Gear Review: Outdoor Research Helium HD Jacket

When it's raining hard and you are stuck in the elements, make sure to have a Helium HD jacket handy

When it's raining hard and you are stuck in the elements, make sure to have a Helium HD jacket handy

Our go-to rain jacket is the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket (read our review of it) due to its small packable size, minuscule weight and breathability. It is a mainstay in our daypack, but there is one thing that I wished it had, right from when we bought the original Helium 1 jacket... pit zips. So when I heard that Outdoor Research was expanding the Helium jacket collection, I couldn't wait to give it a try.

I think I appreciated the venting on grueling portages the most

I think I appreciated the venting on grueling portages the most

The waterproof jacket itself is made from fully seam taped 100% nylon 30D ripstop fabric with Pertex Shield+, which itself is very breathable, but on humid days the ability to dump extra heat is invaluable. The extra long zipper under each arm adds a little more weight to the jacket (257 g) vs. the Helium II (180 g), and each zipper has two pulls allowing you to adjust venting accordingly. Here I am mentioning the extra weight as if it was a burden (although OR sure worked diligently to trim the Helium II to be featherlight), but when you pick up the Helium HD you will marvel at its lightness.

The addition of the hook & loop strips on the cuffs instead of elastic is welcomed

The addition of the hook & loop strips on the cuffs instead of elastic is welcomed

Resilient from mist & spray, to heavy downpours

Resilient from mist & spray, to heavy downpours

There have been times in blowing wind and rain that I wanted to tuck my hands out of the elements, but couldn't with the Helium II jacket as it has no hand pockets. Thankfully, this request has been answered on the Helium HD jacket and the pockets are quite deep so that no devices or maps risk falling out. Both hand pockets also have mesh innards to aid in the breathability of the jacket. The hood now has a wire brim to allow better adjustability, plus a drawcord to cinch the hood a little closer to keep out the elements. Even in colder weather, the jacket fits loose enough to accommodate layering underneath without restricting your range of motion from paddling to portaging. Even while wearing a bulky backpack, the jacket was tough enough to not feel like it was going to tear, while still packing up to a tiny size within its own zippered Napoleon pocket.

If you are looking for the ultimate in portability, I still recommend the Helium II jacket, but if you want a few more of the versatile features of larger jackets while still remaining packable, the Helium HD jacket is for you.

The Helium HD jacket is available for both Men and Women. Stay connected with Outdoor Research by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

The 2014 Frontenac Challenge Starts Today

Every year, Frontenac Provincial Park (located just North of Kingston, Ontario) challenges you to hike all 11 loops from September 1st to October 31st. The Frontenac Challenge was created by Park Superintendent Lloyd Chapman in 1993 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Provincial Park System. If you can complete the 160KM challenge by Halloween, then you will be presented with a certificate of accomplishment at the Frontenac Challenge celebratory BBQ in November. Good luck to all the hikers and I hope to see you on the trails!

Tweet of the Week: Trails Manitoba

Trails Manitoba shared a few photos from the Grand Opening of the South Shore Trail, connecting Manitoba and Ontario.

Trail Swag #ExploreOutdoors Fall 2014 Photo Contest

After our reviews for the Fjällräven Keb JacketKeb Trousers and the Greenland Wax, we thought it would be fitting to hold a photo contest where the prize is a Fjällräven Rucksack No.21 Medium. This awesome knapsack is made from the same G-1000 as the gear in our Fjällräven reviews.

As always, the goal of our contests is to get you out exploring, so...

  1. Snap a photo of yourself in the outdoors or a scenic photo of the outdoors
  2. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram and tag it #ExploreOutdoors to enter
  3. Contest is only open to Canadians, and the photo must be date stamped starting today (August 28th, 2014). Sorry, no archival photos, the goal is to get you outside :-)
  4. Contest closes September 30th, where we will draw a name out of our camping hat at random as the winner

The Entries so far...

2014 Cape Breton Paddlefest is September 5th to 7th

The fourth annual Cape Breton Paddlefest is September 5th to 7th in St. Peter's. The festival includes social paddles, introductory courses on Sea Kayaking Skills, Kayak Maneuvering and Rolling, Stand-Up Paddleboarding and more Registration is $95 and includes Friday welcome social, t-shirt, bagged lunch, Saturday buffet supper and instructional sessions. The deadline to register is this Sunday, August 31st.

Stay up to date with the event by following them on Facebook.