Outdoor Research is on to something with its Pertex® Shield+ fabric. The Helium Hybrid Jacket weighs less than two King Size Snickers bars and you might as well consider them both trail essentials - especially if you like to layer. It would be tough to find a more versatile lightweight shell, use this as a lightweight insurance policy against bad weather or throw it on before you go on on your next bike ride or climb! It's perfect for just about all outdoor adventures!
The Helium Hybrid Jacket only weighs 5.8 oz. and compresses down to the size of the palm of your hand. As expected, with a jacket this light the fabric is thin and will not take as much abuse as heavier materials. That said, our testing to date has given us confidence in the material and we expect this jacket to last many seasons. The front pocket doubles as a storage pocket and makes it small enough to fit in an easy access part of your pack. Outdoor Research says the jacket fits snugly (i.e., is tailored) and we are inclined to agree. A large fit nicely with one or two base layers on a tester chest size 40, but with little room to spare.
The front pocket is just big enough for a folded map or a snack and doubles as the jacket's storage sack.
Outdoor Research products tend to deliver excellent performance at reasonable prices (at least compared to their main competitors like Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, North Face, etc.). The Helium jacket is no exception and competes handily with other entries in the niche lightweight shell category. This jacket's simplicity allows for versatility - expect to bring it along on any outdoor adventure.
The Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid is an ultralight enthusiast's dream. It’s incredibly lightweight, compact, waterproof yet still breathable (as breathable as it can be without vent zips) and comes with a price tag that is not going to break the bank. In Yosemite this jacket was invaluable when Mother Nature decided she’d had enough sunshine and opened up the skies. The Helium shed wind and rain all day long with no problems. We recommend a base layer or two underneath to provide warmth, however, the fabric provides protection from the elements just fine. The hood fits snugly and drawstrings on the face and waist allow for cinching everything down.
Because the Helium Hybrid is so lightweight it lacks a few bells and whistles. The front breast pocket is the only pocket on the jacket. It does not have pit zippers, but that did not yet affect breathability for us. As we mentioned the fabric feels thin, but so far we are believers in OR’s Pertex® Shield+ fabric. As the season progresses we will be interested to see how it holds up while backpacking. In particular how the shoulder fabric wears from rubbing of backpack straps. The Helium Hybrid is built for the trail, but it should be noted that OR made sure the jacket is stylish enough to wear out on the town as well.
Overall, our first impression is that this jacket is perfect for those looking for lightweight protection from the elements with an attractive price tag. However, you don’t get married after the first date! You need to get to know each other! That’s the way we feel about gear. Trailmob gear reviewers are going to run the Helium Hybrid through the gauntlet. It is going to be tested more than just once! We want to show your Proof of Performance! Up next… the Helium II is headed to the rugged and wild Owyhee Canyonlands in remote Idaho.
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This gear was provided to TrailMob.com free of charge by the manufacturer in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.