Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket Review

The Helium II jacket by Outdoor Research is one of the most vestal jackets I’ve ever used and possibly the most used jacket in my closet.  It is a waterproof shell that weighs just 5.8 oz. (what I have weighed my size medium at). This fact is what makes it so vestal.  When I go hiking, backpacking or skiing I generally wear some type of softshell jacket or lightweight hiking shirt as my primary outer layer. the 6 oz. weight of the Helium II means I can throw it into my pack without hesitation on days when I don’t think I’ll need it.  I have been saved countless times by this jacket on those exact days.  Even if it is only used to block the wind you will be glad you brought it along.  I even bring it with me regularly to work on the days when the sky is clear.  Waiting for the bus in the unexpected rain is much more comfortable with this jacket along for the ride.

When you are buying this jacket there are some things to be aware of.  It is very stripped down.  It has a single pocket located at on the left breast.  The wrists don’t Velcro down – instead there is a slight bit of elastic to keep the sleeves from riding up.  There are no hand warmer pockets. What counts though is that this jacket kept the features that really matter – primarily the reinforced bill on the hood to keep the edge from sagging down and the cinch strap on the back of the hood to properly adjust the hood’s fit.  These two features are great to have to decrease the irritation caused by a hood that doesn’t turn with your head and blocks half your vision (this is especially bad news when you are backcountry skiing).

This jacket also has an internal stuff pocket to make packing your jacket easier.  One thing that confused me about this jacket was how they made the stuff pocket.  It is on the inside of the jacket and is a dedicated stuff pocket.  Why not just use a double sided zipper on the chest pocket and stuff the jacket in there? Seems like it would have saved a bit of weight.


I love this jacket and will be using it for years to come.

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket Official Product Page