Today I want to do a review on an interesting rain shell available for women. This jacket first caught my eye some time back when I did a review of the men's version of it. It is probably the most lightweight rain shell I have ever came across.
The Outdoor Research Helium II jacket for women is even lighter than the men's version so let's take a look at it in a bit more detail. To see the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket for men, click here.
Brand and Model
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket for Women
$159.00 (Guide retail price, subject to change)
Average User Rating
Very lightweight and packable, waterproof and breathable
Only one pocket but that's a trade-off for this jacket being so lightweight
Day hiking, day-to-day casual use
As with the men's version of this jacket, I think the first place to start when looking at this jacket is it's weight. Even lighter than the men's version, the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket for women comes in at a meager 5.5 oz! The average weight of a standard rain shell for women is more than double that coming in at around 12 oz so that is indication of how feather light we are talking here.
However, what it gains in the lightweight department means that logically it most lose in other functional areas. However, as far as weight goes, I think you'd hardly notice you're wearing this jacket it's that light which is nice.
The jacket stowable and, from what I can ascertain, it can be rolled up into it's own pocket in record quick time! This is handy for when you need to pack it away and keep it safe in your pack. Again, I think as it's so lightweight I would expect this capability to be of a high standard as you;ve got less of jacket to stow.The Helium II also has a carabiner loop for easy attachment to a pack or elsewhere so all good.
The jacket is of course waterproof and breathable but, similar to the men's version, I couldn't find specific ratings. There is no broad industry standard anyway so I guess you can take some of that with a pinch of salt. I did however see some testing videos and it seemed to stack up pretty well in those so a tick in the box in this department. The jacket is also fully seam taped, has water-resistant zippers, an internal front storm flap and elastic cuffs for extra protection from nasty and inclement weather.
Looking at storage, I think we come to the first cut in functionality to enable the lightweight gains. The Helium II has only one pocket, a zippered Napoleon breast pocket. I think is a personal taste thing. I like to have some pockets on my jacket however, the core function of a rain shell is to keep you dry so that is not impacted in the slightest by the lack of standard hand warmer pockets.
The jacket is adjustable to fit via an adjustable drawcord hem and a fully adjustable hood. There are no ventilation features, like pit zips, on this jacket except for the front zip. Again, I imagine this is another design trade-off for it being so lightweight.
The Helium II is pretty stylish and the women's version comes in multiple colors as listed above. As with the men's version, the Helium II is a first and foremost a functional and lightweight rain shell. Enough said!
As of the date of this post, from about 40+ reviews, across multiple retailers, 91% gave the Helium II 3 stars (out of 5) or more, 84% 4 stars or more and 67% gave 5 stars so decent results.
Our Rating 4.5 (Out of 5)
Pros and Cons
- Waterproof and breathable
- Incredibly lightweight and stowable into it's own pocket in record quick time
- Only one pocket but that's one of the trade-off's for it being so lightweight
Helium II Jacket For Women Features Summary
- Weight: 5.5 oz
- Fully Seam Taped
- Water Resistant Zippers
- Elastic Cuffs
- Standard Fit
- Fabric: Pertex® Shield+ DS 2.5L, 100% nylon 30D ripstop with clear laminate
- Care: Machine wash/dry
For someone like me, I don't think the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket would suit. I prefer to have more pockets and few more bells and whistles in a rain shell jacket. However, that is not to say that I do not appreciate this jacket for what it is.
When designing this, weight and functionality were obviously paramount. The goal was to maximize those two elements and as far as that is concerned, they have most definitely succeeded. This jacket will do just fine for hiking on the trail and would be great addition to a backpackers kit.
For the average day hiker, in my opinion this jacket is good as an emergency pull on but not too much more than that and I think you could get a lot more from other jackets. However, in saying that it is still a highly functional piece of kit that can also be used for other outdoor pursuits like skiing, climbing etc. Definitely worth your consideration!
Finally, if you are just starting on the road to buying a good rain jacket, check out the rain jacket buying guide, that will walk you through all the things you need to think about before buying a rain jacket to meet your needs. Also, you can check out some of the best hiking rain jackets for women here.
Do you have an Outdoor Research Helium II jacket? What's your experience with it? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!