Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket Review

The Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid jacket is one of two new jackets in Outdoor Research’s Helium line.  The Helium Hybrid is designed to act as a wind jacket with very light weather protection.  The lower portions are made from a wind blocking material that is nice and stretchy to allow easy movement.  Its also breathable so you can wear it during high energy activities.  Covering the shoulders and upper chest is a waterproof material (Pertex Shield +) to keep light precipitation off of you.  Similar to the Helium 2 jacket the Helium Hybrid is also a stripped down lightweight jacket which is light on features but also light on weight.

When testing the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid jacket I was pleased to see that Outdoor Research learned a few things since they created the Helium 2.  Both jackets are ultralight, stripped of non-essential features and designed for those of us who want a quality piece of gear that won’t weigh our pack down.  Like the Helium 2 the Helium Hybrid only has a single functional pocket (located on the left chest).  But, rather than include an extra pocket to work as its stuff sack the Helium Hybrid can pack into its chest pocket.  Other refinements I’ve noticed when comparing these two jackets are the small piece of soft fabric placed at the top of the main zipper (so you don’t scratch chin) and a redesigned hood that now includes a wire reinforcement (to keep it from drooping into your eyes).  You can tell this jacket was designed with a critical eye to produce a very solid piece of equipment.

You can see the wire reinforced hood as well as the chin protector (the small grey patch at the top of the main zipper) that Outdoor Research included on the Helium Hybrid jacket.

You can see the wire reinforced hood as well as the chin protector (the small grey patch at the top of the main zipper) that Outdoor Research included on the Helium Hybrid jacket.

While this jacket is a great piece of gear I’m not sure that it is one that will make it into my personal gear closet.  I live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains a lot. Rarely do I want a jacket that won’t keep me 100% dry.  The Helium Hybrid jacket isn’t waterproof all the way around (only on the shoulders) and I am having a hard time imagining a scenario where its wet enough that I need to protect part of my body but not wet enough that I don’t need a real rain jacket.  Maybe those of you living in other parts of the country who experience different types of weather (high desert where you would want something to block the wind?) might see the reason to take this jacket over a full rain jacket but for my needs I’m sticking with the Outdoor Research Helium 2 for lightweight weather protection.

Something else to note is that this really is a trim fit jacket.  I am generally a medium and a medium is what feels right size wise but I am not left with enough room to be layering anything underneath it.

Conclusion:

If the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid jacket fulfils the requirements for the specific activity you are participating in you should buy this jacket.  It is built to a very high degree of quality and has a really nice feature set that provides everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid jacket