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Backpacker Magazine reviews the Helium Hybrid Jacket

Author: Outdoor Research

June 05, 2014

"As a rule," say the editors of Backpacker Magazine, "most ultralight, highly breathable wind shells can't handle light rain and brief storms. Meet the exception to the rule."

Full review: 

"Design School As a rule, most ultralight, highly breathable wind shells can't handle light rain and brief storms. Meet the exception to the rule.

BREATH VENT The chin is cut high for maximum protection, but this swatch of 20-denier fabric provides welcome breathability. 'When I had the hatches battened down while running in light, fifty-degree Fahrenheit rain, my breath escaped through this panel, keeping my face and neck from overheating," says a Washington tester.

TRIM CUT Slim arms and torso fit close to the body, reducing excess fabric and boosting breathability (a baggy fit allows vapor to condense more easily). Testers found it most comfortable with just a baselayer.

ELASTIC CUFFS Forgoing Velcro patches and fancy gaskets in favor of this simple - yet effective - closure saves grams. And there's a single hem cordlock (most shells have two). Drawback: Strong breezes can sneak in at the wrists.

STREAMLINED HOOD 'A rear cordlock allowed me to dial in the fit," says a tester. "And the moldable brim shielded my eyes from light drops." (Though your face will get wet if the precip picks up.)

WATERPROOFING Get complete weather-resistance where you need it most: the hood and shoulders. Waterproof/breathable Pertex Shield Plus in these key areas greatly enhances protection in a surprise storm. Ding: We wished the waterproof panels extended over the tops of the arms.

SINGLE CHEST POCKET Places strategically - where the two types of fabric join - and positioned horizontally, this pocket eliminates the need for another weather-vulnerable seam (like a vertical pocket would have required). The fabric extends over the pocket's zipper, adding an extra buffer against drips.

MINI ZIPPER The tiny #3 zip (one of the narrowest available) helps keep the shell's weight under 6 ounces.

BREATHABLE NYLON This light, 20-denier nylon body fabric maximizes breathability on trail runs and hard alpine climbs. The nylon is somewhat air permeable to allow for circulation inside the shell, speeding moisture transport - but testers didn't notice any weaknesses in protection in fierce winds on Yellowstone Lake or along the Olympic Coast. A DWR treatment helped the shell fend off moderate rain for up to 70 minutes, and the fabric includes mechanical stretch for easy-reach freedom of movement.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research® is dedicated to inspiring the journey ahead with award-winning technical apparel and accessories. Based in Seattle since 1981, we are committed to improving our customer’s experience through innovative materials, purpose-driven features, and versatile products that are backed by our Infinite Guarantee®. We rely on the real-world testing of our athlete ambassadors, mountain guides, and local adventurers involved in our core sports: alpinism, rock and ice climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling, trail running, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. We’re here for the fun, adventure, excitement, and For the Journey Ahead™. Get to know us at or follow along on the journey via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.