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Outdoor Research Helium Jacket : Lighter Than Air

I'll give Outdoor Research 15 points out of a possible ten for the totally awesome Helium rain jacket.

For the last few weeks I've been doing a lot of climbing here in Colorado, and that means I have to deal with afternoon thunderstorms that blow in daily at about 2 pm. It's stupid to leave behind a rain shell, but it's frustrating dealing with a jacket that takes up lots of space in the pack. It's been a gear Catch-22 that's solved so easily with the Helium jacket.

I've never been totally satisfied with the lightweight shells I've tried - they've either been too heavy, too bulky, not waterproof, or not breathable. The Helium jacket solves all these problems well. It's super light, waterproof, extremely compact, and breathable. At less than seven ounces, it's about as heavy as three candy bars. I've been taking this little gem of a jacket everywhere this summer.

Last week I was climbing a 4 pitch line at Lumpy Ridge, and got caught in a storm just one pitch from the summit. Luckily, I had my Helium jacket, stuffed into its stow pouch and clipped to my harness. It took up about as much space as an apple. I pulled it out and donned it right before the rain hit, and I stayed totally dry. The jacket has fully-taped seams and is made from a lightweight fabric called Pertex Shield that didn't let any water seep through. Once I started climbing again, I didn't get too wet inside because the jacket breathes really well.

All in all, I think this jacket a huge winner for Outdoor Research. It's available in yellow, gray, and black. I have the yellow one, which is great because it's so visible. I'll be bringing it on every climb I go on from now on, as well as on bike rides, hikes, and any outdoor activity where I'll need an emergency shell.

Available in men's and women's sizes.

Bottom Line: The best emergency storm shell I've ever tested. It's light weight and portability make it a backcountry necessity. --N.W. (July '10)

BUY ONLINE : $140 click to shop at , women's jacket on sale at .

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