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.
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
Single drawcord hem adjustment