flash-storm protection, the 100 waterproof, super-breathable Helium II weighs an incredibly light 6.4 ounces. An ultra-compressible piece you'll never leave behind, it's so light and packs down so small you'll forget it's clipped to your harness until you throw it on to ward off a sudden mid-route downpour. Compressible to the size of a granola bar.
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Top customer reviews
FIT: I ordered my Helium II one size too large with the intention of layering it over a down jacket while hiking. Even with this in mind, the fit is very nice. The jacket doesn't balloon out the way some other lightweight windbreakers / rain jackets do. However, this is really only true when the jacket is zipped at least halfway. Anything less than that, and the fabric is too slick / the jacket too light to stay in place.
COMFORT: With regards to comfort, this jacket is fantastic. It is very lightweight, so you don't really notice it too much when layered over a t-shirt. While the fabric does feel a little clammy, it isn't as bad as other plastic / wax rain jackets I've owned in the past.
ADJUSTABILITY: This is one area where I wouldn't mind a few extra ounces. The Helium II was designed to keep it as lightweight as possible. In this endeavor, Outdoor Research took out the wrist adjustment straps in favor of elastic wrist openings (only half of each opening is elastic). You do still get a waist adjustment strap (hidden on the right hand side), and a hood adjustment bungee (hidden at the back of the hood), but that's about it.
I haven't found that I really need any other adjustments, but they would certainly be nice to have. For instance, the wrist openings are just a little larger than my wrists, so I get water running in if I have my arms angled upwards. This hasn't proved to be too big of an issue so far, but I would much prefer dry(er) arms.
CONSTRUCTION: I have been fairly impressed with the construction of the Helium II so far. It uses Pertex Shield+ 2.5L 30D ripstop nylon and all the seams are well sealed. What this means is a lightweight and thoroughly weatherproofed jacket.
DESIGN: The design of the Helium II includes a lot of nice features. The hood and waistband have adjustable bungee cords. The sleeves include partially elastic wrist openings. There is a zippered pocket on the chest and a velcro pocket inside the left-hand side of the jacket body. The internal pocket also includes a small loop for attaching your keys. All in all, the Helium II is very well outfitted for a minimalist rain jacket.
WATER RESISTANCE: I have worn this jacket a few times on the trail when it started to spit, but nothing too serious. Then, a few weeks ago, we got hit with a rainstorm the likes of which I haven't seen since I left Kansas. Much to the surprise of my coworkers, I grabbed my Helium II and asked if anyone wanted drinks from Starbucks (about .75 miles away). The rain was coming down so far that you could hardly see across the parking lot, so I figured this would be a perfect test!
After walking to Starbucks and back, my torso (with the exception of my forearms — I was carrying a tray of coffee) was perfectly dry. My pants could have been wrung out and used to create a small reservoir, but all told I was very impressed with my new rain jacket's weather resistance abilities.
BREATHABILITY: Unfortunately, the water resistance of the Helium II does come at the cost of breathability. While the Helium II is more breathable than the plastic ponchos I used to use when I first started hiking, it doesn't breath as well as heavier, more feature-rich jackets out there. I don't notice this too much as mine is a size larger than I would normally wear, but it does become apparent while hiking in the rain.
In spite of the fact that the jacket keeps the rain out, I end up getting a little damp from perspiration. In the end, the tradeoff of breathability for weight is worth it in my eyes. I have never found a jacket that allowed me to stay 100% dry while walking in the rain. This one does about as good a job as any, but at a fraction of the weight, which makes it easier to carry and makes me more comfortable when it's packed away.
WIND RESISTANCE: The Helium II has proven itself to be virtually wind-proof. It won't keep you warm (given how thin 30D fabric is), but by cutting out the wind, you can dramatically improve the performance of other layers.
LAYERING: Outdoor Research sizes the Helium II for "normal fit". By ordering mine one size up, I got a jacket that layers perfectly over my down jacket. I went out yesterday in ~40°F weather with 12mph winds. While my down jacket was warm enough by itself, adding the Helium II on top of it really boosted the warmth! When layering, the Helium II's collar zips high under the chin to keep water from getting in and soaking your other layers.
PACKABILITY: The Helium II weighs in at 6.4oz, so it's easy to find a space in your pack for it. If you like keeping everything nice and neat in your pack, you can also stuff the Helium II into its own pocket. To do this, you have to turn the pocket inside out and pull the rest of the jacket into it. The zipper is a little awkward when the pocket is turned inside out, but it works well enough as a storage pouch. Even when packed, the jacket has plenty of room for further compression.
Two features that I would have liked on the Helliunm II would be two zippered side pockets for my hands. The other feature would be a zipper instead of velcro enclosure when the jacket is packed. I have velcro enclosures on some of my items and they have worn out after time.
A. super light
B. works as advertised, cuts the wind and rain
C. I like the hood drawstring in the back of the head, that way they're not flapping around in my face when it's really windy
D. upper zip pocket for keys
E. just *feels* quality, and I even like the color ;)
A. lack of pockets for your hands is noticeable, I almost wish they'd taken the top zip pocket out, and added two non-zip hand pockets, about the same weight with more functionality imo
I am 6'1" and ~165 lbs with an athletic build and I ordered a large. For long-sleeved layers and jackets I usually fall somewhere between medium and large. It's not too big if I'm just wearing it with a t-shirt and also fits well with layers.
I recently returned from a 4 week trip to New Zealand, traveling with only a 28l backpack and a camera bag. As you can imagine, space was an issue so I wanted a jacket that would pack down very small. It's hard to believe how small this jacket packs down! The material is very thin, but I have no reason to believe that it is not durable. I wore this jacket while hiking through high tussocky trails where I basically had to swim through shrubs and came out unscathed. The jacket does a good job fending off wind and of course rain, although I haven't worn it in heavy rain conditions. I can say that it works perfectly in light rain. This jacket breathes well enough that you will be comfortable wearing it over a t-shirt on a warm day, but it is also roomy and wind-proof enough for layers on a cold one. I have worn it over 2 baselayers and a down jacket with no issues or movement restriction. The jacket doesn't have pockets for your hands (just one zippered chest pocket), but I knew that before purchasing and it is a non-issue. The fit of the hood is adjustable via a drawstring on the back and it fit me very well. Overall, I have no complaints!
I highly recommend this jacket for travel, or even for everyday use!
I have the XL and it's tricky to fit over an armored XL motorcycle jacket. It's fine once it's on, doesn't restrict movement. but it's a little tight. An XXL would have fit better over the moto jacket, but would have been huge to wear around town while not riding the bike.
The Helium is a pricey product but if you're counting grams for overland travel, it lives up to its billing.
Most recent customer reviews
I got he mid because of the price but I would probably be better with a...Read more