Outdoor Research Helium Pants Review

The Outdoor Research Helium rain pants are exceptionally lightweight and provide good protection from wind and rain. They pack down very well into a small pocket that can be clipped onto a harness or rucksack.

Outdoor Research Women's Helium Rain Pants – Breathable & Weatherproof Pants Black
  • Very lightweight
  • Packs down into a small pocket

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

These are perfect if you are looking for rain pants that are small and light enough to carry with you on a hike or cycle. They give very good protection from the wind, and they will keep you dry in typical rainy conditions. To keep it lightweight, Outdoor Research has used 2.5-layer fabric. This material has above-average breathability. The downside is that the Helium rain pants aren’t brilliant at keeping you dry in heavy downpours. We have chosen the Outdoor Research Helium pants as the best lightweight rain pants for women.

Compare to Similar Products: 

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
Marmot Minimalist Pant
Outdoor Research Helium Pant
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant
Mamot PreCip Eco Pant Full Zip
The North Face Men's Antora Hiking Pants
Rab Downpour Eco Pant
Columbia Rebel Roamer
Showers Pass Transit
Mountain Hardwear Women's Stretch Ozonic Pant, Black, Small
MARMOT Men's Minimalist Pant, Black, Medium
Outdoor Research Women's Helium Rain Pants – Breathable & Weatherproof Pants Black
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Men's | Versatile Gore-Tex Pro Pant for All Round Use | Black, Large
MARMOT Women's PreCip Eco Full Zip Pant | Lightweight, Waterproof Pants for Women, Ideal for Hiking, Jogging, and Camping, 75% Recycled, Black, Medium
THE NORTH FACE Antora Mens Rain Pants Vanadis Grey Sz M
RAB Men's Downpour Eco Pants Waterproof Breathable Rain Pants for Hiking & Trekking - Black - Medium
Columbia Men's Rebel Roamer Pant, Waterproof & Breathable Black
Showers Pass Men's Transit Pants - Waterproof & Breathable Rain Gear - Ultralight & Packable for Outdoor Activities - Previous Year - Black Color - XX-Large
Buying Options
Our Award
Women's Performance
Women's Best Lightweight
Men's Performance
Women's Best Rain Pant for Hiking
Men's Best Value
Men's Best Cycling
Waterproof Fabric
2.5L Dry.Q Stretch Ripstop
2.5L Gore-Tex with PacLite Technology
2.5L Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse
Gore-Tex Pro
Nono Pro Eco
2L DryVent Seam Sealed
Pertex Shield Membrane
Omni-Tech Waterproof/Breathable
Face Fabric
100% Recycled Polyester
100% Polyester
30D 100& Nylon Ripstop
N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro
100% Recycled Nylon Ripstop
100% Recycled Nylon Ripstop with DWR Finish
Artex 3-Layer
70D 100% Nylon
Artex 3-Layer
Price not available
Price not available

Analysis and Test Results

Outdoor Research has done a fantastic job of making a pair of lightweight hiking pants that provide a great windproof top layer for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. Whilst they are not up to keeping you dry in heavy, sustained rain, they are waterproof in normal conditions. The Helium rain pants are comprised of Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer fabric with a DWR coating. This material is thin but tough and is very breathable. These pants can easily be stuffed into the back pocket. This creates a neat package that can be zipped close.

The elasticated waist has a drawcord that can be securely cinched, so you don’t have to worry about them falling down. The cuffs are elasticated, and there are ¼ length ankle zips to make it easier to pull them on over boots. These pants have a good range of mobility and are comfortable to wear. While there is plenty of room to fit layers underneath, the legs are cut narrower than is typical. This, combined with the ¼ length zips, means that men can struggle to get these on and off, especially if they have big feet. However, the cut seems to suit women.

Performance Comparison

Water Resistance

These pants are made from Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer fabric, which has a waterproof rating of 20,000 mm. This material is an upgrade from the standard Pertex Shield and is more durable. As the name suggests, it uses diamond-shaped filaments that lock together and are then woven to make a highly abrasion-resistant fabric with a flat surface that repels water.

There is also a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, and all the seams are taped. The rear pocket and the ankle zippers are all protected by flaps. The zips are waterproof YKK Aquaguard® Zippers.


The breathability of the Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer fabric is impressive, with a rating of  20,000 g/m2/24 hrs. However, there are no vents or extra zips to provide extra ventilation.

Comfort and Mobility

The material’s thinness and flexibility helps give these pants an excellent range of movement. The knees are not articulated, but the crotch is gusseted. The waist is elasticated with gripper tape and a drawcord so it feels secure. The 2.5-layer fabric has a print on the inside of the membrane but no lining, so it can feel a bit clammy against your skin. However, you are unlikely to wear these pants by themselves but as a top layer over a base layer, so this isn’t an issue.


The primary material used to make these pants is Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer. The face fabric is 100% 30 denier, ripstop nylon bonded to a membrane with a protective print on the inside. The zips are high-quality YKK AquaGuard zippers.


One of the benefits of the Diamond Fuse technology is that it is much more durable and abrasion-resistant. Outdoor Research states that this version of the Helium pants is five times more tear-resistant than the previous model. However, they are still thin and lightweight, so they would not cope well with activities such as bushwhacking.

These pants come with Outdoor Research’s Infinite Guarantee. They are guaranteed to perform throughout the lifetime of the product. If there is a problem, they offer direct or comparable replacements from their current stock.

Weight and Packability

The chief appeal of these rain pants is their lightness and packability. They are designed to be stuffed into the pocket, which then zips closed to make a tidy, compact package. These are among the lightest waterproof pants available. The Outdoor Research Helium Pants weigh:


5.3 oz / 150 g


5.4 oz / 153 g


These pants come with a pocket. This pocket is at the back on the right. It is protected by a storm flap and has a two-way zipper. Inside the pocket is a loop that can be used to secure your keys, or when the pants are stuffed into the pocket, it can be used with a carbineer to attach it to a backpack or harness. However, because this pocket is at the back, it is not as easily accessible as side pockets.

Other handy features are the elasticated cuffs that have gripper tape and lace loops to secure them. The ¼ length ankle zips are protected with storm flaps and have waterproof YKK AquaGuard zippers. The elasticated waist has a drawcord and gripper tape, and it is possible to attach suspenders. The logo on the right leg is reflective to increase your visibility in low light or in the dark.


Outdoor Research says they are committed to “working for the betterment of the environment, creating access for all, investing in product sustainability, reducing waste, and collaborating for good”. These waterproof pants use Bluesign-approved materials. Outdoor Research is also a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Climate Action Corps.


If you are looking for a lightweight, easily packable pair of rain pants to carry with you in case it rains, the Outdoor Research Helium Pants are an excellent choice. They offer great protection from wind and rain while still being very breathable.

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