Hailed by trail runners, adventure racers and general outdoor enthusiasts as one of their favourite pieces of clothing. CAPESTORM have just last month updated this fantastic little jacket. So why go out and buy one? Before I go on and on about how fantastic this little jacket is I should explain exactly what it is and is not. The Helium is a lightweight WINDPROOF (and water repellent) jacket. It is designed to be worn when it is windy or moderately damp. It will not keep you dry in rain and it is not intended to keep you warm.
What does it do? CAPESTORM’s proprietary Vo2 Max Breathable fabric is windproof and yet highly breathable (it will let your perspiration out). Easy way to test the windproofness is to hold it up to your mouth and see if you can blow through it. Thought so! Do the same to a normal T shirt to see the difference. The fabric sheds water very well. Due to its DWR (durable water repellence) This treatment to the fabric will wear off after a while (as a result of normal abrasion, natural oils in your skin and perspiration and washing in normal detergent). As such you will need to retreat the jacket with a DWR like Nikwax. But more of that coming soon.
What have CAPESTORM changed from the previous design?
1) The colours! The lime is by far the best colour and almost makes sweaty, dirty runner types look attractive when coming home from battle.
2) The zip stow pocket. It is now no longer positioned at the centre back. Just in the right spot to chafe and irritate you when wearing a pack.
3) The sleeves are slightly longer on the new model- Yay for long armed guys like Gordon and me and great for others who want to shield their hands from the early morning chill.
4) The fabric is new. As a result I cannot really comment on the longevity of it but it seems to breathe equally well so that is good.
1) It almost looks sexy! The previous version somehow looked like a glorified plastic bag.
2) It works! (if you keep treating it with a DWR) Every major brand has their own version of the Helium which should be testament to how well these puppies work. If you do not own one of these then get one.
3) It folds up into the palm of your hand.
4) I like the bright lime (sorry Chartreuse) colour.
What do I not like?
1) The first thing that I have done with all my Heliums in the past is cut the drawstring at the waist. I hate the little dangly elastic hanging down by my hip ready to catch on my thumb as I am sprinting down the home straight or a stray piece of fynbos on a lonely single track. Draw the elastic to sit just snug on your hips and tie two knots and cut the toggle and excess elastic cord off. There must be a better solution to this from the designers!
2) You have to re apply the DWR on these type of garments fairly regularly so that they work properly. Becomes a pain in the bum.
All things considered I think this is one of those iconic items that every runner or lightweight outdoor enthusiast should own. This is my third Helium Jacket. Would I recommend the upgrade to somebody who has an older model? Hmm
Previous models had the stow pocket in the middle of the back. The only real advantage of the new model is the positioning of the stow pocket. If this does not bug you and you never intend to wear a pack then you may be able to pick up an old model at the discount store in Wynberg for a good price.