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Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket - Men's


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    54 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?

    Brilliant UL Rain Gear

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: True to size
    • Size Bought: Medium
    • Height: 5'9"
    • Weight: 160lbs

    I don't know what more I can add to the rave reviews. If you're ordering this jacket you want to go light and have done your research.

    It lives up to the hype and checks all the boxes: ultralight, takes up minimal pack space, keeps you dry from rain, fits very well and is actually pretty stylish for a rain jacket.

    I'm always on the fence between ordering a Med or Large for backpacking. 42" chest and want a slim fit but also the option of wearing over a fleece in colder weather. The Med is perfect for me. Fleece works great but a puffy would be pushing it.

    Highly recommended.

    Super Lightweight, Awesome Rain Jacket

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
    • Fit: True to size
    • Size Bought: Large
    • Height: 6'0"
    • Weight: 170lbs

    This jacket is simple. It’s as light as you can imagine and it does its job. That’s what matters. It packs up into a tiny little ball that I never have to hesitate to throw in my day pack or even in my running vest. It’s waterproof enough too that I have full trust in it for multi-day excursions too.

    Another Ultra piece of gear from OR!

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

    This jacket does exactly what it was designed to do: Keeps you dry during those unexpected downpours, packs down incredibly small and weighs next to nothing.

    My experience with the Helium II has largely been as a "just in case" piece while rock climbing and hiking when the weather is iffy. This jacket packs up quickly inside its stow pocket to about the size of a baseball - I have found the pocket is big enough to hold the jacket as well as a small snack and still be compact and light enough to forget about while clipped to my harness or tucked away in my backpack top pocket.

    Considering the thin 30D Pertex Shield fabric is almost transparent, I was a bit worried about durability issues when I first got my hands on the jacket. But, after a trip alpine climbing in Canada's Northwest Territories my skepticism diminished; I ended up wearing the Helium almost continuously during my trip including two separate (20+ hour) big wall climbs in which we climbed loads of squeeze chimneys (hood fits nicely over my helmet!): Not one hole and the jacket was quite comfortable whilst climbing and hiking between tormenting cloudbursts!

    I would not necessarily suggest this jacket for use if you will be inundated by wet weather for days on end, that said, I have used this it as a standalone piece for backcountry use in remote and wet locations with the knowledge that it does not have the best breathability like other, more robust Outdoor Research jackets - It does however dry fast!

    I wear a men's Large and have a good bit of room for light layering: I'm 5.9, 175lbs, with a 41-inch chest.

    Another Ultra piece of gear from OR!

    You'll never know it's in your pack

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: True to size
    • Size Bought: medium
    • Height: 5'9"
    • Weight: 140lbs

    Really solid for the price, I'd recommend having one of these in your pack at all times. It's so light and packable it won't make much difference, until the storm comes when it's a life saver.

    I used it biking and hiking around Salt Lake in April. Great for those afternoon thunderstorms.

    Purpose Served

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: True to size
    • Size Bought: Medium
    • Height: 5'11"
    • Weight: 150lbs

    Such a great jacket to add to the bag for fighting strong wind and rainfall for those times you are not expecting it . Lightweight, pack-able, durable.

    Rainy Zion in the Helium II

    • Height: 5'7"
    • Weight: 130lbs

    Email me with all your Outdoor Research questions - jelam@backcountry.com

    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.

      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
      • Height: 5'10"
      • Weight: 145lbs

      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
      • Height: 5'6"
      • Weight: 190lbs

      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
        • Height: 6'
        • Weight: 165lbs

        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
        • Height: 6'0"
        • Weight: 170lbs

        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
        • Height: 6'1"
        • Weight: 190lbs

        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
        • Height: 5'10"
        • Weight: 180lbs

        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
        • Height: 5'10"
        • Weight: 163lbs

        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.

        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??

        Best Answer

        Hey BG,

        Outdoor Research just hasn't provided any specific numbers for the waterproof or breathability of this jacket, only that it is waterproof and breathable. The Pertex Shield+ material has specs listed however at waterproof: 20,000mm and breathability: 20,000g.

        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.

        As of 14 July 2013 It doesn't look like we have any orders with OR placed so i don't think we will be getting this restocked within the foreseeable future. If you want to stay light weight give this a try. http://www.backcountry.com/marmot-mica-jacket-mens

        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?

        Best Answer

        Check out the OR Axiom! The goretex active shell breaths great. I am a big fan of the OR Mentor jacket. The Helium is more of a minimalist jacket, something you carry for those "just in case" situations rather then the "I'm going to need this".

        Reid has it right Luke. The Helium II is an ultra thin rain shell. It would be great for a rain forest, bad for mountaineering. I agree that the Axiom will be the best option for you--light enough for your summer showers but rugged enough with enough stretch for mountaineering.

        Could anyone provide the jacket length...

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

        Best Answer

        Says in the product description that the center back length is 31 inches...

        On the OR website one reviewer even said "feels a little long in the torso" so 31 is probably accurate since many jackets in this class tend to save weight by cutting themselves shorter.

        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?

        I found it a little slim fitting. I'm 6'2", 185 pounds and the L did fit, but I exchanged it for an XL to get a bit more room for an insulating layer and a bit more sleeve length. Love it so far.