Materials: Helly Tech Performance 2.5 layer, double weave softshell
Features: Waterproof, windproof, breathable. Underarm and mid-back venting, adjustable low-profile hood, seam taped, water resistant zipper.Buy Here
Rain shells have come a long way. Back in the day they were about as breathable as a plastic bag, which meant doing anything other than sitting still resulted in immediate sweat-box type misery. These days fabrics are designed with breathability as their focus—though to be fair, sometimes they still feel like a plastic bag when moisture can’t find its way out. Like a two-legged stool, those old shells can’t stand on their own and I’d opt out of rainwear altogether more often than not.
Helly Hansen’s Vanir Heta (and men’s Vanir Logr Jacket) holds the key to the complete rain shell trifecta (waterproof, windproof, and breathable), thanks to smart use of the right fabric in the right places. Helly Tech Performance fabric (with a polyurethane laminate for waterproofing) takes the brunt of the weather on the hood, front body, top sleeves, and shoulders, keeping moisture at bay. DWR coated double weave softshell panels fill in the holes and—always a bonus—are stretchy. A little extra stretch never hurt anyone, especially when you’re tied down by a heavy pack for more miles than you care for, which the Vanir accommodates well (but not perfectly). A slightly longer cut made for a good fit under the hip belts, but pocket access was cut off by the thick belt’s straps.
Breathability is arguably the Vanir’s best feature. Softshell panels and built-in, always-open vents at the underarms and mid-back keep air flowing when things get sweaty, a welcome addition to ski packs in locales where there’s a fine line between winter and spring, or for moisture-laden off-season adventuring. Keep an eye out for the Vanir at retailers this March, and say goodbye to plastic bags.
Skiing Hot: Two big inner stash pockets offer safety from the storm for other goodies, like fancy phones.
Skiing Not: The Vanir is not made for winter temps or anything that remotely resembles winter temps. Brrr.
PHOTO: Crystal Sagan