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Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie Review

Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie Review

The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie is a very lightweight nylon jacket that’s designed to keep the wind from robbing your body heat. It has an adjustable hood with a small brim, a zippered chest pocket, stretch cuffs, and an elastic hem adjustment. There are also perforations under the underarms so you can vent some warmth without having to unzip the center zipper. While it’s not waterproof, it’s a great garment to use year-round for hiking or running when you are generating a lot of body heat and just need a thermal envelope over your base or mid-layer to stay warm.

RELATED: 10 Best Windbreakers and Wind Shirts

Specs at a glance

  • Material: 30D Nylon
  • Weight: 5.1 oz (men’s large)
  • Sizing: Runs slightly small when worn over a mid-layer
  • Waterproof: No

Feature-wise, the OR Helium Wind Hoodie is best classified as a windbreaker that’s more akin to the REI Flash Jacket or the Arcteryx Squamish Hoodie than a much lighter weight and more minimal wind shirt like the Montbell Tachyon Parka or the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt. There’s room for both styles of garments. You just need to figure out which you prefer.

The hood has a simple rear volume control.
The hood has a simple rear volume control.

Made with 30d uncoated nylon, the Helium Wind Hoodie isn’t nearly as breathable compared to garments made with thinner material (although breathability is a very elusive thing to measure in a standard way) and is much warmer because it traps more body heat. While it does have laser-cut holes under the armpits, they’re really not very effective at shedding heat if you’re wearing the jacket over a mid-layer garment like a fleece.

The hood however is very nice with a rear volume adjustment and elastic sides so it snugs the head well without being claustrophobic. If you’re going to be in real wind, especially above treeline, you don’t want a hood that flaps wildly against the sides of your head in the breeze because the noise will drive you bonkers. The Helium hood also has a slight bill of thickened fabric that sticks out over the eyes and is useful to prevent glare from blinding you.

The hood fits snugly without bulky cords or controls.

The jacket has a zippered chest pocket with a softshell fabric backer which is a good place to stuff a light hat or a snack bar. It can also fit a Smartphone, like an iPhone 14, and has enough body that the pocket doesn’t sag or deform the fit as you see in a jacket made with thinner fabric or an unlined pocket.

The wrist cuffs are elasticated and large enough that you can pull them up your forearms to bleed heat off from your wrists where the blood flows close to the skin. There’s also an elastic hem adjustment to prevent the wind from chilling you from below.

10 Best Windbreakers and Wind Shirts

The OR Helium Wind Hoodie is one of the top 10 windbreakers/wind shirts we recommend.

Make / ModelFabric DenierWeight
Arcteryx Squamish Hoodie30d4.9 oz / 140g
Patagonia Houdini Jacket15d3.7 oz /105g
Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt10d2.05 oz / 58g
Rab Vital Windshell Hoody20d4.6 oz /160g
REI Flash JacketNA4.3 oz /122g
Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie30d5.3 oz /150g
Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell15d3.5 oz / 98g
Warbonnet Stash Jacket20d5.0 oz / 142g
Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket7d2.5 oz / 72g
Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody20d7.4 oz /210g

Recommendation

If you’re wondering when you’d ever use a wind jacket like OR Helium Wind Hoodie, especially since it’s not waterproof like the OR Helium Rain Jacket, the answer is “much more frequently than you’d use your rain jacket.” For example, I wear a wind shirt all winter long as an outer layer over a base layer and mid-layer because it acts as a thermal envelope that prevents cold wind from chilling me while trapping the body heat I generate. A wind shirt is also indispensable in spring to keep cold wind from chilling you, especially before the trees grow their leaves. In comparison, a rain jacket is usually much too warm for this and will cause you to perspire, which is counterproductive in terms of comfort and energy efficiency.

The OR Helium Wind Hoodie is a fairly warm windbreaker and best used by people who run a little cold. Personally. I run quite hot when hiking and prefer a much thinner and more minimalist wind shirt like the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield or the Montbell Tachyon because they trap less body heat and make me perspire less.

Disclosure: OR donated a jacket for review.

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4 comments

  1. I have this hoodie and I love it. like you I run hot and would never wear this during the ascent,. I use it when taking a break on a summit or making a traverse above treeline on windy days. mine is slightly oversized and also works well as a wind layer over a fleece or thin puffy. it’s so light it goes with me on every hike even as just an extra piece of emergency clothing.

  2. Thanks Philip… another great review. The most valued type garment when traveling anywhere for me. I may have to purchase a Tachyon based on your reviews. I tried the Copperfield & loved the material & weight, but the 10d was only available at the time , not as breathable as the 7d. Absence of a well developed hood cinch & a boxy fit were other things that made it miss the cut for me.

  3. This type of garment is what I prefer for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Both activities generate a LOT of heat so I’m wearing a thin base layer. My wind jacket keeps the snow from sticking to my torso and the hood keeps snow-laden branched from sending their chilling load down the back of my neck.

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