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Damn it! I just ordered the outdoor research helium. Should I have got this instead?
It is the same membrane as the Helium II with a DWR that wears out and with zero air permeability .
OR Helium Jacket is the right choice
The two jackets are very simular. I like my Helium II and its serving me very well. That said, I have 3 different jackets from Rab and they are all superb.
Why do you say it has zero air permeability? All DWRs wear out, that's why they are called DWRs (Durable Water Resistance isn't Forever Impenetrable Water Resistance). What jacket would you recommend as an alternative?
Extensive research in this area is encouraged https://info.burton.com/hc/en-us/articles/115006230288-Technical-Outerwear-Specifics-How-We-Measure-and-Types-of-DWR-and-Membranes but to keep it simple, there are silicone encapsulated jackets like Epic by Nextec where the silicone is embedded on fibers so does not wear out like a traditional DWR. I have not chased this Epic specifically but the little I did, led me to military grade jackets. As I recall, the long chain C8 went by the wayside a couple of years ago due to Ozone depletion issues and now the short chain C6 is common place. If you are ok with the micro-climate (moisture build up) requirements before moisture management occurs, then any light weight jacket with a high MVTR rating would suffice although you may want to still consider pit zips or some added venting features at the expense of more weight. Where you go with this will depend on your strategy for the trip location and time of year and for how long the trip is. The longer the trip, the more diverse the weather can be. There is a strategy that hikes with around a 35 CFM air permeable wind shell that does not care if the DWR fails because, when it rains, they have rain gear that will minimize the probability of hypothermia. Most DWR's will fail after an hour of intense rain. Once that happens, you are using the rain jacket to prevent hypothermia as you will begin thinking your jacket has fail because you are soaking wet from sweat. This is due the failed DWR and water that was beading up, has now plugged the pores of your membrane. Technology wise, rain shells are not quite there yet with the DWR being the weak link. If you are ok with membranes like Pertex Shield Plus, that do not have any direct venting built into the membrane, then you might consider Outdry Extreme where the membrane is the DWR and it should it last longer (although it is relatively new). The longer you wait on the jacket, the more likely technology will come up with a better solution. Outdry is on the right track but it still lacks the air-permeability so if you go this route, get pit zips and or chest vents to maximize venting. You are wise to not expect any rain shell to keep up with high exertion activities. What you choose, will depend on where you are and the activity level. Happy Trails.
Great, informative, compelling response - thank you! And, to you I say, Happy Trails!
Is it? I thought the Helium 2 was 2.5 layer and this is a 3 layer membrane. Plus to my eyes, this looks less crinkly then the Helium. Anyways, might not be worth the extra 60 dollars because as you say, air permeability and wetting out will always be issues with these jackets.
If you need lighter weight, and you need a jacket now, go with a 2.5 layer. If you are more interested in longer term durability before washing and raising the DWR with heat or retreating, go with a 3 layer. Technology is progressing well in this area as funds support the R&D. My sense is that it won't be long before someone comes up with a better solution than many DWR's. Rab is well known for quality and support and who know's maybe they have improved DWR. It is always a gamble when you can not return an item due to a failed component of the garment.