Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket

9.1 score
[Editors rating (9.1)] = (Gearweare.net) score (9.1)/10

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Editor rating: 9.1 / 10
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Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket Review Facts

The Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket is constructed for protection in flash storms because it is 100% waterproof and windproof. Made of laminated Pertex Shield 2.5L, 30D ripstop nylon fabric with fully-taped seams, it compacts to the size of a deck of regular playing cards. It is best used for hiking, camping, casual wear, and extreme conditions, but is suitable anywhere you need lightweight, compactible protection from the weather elements. Included are an adjustable hood with a visor, elastic cuffs, a chin guard, elastic drawcord on the hem, and AquaGuard YKK zippers. These high-quality zippers are on the front full closure of the jacket and the single chest pocket. The entire garment stuff into this pocket when not in use for ease in carrying and storing. There is even a webbing carabiner loop, so it can be attached to a backpack or other gear. Reflective logos and hood trim add a safety element to this marvelous product when you are in low light or at night. The Helium II is the perfect solution to your need for a lightweight, compactible jacket to have with you at all times.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Sensitive skin is aided with the chin guard
  • Windproof, waterproof, good for layering
  • Constructed for protection in flash storms
  • Compacts to the size of a deck of cards
  • Lightest and the smallest waterproof jacket
  • For camping, hiking, casual, and extreme conditions
  • Good to clip to harnesses for climbing
  • Internal pocket becomes a stuff sack
  • Visor on the hood could crease if not carefully packed
  • Has a narrow, straight fit unlike regular raingear


We rarely address the color choices for products in our reviews but the selection of color combinations for this Helium II Jacket are an exception. It is fun to just look at all the options but choosing just one is going to be a challenge. How buyers narrowed down their options we just do not know. The hues are so vibrant and bold, plus the names of the colors just sound so enticing. Just look at the options for yourself. The many choices include the colors of pewter, lemongrass, coyote, hot sauce, jungle/storm, peacock/hops, black, aloe/charcoal, black/hydro, vintage/agate, pumpkin/pewter, Bengal, fatigue/ember, charcoal, glacier, ember/charcoal, and seaweed/juniper. You might be able to catch some of the flashier hues on sale for a good discount. One customer did this and received a great bargain.


The pleasure factor for this product is high online from buyers because they love it so much. The protection for the size and light weight is mostly the reason they are so happy, but the comfort of the item is great too. The Helium II has a very breathable fabric and design that is easy to move around in for all activities and adventures. You can wear several layers underneath for warmth, as this jacket will not provide that for you. Some buyers were under the mistaken impression that this is a product for warmth, but nowhere in the description does it say that it is. This garment is strictly for rain and wind protection. Sensitive skin is protected with the chin guard, so rubbing and chafing from the material near the face will not be a problem. You can close the bottom of the jacket to prevent drafts, wind, rain, and cold from creeping underneath. There is elastic on the sleeve cuffs to do the same for the sleeves and the arms.


The Helium II Jacket should last you for years and years of use in rugged continued conditions. The sturdy material is thin but exceptionally tough and durable. Even after much wear for a long period, buyers noted that they did not experience any leaks or holes in the long-lasting fabric. The material is laminated, plus the zippers are high-quality AquaGuard YKK closures for the front and the single pocket. As you all know, we love garments with the YKK zippers because they are the absolute best. These tough zippers will not snag or tear no matter how rough you are with them. You can depend on them to work every time too. One helpful customer gave some advice online in his feedback about the visor on the hood of this incredible jacket. We will share it here too for you. It appears when folding or compacting the jacket into its stuff sack that the visor can be accidentally creased. This crease does not come out easily or at all, so try to avoid bending it. It will not look good with this crease, so try rolling it in the hood when you pack it away.


The flexible parts of the Helium II Jacket are the zippered closures, the hood, the hem drawcord, and the single pocket. The front zipper closure is used to seal off the body from the weather elements completely for the best protection and to ventilate the body when needed. In windy conditions, you can count on the adjustable hood to stay in place and not be a problem of flying up in the gusts of wind. There is a single pocket to the dismay of several people who purchased this garment. More pockets mean added weight. Since one of the main aspects of this jacket is light in weight, then the number of pockets has to be minimal. The chest pocket has a zippered closure, but the placement of the pocket is unique. It is positioned diagonally, which seems to make it easily accessible to the right hand. This allows the contents and the zipper to be manipulated with just one hand when you are trying to multi-task outdoors.

Key Features

-Elastic drawcord on the hem and elastic cuffs
-Build is laminated; hood is adjustable
-High-quality AquaGuard YKK zippers
-Chest pocket is unique in its diagonal placement
-Seams are fully taped
-Made of Pertex Shield ripstop nylon material
-Storm flap on the back of the front zipper
-Logos and hood trim are reflective for safety
-Only weighs 6.4 ounces
-Stuff pocket with a webbing carabiner loop


The cost was a concern for some buyers who were hesitant to spend this much for a rain jacket. Although it does not look any different than a regular rain jacket with a much lower price tag, you will be very glad that you purchased it once you are aware of its great attributes. As one user noted, through his research of many types of rain garments, this one is the lightest and the most compact for the quality of protection that is offered. You will be hard-pressed to find another of its type and quality. Considering its durability and long life, it is worth the additional cost.


Windproof and waterproof, the Helium II is a great piece of equipment or gear for all outdoor activities. It is minimalist protection from storms because it is constructed for protection in flash storms. There is a storm flap on the inside in the back of the zipper that is water-resistant, plus all of the jacket seams are fully taped. Made of Pertex Shield 2.5L, 30D ripstop 100% nylon material, it will keep the wearer dry in high wind and rain conditions. You just never know when you are out during excursions and adventures when a storm or rain shower will pop up. Always be ready to protect yourself with this excellent gear. Some people claimed in their online feedback to get wet with this on in moderate rain. Considering the materials used to build it and the added waterproof features, we just don’t see how that is possible.


To make the Helium II Jacket even more appealing to your needs outdoors, the manufacturer took the extra step to add on some reflective material. this will make you more visible in dark or low light areas and even at night if you are on a trail or road. The trim on the hood is reflective for safety and so are the company logos printed on the material. from the photos of the jacket color combinations, it seems as though the zippers are in a contrasting color to make them easier to find possibly in low light. They may be reflective also, but we could not find any mention of this in our research.


Only weighing 6.4 ounces, this product is the lightest and the smallest waterproof jacket currently available. When compacted, it is about the size of a regular deck of cards or as the manufacturer says, a granola bar. It is worth the cost for the small size and compactness features. The volume and weight are important for travel and backpacking trips when every ounce counts. Light and good for layering, this item is hip length with a narrow fit, unlike regular rain gear. This fit prevents the bottom of the jacket from blowing in the wind or allowing wind and rain to enter from underneath. It has a good length to the sleeves and the length of the jacket. Most people say that it fits true to the stated size, but for a few buyers, size was an issue. There are those who say it is too big and others that say it is too small. With clothing items, this is to be expected.


Even though this garment can be used for any type of rain event that comes up in any sort of climate, it is best used for extreme situations when you need something with little weight that compacts well. These are usually times when you are away from home carrying your gear, which does not include a regular rain jacket of normal weight. The Helium II is best used for wet weather (as opposed to cold or dry weather), camping and hiking, casual wear, and extreme conditions. Judging from buyer feedback uses, we can say that it is heavily used during backpacking, mountain climbing, trail riding, running, trekking, hunting, and fishing. Of course, this is not a complete list of best places and circumstances, but we think you get the idea.

Ease of Use

Just like many of the customers for outdoor gear products, we love the incredible added features to make life much easier and pleasurable. This jacket has a stuff sack that is the jacket pocket. Simply fold the entire garment into this little sack to pack it away when not in use or clip it to your backpack or gear. It is good to attach it to harnesses for climbing in an unpredictable area, so you always have it with you. There is a carabiner webbing loop on it for attaching easily. The Helium II is not only simple to use but also to store and carry.

Bottom Line

The Helium II Jacket has a straight narrow fit that is not like regular raingear we commonly use. Because of this, it can be form-fitting and snug for some users’ body build. The visor on the hood, when compacting to store it away, could become creased if not folded carefully to prevent this issue. Other than these small concerns, this is an excellent rain and wind jacket to protect you in weather events that could be severe. It is constructed of superior materials with a brilliant design by a well-known company that is popular for its outstanding craftsmanship. This is the lightest and most compact rain jacket that you will find for the cost currently being offered. Others may have similar characteristics, but when you consider that the Helium II in its stuff sack is only 1/3 the size of the next smallest competitor model, it is clearly the winner for size. Outdoor activities of backpacking, climbing, hiking, running, and trekking are certainly the best instances when such a garment is needed. It is at those times that a rainstorm could appear suddenly without warning. Attached to your harness or backpack, the Helium II will always be present and ready to defend your body against a downpour of rain and a strong gusting wind.