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.
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.
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 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 / Model
|Arcteryx Squamish Hoodie
|4.9 oz / 140g
|Patagonia Houdini Jacket
|3.7 oz /105g
|Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt
|2.05 oz / 58g
|Rab Vital Windshell Hoody
|4.6 oz /160g
|REI Flash Jacket
|4.3 oz /122g
|Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie
|5.3 oz /150g
|Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell
|3.5 oz / 98g
|Warbonnet Stash Jacket
|5.0 oz / 142g
|Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket
|2.5 oz / 72g
|Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody
|7.4 oz /210g
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.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.