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Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie Review

This synthetic puff is lightweight, highly compressible, and offers decent weather resistance
Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie
Credit: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $200 List | $109.42 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, good compressibility
Cons:  No chest pocket, cumbersome hood
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Buck Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 28, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Warmth - 25% 3.0
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 9.0
  • Comfort - 20% 6.0
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 5.0
  • Breathability - 15% 6.0

Our Verdict

Relying on synthetic insulation made from a blend of recycled and biomaterials, the Outdoor Research Helium Insulated packs down small and makes a great standalone piece for moderate climates or as an excellent midlayer when temps start dropping. The outer shell offers a fair bit of wind protection and the DWR (durable water repellent) finish prevents light rain from soaking through. This lightweight synthetic puffy will add plenty of warmth to any layering system without taking up too much space, making it ideal for your daily commute or summer backpacking trips.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $109.42 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$259.00 at REI
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$200 List
$199.95 at Amazon
$200 List
$199.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, good compressibilityVery comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobilityVery warm, great features set, packs away easilyWind resistant, excellent breathabilityVery comfortable, warm, many features
Cons No chest pocket, cumbersome hoodPricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itselfNot the lightestPoor water resistance, minimal featuresHeavy, uses an external stuff sack
Bottom Line This synthetic puff is lightweight, highly compressible, and offers decent weather resistanceThe ideal active insulated layer combines lightweight mobility and great breathability, yet still wards off the chill during cold weatherWith high loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bankBreathable and lightweight, this jacket is the perfect companion for cold weather high-output activitiesThis medium-weight jacket spares no attention to detail when it comes to keeping you comfortable
Rating Categories Outdoor Research He... Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Rab Nebula Pro Rab Xenair Insulated Rab Cirrus Alpine I...
Warmth (25%)
3.0
5.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
Weight and Compressibility (20%)
9.0
7.0
3.0
8.0
4.0
Comfort (20%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
5.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Breathability (15%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
4.0
Specs Outdoor Research He... Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Rab Nebula Pro Rab Xenair Insulated Rab Cirrus Alpine I...
Measured Weight (size) 10.8 oz (M) 13.20 oz (M) 22.9 oz (M) 11.8 oz (M) 17.6 oz (M)
Insulation VerticalX Eco SR 60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides Cirrus HL PrimaLoft Gold Active+ PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Luxe
Outer Fabric Pertex Quantum 20D Nylon Tyono Pertex Quantum Pro (30D recycled nylon) Pertex Quantum Air 30D recycled Pertex Quantum
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes No Includes stuff sack Yes No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 2 divided internal drop pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest

Our Analysis and Test Results

The OR Helium Insulated Hoodie is constructed with quite a few new technologies. It's filled with a blend of recycled and biomaterials that perform as well as conventional materials. The Pertex Diamond Fuse technology on the outer shell adds durability thanks to the proprietary diamond-shaped filaments used in the fabric. The special weave adds abrasion resistance and is meant to ensure the material is less likely to tear, as lightweight puffs tend to do.

Performance Comparison


Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the or helium is packable and lightweight but not the warmest in our...
The OR Helium is packable and lightweight but not the warmest in our fleet.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Warmth


The Helium is one of the least warm options we tested. That being said, it is also one of the lightest-weight jackets in our lineup. Our testing indicated that it's not meant for sub-freezing temperatures; however, we found it to be comfortable down to the mid-50s if fairly sedentary and comfortable to wear down into the mid-40s if you’re on the move.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the or helium is lightweight and relatively breathable.
The OR Helium is lightweight and relatively breathable.
Credit: Buck Yedor

The waist hem is adjustable via a drawcord which lets you cinch the waistline tight to keep warm air from escaping out the bottom. When paired with a fleece midlayer and a waterproof shell, this jacket makes a great insulating layer for skiing and other cold weather activities.

Weight and Compressibility


Our size medium weighed in at 10.8 ounces and stuffs down into a small and tidy package. Whether you need a jacket to throw into your backpack for your daily commute to work or to bring along on a light and fast backpacking mission, the Helium is a serious space saver.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the or is incredibly light and compressible.
The OR is incredibly light and compressible.
Credit: Buck Yedor

It stuffs into its own zippered hand pouch but unfortunately doesn’t come equipped with a clip-in loop, which can be handy if you want to clip the jacket to the outside of a backpack or to a harness. When stowed away, the whole package is about the size of a one-liter water bottle.

Comfort


The elastic and fleece-lined wrist cuffs are comfortable on the skin and slide over gloves without issue. This jacket has very little stretch built into it but the cut of the shoulders gives you plenty of mobility for most activities. While it isn't our first choice for rock climbing, it's plenty comfortable for hiking, backpacking, skiing, and most outdoor activities.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the elastic wrist cuffs are stretchy enough to easily pull over...
The elastic wrist cuffs are stretchy enough to easily pull over gloves or other layers without issue.
Credit: Buck Yedor

With no elastic built into the hemline of the hood, it’s a tight and somewhat difficult squeeze to get the hood on and off if you have your jacket zipped all the way through the top of the collar. The hood isn’t large enough to accommodate a ski or climbing helmet but does have an interesting method of adjustability that lets you decrease the overall volume of the hood.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the or helium sports two large external hand pockets.
The OR Helium sports two large external hand pockets.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Weather Resistance


Like most insulation layers, the Helium is primarily designed to keep you warm but not necessarily dry. The outer shell is water-resistant but not waterproof. It can slough off a light drizzle but you’ll need to pair this with a rain shell if you’re anticipating heavy or prolonged precipitation. Fortunately, even if this jacket gets a little soggy, it might be uncomfortable, but the synthetic insulation will keep working its magic and continue to trap your body heat and keep you warm.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the outer shell offers decent protection from things like snow drip...
The outer shell offers decent protection from things like snow drip and light rain.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Breathability


This jacket falls somewhere in the middle in terms of breathability. The nylon shell is fairly water and wind-resistant for an insulating shell. This unfortunately makes it a little less breathable. This jacket is not the thickest, which does let it breathe compared to more beefed up, warmer options.

Value


The OR Helium is a mid-priced option. It’s missing some of the comforts and features that premium models offer, but if you prioritize weight and compressibility over warmth, you'll be pleased with your purchase.

Conclusion


Insulated with a blend of recycled and biomaterials, this synthetic puff keeps materials out of the landfill. While we appreciate seeing more sustainable options, it's a bonus when they perform as well as conventional materials. The OR Helium Insulated does just that. It’s lightweight, warm for its weight, and highly compressible. This jacket is the perfect light accompaniment for everything from hiking to skiing.

Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie insulated jacket - the low-volume hood lacks any stretch, which can make it a pain to...
The low-volume hood lacks any stretch, which can make it a pain to pull on and off if the jacket is fully zipped.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Buck Yedor

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