The manufacturer suggests the Outdoor Research Helium 2 jacket is built for flash-storm protection. Well, I’ve used it in typical British conditions of drizzly, desultory rain and it works incredibly well for a waterproof jacket that weighs little more than a bee’s wing!

The biggest problem with the Helium lies within my own head. It’s a psychological thing. How can a jacket this light, this (seemingly) flimsy, this thin, keep me dry during a typical British summer? The answer is the amazing Pertex Shield DS fabric the Outdoor Research Helium is made from.

It seems that Pertex developed the Shield DS fabric to compete with eVent and it looks like they did a pretty good job. I’ve found, under certain conditions, I get a bit of condensation inside this jacket but it’s not enough to worry about and the biggest complaint I can really come up with is that there is very little thermal protection in a fabric this thin. But that’s not a big problem in summer – you just slip on a micro-fleece underneath it if you feel cold.

The Outdoor Research Helium has a lot going for it – fully taped seams; an adjustable hood; water-resistant zips; drawcord hem and semi-elasticated cuffs. I would have liked a couple of waist pockets but there is a chest pocket and an internal stuff pocket with a webbing loop. One little gripe – the hood doesn’t offer much in the way of face protection.

But it’s the weight, or lack of it, that’s the big selling point. At a mere 180g, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it!

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First published: June 2013