Endura Helium Jacket
James Fifield, August 23, 2011
With the summer in full swing and the rollers and turbo tucked away in a closet, I’ve been venturing outside to brave the vicissitudes of the British weather this season. Fortunately I was lucky enough to have the Endura Helium jacket tucked away in my jersey pocket just in case. Having had the jacket for a few months it has more than fulfilled its brief: not only has it saved me from sudden downpours both in the UK and the Alps, it has also performed as a full-on waterproof jacket in its own right without the boil-in-a-bag sensation of other brands.
Endura describes the Helium as a lightweight waterproof jacket that comes into its own when caught out on longer rides. Just perfect for UK summer, and perhaps autumn and winter too.
The Helium is made from 2.5-layer waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric. This combines a water-repellent shell fabric with a waterproof barrier and a raised pattern on the inside, instead of the full-coverage interior scrim used in 3-layer fabrics. The raised pattern makes 2.5-layer fabric packages lighter and more compressible while still protecting the waterproof barrier.
The jacket itself comes with a useful stash sack that is great for stowing in drawers; however, it can be bundled tighter if simply stowed in the back pocket of a jersey and this was how I preferred to carry it with me.
All zips are fully taped to ensure waterproofness, including the large pocket in the rear flap. Cuffs are elasticated for a tight fight to make sure that there is no chance of spray or droplets finding their way under the waterproof outer.
A nice touch is the asymmetric zip on the front of the Helium, which, in addition to the flap at the top of the zip run, prevented any irritation or rubbing. The storm flap behind the zip also adds an extra barrier to keep out any moisture.
The breathability is a welcome feature, as the fabric manages to stop me getting too hot and bothered during exertion. A major help is the large vent across the tops of the shoulders, which was a godsend in changeable conditions over a recent trip to the French Alps.
There are some downsides to the overall package, though they are only revealed when pushing the Helium beyond its original design. Firstly, the single pocket makes it difficult to stow items in any semblance of organised fashion. This means it is probably best to team it with the better storage afforded by a jersey worn underneath if you don’t want to spill your tubes and phone when you go for a mid-ride energy bar. Secondly, this is definitely not a winter jacket: the 2.5-layer is waterproof and windproof, but it is not particularly warm. It is entirely possible to catch a chill waiting around despite wearing the Helium, and on longer descents there is a real risk of losing precious body heat. Admittedly this was only coming down the Tourmalet and Ventoux, both of which are over 15km, and was solved by taking a buff-type neck warmer.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Helium to anyone looking for a waterproof for summer and autumn outings in the UK: the breathability and compactness mean that it really is a fantastic jacket for summer rides, whilst the well-thought-out waterproofing allows it to serve in the colder months provided it is teamed with a suitable base layer and jersey.