Outdoor Research | Helium II
The Outdoor Research Helium II is a light-weight waterproof jacket ideal for many outdoor applications. This product was originally designed for climbers and runners to be worn for a short period of time during a storm. The main concept behind this product is to always carry it with you.
Due to the extremely light-weight we have kept the jacket stored in our EDC backpack every single day for the whole season. With an astonishing weight of 180 grams you literally forget about it. The jacket is so compact that can fit even in a small cargo pocket. If you actually compress it with a vacuum machine it reaches the size of an energy bar.
We have already seen some very small and lightweight jackets on the market. What makes the Helium II unique is not just the weight but the waterproofness of the fabric. We have use this jacket in many unpleasant weather conditions and it has always kept us dry. To reach this kind of excellence Outdoor Research has utilized a 30D ripstop fabric with a Pertex Shield+ 2.5L coating. At first we were quite skeptical about the longevity of the waterproof shell due to the way the fabric compresses when the jacket is stored, but even after some pretty rough use it hasn’t showed any sign of weakness.
For example if you compress some other waterproof shells on the market like Gore-Tex the layers of the PU film could break, making the fabric permeable. Gore-Tex works with a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane with a hydrophobic PU film; in some cases if the fabric is folded too much there could be a loss of waterproofness.
One of the greatest features of this garment is its breathability. Keep in mind that this product was not actually designed for prolonged use, this is why OR focused more on the weight than on the features. This is a jacket to always have in a backpack or just keep stored in a bag. Even if it does not have armpit zippers (like the bigger brother Helium HD) it still offers enough breathability to get the job done.
If you plan to wear this jacket for a longer period of time please take a look at the Outdoor Research Helium HD, it features a more complete type of hoodie and pockets, for a slightly larger size and weight.
Outdoor Research has done a great job designing the hood. It features a bungee cord that runs from the forehead to the back of the head, and if pulled tight it really secures the hood and the visor, offering a very smooth and “noise-free” motion. The visor is made of a much stiffer material allowing a very comfortable wear during storms. This feature really comes handy when shooting (both handguns and rifles) under bad weather.
We have chosen the black/hydro version of this jacket because it does not scream “tactical” while still offering some decent concealability. The blue OR logo and zipper don’t really stand out too much but are keen to make the user appear as a civilian. On the range this jacket is fantastic, due to the lightweight it can always be packed in a range-bag, and as soon as it starts raining you have backup. The elastic on the wrist allows to keep a clean motion during weapon manipulation, without risking of getting the garment in the way.
The choice between Helium II and Helium HD is only driven by the application of the user. Both offer lightweight, waterproofness and breathability. So because we like to carry this shell 24/7 in our backpacks we decided to go with the more lightweight/small version rather than the feature-richer one.
For more details about the Helium II please visit the Outdoor Research website: OutdoorResearch.com