Helly Hansen Dubliner Parka Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Great fit, looks good, fully adjustable hood.
Cons: Pockets are not weather-resistant, wrist closures are weak
Manufacturer: Helly Hansen
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dubliner Parka is waterproof and windproof thanks to a two-layer outer fabric and Primaloft synthetic insulation. The two hand pockets have both a top entrance and a hidden zippered entrance with fleece lining, with an additional external chest pocket. It has a fully adjustable hood and wrist closures, making this a good choice for those living in a windy environment. This jacket is available in only solid dark colors, Black, Rock (grey), and Navy, promoting its usefulness as a jacket that can be worn to work as well as to the grocery store. For synthetic insulated jackets designed to be used actively, check out our Best Insulated Jacket Review.
The amount of insulation you need to keep you warm in the winter depends on a couple of things. What kind of clothes are you wearing underneath your parka? If you are wearing a sweater or a suit jacket, you may be able to get away with less. And if you live in San Francisco, your insulation needs will be much different than for someone living in Boston.
The Dubliner Parka is lightly insulated with Primaloft Black insulation. Primaloft Black was developed in order to address some of the packability and cold spot issues that plague many synthetic jackets. In order to keep the fit trim and form-fitting there isn't much insulation overall, and while we really liked the cut of the jacket, we were cold when testing it in deep winter temperatures. The amount of insulation that is used in this model make it a good option for temperate climates that may have wetter precipitation. However, there's not enough to make it a good standalone winter parka in colder environments unless you are layering a lot of warm clothes underneath. For a warmer jacket that still straddles the casual/professional appearance line while using synthetic insulation, look at the Arc'teryx Fission SV.
This jacket uses a proprietary two-layer waterproof outer material to keep you protected from the elements. We found this waterproof barrier to be more resistant to wetting through than the DWR-treated models in this review such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, but not as waterproof for as long as the Arc Teryx Fission SV. We liked that the faux fur trim around the hood is removable, although the snaps Helly Hansen uses are not as strong as those used to attach the fur of the hood on The North Face Gotham III. We also liked that the hood features a three-way cinch system allowing the wearer to really customize the fit. There are hook and loop wrist closures that allow for a tight and secure fit, using either gauntlet style or knit wrist style gloves. Since the longer 3/4 length hem gives a bit more coverage, there is no adjustable hem cinch.
The biggest concern we had was with the top entrance to the hand pockets, which are only closed with a pair of snaps and have short weather flaps that don't really keep snow or rain out when it is blowing. Fully zippered pockets like those on the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka are a better alternative if this is a concern to you.
The Helly Hansen Dubliner jacket has a nice fit, with a body that allows for layering underneath but is not too baggy, and arm lengths that hit right at the wrist. There are no exposed hems on the inside liner to annoy you if you decide to only wear a T-shirt or a light layer underneath it, and the liner fabric is nice and silky. The zipper guard on the chin has a small patch of microfleece, an important comfort feature when hiding inside your jacket in a cold wind. With such a thin layer of insulation, we did not get that cozy feeling of being enveloped as we did in a much more heavily insulated jacket like The North Face McMurdo, although this aspect of comfort will be highly dependent on the climate you need your jacket for.
This jacket has a simple design, but there are a few features that we really liked. The hood adjustments are sound and clean. The adjustable hood also helped keep the faux fur trim out of our face, which was impossible to do on The North Face Gotham.
The front zipper also has a snap down storm flap, hiding the zipper and providing more weather resistance. We would have preferred seeing zippered hand pockets instead of the snap closures, although the chest pocket and side hand pockets do use a zippered closure. The side hand pockets could be bigger — they are only are spacious enough to accommodate bare hands — having gloves on would be too tight a fit. Unfortunately, there are no internal pockets, which is an important feature for a winter jacket.
As compared to the other low-profile jackets in our test, like the Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown or the Fjallraven Greenland, the Dubliner seems to have a similar feature set. Only the bulkier jackets like the Mountain Hardwear Therminator and Canada Goose Expedition Parka have more robust feature sets.
We liked the fitted style of the Dubliner Parka. Both with and without heavier layers on underneath it gives a good impression without a lot of bulk. The faux fur trim is removable so you can decide for yourself if that is your style or not. The dark color options (Black, Grey, and Navy) are all good choices and look good in a variety of situations. The low profile cut of the Dubliner suggested a "feminine" cut to some testers, but this was far from a standard response. For a similar low profile design, in a more rugged look, check out the barn-coat style of the Fjallraven Greenland.
With the durable hard shell outer, this jacket's material can withstand some wear. The faux fur trim started to look a little mangy after repeated use, but we took it off and put it in the wash and it came back to life. The outer stitching is not the most robust, and although we did not have any failures, we could envision snagging this stitching and ripping seams in the future. The synthetic insulation will lose some loft with time. For more lasting insulation value, at a similar warmth, check out the pile insulated Patagonia Isthmus.
The best application for the Helly Hansen Dubliner Parka is for use in a temperate environment, where the winter temperatures are frequently in the 40s and above, and where the precipitation is more likely to fall as rain. The two-layer waterproof material and synthetic insulation will keep you and whatever you are wearing underneath warm and dry.
This is one of the least expensive jackets in this review. While it doesn't cost much, its value is only okay. It looks good and has some nice features, but when compared to the slightly more expensive Marmot Fordham, it lacks some features and warmth to make it a great value.
The Helly Hansen Dubliner jacket is a lightly-insulated, longer-hemmed parka that cuts a dashing figure whether worn with jeans or slacks, and which can add a bit of warmth and weather protection in regions which have more moderate winters.
— Jediah Porter