Chris Townsend likes this lightweight warm jacket from Rohan, which holds up even in the worst weather.
The Rohan Helios is a lightweight insulated jacket suitable for the worst weather. The outer fabric and the insulation are recycled, which is good. The insulation is a soft flexible polyester. the jacket feels comfortable and non-restrictive. The windproof shell has a DWR treatment and sheds rain and snow well, though the jacket isn’t waterproof and prolonged rain does get through eventually. the jacket feels comfortable and non-restrictive.
The design is mostly good. The handwarmer pockets have a soft brushed lining so they feel instantly warm. They are cut off by a pack hipbelt though and would be better a little higher. By pulling the jacket up a short way they are usable with a hipbelt but then you lose a little protection below the belt. The hood is head-shaped rather than coming to a point and fits neatly. There’s a drawcord at the back so the hood can be pulled in round the head to keep it on in strong winds. It lacks a peak though, which I missed in driving snow.
One advantage of synthetic insulated garments is that you can pull them on over a wet waterproof without worrying about them getting damp. I do this often – it means you don’t lose any heat by taking off your shell to put on a fleece. With the Helios I can do this with the large size. When damp the jacket stays warm and dries quickly.
I’ve worn the Helios on camps in frosty weather and for walking in temperatures well below zero and in blizzards and it’s kept me warm. I think it’s fine for most winter days, unless the temperatures are extremely low. For walking it’s too warm for me when temperatures are much above zero unless the wind is very strong.
The Helios packs into a small bundle in its inner pocket. It’s quite light for the warmth provided. If the pockets were more usable and the hood had a peak it would be an excellent jacket. I wouldn’t choose it for scrambling as the shell fabric is quite thin and probably wouldn’t stand up to much abrasion but for general hillwalking and backpacking it’s a good choice. If the pockets were more usable and the hood had a peak it would be an excellent.