Today I want to do a review of a waterproof hiking jacket that caught my eye first and foremost because of its weight. The Outdoor Research Helium II jacket is so light I had to look twice to confirm I wasn't imagining things. Hence why it's called helium I suppose!
Aside from being top of the class in the lightweight category it had a lot of other nice features I thought would be worth looking into in more detail. To see the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket for women, click here.
Brand and Model
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket for Men
$159.00 (Guide retail price, subject to change)
Average User Rating
Waterproof and breathable, incredibly lightweight and stowable into its own pocket in record quick time
Minimal Pockets but that's the trade off for it being so lightweight
Day hiking, cycling, day-to-day casual use
As mentioned in the introduction, the starting point for this jacket just has to be it's weight. The Helium II is so light at 6.4 oz, I don't think I've ever came across a jacket so lightweight!
Most standard rain jackets some in around 12 or so oz's so this one is nearly cutting that in two! Not only good news for when you're wearing it but even when you're not and it's rolled up into your pack. It will add minimal extra weight, the first plus to this jacket.
Moving on, for storage and comfort the jacket has only one pocket, a zippered Napoleon breast pocket. Now, I like having hand warmer pockets but for what you're getting in weight, there has to be a trade off in places and I assume this is one of them. It has no impact on it's emergency rain gear capabilities though.
The jacket is also very stowable. From reading reviews it seems this functionality on the Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket for men works really well and you can stuff the jacket into it's pocket in a very quick time and down to a very small size to be easily packed away. It also has a carabiner loop for easy attachment if you're climbing.
The jacket is of course waterproof and breathable but I couldn't find specific ratings anywhere in my research. However, it gets the thumbs up in this regard in many of the reviews I checked out. The water resistance is also supported by water-resistant zippers, the internal front storm flap and elastic cuffs to help keep out any unwanted rain from downpours. The jacket is fully seam taped too.
The jacket is adjustable to fit using the drawcord hem No waterproof jacket would be without a hood of course and the Helium II has its own fully adjustable one.
If you're looking for ventilation features, this jacket doesn't have any except for the front zip. Again, the trade-off for it being so lightweight I assume is the reason for this.
Look's wise, this jacket does look pretty good but I don't think that style, as such, is at the top of the list for the Helium II. This jacket is functional to the core with no bells and whistles. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though!
As of the date of this post, from about 170+ reviews, across multiple retailers, 99% gave the Helium II 3 stars (out of 5) or more, 95% 4 stars or more and 73% gave 5 stars so very good scoring all round.
Amazon Rating 4.6 (Out of 5)
Pros and Cons
- Waterproof and breathable
- Incredibly lightweight and stowable into it's own pocket in record quick time
- Minimal Pockets but that's the trade off for it being so lightweight
Helium II Jacket For Men Features Summary
- Weight: 6.4 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
I'm kind of in two minds about the Outdoor Research men's Helium II rain jacket. As an avid hiker I think this jacket has some really great advantages, the main one of course being it's lightweight and minimalist design. As I also do some backpacking, again I think this would be a really great piece of kit to have in my pack.
However, I am a fan of a bit more storage in a jacket when I'm out on the trail and what this sacrifices in that department to gain on weight, isn't the best trade off for me. I do like the simplicity of it too though. I'm torn! 🙂
For the average day hiker, 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. I also can't really see it being as functional in a day-to-day usage capacity as some other jackets I've reviewed.
However, for the full on outdoor enthusiast, especially if you're a climber, skier, etc., this jacket could be a really good addition to your kit. It's so lightweight and clinically functional, it still scores very high. It does what it says on the tin. Enough said!
If you'd like to see more men's hiking rain jacket options, check out our 10 best men's hiking rain jackets page.
Do you have an Outdoor Research Helium II jacket? What's your experience with it? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!