Run Oregon sometimes receives products to review. We recently received a lightweight jacket from Outdoor Research to try out. Here are our impressions of the Helium II Jacket:
Matt: Helium II Jacket ($159): We have all had those runs – the ones where you look up before you leave and ponder bringing a jacket or not. On one hand, it doesn’t look that much like it’s going to rain and you don’t really want to wear a jacket for nothing. On the other, it would suck to be caught out in a “flash” rainstorm and be kicking yourself as your shirt becomes soaked. Whichever you choose, you will get lucky half the time and pissed at yourself the other half. The Helium II Jacket is a pricy top, but man – you are bringing home a piece designed for long-term durability and usefulness. It is made from nylon with a Pertex shield that is the latest and greatest in wind and waterproofing. Now that the weather has started featuring some rain, I have been able to take it on some runs. Using this jacket while running in the elements between 30-90 minutes has allowed me to stay dry. Even times when the rain quit and I could have taken it off, the breathability of the construction has made it so I haven’t felt overheated.
And if you end up deciding that you don’t need to wear a jacket, boy does this thing compress. It is so lightweight, that you can fold it up and basically stick it in your pocket (if you wear gym shorts like me). If you aren’t a pocket person, it’s easily small and light enough to run with it in your hand until the next downpour happens. The hood has this neat feature where it’s hood has a stiffer material to make it like the bill of a hat – effectively staying firm and keeping the rain out of your face while still offering full visuals. While the hood is adjustable it is not removable, so you will have to roll it up if you don’t plan to use it. Also be cognizant not to bend or crush the “bill” too much or you may risk permanently deforming it (I did not attempt this, but just something I thought had a potential of occurring).
Some runners have mentioned that Outdoor Research has a tendency to run small in sizing, though I had no issues with this. I am 6’1 and hover around 190, and I found the Large to fit how I like it – not too tight and not too loose – a solid fit for wearing a running shirt underneath. The sleeves were also a solid length. Depending on how you like your fit, the bottom may (or may not) be shorter than you want. You may need to size up if you want some extra length.
One thing that was a little bit of a negative was the fact that there were no pockets for your hands. There is a velcro pocket on the underneath side and the zipped pocket on the upper chest is designed to double as a stuff sack. Adding pockets undoubtedly means added weight, so I understand their reluctance to have them. However, if you are a used to pockets for your hands, you will be without.
Speaking of zippers, I found them to be a little stiff, making zipping almost a two-handed job – which can be a pain (first-world problems I know), with wet and cold hands. I’m not sure if this is a design need or not, but I didn’t have any zipper leakage, so that’s a plus.
Overall, this is an amazing jacket for all things Pacific Northwest. It worked great on my runs, but would also be a perfect addition to any hiking pack, cycling bag, or just something to wear when walking through the rain during a pub crawl in the Rose City. Highly recommended.
- Fully Seam-Taped
- Pertex® Shield+ 2.5L, 100% nylon 30D ripstop
- Avg. Weight: 6.4oz
- Center Back Length: 28½”
- YKK® AquaGuard® Center Front Zipper
- Fully Adjustable Hood
- Single-Separating Front Zipper
- Zippered Napoleon Pocket
- Internal Pocket Doubles as Stuff Sack
- Carabiner Loop
- Elastic Cuffs
- Drawcord Hem