Why We Chose the Outdoor Research Helium Bivy: Head room, breathability/ventilation, durability.
Not resting on their laurels, Seattle-based Outdoor Research have given their award-winning Helium Bivy an update for 2022, fusing its already successful design with even more lightweight and durable materials. The brand take a function-forward approach to creating products that enable people to access adventures with great protection from adverse conditions and the Helium Bivy is certainly cut from the cloth of this ethos. A comfortable and durable bag that keeps the elements (excuse the pun) at bay, the Helium is a strong choice for campers who want to get back to basics.
Who Is The Outdoor Research Helium Bivy For?
Unsurprisingly, the Helium is so-called because of its featherweight qualities. It’s Outdoor Research’s lightest bivvy bag, a product designed for fast and light missions in the great outdoors. It’s pricier than entry-level bags, making it a product for serious minimalists who value the investment in a durable and high performing bivvy. Long-distance backpackers and those simply wanting to get closer to nature during their camping trips will benefit from the Helium’s features.
Materials and Construction
The 2022 model is 14% lighter than the last generation of Helium bags, though there has been no compromise in terms of the quality of its materials.
It’s made from Pertex’s impressive Diamond Fuse fabric, a 2.5-layer ripstop nylon with specially shaped yarns that are intricately woven together to create a robust, abrasion resistant and highly durable fabric.
While the filaments in normal yarns sit together like logs on a log pile, the diamond shape of Diamond Fuse yarns ensures they’re able to lock together, kind of like bricks, with no spaces between them. This in turn creates a durable and highly abrasion resistant fabric and a product that should live a long life.
You can actually find a bunch of garments that are made using the same technology, including the Helium Wind Hoodie, which we featured in our Outdoor 100 product guide last year.
This structure is resistant to continued use, making the Helium a bivvy that should last for countless nights under the stars – and a few when it clouds over undoubtedly too.
Fully taped seams and solid waterproof credentials are in place to stop a sudden shower ruining your night. Meanwhile, our testers found that the bag is also very breathable, even when the bivvy is completely sealed up. OK, you will still see some moisture build up on the inside, as is always going to be the case with a bivy bag – especially when used in the UK – but we’d say you’re not going to find many more breathable options than this.
The Helium Bivy is certainly a distinctive product due to the high, clam-shaped opening at its head, which utilises a single arcing pole to create a high (for a bivvy bag) ceiling. This makes for easy entry and exit and gives the user plenty of head space – after all, no one wants a claustrophobic bivvying experience.
With the head end pegged back (no pegs are provided by the way), there’s plenty of room to hold a guidebook, novel or tablet above your head for a midnight read.
Midges and mosquitos are thwarted by a No-See-Um mesh layer, which can be zipped across the front to allow you to gaze out from your backcountry bed, while providing protection against being eaten in the night. The bivvy can be secured using two stake loops and a guy line loop, which is reassuring should you encounter gusty conditions. When packed down, the Helium stows into a designated stuff sack for easy transportation on the hill. It’s about the