Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket
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The OR Helium Hybrid is a lightweight, no-frills wind…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Outdoor Research for testing and review)
The OR Helium Hybrid is a lightweight, no-frills wind jacket that has additional protection from rain on the hood and shoulders. The minimalist design of the jacket provides satisfactory coverage from wind and moderate rain showers, which I found perfect for spring and summer weather.
- Lightweight minimalist design
- Waterproof where needed most
- Packs into chest pocket
- Provides good range of motion
- Small hood visor
- Limited ventilation
I have been testing this jacket over the past three months using it as my go-to jacket when an extra layer is needed or as protection from the rain. It has been used primarily for hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and walks around the Portland area. Temperatures of use ranged from the upper 40s into the 60s. The weather varied from clear to cloudy with a few rain showers.
I normally wear a sized medium jacket but, prefer a large for a shell. That way I can add more layers when needed. Overall, the jacket fits fine whether I am wearing a tee shirt or even a few layers.
Design and Fit:
As stated, the jacket is of a minimalist design only offering what is needed to keep the elements out. It has a single chest pocket which can also be used to stuff the jacket into for storage.
For the body and sleeves the manufacturer used a thin, almost sheer stretchy and tight woven nylon fabric. The fabric provides excellent wind and water resistance.
The hood and shoulders are made from a 30 denier nylon with Pertex Shield +. All the seams on the hood and shoulders are seam sealed.
The waterproof fabric extends down to the shoulder blades and mid chest. The jacket has a full zipper with a storm flap behind it that runs up over the top to keep the zipper from grinding your chin when fully zipped.
The hood has a single drawstring pull with cord lock to close the hood around your face. It does a good job but, the small visor also draws in making it almost useless.
The hood is also not large enough to fit a helmet under it but, a ball cap fits fine.
The waist hem has a single draw and cord lock to keep the cold out. Elastic cuffs were used for the sleeves.
I like hiking Columbia River Gorge to see the Trillium and full waterfalls in the spring and early summer. I took the jacket on hikes over Franklin Ridge from Multnomah Falls, Benson Plateau via the Ruckel Creek trail and Gorton Creek up to Indian Point. Elevations ranged from about 800 feet to over 4000 on the Benson Plateau. I like to get out early to avoid the crowds and began each hike wearing the jacket with a base layer.
Hiking at a moderate pace on some elevation, I found the jacket comfortable to wear and able to control my temperature by unzipping. However, on steeper sections, unzipping was not enough and I had to remove the jacket completely to cool down. I was a little surprised the uncoated nylon body and sleeves weren’t more breathable. Pit zips would probably help greatly. While hiking I noticed no binding in the arms when wearing a daypack and using trekking poles.
The only real wind I experienced was up at Indian Point which overlooks the gorge and is exposed to the stronger winds that blow through. As I rested, enjoying the view the jacket did a great job keeping the wind out and me warm.
To test the water proofing, I wore the jacket in several showers and rainstorms that blew though. The body and sleeves did better than I expected and I remained dry through the showers and light rain. On one occasion, I was out in a heavier rain for over 30 minutes (Portland set a record that day for July rain fall) and the water started to soak through the sleeves. The thin material dried really quickly and was dry in no time.
The Helium Hybrid performed better than expected in wind and rainy conditions. I found it very comfortable to wear with a good range of motion in the arms. The only drawbacks I found were limited breathability and the small hood visor. Other than that, the jacket is great and I am glad I was able to test it.
Super light, compact. Easy to throw in you pack or…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I've kept it)
Super light, compact. Easy to throw in you pack or clip onto your belt or harness. Love the self stuffing pouch that has a nice clip-in loop. Once the Helium is on you the wind is blocked.
- Good built in stuff pouch/sack with clip-in
- Good colors
I have only worn it in the lightest of mist and sprinkles, worked great there. I assume if you know it's going to rain you'd want something beefier.
(The reviewer is an athlete ambassador for Outdoor Research.)