Tuesday, March 15, 2016

OR Helium II Jacket Review

I bought two OR Helium II Jackets actually.

Because they are awesome.

I have a women's medium which I used on the Appalachian Trail. It worked well as a raincoat and as a layer to keep me warm.

I also have a men's large which I use in the alpine when I think I may need to wear my expedition weight down jacket in inclement weather. That way I have a jacket that can be worn over the down without compressing it.

The pros:

  • Exceptionally light (5.5 and 7 oz respectively)
  • Waterproof* (see cons)
  • No Frills
  • Great fit
  • Drawcord hem
  • Full coverage hood

The cons:

  • I don't believe anything that says it's waterproof and breathable. These are no exception.
  • These jackets are very waterproof, but they trap condensation next to the skin (or in my down jacket) if worn while exerting.
  • They don't hold up to backpacking. The shoulders end up leaking after a few dozen wearings with a pack on. Unfortunately that means one thru-hike for me.

Overall I love these jackets. They work as advertised well enough that I can put up with them wearing out faster than I'd like. Also, OR has a good warranty program and they have always replaced gear that I've returned when I felt like it failed to last for a reasonable time (prior incarnations of these jackets included). OR steadily makes improvements to gear based on customer feedback, returns, and reviews which I appreciate.

If you're looking for a light "insurance policy" rain jacket I recommend the Helium II.

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