Tucked away deep in the black hole of your backpack is a jacket–the one you keep “just in case.” Just in case, you get stuck on an exposed ridgeline as a Spring snowstorm suddenly plows down on you or just in case you are mid-ride on Moab’s Porcupine Rim when Summer turns into “not so Summer.” The new Outdoor Research Helium jacket is the perfect “just in case” jacket everyone should have.

About the Outdoor Research Helium Jacket

Their most compressible storm shell is so light it practically floats, or at least it’s so light that you won’t notice you’re carrying it until a sudden downpour bursts into your day. When a big, exposed objective puts you on route for a full day stretching into dark, this jacket packs into its own pocket and can be clipped to your harness for quick access if you need protection from rain, wind, or cooling temps. And it includes all the features needed for true functionality, without any bulky excess.

  • Ultralight, waterproof/breathable 2.5-layer 20D Pertex® Shield DS ripstop fabric
  • Fully seam taped
  • Single-pull hood adjustment
  • Ultralight, water-resistant zippers
  • Front zipper has 7.5″/19 cm inner stormfap
  • Zippered napoleon pocket
  • Stuff pocket at side hem with hook/loop closure
  • Elastic cuffs
  • Single drawcord hem adjustment
  • Weight: 6.8 oz
  • Colors: Pilsner Yellow, Fossil Grey, Black
  • MSRP: $140

Outdoor Research Helium Jacket Review

Lightweight is an understatement with this jacket, but don’t let its featherweight design fool you–the Outdoor Research Helium jacket is for real and not only for the “just in case” moments. The Pertex Shield fabric is light and seemingly-durable in spite of its thin-ness. It also breathes extremely-well. After a hard 30-minute run on a 45-degree day the Helium merely felt slightly damp to the touch on the inside. After 5 minutes, that had all dissipated.

The cut of the jacket is great for slapping on top of a down jacket or other puffy insulation layer as need arises. Alone with only a long-sleeve shirt underneath, I’d wish for a little more form-fitting torso. As it stands, it works great on top of puffier under layers. The hem is cut longer than many jackets of this type, so it covers your backside well even when you’re moving around a lot. The simple elastic sleeve cuffs are simple and light, but a lightweight Velcro cuff would have been great.

I brought this jacket along on a handful of ski tours as well and loved the light weight and compressibility of this jacket. Stuffing it into the bottom of my backcountry ski pack, it yielded plenty of space for other sundries.

I really dig the hood and find it necessary in a jacket like this. Should you need to slap it on in a pinch, the hood can be easily worn–leaving your noggin well-protected.

As time goes on, I still marvel at how lightweight this jacket is yet how performant it remains. Excellent overall design for “just in case” backcountry use or highly-aerobic activities.

Good Helium

  • So light it will amaze you
  • Excellent water and wind protection
  • Pertex Shield fabric is really the star of the show
  • Attached hood adds to the versatility
  • The Fossil color is muted and dashing
  • Very lightweight and packable
  • Single-handed shock-cord hem cinches well

Bad Helium

  • Missing some sort of grippy rubber along the inside of the hem to keep in place
  • No hand pockets
  • Front zipper is reversed (for the ladies?)
  • Would like to see a simple Velcro cuff closure instead of just elastic

Bottom Line: Outdoor Research Helium Jacket

While some great Outdoor Research jackets are sometimes overlooked, the Helium should garner several double-takes. It’s light weight, packable and offers solid shelter for aerobic activity or in a pinch. The Pertex fabric breathes well and performs when needed.

Buy Now: Find Outdoor Research Jackets at REI

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Sold me! Regarding that dashing Fossil color–how “un-“dashing are the red highlights–would you use this as a city jacket as well?

  2. Jon… the red highlights aren’t so bold that they stand out like a sore thumb. They are subtle and complementary. As a on-the-fly foul weather jacket in the city, this would do the trick.

  3. Hey there, what size did you get and what’s your height/weight? Just curious what size would be good for me………..


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  5. I have been waiting for the Marmot Super Mica to come back in stock, but does not appear to be happening. How would you say this jacket would compare to the Super Mica? Looking for a do-it-all rain shell: MTB/run/town/hike etc

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