EMS Helix Jacket: First Impression

image from: http://www.ems.com

Pros: value, technical features, fit

Cons: thin fabric, no product reviews, unproven track record

I just bought a Helix jacket from Eastern Mountain Sports to serve as a lightweight shell for winter backpacking and skiing. Although I have not yet worn it outside the house I would like to share my first impressions on this gear.

EMS markets this jacket as their “technical backcountry shell” with 3 layer construction, 20k water proofing, waterproof zippers and two Napoleon style pockets designed to be accessible with a harness on. The Helix weighs in at just over 1 lb which is 2lbs lighter than my other shell! It normally retails for about $249 but is currently on sale for $199. You can get a Helix in greenish yellow, black or red. EMS.com has no product reviews for this gear, which seems odd, so I recommend checking it out in the store before buying.

This jacket looks like a minimalist mountaineering parka that belongs in the backcountry. It has plenty of features such as a helmet compatible hood, 2 exterior pockets, 2 interior pockets and a breathable fabric. However, it does not have any non essential features such as hand warmer pockets, a snow skirt or other sleeve pockets. This jacket has an athletic fit so I had to go up one size from what I usually wear; to allow enough room for insulating layers. Of course this jacket is not perfect. The fabric feels tough but looks a little thin. I look forward to seeing if this holds up in the backcountry. Also, the lack of product reviews also makes me wonder if this is selling poorly if it is just too new for a lot of feedback.

The Helix jacket appears to be exactly what I was looking for; a lightweight backcountry shell that gives me a few options when packing for my next trip. I can’t wait to provide a more in depth review once I use this jacket for its intended purpose. Please note EMS has given me no incentive to review this gear.

image from: http://www.ems.com

2 thoughts on “EMS Helix Jacket: First Impression

  1. Anonymous

    I've just recently picked one up from EMS on a recent clearance sale and have worn it in the cold and rain (Canada, November). It's so far meeting my needs for waterproofness and breathability. It's a snug fit but easily handles a midweight fleece. Some nice additional points, the hood when zipped up holds its shape and the waist length is reasonable. It compares really well to a Marmot 3 layer jacket I nearly bought in 2007.

  2. Grant

    I am glad you like the Helix. The hood has impressed me as well. Now that I have used it for awhile this shell has amazed me as a mountaineering or skiing shell. I have never used it in rain so it is good to hear it can withstand that as well!

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