Image of the July 2021 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
July 2021 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Insulated jackets

Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie



Our Rating:

Best for technical users

At a glance
: Excellent features for the price, 800+ fill power for maximum warmth to weight.
Minuses: Chest pocket could be bigger, down is not waterproof treated.

Weight: 436g (m/w)

Features: A high-end jacket aimed at alpine users and the weight conscious. It has 800+ fill power down and waterproof fabric on the adjustable hood, shoulders and upper arms. Deep internal glove pockets, handwarmer pockets and a small chest pocket provide storage. The jacket can be packed into its pocket and has a carabiner loop for convenient portage

Fit: An athletic cut means it has a slightly fitted torso, while the shoulders are roomy for ease of movement. The hood fits well and is cosy with a generous fill of down. Its rain-shell style drawcord tightens the hood to your head, allowing it to move with you when you turn and maintaining peripheral vision.

Comfort: There’s optimum warmth to weight with 800+ fill power and the hood gives ample head and neck cover especially in cold and windy conditions. And, there is no dead space due to the jacket’s anatomic fit – just insulation close to the body, where it’s needed.

In use: It’s a do-it-all jacket. The hood and high-quality fill point towards winter use, but it’s equally at home when tramping, climbing technical routes or jammed into a pack for a day at the crag. There’s waterproof fabric (Pertex Diamond Fuse) on the hood, shoulders and upper arms, which is also more abrasion resistant and able to handle pack straps and rough surfaces. I found no mention of the down in this jacket being waterproof treated, which is unusual in a high-end garment these days, so the extra fabric protection is a plus

Value: Features-for-value, this jacket is at the top of the stack with almost everything you’d expect in a technical garment at a good price.

Verdict: High-end features for a competitive price set this garment apart. The durable fabric adds a very minor weight penalty, but this is outweighed by its benefits for New Zealand conditions.