PeytonPwrote a review of Outdoor Research Helium HD Jacket - Men's on April 19, 2016
Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
OR's Helium HD finally topped my list after I searched for over a year for the right lightweight rain jacket to use year around, and particularly for those late summer thunderstorms when you're hiking in 100F one minute and looking for shelter the next. It is exceptionally lightweight, breathable, pack-able, and comfortable. It packs so small and light that I'll often clip it to my shorts and forget it is there. It disappears into a pack's side bottle pocket.
The fit is spot on for me. I'm 6'3" and currently (unfortunately) 230lbs, 36" waist, athletic with a little extra. The XL fits how I prefer- feeling tailored but not fitted, falling just below the hips with sleeves coming mid-finger in a way that keeps other layers nice and dry. I like how the hood has one back cinch that actually draws it around my narrow head and whose cord rests above my ears. It's easily adjustable to fit snugly over a cap or climbing helmet, which I had no problem fitting into the hood. Side cords pull the hood close to the face and seal the deal. The wire brim crams down well and always returns to form when unpacked. Pit zips help to keep the heat and moisture out as well as they can. I like having the two zippers per vent to allow fully open or managed venting as necessary.
In the rain, water beads and is easily shaken off. During casual use, nary a drop has been let in when the hatches are battened. I have to remember that this is not a shell and I shouldn't expect it to be impenetrable. Climbing and on belay for four hours during steady mist and light rain, water stayed out and my shirt never got wet. On the hike down, I had a pack and rope tied around my shoulders. At some point, the hood (over a hat), shoulders, and spots on the chest accumulated water on the inside. I don't know if it was from the fabric wetting out or from my own sweat being unable to evaporate in the humid and soaking conditions. Either way, it performed much better than any other lightweight rain jacket ever has. I tend to run hot and sweat easily, making most jackets pointless after a few minutes of active use. Even though I could feel quite a bit of moisture with my hands, my shirt and hat never wetted out oddly enough. When taken off under cover, the jacket dried quickly. I'm comfortable knowing this jacket will keep me dry long enough to get a few more miles in and set up shelter before I'm in trouble.
I haven't tested the durability. The fabric is definitely thin, but it doesn't cause the anxiety of thin fabrics I've experienced on down products. It's handled brushes with brush, but I try not to scrape it on anything sharp. A little fabric side note is that it's loud, but not deafening and crinkly like some other jackets.
Overall, the Helium HD checked every box I needed and I would recommend to others. The black and blue look sharp and I don't mind wearing it wherever I go.