Gear Reviews

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

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Name: Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Specs:

  • Weight: 5.4 oz (M)

  • Pockets: 1 back pocket

  • Waist: Drawstring

  • Packable: Yes, into back pocket

  • Lined: No

  • Boot Hook: Has internal loops for instep lace

  • Fabric: Pertex Shield+ Ripstop Nylon 30D

  • Construction: 2.5 L waterproof breathable laminate, fully seam taped

  • Zippers: Ankle height YKK AquaGuard - highly water resistant

  • MSRP: $119

What I Like:

  • Weight: Just like their jacket counterpart, these rain pants are amazingly light while still having some features, like a back pocket and ankle zippers. It’s hard to pass on bringing these if there’s even a slight chance of rain.

  • Packable: These pants pack into their back pocket, barely taking up any space in a pack.

  • Drawstring Waist: This doesn’t have the most comfortable waist since there are gooey lines, but if you tuck your shirt in, it helps. The really nice thing is that the drawstring actually works and pants stay up when you tighten it down, and the gooey band sticks to your skin/ clothes to prevent falling down.

  • Price: These are in the same price range for many other rain pants you can find at REI, and are the lightest of the bunch.

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What I Don’t Like:

  • Durability: My pants split right on the seam on the lower inner leg/ ankle area, which is disappointing. I was wearing them for a few hours a day for about 2 weeks on the PCT, so I guess that could be overdoing it for UL rain pants, but I still feel like they should have lasted longer. At least 2 other PCTers had this same thing happen to their Heliums too.

  • Zippers: The ankle zippers are a little sticky and difficult to unzip/ re-zip, in my experience.

  • No Short Inseam: These rain pants are not made with a short inseam, which kind of sucks for short people like me. My pants dragged a bit on the ground when hiking in them, and since there is no way to cinch the pants, I just have to let them drag.

  • No Hand Pockets: So, these do have a small back pocket, but it’s not large enough to hold a phone with it zipped up. For UL rain pants, no hand pockets isn’t really a deal-breaker for me, but worth mentioning.

In all, these are moderately-priced, very lightweight rain pants. The durability is an issue, and these really aren’t intended to be worn for all-day rain. Would I buy them again? I’m not sure. If I have to worry about durability anyways, I may as well try some lighter waterproof pants (like Montbell’s Versalite) to cut more weight. And if I’m going to be in the rain or snow all day, I’d go for something more durable with extra features (like hand pockets).