Brand: Outdoor Research
Model: Helium Down Hooded Jacket
Our take We barely noticed the sub-1-pound Helium hanging off our harness while we ice climbed at a New Hampshire crag —until we accidentally snagged it with a crampon while high-stepping. But when we topped out, to our surprise the jacket was unharmed. In fact, after a full winter of rough-and-tumble use, the Helium’s steely, 30-denier Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse face fabric over the hood, shoulders, and upper sleeves finished without a scratch. (Its nylon filaments lock together to boost rip resistance in these high-wear zones.) “I routinely hang ice axes over my shoulder when climbing and carry skis on my shoulder all the time, and the Helium has no rips or slices in that area,” one tester says. The rest of the jacket uses a more breathable (but still DWR-treated) Pertex Diamond Fuse material, which fared similarly.
The details The Helium’s 800-fill down kept us warm (over a light baselayer and a fleece) into the mid-20s with moderate movement, and allows the jacket to pack down to the size of a butternut squash. Deep pockets on the inside hold everything from skins to mittens, and hand pockets are partially fleece-lined. The hood is helmet-compatible.
$279; 15.4 oz. (m’s L); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL