Outdoor Research Helium Down - Women's Review
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Outdoor Research Helium Down - Women's
|Price||$139.48 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$385.00 at Amazon
$303.96 at Backcountry
$280.00 at REI
$99.95 at REI
|Pros||Water resistant where it counts, easy midlayer, felt-lined pockets add warmth, durable fabrics||Very warm, poofy and light, comfortable fit, mobility features, excellent adjustability||Thick and warm, longer torso, comfortable stretch-knit cuffs, large versatile hood||Durable, weather resistant, athletic cut, good movement, versatile||Uncomplicated and effective design, thickly filled and puffy, layers well over thick fleece|
|Cons||Not super warm, narrow shoulders, loose cuffs, hem cord isn't very strong||May be too warm for mild climates, hood volume adjustment is velcro rather than toggle||Very narrow through the hips, hood cinch system doesn't get that small||Narrower baffles compress down, slightly lower quality (recycled) 700 fill down||No hood option, hip length lacks coverage, lower quality down, loses feathers readily, when packed has no carabiner loop|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight jacket that's easy to layer and that features key areas of water resistance||An impressively warm jacket that offers a highly mobile fit, great adjustability, and cloud-like comfort||A warm, thick jacket with an oversized hood and stretch-knit cuffs we love to wear, but narrow hips that restrict who it fits||A durable, versatile, and very comfortable jacket that can handle many activities, from mountain to town||A pretty decent puffy jacket on a budget, though not without its flaws|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research He...||Rab Neutrino Pro -...||The North Face Summ...||Rab Microlight Alpine||REI Co-op 650 2.0|
|Weather Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research He...||Rab Neutrino Pro -...||The North Face Summ...||Rab Microlight Alpine||REI Co-op 650 2.0|
|Down Fill||800 fill power down, 90/10; Responsible Down Standard certified||800FP European Goose Down, hydrophobic Nikwax||800 fill ProDown; Responsible Down Standard certified||Recycled 700 fill power down||650 fill goose down; Responsible Down Standard certified|
|Outer Fabric||Pertex Quantum w/Diamond Fuse Technology (100% nylon; 41% recycled), 15D x 30D ripstop nylon; 41% recycled, DWR finish||20D recycled Pertex Quantum Pro, ripstop||100% 20D recycled nylon ripstop with DWR finish||Recycled 30D nylon Pertex Quantum ripstop, DWR finish||Recycled nylon taffeta, DWR finish|
|Weight, size small (ounces)||12.7 oz||18.5 oz||13.4 oz||13.5 oz||9.9 oz|
|Hem Type||Drop hem (small)||Drop hem (large)||Drop hem (small)||Drop hem (large)||Drop hem (small); hip length|
|Pockets||5; 2 zippered hand, 1 external zippered chest, 2 internal slip||3; 2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest||7; 2 zippered hand, 1 external zippered chest, 4 internal slip (2 mesh)||3; 2 zippered hand, 1 external zippered chest||4; 2 zippered hand, 2 internal slip|
|Cuff Construction||Elastic||Elastic and velcro||Stretch-knit||Elastic (overhanging baffle)||Elastic|
|Adjustment Points||Single hem bungee; single back-of-hood-to-brim bungee||Dual hem bungees, dual hood bungees, velcro back-of-hood, velcro cuffs||Single hem bungee; single back-of-hood bungee||Dual hem bungees, dual hood bungees||Dual hem bungees|
|Stow Option||Packs into hand pocket + carabiner loop||Stuff sack included (drawstring) + carabiner loop||Packs into hand pocket + carabiner loop||Stuff sack included (drawstring) + carabiner loop||Packs into hand pocket|
|Other Notable Features||Felt chin guard, fleece-lined external pockets, reinforced external shoulder and hood material, key clip in L hand pocket||Helmet-compatible hood, 2-way zipper, wire-stiffened projected hood brim, twisted sleeve baffles for greater mobility, felt chin guard, large velcro loop at nape of neck||Helmet compatible hood, stretch-knit cuffs, reverse-coil zippers (water resistant), raglan sleeves for mobility||Felt chin guard, wire-stiffened projected hood brim||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Outdoor Research Helium Down is a lightweight jacket with RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified 800 fill power goose down in a 90/10 down/feather ratio. Its main exterior fabric is 15D x 30D (the upper sleeves are 20D) Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon (41% recycled) with Diamond Fuse Technology, while the shoulders and hood are constructed from the more waterproof 30D Pertex Shield 2.5L ripstop nylon with Diamond Fuse Technology. It's a standard fit jacket with a slight drop hem, weighs 12.7 ounces, and packs into its own pocket.
The Helium Down is a thinner down jacket than many others in our review. It's still acceptably warm, but nothing to write home about. 90% of its filling is comprised of quality 800-fill power down, while the remaining 10% is feathers, which do not have the same loft and warmth as down. This jacket is a mild to moderate weather option. The hood fits best over a beanie, as we couldn't quite get a warm "seal" over our bare heads. The cuffs are fairly loose and not adjustable, proving to be an all-too-common weak point in keeping cold at bay. The hand pockets and chest pocket are lined with microfleece, which feels warmer and softer on your hands, an extra detail we appreciate.
The standard cut of the Helium Down isn't as long as many of the others we tested, lacking in coverage for our cold bums. It has an average amount of space inside, allowing you to layer fleece underneath to add warmth. While the Helium Down is sewn with raglan sleeves — which facilitate arm movement without letting it ride up your wrists and torso so much — it also has some of the narrowest shoulders of any jacket we tested. We found this to be fairly restrictive in normal wear, let alone when trying to wear it over a bulky underlayer or do big movements while wearing it. Its thinness should make it easy to layer over, but this oversight in the width of the shoulders makes it hard for most of our testing team to find the Helium Down comfortable. However, we appreciate the extra internal pockets and the key clip in the hand pocket to keep you from losing your car keys while you're out having an adventure.
Despite cutting down on the amount of insulation it contains, the thicker materials used in the Helium's construction keep it an average-weight jacket — the size Small weighs 12.7 ounces. It packs into its hand pocket, where the key clip becomes a carabiner loop for easy transport. However, when packed this way, the microfleece lining of the pocket is now flipped outward and easily collects debris if it brushes the ground or other objects in nature.
This is one of the high-performance points of the Helium Down. It features a Pertex Quantum with Diamond Fuse Technology exterior that's thicker than most others we tested — 30D. Outdoor Research claims this jacket is windproof, and in our testing, it certainly performed above average against gusting winds. Its weak point here is not the fabric, but the fit. Loose cuffs and a hood that can't fully cinch around a bare head both let in cold winds. Up against light precipitation, the fabric again shows its worth, easily repelling water. Thicker sections on the shoulders and hood are even more resistant to the elements — and more durable as well.
As a thinner, lighter jacket, the Helium Down is fairly breathable. It doesn't have any specific features to aid in breathability beyond its cooler overall construction. It feels a tad plasticky, which isn't our favorite for sweating. And for many of our testing team, the tight shoulders also proved to be a con regarding breathability.
Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Helium Down?
The Helium Down may be a good lightweight jacket for you if your shoulders are on the narrow side. It has great weather-repelling technology and layers well over and under other garments to build a complete system. But the fit is key here, and it's not wide enough through the shoulders for us to wholeheartedly recommend it.
What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?
If you're after a layering jacket that can keep up with you in the elements and in everyday life, the Arc'teryx Cerium is a midweight jacket with a better fit and very adaptable performance across the board. Another great casual jacket we love is the more affordable Rab Microlight Alpine. However, if you've had a chance to try on the OR Helium Down and find it's comfortable for your body, it's a solid light to midweight jacket with extra durability and elemental protection.
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