The Helly Hansen Mission is classic ski jacket with mostly excellent Scandinavian construction.
Helly Hansen Mission in action. Lead test editor Jediah Porter in the Northeastern US.
Like any ski jacket, it is the wearer that provides the actual "warmth". The insulation just keeps it in. Semantics aside, the Helly Hansen Mission fits right smack in the middle of the road. This is a great thing for the majority of users. It is insulated enough to complement normal base layers in the gnarliest of cold, while offering a svelte enough construction to serve riders on warmer spring days. Interestingly, Helly Hansen insulates the Mission with a combination of standard synthetic insulation, Primaloft Silver, and sheeted foam type insulation. This latter technology keeps the back of the jacket low profile, rather than giving the hunchback look that you might notice on the Helly Hansen Enigma.
Helly Hansen Mission in stormy weather in New York.
Helly Hansen's coastal Norwegian roots lends them particularly well to cold and wet weather protection. Their rain gear pedigree serves them well with the Mission's performance. We had no problems whatsoever with the overall construction and materials of the Mission. The wrist cuffs and high, comfortable collar further seal out the elements. Overall, the weather protection of the Mission compares favorably to our Editors' Choice winner, the Arc Teryx Macai.
Helly Hansen Mission in action at Belleayre Mountain, NY
In our experience testing many many ski and snowboard jackets, it is generally the front zipper that provides the greatest ventilation effect. This means that any full-zip jacket can be vented pretty well. Differentiating the field of single-layer jackets (as opposed to 3-in-1 pieces like our Best Buy winning The North Face Vortex Triclimate) is the pit-zip design and construction. The best venting jackets have long pit-zips with no mesh backing and open with zipper pulls from both directions. The Mission jacket is equipped with relatively short openings, a single zipper pull, and backed with mesh. Of jackets equipped with pit-zips, this is the least effective venting combination.
This jacket is fairly well equipped. With a fixed powder skirt and integrated pants attachment (compatible with only Helly Hansen pants), all we might ask for is an integrated goggle wipe.
Fit and Comfort
The Mission strikes an excellent balance between comfort, style, and range of motion. Our testers found it to be true to size, non-binding, with coverage everywhere necessary. More and more jackets, including the Mission, are coming with integrated, internal, stretchy wrist gaiters. This feature, when done well, is an excellent comfort and weather protection attribute. Not all ski jacket manufacturers have it figured out. If this feature is important to you, consider that Helly Hansen does a good job, while the Flylow Roswell's wrist cuffs are uncomfortable, bordering on painful. The HH wrist loops are comfortable, but our testers did experience the only construction failure on this part of the jacket when a seam came unraveled.
Helly Hansen Mission's comfortable thumb loops work well, but our tested version had a seam fail.
The Helly Hansen Mission offers neutral, muted style. In our tested grey color scheme everyone liked it, but none loved it. Young and old found it thoroughly inoffensive. Nothing more and nothing less.
The Mission is an excellent piece for the average resort skier or snowboarder.
At $400, and with mostly excellent construction and synthetic insulation, the Mission is of average value. For slightly more money you can get down insulation that will last longer, but if you spend much less, regardless of the insulation type, you get much poorer construction quality and durability.
The Mission is a classic, middle-of-the-road piece of equipment.