Lightweight down jackets are of course great, we all love them, but don’t they always just feel a little on the flimsy side? Like they’d split open at the first branch and start spewing feathers everywhere. It’s not ideal really, especially considering how much a good down jacket tends to cost, but it seems that tradeoff between weight and durability has been a hard thing for brands to overcome.
Good news though. Outdoor Research’s experienced team of product designers, led by former free ski competitor Charlie Berg, claim to have come up with a solution to the problem. Their new Helium Down Hoodie boasts a specially-developed abrasion resistant shell that comes in at the impressively light weight of just 436g.
“We wanted to build a premium lightweight down jacket; one with 800 fill power down, very lightweight fabric and lightweight overall build,” Charlie explains to us over the phone, “but we also wanted to build that sort of jacket in a tough, durable way compared to most down jackets, and the way that we did that was primarily through fabric.”
This fabric is OR’s new Diamond Fuse Technology, named in reference to its diamond shaped microscopic filaments. “These yarns can kind of lock together in a way that round filament yarns cannot,” says Charlie. “So you can imagine this being like bricks locking together as opposed to round logs in a pile. It forms a more stable structure without gaps and the result is something that’s abrasion resistant, very snag resistant, very tear resistant and all without being heavier. It’s also downproof – that’s another advantage this has over most lightweight down jackets.”
We haven’t even mentioned the shell material on the hood, shoulders and sleeves yet. This is a special variation of Diamond Fuse that OR developed with Pertex to bring 2.5 layer rain protection to the table. It’s the same waterproof technology used in their popular Helium hardshell.
“It’s for the people who live in cold climates and want to wear their down jacket all the time,” Charlie explains. “Whether it’s snowing a little or raining a little or if they want to walk around in their jacket and throw their skis upon their shoulder and not worry about it getting damaged. It’s essentially for the folks who are using their jacket in lots of different settings.”
On top of all that clever fabric technology, what you also get from the Helium Down Hoodie is smooth single pull adjustment at the hood which brings in both the peripheral walls and the opening at once, there’s adjustment at the waist, elasticated cuffs, deep handwarmer pockets (with the left one doubling as a stuff sack for the jacket) and a medium-sized pocket on the chest. “It’s got all the critical features but it’s not over built,” as Charlie puts it.
As well as the Hoodie, you can also get the Helium Down as a collared jacket or a vest and in men’s and women’s fits. All are available to buy in shops and online now.
Head to outdoorresearch.com to discover the full Helium Down collection.