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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Helly Hansen Lifa Loft Hybrid Insulator > Test Report by joe schaffer

 Helly Hansen LifaLoft Hybrid Insulator Jacket

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - August 30, 2018
FIELD REPORT - November 7, 2018
LONG TERM REPORT - January 8, 2019
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 70
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79 kg)
HEIGHT: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
WAIST: 34 in (86 cm)
BELLY BOB: 38 in (97 cm)
CHEST: 41 in (104 cm)
ARM LENGTH: 22 in (56 cm)
TORSO: 18 in (46 cm)
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Product: all teasLifaLoft Hybrid Insulator Jacket

        Weight: not listed
        Material: Polyamide and polyester
        Features: (from hang tag)
            •20% lighter and still warmer due to Lifa fibers
            •LifaLoft's insulation creates more air pockets, giving more warmth
            •Lifa fibers have better moisture transportation properties
            •Ideal for intense activity in variable conditions
            •Quick drying
            •Machine wash below 80 F (30 C); tumble dry; iron; no bleach; do not dry clean

       Color received: Olympian blue matte.
       Size received: L

My Specs:  Men's L back
        Weight: 11 5/8 oz (329 g)     
             Length, back, top of collar to cuff: 27 1/4 in (69 cm)
             Waist cuff circumference: 44 in (112 cm)
             Chest circumference: 43 in (109 cm)
             Collar height: 2 3/4 (back) to 3 in (front) (7-7.6 cm)
             Zipper: 26 in (66 cm); Weather Shield: 1 in W (2.5 cm)
             Outside pocket zips: 6 1/2 in (16.5 cm)
             Inside pockets: 11 H x 8 1/4-7 in W (28 x 21-18 cm)
             Side stretch panels: 17 H x 4-7 in W (43 x 10-18 cm)
             Chest logo: 7/8 x 1 1/4 in (2.2 x 3.2 cm)

MSRP: unknown

Received: 8/28/18

My Description:
   This jacket means to work by itself in milder temps or as an insulating layer in colder conditions. I interpret the company's claim of "intense activity jacket" to mean it should breathe well while the lightweight garment contains body heat. The key feature of the garment is the different types of material finishes between most of the torso and the sleeves.
    Most of the torso is shine-finished, quilted taffeta. The inside is lined with black, hard-finish taffeta. The sleeves/sides are soft-finish stretch material, relatively smooth outside and fuzzy inside. The sleeve cuff is finished with a smooth, black hem ring. The sleeves develop from the neck and proceed without a shoulder top-edge seam. The seam starts at the front side of the neck, follows down the shoulder and around the pit, then back up to the backside of the neck. The top of the shoulder, pit and full sleeve are all the same piece of stretch material. Side panels of stretch material go from the pit down to the waist cuff, starting four inches (10 cm) at the top and tapering out to seven inches (18 cm) at the bottom. A collar covers the neck. The waist cuff has a draw string.
    Two zip pockets are on the outside of the jacket, with zipper located in the seam between the two types of material. Two pockets inside the jacket start each side of the zipper, covering the area to the seam with the side panels. These two pockets are not secure. All four pockets are generous in size; the inside pockets will hold a large glove each.

    My first impression of the jacket was how closely it fits. Looking at all the size options on the company website, I thought a medium might possibly be the better choice. But I chose large as sometimes with so many size options a medium can be too small. The large fits with no extra room at all. The jacket is not a hard shell, so I don't expect to wear it over much more than a base layer; and I did want it trim enough to fit under a shell or heavy jacket. So for those objectives, it is a perfect fit. Sleeve length and circumference at the wrist are just right. Forearm circumference seems right, but after a couple hours of wearing the jacket my arms are getting itchy. The collar is perfect. I don't have to suck in my belly to zip shut. (Though perhaps the reason for that might be the stretchy nature of the side panels.)
    I've been wearing it in my 66 F (19 C) house and find it wonderfully comfortable in fit, but a bit too warm. I've had to unzip.
    Can't say I'm drawn to the appearance of either outer material, but the RFG (resident fashion guru) immediately remarked at how spiffy she thought it looked. I don't much care for the feel of the outside finish of stretch material as my usually camp-chapped fingers snag on this kind of finish. The fuzzy inside is OK. The torso outside feels good (to me, better than it looks) and I'm a huge fan of the hard-finish, smooth taffeta lining inside. I would not find this comfortable as a base layer as the hard-finish will stick to sweaty skin. I certainly like the idea of a wind-blocking front and back torso area, with more breathable arms and sides. This jacket one-ups a vest, I think, in that it offers the freedom of movement and torso coverage, but also gives attention to the arms.
    The huge pockets bring a question to mind for me regarding their efficacy. Perhaps because the jacket fits closely on me I can't get much in the pockets without making it too snug. I can easily stuff a National Geographic or United States Forest Service map in the inside pockets, and having one of those on me for a day hike is often not the worst idea.
    My second impression was how the jacket feels so warm when at the same time I can barely notice it on me. The low weight is nearly incredible, and with a feeling of completely unrestricted movement, about the only way I can tell it's on me is that my feet and legs are cold.

Field Conditions:cliffs
    1. Oct 5-12, 2018: Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, California. Eight days backpacking 15 mi (24 km) including 4 mi (6 km) cross-country. Camping at 8,340-9,960 ft (2,500-3,000 m); 29-65 F (-2-18 C). Half the days mostly sunny; rest of days partly or all cloudy with brief snow showers one day. Overnight freezing.
    2. Oct 20-25, 2018: Emigrant Wilderness, California. Six days backpacking 12 mi (20 km) including 3 mi (5 km) cross-country. Camping at 7,200 and 7,600 ft (2,200 & 2,300 m); 32-60 F (0-16 C). Sunny, no-to-light breeze. Overnight freezing three nights.
1. Oct 5-12, 2018: This trip was never 'warm' and I wore the jacket for 123 of the trip's 192 hours, including six miles (10 km) of trail and cross-country backpacking. I slept in it every night and twice wore it for 36 consecutive hours. I found the jacket to be incredibly comfortable over my polyester hiking shirt. I'm impressed with how well it breathes, as I could put it over a wet shirt and the shirt would still dry quickly. The jacket's sleeve material does not feel good on my forearms, but as long as I pulled the sleeves of my shirt down I felt no discomfort. A small point of note is that the jacket sleeves grip an underlying shirt, making the jacket rather difficult to peel off.
    The jacket feels incredibly light and adds no sensation of encumbrance. Most of the torso material is so slick as to stick to nothing worn over it; and even though it fits snugly it did not feel constraining. The jacket never felt smarmy yet provided a significant barrier to sharply cold breeze. I wasn't always warm enough with only the jacket as a second layer, but I was impressed with how well it performed at temps around freezing. Much of my relaxing time was spent around campfire, but there are always tasks taking a fellow away from that warmth. Around campfire I always wore a wool shirt over the jacket, and never did I need more than that to be comfortable even as my water bottle froze.
    The jacket tolerated a relatively minor amount of brush torture in a couple hours of cross-country hiking. I was reluctant to backpack in the jacket, wanting it dry for camp arrival, but one day was just too cold for my shirt alone. I wore the jacket hiking and it breathed well enough I did not get uncomfortably warm. At camp it dried quickly enough I did not take it off on arrival. Neither torso nor sleeve material suffered any pilling from the occasional trudges through brambles.

    2. Oct 20-25, 2018: Once again I logged multiple consecutive days of wearing the jacket. Hiking temps were high enough I didn't need to wear it backpacking, though I wore it pretty much continuously otherwise. I haven't noticed any kind of deterioration. Zipper works smoothly and cuffs have not stretched. So far I haven't spilled anything on it.
       I like the outside pockets for getting my hands warm. I haven't gotten used to the cord inside them and keep fiddling with it until I figure out nothing strange has found its way into my pockets.

Field Conditions:
   3. Nov 14-16, 2018. Lake Alpine, California. Car camping two nights. 7,400 ft (2,300 m). 32-60 F (0-16 C). Sunny, some evening gustiness.
    4. Dec 29-Jan 2. Dodge Ridge, California. Backpacking four nights; four mi (6 km) towing sled. 6,600-7,000 ft (2,000-2,100 m). 20-45 F (-7 to 7 C). Very hard snow; icy-slick start. Sunny days, clear nights, no wind.

    3. Nov 14-16, 2018: Much of the daytime was quite warm in sun, but cold in shade. The jacket was just right for shady occasions. One night I felt a little cold going to bed and I wore the jacket all night. Altogether I wore the jacket for 14 hours, with no hiking on this outing. Early evenings were rather breezy and the jacket was perfect for cutting wind.

    4. Dec 29-Jan 2. The afternoon was warm enough when I started towing the sled I needed nothing on top but a heavy base layer. By the time I got to camp and set up for the night I got cold so quickly I crawled into my sleeping bag and didn't come out. The next day was bright and sunny, too cold to sit around in my shirt and too warm for my heavy jacket. I slipped on the Helly and never took it off until the sled tow out the fifth day. I am thoroughly impressed with how light and breathable the jacket is, and how warm and comfortable it remains after extended wearing. The sleeves were not against my skin, so I had no itching or rash from the material. I kept the jacket on under my heavy coat even though it was at times overkill. I made a day trip down to the car for more firewood and kept the jacket on for that, too. The sun was warm, but shade was freezing. The sled was no work down; and a modest effort back up with a load of wood. The jacket was perfect: It stayed dry, kept me warm but not hot. One night was so cold even at the fire I wasn't quite comfy. I stuffed a bottle of hot water in the inside pocket. The pocket is so deep the bottle stayed put even as I thrashed around stabbing the iced-up snow with a shovel and reaching about for firewood. That hot pill felt pretty good and I kept it in the pocket for a couple hours until I refilled it for a bedtime foot warmer.
    Though it wouldn't then be the same kind of wrap, I can't help but feel from this last chilly outing that monkey-grip sleeves would definitely be welcome, as might a hood. I'm so impressed with the jacket overall that even though I don't like the sleeve material I still give the jacket a robust thumbs up.

Total wear: 318 hours / 9 mi (14 km)No signs of wear. No pilling. No loose threads. All zippers work smoothly.

Light, warm, breathable, not constraining;

Quick shots:
a) light
    b) form-fitting
) warm
    d) fast-drying
Thank you Helly Hansen and for the opportunity to test this product. Reporting for this test is complete.

Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Helly Hansen Lifa Loft Hybrid Insulator > Test Report by joe schaffer

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