Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoody - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Water resistant top portion, unique fit, vented midsection, useful pockets
Cons: Odd look, bottom portion less protective
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoody - Women's
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$84.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Water resistant top portion, unique fit, vented midsection, useful pockets||Helmet compatible, lightweight, extremely packable, dries quickly||Many pockets, more waterproof, excellent wind protection, snap to allow unzipping during wear||Huge vents, large hand pockets, very breathable, water resistant||Decently wind resistant, moderate precipitation protection, lightweight, less expensive|
|Cons||Odd look, bottom portion less protective||Not the most waterproof, can see through thin fabric||Elastic cuffs harsh, thin fabric can be seen through, large packed size||Lets in wind, doesn't pack into own pocket||Sleeves a bit short, small pockets, sloppy construction|
|Bottom Line||An interesting jacket that's fitted sweatshirt on the bottom and windbreaker on the top||A true featherweight model that continues to impress, combining excellent performance with great value||A blend of minimalist design and technical features, this jacket offers solid protection from the elements at a reasonable price||A highly vented jacket with solid water protection that's easy to wear||A simple, casual jacket that's best for mild days and small budgets|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research He...||Patagonia Houdini -...||Rab Vital Hoody - W...||REI Co-op Active Pu...||SoTeer Waterproof H...|
|Wind Resistance (30%)|
|Weight and Packability (20%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research He...||Patagonia Houdini -...||Rab Vital Hoody - W...||REI Co-op Active Pu...||SoTeer Waterproof H...|
|Weight (oz)||6.6 oz||3.1 oz||4.3 oz||6.1 oz||6.6 oz|
|Material||100% nylon ripstop upper body, 86% nylon 14% spandex lower body||100% nylon ripstop with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment||Hyperlite and nylon outer||Nylon with polyester mesh||95% polyester, 5% spandex|
|Pockets||2 stretch stash pockets, 1 zip front pocket||1 chest||2 hand, 1 inner zip and 2 inner open-top||2 hand||2 hand|
|Cuffs||Half elastic||Half elastic||Half elastic||Half elastic||Elastic|
|Stuffs Into Pocket||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Safety Reflective Material||Reflective logo on front and L cuff||Reflective logo on front and back||Reflective logo on front and back||Reflective logo, cuff stripes, and back vent stripe||None|
|Fit||Slim fit||Slim fit||Regular fit||Relaxed fit||Relaxed fit|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoody is a full zip hooded windbreaker comprised of a 100% nylon upper portion and 86% nylon/14% spandex lower portion. It's a slim-fitting jacket with a stretchy waist portion and features two elastic-topped pockets and a single zippered pocket.
The Helium Wind Hoody fits, feels, and performs like two halves of totally different garments sewn together. The top half is another excellent specimen from Outdoor Research's Helium line. Their proprietary Diamond Fuse technology is very effective at blocking wind. However, the bottom section is like a stretchy fitted sweatshirt. It's thicker, which helps in the breeze, but the material itself doesn't actually block serious winds. Half elastic cuffs are longer on the backs of your hands, and the hood has a brim and adjusts on the back to keep it out of your eyes while still protecting you. The bottom hem is adjustable with a single toggle, though we almost never found ourselves using it on this already fitted section.
Hidden under the flap of the Diamond Fuse nylon upper portion, a two-inch-wide fine mesh strip provides a vent all the way around your waist before the jacket transitions into the sweatshirt-like bottom portion. While this vent helps, this jacket is not as breathable as we expected based on its features. The actual material on top is a bit too protective to breathe very well. The material on the bottom is a bit too thick and too fitted to breathe or allow much airflow inside the jacket. This interesting fit helps it stay put very well while we move, but it's only okay in terms of actual breathability.
Weight and Packability
Weighing 6.6 ounces, the Helium Wind Hoody is just above the average weight among windbreakers we tested. Holding up the jacket, you can easily feel that almost all of its weight is concentrated in that thick, stretchy fabric the hugs your hip bones. The whole thing packs up quite easily into its single zippered pocket, and a small loop allows you to easily attach it with a carabiner. While the upper half of the jacket is ripstop material, the bottom half is not, and its soft fibers aren't as abrasion-resistant as the rest of the jacket.
Outdoor Research advertises the Helium Wind Hoody as made for active endeavors. And when it comes to being able to move in this jacket, we'd have to agree. It's comfortable and feels secure and pleasant to wear. However, in terms of protection versatility, the lower section really lets this jacket down, both in the wind and in the rain. This two-tone design is also a unique fashion choice and not one all of our testers were happy to make. It has one zippered pocket that opens on top, to the right of the main zipper. Two additional elastic-topped pockets, one on either hip, hold additional items and are big enough to accommodate a large smartphone.
Once again, the top portion of this jacket does well, while the bottom portion does nothing much. The Diamond Fuse lighter section on top does a great job beading water and protecting you from more rain than many other windbreakers we tested. Yet, the bottom section is the exact opposite. It quickly soaks up water, and its added thickness stays wet for far longer than most other windbreakers.
This jacket isn't cheap and is well above the average price of the models we tested. We're not convinced that the great fit and security of the bottom portion is worth the total letdown of protection — or the cost of this windbreaker.
The OR Helium Wind Hoody is certainly a unique windbreaker. While we like how it feels to wear, that comfort and security of the bottom portion come with a severe dropoff in actual protection from the elements. If you don't need serious protection and want a jacket that fits more like a shirt, this may just be the hybrid for you.
— Maggie Nichols
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