Gear Reviews

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket Review



Incredibly light, minimalist in design, and effective at blocking the rain out, the Outdoor Research Helium II is a must have for any hiking or backpacking trip.

Outdoor Research Helium II
Outdoor Research Helium II

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Full Review

The Outdoor Research Helium II has been my go-to waterproof layer since I bought it around a year ago. From my experience, the glowing endorsements it has received from other reviewers are well-deserved.

I made the purchase because I wanted a super lightweight option for hiking and backpacking. At 6.4 ounces, the Outdoor Research Helium II is one of the lightest rain jackets available. The big question is: For how lightweight it is, does it perform?

Tip: Not sure which lightweight backpacking gear to buy? We’ve done the “heavy lifting” for you. See our top picks.

In short, the answer is yes. It lives up to the expectation of a waterproof shell and keeps you dry in a downpour. It also functions as an effective windbreaker, so you no longer need to take both.

It is made of a minimal, single layer material that does not constrict movement whatsoever. I can’t say the same for past rain jackets I have owned. When you are on a trail run, scrambling on a mountaintop, or cycling, that extra bit of mobility makes a huge difference.

One of the things I like most about the Outdoor Research Helium II is its compressibility. It has an internal pocket that allows you to stuff the entire jacket down to a softball sized ball. It also features a loop that you can hook a carabiner to, which makes it easy to attach to the outside of your backpack.

The ability to clip the jacket to your pack is quite handy. I have not had this luxury in the past and the quick access is appreciated in a sudden storm.

Given its low weight, packability, and rain protection, I give the Outdoor Research Helium II five stars. If you are in the market for a well-constructed, ultralight jacket, it is a safe bet that will help to keep your base weight low without compromise.


With all of that being said, I do have two reservations regarding the Outdoor Research Helium II. The first reservation is that the jacket does not have side pockets. This means that if it begins to rain, you won’t have a place to hide your hands. Wet hands are not ideal.

My second reservation with the jacket is that it does not breathe well. According to the jacket’s specifications, its Pertex Shield and 30D ripstock nylon fabric should mean that the jacket is breathable. However, what should happen in theory is not always what happens in reality. With that being said, I have yet to find a truly breathable rain jacket.

Final Thoughts

This ultralight jacket is perfect when you are looking to pack light and you need to protect yourself from the wind and rain. It also looks stylish on. I have no qualms about wearing this jacket on a rainy day in the city. Sure, the jacket does not have any special ornamentations or frills, but that is the tradeoff you make when you go extra light.

Jacket Specifications

Fabric: Ripstop Nylon

Lining Fabric: None

Hood: Yes

Weight: 6.4 oz.

Gender: Male or Female

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