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Endura Helium Waterproof Jacket
The Endura Helium jacket is now my all-time favorite jacket as of spring 2012 (see “On The Bike” further below), and I already own a variety of cycling jackets.
Quite simply, this is by far the best jacket I have every used for cycling. And it can be use for more than cycling.
Look for the Endura Helium jacket at Amazon.
The white color looks particularly nice, though I have concerns about road dirt over time.
The official description:
- Ultra compact 2.5-layer waterproof breathable fabric with stretch panels on hems and armholes
- Athletic fit
- Asymmetric front zipper
- Waterproof stretch chin guard
- Rear zipped security pocket
- Softshell hem and cuff panels for athletic fit without need for drawcords or adjustors
- Slimline inner storm flap with wrapover zip guard
- Reflective film strips on front/back neck and dots on cuff
Weight is only 240 grams (8.5 ounces) including the stuff sack. Wow!
On the bike
Weather in March 2012 was miserable for road-riding, with cold temperatures and soaking rains. A bit later than I should have, I obtained the Endura Helium jacket.
The Endura Helium stuffed easily into my jersey pocket, so carrying it was easy, and a no-brainer both in bulk and weight. These two factors mean I will carry it without every worrying about it— if in doubt I’ll take it.
Cold descent #1
In March, I rode for 90 minutes, ending up at the summit of my local ride Kings Mtn Road. Upon reaching the summit, I was soaked with sweat through all three layers (base layer + wool jersey + outer long-sleeve jersey), with the temperature hovering about 44° F.
The 1600-foot descent (484m) is one in which I usually feel uncomfortably chilled in such temperatures by 1/3 of the way down, even with my wool cap on my head, and a wind vest over those three layers.
But the Endura Helium really impressed me with its real-world comfort:
- Unlike all my other cycling jackets, the collar is high front and back, so I had absolutely no drafts around my neck, no stray air to cause heat loss or give me a stiff neck. As a result I could relax on the descent (I feel stiff and uncomfortable when my neck gets chilled).
- The back section is long enough and fit so well that I had no drafts around my lower back. This is the cut of the fabric, the generous length in back.
- There was no annoying wind-flap on the fabric— I never heard the jacket make noise. This is very different from many jackets, which have either a looser fit that flaps in the wind and/or a fabric that is just plain noisy.
- The fit was just perfect, snug, but not tight, which meant no air pockets flapping around to cause a loss of body heat.
- The sleeves terminate in a wrist area which snugs up just right— no drafts come in through the wrist.
- The jacket material itself is soft in feel and very comfortable.
NEVER have I descended in so much relative comfort with any other cycling jacket.
Cold descent #2
In early April, I went out under-clothed in temps that dipped to the high 30's. With the Endura Helium, my entire upper body was wonderfully sealed off from during the 2000 foot descent from Russian Ridge to Portola Valley (my local ride).
While my hands and knees ached from the cold, the areas covered by the Endura Helium never suffered. It was an stunning performance that preserved my core body heat better than any jacket that I have previously used. I can’t say it will fit everyone as well as it fits me, but it is rare that such a superb product comes along.
I am thrilled with the Endura Helium, especially since the Endura Helium costs 1/3 the price of some Italian-made high-end cycling jackets. At about $139, it’s a terrific value for what it delivers, and whether there is a superior jacket at any price seems doubtful. All my other jackets now seem so lame by comparison.
Other nifty features with the Endura Helium
Other touches that are super nice that I find useful:
- Though I will use it mostly as a wind shell, it is waterproof and seam-sealed, a huge bonus. Yet riding 20 minutes after my descent, the jacket seemed to breath really well, perhaps because of venting in the upper back area.
- There is a small rear pocket. This is useful for a small device, keys, cash, phone, whatever (keep a $20 bill handy in there). The pocket just makes the jacket handier, and adds no bulk. The pocket is quite small though, so it won’t carry much. I would have liked to see a front chest pocket also.
- The asymmetric front zipper and the wind flap are really functional and comfortable.
- The wrists and waist snug up just right— no binding, no annoying draw-cords, etc. Too many jackets have sloppy wrists. or waists. Not the Endura Helium.