Expert Review: Outdoor Research Men's Helium Down Jacket

Published on 01/08/2023 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2020.
will koons, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert will koons

Hiking up Mt Hood at sunrise. All photos courtesy of Will Koons

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2020.

My take

The Outdoor Research Helium Down Jacket is a high-quality, puffy jacket that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. It is designed to keep its wearer warm and comfortable in all environments, and it is suitable for a range of outdoor activities. I personally use the 2020 model of the Helium jacket, but it remains relatively unchanged. While the colorways have since changed, I am very impressed with 2020 version, and my experience should also be relevant to anyone purchasing the 2023 model.

Riding on Mt Hood

About the jacket I own

  • Model: 2020 Outdoor Research Helium Down Jacket
  • Size: Large
  • Fit: True to size

About me

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 175 lbs
  • Experience: 20+ years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: October 2020
  • Days tested: 50+
  • Where I’ve used it: Cascade Mountains and resorts in multiple West Coast states
  • Conditions I’ve used it in: A number of different types of conditions ranging from staying warm at sunny but cold belays to layering up while snowboarding in frigid storm conditions

How it performs

Comfort
4/5
Durability
4/5
Warmth
4/5
Waterproofing
4/5
Aesthetics
3/5
Breathability
3/5

What I was looking for

I was in the market for a new puffy jacket because my previous Dakine puffy was starting to wear out and wasn't keeping me as warm as it used to. I figured it was time for an upgrade. I wanted a jacket that would hold up to heavy usage, keep me warm, pack down well, and look nice enough to double as a run-around-town jacket.

Why I chose this jacket

I chose this jacket primarily because it checked all my boxes. But also because I got it for free from a friend at Outdoor Research. I did not consider any other jackets since I was given this one for free. However, if I had, I would have checked out the Mtn Hardwear Stretch Down series. It is in a similar price range and has similar tech specs.

Riding in the central Oregon backcountry

What I love about it

  • Fit: This jacket fits true to size. I am over 6’ and I found the large to be perfect.
  • Range of Motion: The range of motion is good. I use this across a variety of activities, such as hiking and skiing, and never feel hampered by it.
  • Quality of Materials: The partially recycled outer material the jacket is made of has a high-quality feel and has held up well to regular usage. The down is very warm.
  • Durability: I’ve used this jacket for 50+ days, and it has held up very well. I’ve soaked it multiple times, and the insulation loft is still really great. I have seen no rips or tears yet, either.
  • Waterproofing: This jacket isn’t advertised as waterproof, but it is fairly water resistant up to a point. I’ve soaked it, and it still kept me pretty warm.
  • Warmth: I highly recommend this jacket based on warmth. It has a high level of fill—especially for the price—and I never have any issues with staying warm while using it.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Style: The design isn't bad, but I would have preferred a tighter waist to be more form-fitting and a design with more insulation baffles.
  • Breathability: This jacket is not super breathable, but that is to be expected from a highly insulated puffy jacket.

Favorite moment with this gear

I've had so many great experiences using this jacket, but one that stands out was when I went snow camping during a climbing trip on Mt Hood. The weather was freezing and we slept in the snow, but I stayed warm and comfortable the entire time due in large part to the layering system I brought using the Helium jacket. It was a game changer for that trip and has since become my go-to jacket for cold-weather adventures.

Value for the money vs. other options

If one’s considering purchasing the Helium Down Jacket, I would say that it is definitely worth the money. It's a high-quality jacket that is built to last, and it performs exceptionally well in cold and wet conditions. While there may be cheaper options out there, they may not provide the same level of warmth and protection as this jacket. On the other hand, more expensive options such as the Mtn Hardware Stretchdown Jacket might offer similar performance, but the Helium Down Jacket offers a great balance of price and performance. Overall, I think it's a solid investment for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather.

Final verdict

This jacket unlocks the ability to enjoy all of the outdoor adventures, no matter the weather. It keeps me warm and dry in cold and wet conditions so I can focus on having fun and exploring the great outdoors.

Out of stock
  • We price match
  • Returnable

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