Outdoor Research Helium Jacket review

The Outdoor Research Helium Jacket.

Helium. It’s an appropriate name for this rain jacket from Outdoor Research because it’s so light, it feels less substantial than air. But instead of floating away like a helium balloon from a crying child, it compresses down to nothing in a pack or clips to a climbing harness where it goes unnoticed until needed. And when the rain does come down, the Outdoor Research Helium Jacket is a good one to own as it blocks out downpours like a wetsuit while breathing heavier than a bulldog on caffeine.

In short, I love this jacket.

Here in Utah, it doesn’t rain much. I personally don’t like the rain, so Utah works out great for me. But after Outdoor Research sent me the Helium Jacket, I started praying for rain almost daily just so I could have an excuse to wear the thing. It’s that good. During my testing period with the jacket, it only rained twice, so I made sure to take advantage and put the Helium through the ringer. Here’s what I found:

In the battle between water and 2.5-layer 20D Pertex® Shield DS ripstop fabric with fully taped seams… water loses. Nothing got through the Helium when I took the dog for a walk in a downpour, or while I spent hours outside working in a steady drizzle. The rain simply beaded up and slid away, leaving my arms and torso completely dry. And thanks to its breathability, I never felt clammy while wearing the Helium; a big plus if forced to live in it when the rain doesn’t want to stop.

The Outdoor Research Helium Jacket is a simple piece of gear, which I also like. It’s slim fitting, has single drawcord adjustments in the hood and waist, elastic cuffs, water-resistant zippers and that’s about it. The lack of bulk allows the Helium to be so light (only 7 ounces) and compressible that I carried it around in my messenger bag every day and it was never a bother. And when it stuffs into its own side-hem pocket, the jacket shrinks to the size of a muffin top.

Just because it never rains in Utah, there’s no excuse not to own a jacket like the Outdoor Research Helium. Because when the sky does open up, and you find yourself in the mountains getting drenched under a late-summer monsoon storm, you’ll be glad to have the Helium in your pack, even though you’ll probably forget it’s even there.

To purchase the Outdoor Research Helium Jacket, try Altrec.com or Backcountry.com

The Outdoor Research Helium Jacket also works as a lightweight layer on chilly mornings.

Here are the technical specs from Outdoor Research:

Ultralight, waterproof/breathable 2.5-layer 20D Pertex® Shield DS ripstop fabric
Fully seam taped
Single-pull hood adjustment
Ultralight, water-resistant zippers
Front zipper has 7.5″/19 cm inner stormfap
Zippered napoleon pocket
Stuff pocket at side hem with hook/loop closure
Elastic cuffs
Single drawcord hem adjustment


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