Outdoor Research Women's Helium II Jacket
Colours: Apple, Hydro, Night/Ultraviolet, Pewter/Rio Plaid, Scarlet, Ultraviolet
Price: $159 USD
Weight: 5.5oz/156g (medium)
Features: An ultra-lightweight waterproof-breathable shell made from Pertex Shield+ fabric. The laminated layers offer protection from the elements in a small compressable package. The jacket joins with YKK Aquaguard zippers, and includes a zippered chest pocket, and elastic cuffs and hem. The internal pocket doubles as a stuff sack and when inside out there is a carabiner loop for clipping into harness.
The compressability of this jacket is incredible. When packed away inside it's own stowaway pocket, the jacket is reduced to the size of my fist. It ends up being packed away in hiking and climbing packs and takes up no space. I have even tried to put in in my cycling seat pouch for long road rides with success.
The weight of this shell is amazing. Often packed in my pack or attached to my harness, this shell feels like nothing. It almost is at less that 5.5oz for my small size!
The jacket repels water even in hard downpours. The hood fits over my climbing helmet no problem. The elastic cuffs a the wrist are sufficient.
The style of the jacket is a pretty normal. It comes in 6 different colours which is pretty rare for a rainshell jacket. What sets this 'just-in-case' jacket apart is its functionality and convenience. I don't frown at lugging around the weight of my rain shell any more!
Cons: There are no frills to this jacket. One zippered chest pocket, a hood, and hem cincher is all you get. But if you want lightweight and minimalist, then you can't add too many features. The chest pocket is great if wearing a harness or pack.
I did have a problem with the main zipper on the jacket. I seemed to have somehow managed to remove the slider and pull tab from the zipper teeth with very little effort on only it's second use. I contacted OR about this issue and they sent me a replacement and attributed to a YKK Aquaguard zipper defect. Upon receiving the jacket, I immediately tested the zipper out 20 times without issue. I find zippers are the weakness to most jackets and have replaced many before. I wouldn't say it's a reason not to consider this jacket.
Best Uses: Alpine and rock climbing, lightweight hiking and backpacking, cycling, and trail running.