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Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket - Men's


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    49 Reviews


    Ultralight storm protection.

    When a flash storm rolls up and the outside temperature drops 10 degrees in 10 minutes, don't call in a chopper; reach in your pack and grab ultralight Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket. Built with weather-resistant Pertex Shield fabric, the Helium II weighs in under seven ounces and packs down to practically nothing.
    • Ultralight Pertex Shield fabric features a waterproof breathable PU membrane and DWR coating for severe weather protection
    • Fully taped seams and water-resistant zips mean water won’t roll down the shell and sneak in through the fabric joints
    • Single-pull hood drawcord so you can adjust coverage without dropping your ice-axe
    • Zippered Napoleon pocket keeps valuable items protected and handy
    • Elastic cuffs keep the ugliness out without added bulk or hassle
    • Stuff pocket with 'biner loop helps keep things simple
    • Item #ODR0881

    Tech Specs

    [membrane/laminate] Pertex Shield (polyurethane), [shell] nylon ripstop (30D)
    fully taped
    Center Back Length
    31 in
    yes, fixed
    (external) 1 napoleon, (internal) 1 stow
    Claimed Weight
    6.4 oz
    Recommended Use
    mid-route downpours
    Manufacturer Warranty

    Tech Specs

    • Reviews
    • Q & A

    What do you think about this product?

    Have questions about this product?

    Rainy Zion in the Helium II

      Email me with all your Outdoor Research questions -

      The Helium is the type of jacket you'll want to add to your quiver of gear for times when you have no idea what the weather will throw at you. I busted out the Helium while I was exploring Zion when the rain hit and it was perfect for an emergency layer. I wouldn't use it for extended storms (get a 3-layer GTX for that) but the Helium kept me dry for 2-3hrs easy. The Helium is also light enough to be a layer that you never take out of your adventure pack. Even with no rain on the forecast, I've been happy to bring the Helium along as a wind layer, keeping me warm on high altitude peaks.

      Rainy Zion in the Helium II

      keeps a dude dry

      • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
      • Fit: True to size

      Keeps the rain out but definitely not breathable. At the same time, waterproof usually means that it's never breathable in my experience. So this does the job of keeping my buddy dry and is super light and thin. Bought this for a friend 5'11" 210lbs with an athletic build in an XL.

      Thanks Sue. Breathability is a tough one. It is definitely rated as breathable in the lab, but as we know, it can be subjective when you use it. If you are doing high activity in this piece, there are better shells that are more breathable... but they are also more expensive. If the activity is low to moderate, then this piece can work well!

      Really hard to pin technical features down because they are very subjective. For a more breathable option, try the OR Realm Jacket or the OR Axiom Jacket.

      Thanks for the review,

      OR Rep

      Just another

        This isn't my first, nor will it be my last...assuming they don't kill it. This newest incarnation is much improved: zippered chest pocket, fabric texture, styling and cut. You may think the price too much, but you'll soon find this piece in your "go to" kit every time....or at least you should.

        Great value

          This was a great jacket at this price. It is pack-able and fairly waterproof. Not as good as gore pro, but not nearly as $$$$$. Great value.

          Dangerous jacket.. not at all waterproof

          • Familiarity: I've used it several times
          • Fit: True to size

          I wanted to like this jacket. It's light, windproof, and has a quality made feel to it. I have used it 3 times, 2 times it rained lightly and it got soaked. Not waterproof at all. The first time out the water didn't even bead up at all, just started soaking through. Very disappointed and will question anything made from OR again.

          Bought For The Man In My Life

          • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
          • Fit: True to size

          This is the perfect jacket for travel or throwing in your day pack when there is a chance of rain. The minimal features are just right. The hood is an ample size, and has a draw cord which is a nice feature. It stuffs very easily into the internal pocket. There is also a bottom cinch if you are in some real wind!

          Great Light Weight Protection

          • Familiarity: I've used it several times
          • Fit: True to size
          • Size Bought: Large

          This is a great light weight weight protection from moisture or strong winds. Takes up no room in your pack and is super light and durable

          Good not great

            This bag is good not great. I bought it because I lie the zipper flash. I"m a pretty flashy guy so of course I didn't want a basic zipper. Once I put it on I thought, "This is good, not great." But it was good enough to keep.

            Like a plastic bag

            • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
            • Fit: Runs small
            • Size Bought: Large

            Most all of the reviews I found on the Helium II jacket were positive, especially about its ability to breath. Sorry, I found the opposite to be true. After wearing outside (no rain) for about 30 minutes I got hot. The jacket did not breath at all for me. Plus the fabric was annoyingly noisy. Like I was walking through dead leaves in the Fall. For me, it was a little tight in the shoulders and too short (fell just to top of hip). I am 6', 165 lbs and bought a large. It's going back. I have a Marmot jacket which is a little heavier but is much less noisy and breathes very well.

            Outdoor Research Helium Jacket

            Built for flash-storm protection, the 100% waterproof, super-breathable Helium II Jacket weighs an incredibly light 6.4 ounces. An ultra-compressible piece you'll never leave behind, it's so light and packs down so small, you'll forget it's clipped to your harness until you throw it on to ward off a sudden mid-route downpour. Compressible to the size of a granola bar, the Helium II keeps you completely protected from unfriendly weather on the trail but doesn't waste space or add more than a feather's-worth of weight to your pack.

            Packable Protection

            • Familiarity: I've used it several times
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: Medium

            The Helium jacket has changed the way I pack because it pretty much always comes with me. I use it for sun, wind, and water protection; it does all of them pretty well. When the jacket is smaller and weighs less than 3 Clif Bars, it's easy to toss in your pack (or pocket) and rely on it.

            Personally, I use this jacket when I expect wind, sun, or light water at temperatures above 40 and below 70. That's not to say it won't perform at different temperatures, but I've found it a little too clammy for warmer temps or high aerobic activities.

            When climbing, this guy easily clips on to my harness and is *perfect* for multi-pitch belays. When hiking up to a peak, again, the perfect piece for protection during a summit lunch. I also toss this in my mountain bike pack in case of drizzles and light rain.

            Fit is great on this piece. At 6ft and 170 lbs the Medium fits well over light layers or just a t-shirt. For such a "minimalist" jacket, the hood is very well designed. It's easy to adjust and pretty good visibility.

            Only thing to be aware of is that this isn't meant as a "daily-use" shell. So it isn't the most durable or feature rich shell around; but it can't be beat for lightweight and packable protection. Stuffing it into the interior pocket is super easy (no fuss needed), and you can also use that pocket to hold a snack bar and keys.

            Contact me directly with questions about this shell or about topics such as

            -Lightweight climb, hike, or bike gear
            -Daily use rain gear
            -Similar lightweight apparel


            Packable Protection

            Waterproofing is short lived

            • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: XL

            This jacket is a DWR coating away from becoming a wetout mess. I've had it for about 2 and a half years and the original waterproof spray lasted for a full summer (of only light rain). The next year it wetout the first time i used it. I reapplied DWR and that lasted one good soak. I wouldn't recommend this jacket to anyone who's using it for a serious activity. Where your backpack straps touch it you'll also get soaked regardless of the state of the DWR coating.

            Andrew, maybe the description of this jacket needs to be more clear. This jacket really is an emergency shell for light to moderate rain, not your main go-to rain jacket, especially for Backpacking, too.
            It is a great jacket, but more for emergency situations.

            Thank you so much for your feedback,

            OR Rep

            Nice Little Shell

            • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: Medium

            The fit was great on my medium. Not a lot of bells and whistles but its good at what it does. Water rolls right off. The zipper quality was great and performed easily.

            Ripp'n lips in the Helium II

            I've used my Outdoor Research Helium II on a multitude of outdoor adventures. Anywhere from fly fishing at the local dam to backpacking in the Beaverhead/Deerlodge National Forest. I always bring my Helium II with me because it packs down so small. I whip it out if I need an extra layer or if the wind pics up. I was initially concerned that I might tear the jacket moving through brush while exploring, but the jacket seems plenty durable and OR's infinity return policy is outstanding. I'm 5'6 154lbs and I purchased the size medium so I could put it over other layers ( T-shirt, Long sleeve, 800 fill packable down jacket by FlyLow), The size small was really tight around my chest. I read that the jacket was designed for warm summer explorations and thus is sized small so it fits nicely on top of a t-shirt. I wanted something I could wear 3-4 seasons. The day this picture was taken it rained all day long and the H-II did a fantastic job of keeping me warm. The material is not very breathable which helped keep the heat in and kept me cozy.

            Ripp'n lips in the Helium II

            Michael, great review and even better picture! The Helium II is my go to rain shell. You are right about the breathability not being great, but it does have some. Other more expensive membranes like GoreTex do have better breathability ratings, but not at this price point. A trade off, but the Pertex membrane works well enough for me.

            Thank you again for writing!!

            OR Rep

            Leta, your suggestion that GoreTex has better breathability than this jacket just raised a huge flag for me!??

            My experiences with breathable waterproof/water resistance materials has in order from least breathable to most breathable:

            GoreTex 3 layer (pro)
            Dry.Q Elite
            GoreTex 2.5 layer (about tied with Dry.Q Elite)
            Plethora of other laminated and spray-on DWR products that over time fail, but do breath better for their much shorter usable life.

            I have bought many of the $100-$150 summer rain coats (TNF, Marmot, CloudVail, etc. . . ) and they all breathed okay but did not perform very well in weather protection and had relatively short lived lives.

            Not sure if I have specifically bought a jacket with the Pertex membrane - less breathable than GoreTex with less water proofness - am I reading that right? I am not sure I understand what the selling point of that is?

            To me:
            Cold and very cold: Goretex 3 layer or Dry.Q Elite
            Cool to moderately cold: GoreTex 2.5 layer or Dry.Q
            Hot to warm high activity: Others, but not the above due to over heating too easily - must have pit zips!

            Always have your rain coat with you

            • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: Medium

            I think everyone has had that argument with themselves. What does 20% chance of rain mean? We'll probably be off the wall by the time the storm gets in, who wants to carry a rain coat anyway? Also, you know bringing a coat is going to mean it doesn't rain no matter what the forecast says. With the Helium II, you never have to make that choice again. It weighs nothing, and packs up tiny. Throw it in your pack, clip it to your harness and forget about it. If you do get caught in a downpour it's easy to pull out and the full zip makes it quick to put on. I have walked through torrential downpours and it sheds water like a champ.

            This is not the rain coat you most want if you're doing a 15 mile rain forest hike. It's not the wrong one, but it has a couple drawbacks. The lack of pockets means cold water will be running down your hands, and the hood is a little big and awkward since it's designed to fit over a climbing helmet. But I have worn this for hikes and it performs well enough, but I like to have a heavier shell when I know I'm gonna get dumped on.

            This thing really excells for those 20-30% chance of rain though. You don't regret bringing it with you if it doesn't rain and you'll be damn happy if you did. It also excels in the alpine. Coupled with a fleece hoody or light down jacket turns it into an excellent layer for cold weather or windy climbs. The material is surprisingly durable for how light it is, but take care to avoid abrading it against the rocks. It's not super breathable, but on the other hand it does work great as a wind break. Overall, couldn't be happier with it.

            The sizing is a bit on the slim side, but for me it is perfect over a fleece like the R1. I can fit it over a full down jacket, but I feel a bit like the Michelin man. Also, the first one I bought, the hood pull cord wasn't fastened properly and snapped, but since then, the replacement jacket (thanks backcountry) has been put through it's paces and is still going strong, so must have been a one off.

            Worked Well!

            • Familiarity: I've used it several times
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: Large

            I purchased these for a rafting trip. Needed something that could pack down easily and also lightweight. These definitely did the trick and kept me dry. I paired these up with the helium pant which turned out to work really well.

            Outstanding ultralight shell

            • Familiarity: I've used it several times
            • Fit: Runs small
            • Size Bought: XXL

            I bought this as an ultralight "just in case" rain shell for summer climbing trips in the high mountains. My first outing carrying this coat was an alpine rock adventure in the high Sierra where we got hit by a classic Sierra summer storm complete with rain, sleet, hail and thunder on the hike in. This puppy repelled everything, no problem (although the hail did sting a bit through the lightweight material). It did wet out slightly at the shoulders near my pack straps, but nothing got through. I am one of those hot and sweaty hikers so my biggest problem with most shells is usually the breathability; the Helium did surprisingly well. I did get a little clammy after about an hour but not enough to make me cold while wearing only a T-shirt under the shell.

            Along with being super-light and performing beyond expectations, I love that this thing stuffs into its own pocket and packs down smaller than a water bottle! Be aware when ordering that it does run small. I typically wear XL but I decided to order a XXL based on other reviews - glad I did! I would recommend going a size up, especially if you plan to layer underneath. All in all an outstanding piece of gear, great work OR!

            Ultimate Lightweight Protection

            • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
            • Fit: True to size

            This jacket is everything I hoped it would be. Super lightweight, compact, good fit, and surprisingly durable too. I've worn this thing through multiple rainstorms here in the southeast, which have last all day for multiple days at a time and it's never let me down. The only way I got somewhat wet on the inside was from my own sweat. It also dries pretty darn fast too which is a plus. I also wear it as a wind shirt in cold conditions and it breaths exceptionally well. I would not wear this as a stand alone piece though as it's very thin and adds zero insulation. Overall a great jacket!

            Lightweight Letdown

            • Familiarity: I've used it several times
            • Fit: Runs small
            • Size Bought: Large

            I took this jacket hiking with me a few times, I'm glad it never rained on me or I would have been in trouble. I took this on a short hike while in Norway. It began to rain so I put it in. I felt that for about 15 minutes in a LIGHT rain, it did decent. After about 30 minutes and a medium rain, the jacket had become fully saturated and after about 45 minutes, soaked me through to my base-layer. Cold temps rolled in and, while disappointed, I became concerned for my safety.

            I sprinted to the bottom of the mountain with arms numb, and a completely soaked torso. I had my hood up, and fully zipped the whole whole time. There was also a soapy film that was produced on the jacket after a while, is it actually waterproof or is there just a waterproof spray on the jacket? I have never washed it, and has only seen a few rains.

            Let down by Outdoor Research who usually makes good gear.

            Two stars since it dried quite fast once it was off. In the photo below I unzipped the jacket to show how much it soaked through, you can see the soapy residue by the lower left breast.

            Would NOT recommend unless using to protect from a water bottle spill.

            Lightweight Letdown

            Max, I've had my Helium II for about 2 1/2 years and have experienced the exact same thing. Once the DWR wears off this jacket it wets out and transfers water to the underlayer very quickly. I've had a lot of great OR products, but this one is a dud for me too. I keep re-applying DWR but it only holds up through one good rain and then washes out/off just as the original coating did. This is a borderline dangerous piece of gear if you were to rely on it.

            Fantastic light weight rain gear option!

            • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
            • Fit: True to size
            • Size Bought: xl

            First things first, the best price i could find on the net and fastest service, as usual from the Goat! I purchased this jacket to throw in my day pack and forget about until needed. The jacket packs ridiculously small and is insanely light. I ordered an extra large, so i could fit layers underneath. Have had no problems with zippers and drawstrings. I thought the lack of pockets would be a problem, but am starting to think chest pocket only is the way to go. Plus the reason it is so light is in part due to no pockets. I primarily run around the Rockies and lower foothills here in Colorado and was looking for protection from the sudden rains that usually accompany every summer afternoon. The few times i have tried it around town, it has shed the rain leaving me dry. This includes a moderately heavy rain. I think some confuse this with a hardcore rain shell, which it is not. If you plan to walk in heavy rains days on end you may end up disappointed. More likely than not in these situations the jacket will get over-saturated. What you do get is one of the lightest, most compact rain shells that will repel all, but the heaviest rains. Also, with time the waterproof will wear. With that said it will probably land in my summer gear for my AT thru-hike next year. Until, then it will ride in my day pack.

            Fantastic light weight rain gear option!

            Hey Hooligan - I thru-hiked southbound (Maine to Georgia ) in 2000 and after reading about the Outdoor Research Helium 2 you may want to reconsider getting a more substantial piece of rain gear. The AT is known for rain. When I hiked the trail in 2000 I encountered rain virtually every day through New Hampshire and Vermont in July and early August. I would estimate in a 30 day period it rained 22 of those days and at least 10 of those days was driving all day rain. You may be fine with this awesome ultralight piece of gear or you may not (it all depends on the weather). The year I hike southbound it was the wettest July in New England in 30 years! I'm all for u ltralight as my base pack weight was less than 10 lbs but I do wish I had better rain gear for that month. Ultimately, 75-80% of whether you'll be succesful is psychological though being well equipped certainly makes it easier to be content on the trail. Just my 2 cents. Hope it helps, and enjoy the hike!
            I'm considering this piece for the PCT. There is much less rain out west.

            Unanswered Question

            I am 5'11'" 155-158lbs athletic skinny build, usually like to wear Small sizes for tight fit. Unsure about a Size Small or Medium, I want to layer an UL 800-fill down jacket underneath.


            I just got this and when tightening the hood strap, the left hood-pull cord snapped off. I did not pull very hard when it snapped, and afterwards I yanked pretty good on the right side and it stayed firmly in place. It's the kind of thing that would be annoying in the field.

            Didn't want to write a review since it might be a one in a million thing, but at least one snuck buy with shoddy QC. I guess my question is, has anyone else had this problem? Can't decide if I should return it or replace it.

            Edit: I guess I'm replacing it, but be aware.

            Edit 2: Got my new one, haven't had any problem and the jacket is awesome.

            Best Answer

            Hey there Ethan,

            I've taken mine out many a time in the rain and done a lengthy test and that never happened to me. I also tend to tighten the hood all the time, so if it were to happen often I guess it should have happened to me also. I did not encounter that problem in the field though.

            waterproof and breath-ability are not rated...

            waterproof and breath-ability are not rated for Helium II. Why? Is this jacket not waterproof and non breathable??

            How's the fit on this for a tall skinny...

            How's the fit on this for a tall skinny dude (6'3" 160lbs)? And if it's gonna be short/bulky what would be a good alternative for a slimmer fit?

            I'm 6'2' 250lbs. and the length seems good for me but it is a smaller XL.

            Being skinnier (by quite a bit) I would check the length of a large and if it's the same as the XL I would recommend that size for you. A large should not be too large or small for your stature.

            I'm longer in the body also and it comes down to belt level on me.

            I'm 6'1'' and 175. The medium wasn't long enough in the arms for me but I also have really long arms. The torrentshell medium arms fit me perfectly. If I personally bought this jacket I would size up to a Large for the sleeves and to layer underneath.

            I feel like you might have some trouble getting a perfect size.

            Would you choose this jacket for a 3 month...

            Would you choose this jacket for a 3 month trip across SE Asia? Plan is to do a bit of trekking and probably some extensive motorcycle touring (packability and being waterproof are the priorities for me). If not what else would you recommend?

            I personally have limited experience with Pertex Shield, but if I was going to be trekking and motorcycling across SE asia for 3 months I would not choose this jacket. I would look instead for a more traditional material with an inner membrane. Something like the patagonia torrentshell, or the MH plasmic jacket would probably both work fine if you don't want to lay down a ton of money. If you want something higher quality then that look for jackets made with 3L Gore-tex or eVent materials, as they are often very durable, waterproof, and can serve many functions as a shell other then just being a rain jacket. They do cost upwards of $300 usually though, so it is an investment.

            Best Answer

            I hear they get massive rain over there, so I would rule this jacket out. This a great jacket! but its a "carry it just in case". Its SUPER THIN and will seep after prolonged exposure.

            For packability look for a Goretex Active fabric jacket. They're all barebones no frills but waterproof.

            I like this jacket for hiking and backpacking for a wind\rain shell but if I know its going to rain I pass it up for my OR Axiom.

            Hope that helps, Take pictures!

            Is this coat suitable for trail running...

            Is this coat suitable for trail running in heavy rain? Is it breathable? Is it comparable to gore tex products?

            Best Answer

            This jacket is meant for a "carry it til you need it" type. Its very light but will tend to seep after long exposure to heavy ran.

            I like this jacket for what it is but for heavy rains and frequent use it will wear out quickly. I went from this to the Marmot Super Mica, has pit zips and more durable fabric over shoulders for running with a hydration pack. The OR Axiom is an amazing all round ultra light shell, its my new goto. Hope that helps

            How does this jacket compare to the Marmot...

            How does this jacket compare to the Marmot Mica or Super Mica? Any preferences?

            I've used both the super mica and the helium. I loved how light the helium was but its made to be carried for the "just in case" rain. The super mica is better suited for hiking and trail running where wearing a pack. Both are great jackets. The helium comes with my pack anywhere I go but I only wear the super mica for trail running in the wet.

            Will you be getting this in a large anytime...

            Will you be getting this in a large anytime soon? It sounds like a great light weight rain shell, which I need as the only thing I have now is a rather bulky snowboard jacket.

            Unanswered Question

            I saw conflicting statements about whether...

            I saw conflicting statements about whether a helmet fits under the hood, so I took my helmet to the store to try the jacket on. I wear the larger size of the Petzl Elios climbing helmet and it fit just fine with both the Medium and Large Helium II jackets that I tried on.

            It seemed very unlikely to fit a ski helmet.

            I'm looking for a jacket that I can use...

            I'm looking for a jacket that I can use in summer storms in alaska and winter mountianeering Would this be my best choice or is there another Jacket that I should compare?

            Could anyone provide the jacket length...

            Could anyone provide the jacket length dimension from neck to bottom hem?

            Does this jacket have pit zips? Looking...

            Does this jacket have pit zips? Looking for a rain jacket and a winter outer shell jacket

            Sorry to be the barer of bad news, but this is a horrible jacket for winter/summer use. It is way to thin and wouldn't retain the heat you'd want from a winter jacket (though it breaths like a dream for summer use). I'd recommend the men's OR Foray or even the men's OR Panorama jacket.

            Hope this helps!

            can this jackets hood fit over a climbing...

            can this jackets hood fit over a climbing helmet?

            Does this jacket offer any wind resistance...

            Does this jacket offer any wind resistance at all?

            I currently have a thin wind shell that felt like the wind is coming through, though it does not. I attributed it the the cool temp's and the high windchill. It was like wearing a drysuit while diving in arctic water, yes you are dry and not wet(i.e. wind proof) but you can still feel the cold water outside of the suit.

            Is this true to size or slim fitting? I...

            Is this true to size or slim fitting? I normally wear a M in OR. 5'8" 175 lb. M or L?