Outdoor Research Helium HD (2014)

The Outdoor Research Helium HD is a very lightweight jacket, weighing in at 270g (size L) and made from 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+, a fabric that boasts top-end performance for breathability and waterproofness. The zip up the front of the jacket is a more water-resistant design than many around this price, but you don’t get an internal flap to impede progress of any water that gets in to this area, a drawback in really heavy rain. There are three external pockets, and these can all be accessed while wearing a rucksack; however the pocket bag does extend almost to the hem, so small items tend to end up tucked behind a rucksack waist- or hipbelt pretty easily. But the Outdoor Research Helium HD’s two lower pockets are map-sized, which is useful, while the top pocket is ideal for a GPS receiver or compass. The lower pockets are mesh, so not ideal for keeping you dry, but the chest pocket is a more water-resistant design. There are pit zips for venting in warm wet weather while the hood benefits from a wired peak plus good fit and movement to allow very easy vision in wind and rain. There are some niggles with this design but the weight, fabric specification and price are all great for lightweight hillwalkers on a budget.

Specifications:

Fabric 2.5-layer Pertex Shield

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 3

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? yes

Weight 270g (men’s size L)

Website www.outdoorresearch.co.uk

Verdict

The Outdoor Research Helium HD has very high-performance fabric plus a great hood and overall weight, but the pocket design could be better and I’d like to see a baffle behind that front zip.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Outdoor Research Foray/Paladin (2013)

The Outdoor Research Foray/Paladin is designed as a lightweight jacket and so it uses Gore-Tex Paclite, the most compact version of Gore fabric, to keep weight down while maintaining the highest levels of waterproofness and breathability. However the problem with this fabric is that any condensation that does develop is very easy to see and so this often feels clammier than 3-layer fabrics, but the benefit is the weight saving. To help combat condensation you get full-length side zips, which extend from the armpit to the hem, so you can open the sides fully if necessary to improve comfort. The jacket has two large chest pockets with mesh linings placed quite high to maintain reasonable access while wearing a rucksack, but in rain those mesh linings may allow water to pass through the jacket. The front zip does not get an external stormflap either, so again in really driving rain this may not be the most waterproof option. There is an additional chest pocket, but this is a little small for a map, so it is not as useful as it could be. The hood is okay though. This is the lightest jacket we looked at, but for general hillwalking the condensation potential may be a bigger drawback than the weight advantage for many users. But if low weight and small packed size are your priority then it is a winner.

Weight 451g (size men’s L)

Fabric Gore-Tex Paclite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL (Foray)

Women’s sizes XS-L (Paladin)

External pockets 3

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.outdoorresearch.co.uk

Verdict

The Outdoor Research Foray/Paladin is a low-bulk and lightweight jacket but the drawbacks are condensation management and at this price there are lots of heavier jackets with better features. It only just missed out on a place in the top 12 feature in Trail November 2013 as there are so many good jackets at this price and the Vaude Crestone was slightly better but a similar design.

Review by Graham Thompson

Just missed out on being in Trail magazine November 2013

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Outdoor Research Axiom (2013)

Cut from top-notch fabric, the Axiom is only let down a little by the hood, which is not very adjustable and only has a soft, floppy peak. The Gore-Tex Active Shell fabric feels great and does a great job of keeping water out, and also offers impressive levels of breathability, despite some quite stiff ascents in testing. The handwarmer pockets double as vents – handy if you run hot – and are a good size, but the Napoleon is a bit small for a map.

 

Sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: Gore-Tex Active Shell
Weight: 330g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk

 

* Review from Country Walking magazine, May 2013.


Outdoor Research Transonic (2013)

The Outdoor Research Transonic has a unique set of features that you’ll love or hate. It uses Gore-Tex Active, so it’s top of the league on breathability but not the most durable. It’s the design, however, that will divide opinion. It’s 2-3cm longer than some jackets sent in for our test, but the front zip is oddly set just off-centre, presumably to allow a little more space for the single Napoleon chest pocket, which is placed very high on the chest with an angled zip. Surprisingly this actually works okay, as you can get a map in and out of it while wearing a rucksack, although a conventional chest pocket is probably slightly easier to use, but less aesthetically pleasing. The cuffs don’t get any Velcro tab adjusters; they’re just part-elasticated, so you can’t open them for extra venting or close them to lock out draughts: they either fit or they don’t. The hood is a gem of design, though, with a great wired peak and good adjustment from the single rear drawcord, to allow it to fit and move with the head effortlessly. The Outdoor Research Transonic is odd but for some people that oddness may make it ideal.

Fabric Gore-Tex Active
Lining none
Men’s sizes S-L
Women’s sizes none
External pockets 1
Stowable hood no
Side/pit zips no
Weight 310g (size L)
Website www.outdoorresearch.co.uk

 

Verdict

You’ll either love or hate the Outdoor Research Transonic’s quirky chest pocket, offset front zip and non-adjustable cuffs, but the fabric and hood are great while the weight and price are very competitive.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine July 2013


Outdoor Research Paladin (2012)

A relatively lightweight jacket made from durable and waterproof 3-layer fabric. The fit just about covers the hips and there’s plenty of length and articulation in the arms. It’s got a wonderfully deep, fully adjustable hood that really clamps down over the head and swivels with head movement, although the peak is floppy. The chin guard could do with a softer covering, too. The fabric breathes well and there are deep pit-zips and mesh-lined pockets. An internal storm flap and waterproof zips stop water seeping in, and the large handwarmer pockets are easy to access when wearing a pack.

Sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: Pertex Shield
Weight: 380g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk


Outdoor Research Foray (2012)

The Foray is one of the coolest-looking models tested, with pit-zips that run all the way down to the hem – something you don’t often see on lightweight jackets. But weight is kept to a respectable 420g thanks to the extremely light fabric. The hood is good – drawcord adjustment all round and a high chin guard – but the peak’s a bit floppy to be effective in wind-driven rain. The storm flap’s also a bit lightweight for a torrent, with just two small Velcro tabs at the collar and hem. The jacket has sizeable, well-positioned, mesh-backed hip pockets, which double as vents, and a small Napoleon; as well as a zip-fastening inner that doubles as a stuff sack. It feels slightly baggy in the sleeves.

Sizes: S-XL
Fabric: Gore-Tex Paclite
Weight: 420g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk

 

Review from Country Walking magazine, May 2012


Outdoor Research Furio

A hard-wearing shell-style jacket. In use it is as solid as they come, with all the usual tough bits and bobs. The most distinct feature of the jacket has to be OR’s full embracing of side venting. Instead of a couple of underarm zips, this jacket has huge zips that run from the hem through to the underarm. The result allows for great venting, if a little excessive for most conditions. Two chest pockets also double-up as vents in the unlikely event that it ever gets that warm. The hood is well-fitting and manages to keep out a good amount of blustery rain when properly adjusted. Getting the right fit can be a little more time-consuming than it should, with cinch cords that require the use of both hands.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: S-XXL
Materials: Three-layer Gore-Tex
Weight: 357g
Pockets: 5
Women’s version: No
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk


Outdoor Research Helium

At only 130g (women’s small), the Helium is an incredibly lightweight jacket. It’s waterproof, but as always it’s a compromise and you’ll pay for not carrying much weight with limited breathability and a minimal storm flap. But it does what it’s designed to do, lying unnoticed at the bottom of your pack ’til you need it. With a bit of effort, the ultra-compressible fabric even stuffs into an inside hem pocket, packing down to the size of an apple. The hood is slightly on the small side, and you wouldn’t want to work up a sweat in it, but it will keep you dry in an unexpected shower. There are minimal features, and only one pocket, placed on the chest, but it does come with single-pull hood adjustment and water-resistant zips.

VITAL STATS
Sizes:
XS-L
Fabric: Ultralight, waterproof/breathable 2.5 layer 20D
Weight: 130g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk
• Review from Country Walking magazine, May ’11


Outdoor Research Transcendence Hoody

A down jacket with a hood, and it’s insulated too, which really adds critical extra warmth when needed. There’s a decent amount of cinch adjustment on the inside of the collar as well as at the back of the hood itself to help achieve a good fit and seal out the wind. Elasticated cuffs also assist with the seal, but strangely, there’s no cinch adjustment around the hem, and so the wind can billow in from underneath. Down-leakage wasn’t too bad, although lofting did noticeably drop from around the forearms after some prolonged use and stuffing/unstuffing into a rucksack. Inside there are a couple of mesh stash-style pockets suitable for holding gloves, although the lack of a zip means you wouldn’t really want to tuck away anything too valuable.

Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: Ultralight 20D recycled polyester
Insulation: 650+ fill down
Weight: 437g
Women’s version available: Yes
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk


Outdoor Research Foray

A very light jacket using Gore-Tex PacLite to keep its bulk down. But it can be a little bit sweaty after a time. Having said that, the Foray does win the award for the biggest underarm vents –they are huge, stretching from armpit to hem, with two-way zips that almost turn the jacket into a poncho! All of the external pockets have weatherproofed zips, and there is an internal security pocket too.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: Gore-Tex PacLite Shell
Weight: 472g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 0191 296 212; www.mountainboot.co.uk 


Outdoor Research Mentor 2010

The Outdoor Research Mentor weighs 486g (size L); Gore-Tex Pro Shell; two big chest pockets plus a third smaller chest pocket; pit zips extend to hem for incredible venting; good hood fit and movement. But waterproof pockets may be a better choice than these mesh-lined ones; front zip has internal rather than external baffles; long side zip has no stormflap so may leak; a stiffer hood peak would be better.

The Outdoor Research Mentor is a good mountaineering jacket, but others have benefits for wet British weather.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Outdoor Research Helium 2010

The Outdoor Research Helium weighs 160g (women’s M); Pertex Shield 2.5-layer fabric is very breathable and very waterproof; stuffpocket at hem; single Napoleon chest pocket; full-length zip; simple fixed hood. But no large pockets; very basic hood; main zip has no internal or external stormflap; fabric performance may not be as good as higher-priced options.

The Outdoor Research Helium is very light, but has very few features; however if low weight is your top priority it’s a good choice.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Outdoor Research Foray 2010

The Outdoor Research Foray general-purpose jacket weighs 432g (size L); Gore-Tex Paclite is extremely waterproof and breathable; front zip gets external stormflap; pit zips; two large chest pockets that can be accessed with a rucksack hipbelt; small chest pocket; excellent hood fit and movement; hood can be rolled to collar. But Gore-Tex Paclite shows condensation particularly clearly; a wired hood peak would be even better.

The Outdoor Research Foray is a good general jacket if weight is your priority, but condensation could be a problem.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Outdoor Research Helium

The Helium definitely lives up to its name, nudging the scales at just over the 200g mark, but it sacrifices comfort and performance to get there and is therefore best-suited for emergency use only, or for real minimalists. The hood does a reasonable job and a drawcord at the hem means it can be opened up to provide a bit of ventilation if the going gets hot. But it has limited pockets – a single Napoleon on the chest – and the cuffs are elastic so don’t adjust.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: S-XL
Hood: Fixed
Weight: 205g
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 0191 296 0212; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk