The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Helly Hansen Seven J Review

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Price:  $100 List | $69.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Warm for a shell jacket, nice casual jacket for around town
Cons:  Heavy, poor breathability and ventilation
Manufacturer:   Helly Hansen
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 5, 2015
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44
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance - 30% 6
  • Breathability - 25% 4
  • Comfort and Mobility - 20% 5
  • Weight - 15% 1
  • Durability - 5% 6
  • Packed Size - 5% 3

Our Verdict

The Helly Hansen Seven J rain jacket is a budget 2-layer, mesh-lined rain jacket. While it seals out rain just fine, it is the heaviest and the least breathable and ventilated contender we tested. The heavy polyester face fabric is likely one of the most abrasion resistant used in our jacket field, but other than that the Seven J has little to offer over other competitors. For mostly around town wear, we prefer the 2-layer Columbia Watertight II. We found it more comfortable, lighter, and less bulky.

If a high performing rain jacket at an affordable price is what you are after, we have no higher recommendation than the Marmot PreCip, our Best Buy Award winner. This 2.5-layer rain jacket delivers top notch adventure performance at an incredibly good price.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Helly Hansen Seven J Jacket is the lowest overall scoring product in our rain jacket review. It is the heaviest model we tested, and received average to low scores across the baord in our metrics.

Performance Comparison


For use in cool and cold wet weather  2-layer jackets with a lining like this one provide the most warmth.
For use in cool and cold wet weather, 2-layer jackets with a lining like this one provide the most warmth.

Water Resistance


This rain jacket will keep you dry when the rain comes straight down. That is true for all the rain jackets that we tested. The Seven J does not have a stiffened brim that holds its shape well on the brow, and we found the face cinches of the hood to be less effective at sealing out water sprayed at the face. What the jacket does have going for it is effective adjustable wrist cuffs. While they are simple (no elastic on the inside of the wrist), the Velcro tab lets you cinch them down tight. If you're gonna be working overhead in the rain, this is a great feature.

We find this heavy Helly Hansen jacket is best suited to cool weather use around town. It's just too heavy to justify carrying into the backcountry.
We find this heavy Helly Hansen jacket is best suited to cool weather use around town. It's just too heavy to justify carrying into the backcountry.

Breathability & Ventilation


While breathability and ventilation are a challenge for all 2-layer jackets without pit zips, we found the Seven J even less breathable the other two we tested (the Columbia Watertight II and The North Face Resolve). The shell fabric is heavy and bulky, and this seemed to contribute to the jacket's overall inability to handle active use and sweat. It is the least breathable product we tested and does not include pit zips for ventilation. The only nod to ventilation are the mesh-lined hand pockets.

In general, we feel 2-layer jackets are best suited to casual wear rather than active use, and this is true for the Seven J.

Like the other two models we tested with a hanging mesh liner  this jacket does not have pit zips for ventilation.
Like the other two models we tested with a hanging mesh liner, this jacket does not have pit zips for ventilation.

Comfort & Mobility


While this model includes a nod or two to comfort — a micro-fleece hood for the zipper at your chin for example — we didn't find it comfortable or easy to use overall. The metal tab zipper pulls are rather small and certainly not easy to grab with gloves. Snaps at the top and bottom of the main zipper are a puzzling feature. We have not found the need to use a snap to relieve zipper tension in a shell jacket, and they are much more of a pain than securing the storm flab with small Velcro patches. Again, due to the bulk, this jacket felt less mobile than others we tested. There's just a lot more fabric under your arms and around the neck to have to move with you.

The cord locks for this jackets hood adjustment are unique and work well  but they take a little while to get used to.
The cord locks for this jackets hood adjustment are unique and work well, but they take a little while to get used to.

Weight


Weighing in at 19.2 ounces (size large) on our digital scale, this was the heaviest contender we tested. It is a full two ounces heavier than the next contender, and a half pound heavier than the lightest fully-featured models we evaluated. And it is not just heavy because it is a 2-layer model with a lining. The North Face Resolve weighs in 3 ounces lighter and our favorite 2-layer jacket for around town use, the Columbia Watertight II, weighs 6 ounces less.

Durability


While this jacket uses a polyester face fabric, we felt overall the construction quality and durability were rather average.

Packed Size


This jacket does not have an integral stuffing option. When we wanted to pack it away, we rolled it up inside the hood to contain it and protect the body. Along with the REI Crestrail, it is the bulkiest rain jacket we tested.

This is the heaviest and bulkiest rain shell we tested. You can roll it into the hood  but it doesn't stuff into a pocket.
This is the heaviest and bulkiest rain shell we tested. You can roll it into the hood, but it doesn't stuff into a pocket.

Features


The hood of this 2-layer jacket is lined with the same mesh as the rest of the jacket body. This hood is adjustable in two ways: first, on either side of the face, elastic cinch cords snug up the face opening. Rather than extend all the way around the opening, they are sewn into the hood at either side of a stiffened brim. Second, a Velcro tab at the back of the hood allows you to adjust where the brim falls on your forehead. The collar of this model is well-featured for a budget jacket. A small fleece patch at the chin also folds over to form a hood for the zipper, and a large hang loop lives at the back of the collar. While the body and hood are lined with mesh, the arms are lined with a slick nylon taffeta to make layering easier.

As with other value-oriented 2-layer pieces, this model does not have pit zips. The zippered hand pockets are mesh-lined though, providing some ability to ventilate. In addition to these two pockets, this jacket has an internal chest pocket with a Velcro closure that is perfect for stashing your phone inside. The main zipper of this jacket is protected by a large storm flap that is secured with a few Velcro patches and a snap at the top and bottom. Unlike most other jackets, the main zipper doesn't have a string added to the basic zipper pull.

While they are simple, the cuffs create a large wrist opening, and can be cinched closed for weather protection and warmth or be left open for added ventilation. And finally, the hem of this model can be cinched down tight with one of two cord locks sewn in at both hips.

The Seven J is constructed with 2-layer fabric with a hanging mesh liner  no pit zips  and adjustable wrist cuffs.
The Seven J is constructed with 2-layer fabric with a hanging mesh liner, no pit zips, and adjustable wrist cuffs.

Best Applications


Largely due to its heavy weight, the Helly Hansen Seven J is best suited to around town wear and cold, rainy outdoor work. The polyester face fabric is thick, and overall this model is bulky and warm compared to others we evaluated.

Value


At $100, the Seven J is very affordable, but if you're seeking performance for outdoor sports, your money is better spent elsewhere. The Marmot PreCip and Patagonia Torrentshell are similarly priced jackets that are much lighter, more mobile, and more breathable for rainy hiking or backpacking.

Conclusion


The Helly Hansen Seven J is an affordable and quite heavy 2-layer rain jacket. The heavy polyester face fabric and hanging lining inside make it the warmest of the rain jackets we tested. We found this model too heavy and bulky for most of our adventures, but feel it would make a great around town, cold and wet season casual jacket.

We feel this model is best suited to cold season use and its heavy weight makes it better for close-to-town use rather than backcountry adventures.
We feel this model is best suited to cold season use and its heavy weight makes it better for close-to-town use rather than backcountry adventures.


Brandon Lampley