Several people have asked us about our new (new this past spring) Helly Hansen foul weather gear, in person and on this blog, so here’s our review after testing it out this summer in Alaska and this fall on the West Coast.
Verdict: Excellent, highly recommended! I thought I would wear it only in rough conditions, but I’ve actually worn it much more than that because it’s so comfortable.
What I like:
- Lightweight! It’s not heavy, and it’s easy to move around in and do things like reefing, grinding winches, etc.
- Waterproof and windproof. This should be a no-brainer, but I’ve never had a jacket so waterproof that the spray and rain beads on it.
- Shell only. It’s not an insulated jacket, so it’s not bulky and I can choose how much I want to layer up underneath. So it’s versatile, though I admit I wore it more in the cold of Alaska than the milder conditions of California.
- Cut of the hood – I don’t lose my peripheral vision when it’s up.
- Just enough pockets. Not so many to be bulky, not so few as to be frustrating.
- Very visible: fluorescent yellow hood, reflective patches, and bright red color.
- Length in the back. Not too long to be annoying but long enough to keep my bum dry!
- Dry cuffs – inner and outer – both with velcro closures.
- Big, easy to use, waterproof zippers.
Best Feature: The very high collar. As soon as I zip it up and velcro the front flap over, the collar completely cuts the wind around my neck and the back of my head, which instantly makes me warmer. This feature alone makes me dig out this jacket even when the weather is fair but the wind is chilly. The hood rolls up nicely in it, too.
Qualms? Not really, but it is HH’s top of the line Women’s foul weather jacket, and the price reflects that.
Sizing: I usually wear an XS but got a Small so that I could wear base layers, a wool sweater, and a down jacket for high latitude night watches in the cockpit. It’s a little tight with all that on but when I’m only wearing a shirt underneath it’s not overly big either.
Verdict: Great, highly recommended. We both wear them all the time.
Best features: Lightweight, not bulky, very wind- and waterproof (again, water beads on them!), comfortable, good fit, easy to move around and work in. Plus, I love the drop-seat in the ladies’ version! 🙂
Qualms? I wish they had little pockets for your hands for when you’re not wearing a jacket.
Sizing: The women’s seems to run big – I got an XS and it’s perfect, even with two layers of long underwear underneath. The men’s runs normal – Seth has a medium and it fits him well.
Seth and I both have what are basically earlier versions of the “coastal” line, although, as we’ve proved, they’re great offshore jackets as well. We wear them all the time, ashore and afloat, and again we love that they’re lightweight, not bulky and yet have enough pockets for pretty much everything we need. They’re fully waterproof and windproof, but without the super high collar of the Aegir Ocean Race jacket, they don’t give quite the same protection. That’s not a problem for warmer weather sailing, though, and they’re definitely our go-to jackets in most conditions.
So that’s that. Hopefully this review has been helpful for those who are interested or are thinking of getting new foul weather gear, or even just rain gear.