Helly Hansen Loke Review
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Helly Hansen Loke
|Price||$75.00 at Evo|
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$169.00 at REI
|$69.96 at Backcountry|
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$99.95 at REI
|$56.24 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, breathable, inexpensive||Solid weather protection, excellent hood design, relatively low weight and packed volume||Better breathability than others in its price range, decent ventilation, roll away hood, nice pit zips, affordable||Great value, cut for layering, compresses into its pocket, respectable weight, hood tucks away nicely into the collar||Comfortable, affordable, athletic fit, good wrist cuffs|
|Cons||Zipper isn't waterproof, fabric wets out faster, thin material is less durable||Wets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two-layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interior||No chest pocket, not quite as breathable as models that use a non-coated membrane||Less durable, poor breathability, DWR is short-lived||Bulky, warm, limited hood adjustment|
|Bottom Line||This affordable rain jacket will keep you dry enough in most situations and has many of the same features as more expensive models||One of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex jacket is packed full of functional features||A great jacket with an excellent price tag that offers above-average breathability||A great price on a reasonably solid jacket that performs similarly to others in its price range||An excellent price, but it doesn't offer nearly as many outdoor activity oriented features as other models we review|
|Rating Categories||Helly Hansen Loke||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX||Marmot PreCip Eco||REI Co-Op Rainier||Columbia Watertight II|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Comfort and Mobility (20%)|
|Weight and Packability (15%)|
|Specs||Helly Hansen Loke||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX||Marmot PreCip Eco||REI Co-Op Rainier||Columbia Watertight II|
|Measured Weight||9.5 oz||12.3 oz||13.5 oz||13.0 oz||13.5 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||HELLY TECH||2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite||NanoPro||Peak 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate||2-layer Omni-Tech with mesh liner|
|Pockets||2 hand||2 zippered hand||2 zippered hand||2 lower hand||2 hand|
|Hipbelt Friendly Hand Pockets?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Helmet Compatible Hood?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Stows Into Pocket?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Loke is PFC-free and Bluesign-approved, which is sure to delight the cost-conscious outdoors person. It's a decent lightweight option that is great for brief hiking excursions and daily commutes. And with a snug fit, there's no extra fabric to get in the way when you're in motion.
Though it's not the most waterproof, the main fabric of the Loke is no more likely to wet out than more expensive options, and it kept us dry on our soggy, sloppy early spring hikes. In our shower test, this jacket lasted a few minutes before the water stopped beading, but this is expected given that the pressure we expose our jackets to is much greater than the average rain storm. Despite the solid water resistance, the Loke feels much more plastic-y than Gore-Tex or other proprietary fabric models.
Our main issue with the Loke is with the zippers. They are just regular zippers and are not waterproof or sealed. The jacket relies on storm flaps secured with velcro to cover them. In most conditions, this is good enough, but heavy, sustained rain will find its way underneath this flap and through the jacket.
The other small issue is that this jacket is a little bit shorter than many other models, so it doesn't provide quite the same amount of coverage. The hood also doesn't have a brim, as many others do, but we didn't find this made a huge difference in protection from precipitation — it just made it a little more difficult to burrow down into the jacket when waiting out a storm.
The Loke has solid breathability. The material is relatively thin, and the elastic in the cuffs makes it easy to roll up the sleeves if you need wind protection but don't want to overheat. However, the inside of the plastic-y material can get a little clammy if it is directly against the skin. This jacket also lacks a felt lining against the neck and zipper garage (where your chin and lip would touch the top), which is typically included to reduce both cold-to-the-touch fabric on bare skin and the dampness that comes from neck sweat and breathing.
However, the pit zips under both arms makes it easy to dump heat without precipitation from the outside finding its way through. The mesh in the pockets is also quite loose, so opening those up, combined with rolling up the sleeves and opening the top of the zipper, can make a huge difference if you need to dry out the sweat on the inside without removing the jacket completely.
Comfort and Mobility
We love the mobility that this jacket provides. The thin and pliable fabric means that there is no uncomfortable or restrictive bunching at the elbows. The hood also does a reasonably good job of staying put and moving with the head when snugly secured.
It's important to keep in mind that this jacket has a slimmer fit. Combined with the flexible fabric, we love that there is no extra "pooch" when you sit down, which is all too common for rain jackets. The cut of the fabric makes it practical for front-country use because it remains highly functional while also looking good. On the downside, it doesn't sit as low as some other models in our lineup, so a little more backside is exposed to the elements. Similarly, stretching and reaching make the sleeves ride up a bit, giving precipitation an opportunity to drip in. Having said that, there is still plenty of room to fit a midweight fleece or mid-layer underneath.
On the downside, the bunched elastic on the wrists can rub uncomfortably, especially when you're not wearing a mid-layer underneath. The pockets are also made from a very loose mesh, so they aren't the most comfortable or the best for warming up cold fingers (though they are certainly better than no pockets at all).
Weight and Packability
At 9.5 ounces, this jacket is one of the lighter models in our review. However, it doesn't sacrifice much performance because of it, so the tradeoff is worth it. Because of its lightweight, the Loke is especially useful on bike rides when it's not raining very hard (maybe even just misting), but you want a windproof layer and rain protection that won't get you overheated or limit your mobility.
The fabric is thin and imminently packable in the brain of a hiking pack or day bag. There's also a double-sided zipper in the pocket so that it can be stuffed and stored into itself.
We noticed a durability difference between this model and others, but not enough to dissuade us from the great deal the Loke is. The zippers, zipper pulls, and fabric feel somewhat lower quality than those on other top contenders, so we are a little skeptical of the jacket's longevity.
The material is also thinner, making it more susceptible to punctures and abrasions. Having said that, we never experienced a failure of any part of this garment during testing, so only time will tell if the Loke is made to go the distance. We'll report back if issues arise.
Should You Buy the Helly Hansen Loke?
This jacket is not top-of-the-line, but we think you get way more than you pay for with the Loke. It has fair storm worthiness and an adjustable hood, a cinchable waist, and a built-in pocket stuff sack for great packability. Can it go the distance on a multi-week, early spring slogfest? Probably not. But for those looking for a good deal, we recommend this model for a weekend of backpacking, day hikes, or car camping.
What Other Rain Jackets Should You Consider?
You can't go wrong with the REI Co-Op XeroDry GTX for another rain jacket value pick. In addition, the ever-popular Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is an excellent option. If lightweight is your priority, then the comfortable and breathable Outdoor Research Helium is a must-try. Lastly, if price is no object, the all-around all-star Arc'teryx Beta is a shell that any of our testers would love to have in their collection.
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