What Is It: The Helium II, a lightweight, compressible rain jacket.
Price and Where to Buy: $150 from Outdoor Research’s website.
Pros: This is literally the lightest rain jacket I’ve ever tried on, weighing in at just 5.8 oz. The Helium II folds down extremely small—into a tiny square—that I could toss in a day-pack and not notice it’s there until it starts raining and I need to put it on. The zippers and elastic cuffs are designed to keep water out, as is the adjustable hood, and the Helium II will definitely keep you dry. The Helium II is available in men’s and women’s styles, and I liked that the woman’s style was cut slimmer than regular boxy rain jackets.
Cons: This jacket won’t keep you super warm, but then again, that’s not really the point of a lightweight rain jacket. If you need warmth and waterproofing, you could easily layer the Helium on top of a heavier jacket, and not have to worry about extra weight.
How it Rates:
- Usefulness: 10/10. Whether you’re hiking in the back-country or sightseeing in a city, unexpected rainstorms can ruin your day (and your outfit). This jacket is so lightweight and small you can stash it in any bag, and stay dry no matter what weather comes your way.
- Portability: 10/10. You could cram this jacket in an evening handbag, or in a small pocket in your backpack—it’s that tiny. It also weighs less than many cell phones, so it won’t drag your pack down.
- Value: 9/10. Waterproof shells this lightweight can run over $300, so this one is a great value.
- Durability: 10/10. The Helium II boasts “100 percent Nylon and 2.5-layer 30D Pertex Shield DS ripstop fabric”. We don’t really know the difference between that and whatever other waterproof jackets are made out of, but it sure feels like it’s well-made and will last a long time.
- Cool Factor: 7/10. Go for unobtrusive black and blend in in a city, or opt for the neon green to stand out in hunting country.
Final Verdict: Splurge on this light jacket and never be depressed in a downpour again!
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