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Outdoor Research - Helium Hybrid jacket

posted Jun 17, 2014, 1:25 PM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jun 21, 2014, 2:55 AM ]

This spring we had the chance to thoroughly test the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket, an interesting development of the Helium jacket, made significantly lighter by eliminating the waterproof membrane where this is less needed, that is on the lower part of the trunk. The Hybrid version of the Helium, being even lighter and more breathable than the fully waterproof version of the same jacket, seemed to be an even more versatile garment. We have put to the test the women version for several months and here we report on the results of our tests.

Technical Description

The Helium Hybrid Jacket™ is an ultralight windproof jacket of hybrid construction. It is equipped with waterproof, breathable Pertex® Shield+ fabric on the shoulders and hood and a super-light, stretchable and breathable nylon fabric on the body.

The Helium Hybrid features:
  • Zippered Chest Pocket that doubles as Stuff Sack
  • Drawcord Hem
  • Internal Front-Zip Stormflap
  • Water-Resistant Zippers
  • Elastic Cuffs
  • "Halo" Hood Closure
  • Key Clip
Shoulders and hood - Pertex® Shield+, 2.5L, 100% nylon, 30D  
Body - 100% nylon ripstop fabric

Weight: 144 g (Size M)

Our Test

We tested the 
Helium Hybrid jacket for more than four months, from late Winter to the end of Spring, probably the best period to test this ultralight shell because of the milder temperatures. We used it for climbing, snowboarding, trail running, mountain biking, and hiking in a temperature range of approximately -2°C to +18°C in all possible weather conditionsWe tested the women version, but a men's version is also available.

First Impressions

The Helium Hybrid jacket is soft, stretchable, and super-light. Its trim fit adapts perfectly to the women's shape of the body and the light degree of stretchability of the nylon fabric that composes most of the jacket, allows you to move without limitations. The quality of materials and the finish are very good. We immediately fell in love with the cheerful red color, which enhance your visibility on the snow and in foggy conditions. The Helium Hybrid is also available in other eye-catching colours!

Lightness & Packability

The Hybrid version of the Helium is extremely light (about 140g in

size M!) and it can be packed in a very small volume (approximately that of a tennis ball!). It is so light, soft, and stretchable that, when you wear it, you hardly notice it at all. You can stow it in the chest pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack. This makes it the perfect protective garment to carry with you everywhere. It easily fits in any backpack, so you'll have no excuse... you can always carry it with you, whatever your favourite sports or outdoor activities are!

Cut & Fit

The trim fit and the well designed cut of the Helium Hybrid perfectly adapt to the female body shape. The jacket fits tightly on the trunk, but, thanks to its stretchable fabric, it also guarantees great freedom of movement and, at the same time, it has an elegant and graceful look! In high-speed sports, such as snowboarding or mountain biking, the fluttering is limited, thanks to the softness of the fabrics, especially on the trunk. Despite its tight fit, enough room is still available underneath the jacket for an additional insulating layer. When temperatures are low you'll need some extra warmth!


Overall the Helium Hybrid is a very comfortable jacket! Super light, soft, and stretchable, it is perfect for rock climbing, allowing ample freedom of movement and keeping you dry and warm also in windy conditions or under light rain. Because of its exceptional lightness, you hardly ever notice that you are wearing it, you will simply forget about it, even while running! This means that you can always concentrate 100% on your performance.


The body is made of a simple nylon fabric without waterproof membrane, which makes the jacket much more breathable than the fully waterproof version (at least on the trunk and arms). Breathability is more than adequate even during the most intense activities, such as trail running or mountain biking. The waterproof Pertex® Shield+ fabric is used only on shoulders and hood. This provides good protection when the weather turns bad, but it makes these parts of the jacket less breathable, of course. 

Weather Protection

The Helium Hybrid is a very versatile jacket that offers a perfect shelter for any high-intensity activity out there, especially on those days of uncertain weather.
The nylon ripstop fabric used on the body offers good wind resistance. Moderate and strong winds have never been a problem, in particular if the jacket is coupled with a proper insulating layer. With the right combination of layers the Helium Hybrid works pretty well also at lower temperatures, therefore it can be used even in winter for skiing or snowboarding. In rainy conditions it offers relatively good protection on the shoulders and hood as they are equipped with waterproof, breathable Pertex® Shield+ fabric. However, the body is not totally water resistant and its fabric tends to stick to your body when it starts getting wet.


The jacket is made of very light and very thin fabrics, which instinctively makes you want to treat it with extra care, especially in the most extreme uses, such as rock climbing! However, we can honestly say that after wearing the Helium Hybrid for more than four months and having used it several times also for rock climbing, we

are really impressed by its durability! Even the stretchable fabrics have withstood all the rubs and scratches against the rocks and the signs of wear after the test are only minor. Good abrasion resistance obviously means longer lifetime.


Although designed primarily for climbing and mountaineering, the Helium Hybrid jacket is a very versatile garment, excellent for many other outdoor activities. It is such a versatile garment that it would be really a shame to restrict its use! It's also a very practical garment: thanks to its lightness and packability, you'll always find some room to pack it in your backpack, so that you can bring it with you everywhere.

Our Verdict

Are you looking for an ultralight, stretchable, breathable, and easily packable weather-protecting jacket that you can carry with you everywhere throughout the year? Then the Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid jacket is what you are looking for. 

Designed for light-and-fast challenges, from trail running sessions to alpine assaults to the summit, we found this jacket perfect for rock climbing and hiking, as well as for any physically intense outdoor activity, such as trail running, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing or snowboarding.


+ Very light and easily packable

+ Highly breathable

+ Stretchable


- Limited weather protection (rain)

 Lightness & Packability 10/10
 Comfort   8/10
 Fit & Cut   9/10
 Weather Protection   7/10
 Breathability   7/10
 Versatility   9/10
 Durability   8/10
 Total Score 8.3/10