Jack Wolfskin Helium (2017)

Features

At 444g (size men’s L) the Jack Wolfskin Helium is very light for its price, and it has a hood and two zipped pockets. The insulation is 700 fill power down, so not as warm as other jackets; and the outer is polyester, which is soft, but less durable than nylon. It also lacks hood, cuff and hem adjustment, so you must ensure it fits before buying. But the weight and price are great. 3/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are S-XXXL and women’s are XS-XXL – a huge range compared to many jackets. The cuffs leave a small gap at the wrist so they would benefit from adjustment, but they don’t ride up. The hood only has elasticated adjustment and so it does not fit closely; also it does not move with the head. So fit is not perfect but there’s a good size range. 3/5

Comfort

The down is not as efficient as in higher-priced jackets and there is less of it (to keep weight down) so the result is less warmth, but this is still acceptable for milder conditions. The wrist and hood fit make these areas chilly but not uncomfortable. For basic comfort and a low level of insulation the Jack Wolfskin Helium is fine, but others offer more and would better suit colder conditions. 3/5

In use

Stash the Jack Wolfskin Helium in your rucksack and it is ideal to throw on for short chilly moments on the hill (and of course you can wear a waterproof over the top to lock out those draughts). When camping in winter I’d want something a bit warmer, though, and I would carry a heavier down jacket to provide that. But for autumn, spring and milder winter days this will be great if used carefully to minimise its drawbacks. 3/5

Value

The price is great for such a light jacket that provides basic insulation needs, but if you pay more you’ll get a whole lot more. 5/5

Verdict

The Jack Wolfskin Helium is a low-priced jacket with just about enough insulation for milder winter conditions. 3.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2017