Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket



The Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket is a an ultralight,…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a personal gift (Birthday gift from my "gear nut" wife)


The Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket is a an ultralight, breathable, and compressible rain/wind shell. The shell is made of 2.5-layer 30D Pertex Shield DS ripstop fabric (100% nylon) with clear laminate. While this jacket is very lightweight, it still has an impressive array of features! I use it as a three-season rain shell and as a wind shell when cold weather hiking. The most impressive thing about this jacket is that it only weighs 6.4 oz!


  • Nice fit
  • Very breathable
  • Very lightweight
  • Stuffs into its chest pocket
  • Stylish


  • Thin
  • No exterior hand pockets
  • No pit zippers
  • Expensive


Fit and Comfort:

I would say that the OR Helium II is true to size. I am 5'9" and 175 lb and a medium fits me just right. The arm and torso lengths are perfect for me. Some who are taller might would say that the torso should be longer. I can fit a baselayer underneath it, but definitely not anything bigger than a light fleece.

OR Helium II. This photo accurately displays the length of the jacket.


The hood and waist both have drawcords for adjustments. The hood's drawcord is in the rear. It would be nice if there were some adjustable cords in the front  as well, but it would add weight. The cuffs do have elastic in them, but are not adjustable.

Adjustable hood in the rear.

Cuffs have elastic on the bottom.


Water Resistance:

Considering the weight, this jacket is very waterproof. It can handle light to moderate rain. I would not personally choose it in a downpour, but I do not have expectations for this to be a Gore-Tex shell. It is also pretty wind resistant. Again, you do have to consider that it only weighs 6.4 oz and is very thin, so don't expect it to keep you warm and toasty in the 40's. The zippers are all also waterproof. 


This jacket is much more breathable than a regular shell. I hiked several times in the rain during the summer while wearing this. Obviously it did hold in some heat, but it did breathe substantially better than your average rain shell. I would say that it is about as breathable as a hard shell can get.


I have not exposed it to any very rough surface, but it has held up well to briars and tree limbs.


I am really impressed with all of the features that this minimalist shell has. It has a visor, adjustable hem and hood, chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, velcro interior pocket, waterproof zippers, and elastic cuffs. If it only had pit zippers and exterior hand pockets, it would be pretty much perfect.

Interior pocket with velcro closure

Visor hood

Stuffed into chest pocket



This is a great three season rain/wind shell. I never think twice about bringing it because it only weighs 6.4 oz. I wouldn't take it as my primary shell in the winter, but it is great to cut down wind while hiking in cold weather. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for an alternative to your 12oz+ shell.


Now my go-to trail running and tramping jacket. A…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new


Now my go-to trail running and tramping jacket. A great performer.


  • Very light
  • Takes up no room in your pack
  • Windproof
  • Waterproof


  • A bit on the short side
  • Runs to the cold side when you stop moving

This is a great jacket. I'm 6'3" and 110kgs (242 lbs). Naturally I wear the xl.  It is long enough in the arms and still allows some room in the body. The hood fits well and has a handy pull cord at the back to ensure a good fit.

It's a functional garment. It has one not particularly useful pocket at the chest and another internal pocket which doubles as the stuff sack. It is designed to be minimalist and it works perfectly for that purpose.

I've used this jacket in hard downpours and never got wet. That said, the lightness of the fabric means it 'feels' wet when it is against your skin. But that feeling is illusory. The jacket works. It is also extremely wind resistant.

That said, the lightness of the fabric means it's not the warmest when your stopped for camp in the evening. I was still able to wear it over my 650fill down jacket and thus was able to warm up again. 

I find it very breathable. I also trail and road run in it in winter. Here in Auckland we get some good rain in the winter and autumn and this jacket breathes well. I've yet to get truly wet inside from sweating.

Only gripe is that it is a bit short in a rainfall. Couple of times I've cursed not bringing my rain pants on the track. Upper body was completely dry but from my backside down — drenched. My older longer Goretx coat meant I maintained a dry backside (I'm a typical kiwi and tramp in shorts — even in the midst of winter. Wet legs are just the norm).

This jacket has replaced my heavier Gortex jackets on the trail. A great performer!