GEAR REVIEW – Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket ($159)
The right equipment is what makes type 2 adventures more so type 1 ish. This season, I got roped into an alpine linkup on Pikes Peak, our local 14’er, and grabbed my Helium II to see what it was made of. Over the three major formations on Pikes that we linked up, 10 pitches over 10 miles, we had some sun, some wind, and some rain and a whole lot of fun – the Helium II handled it all.
The Helium II is a lightweight shell coming in at 6.4 ounces. It’s light, yet substantial. Thankfully, it’s not a $159 disposable jacket, which is an experience I am sure we have all had. It’s ready for my next outing, even after I’ve back scummed my struggle bus up routes. The arms are even still attached after some ungainly flailing through off-widths. It’s also not punctuated with holes as we bushwhacked our way through brush pine to link the formations.
Weather wise, the Helium II performs brilliantly. It fended off a windy, cold morning. When the sun heated up, the jacket stored neatly into its internal pocket and clipped onto my harness. On our way to the last route, as the sky let loose, I stayed happily dry.
As part of the #ORInsightLab crew of dedicated testers for Outdoor Research, I was provided a Men’s Helium II Jacket to test. For fit, I’m 5’11’’ 175lb with an athletic build and (sadly) no ape index, and I tested the Jacket in a size L (size chart). The jacket fits loose (not baggy) and I have successfully layered beneath it on ski mountaineering forays. The tail is long enough that it stayed under my harness while climbing and the sleeves are to Goldilock’s specifications, e.g. not too short, not too long, and not ridiculously skinny – just right.
Bottom Line – If fast and light endeavors are your jam and your equipment is going to take some abuse, this is the jacket.
- Waterproof – Will keep you 100% dry in the event the skies let loose mid route thanks to fully taped seams and laminated construction.
- Windproof – Take the bite out of the air.
- Breathable – Go ahead and climb the crux in it.
- Waist Cinch Cord – adjust to your own body to keep the elements where they belong, outside.
- Packable – Internal pocket doubles as stuff sack, carabiner loop makes it simple to stow away on your harness
- Durable – Scum away, the jacket can handle it
- Adjustable hood – Cinch to the size of your brain bucket
- Lightweight – 6.4 oz.
- None. Absolutely nothing.