HELLY HANSEN H2 FLOW JACKET
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
September 01, 2013
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one-to-two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Now my pack weighs between 22 and 32 lb (10 and 15 kg). I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Helly Hansen
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.hellyhansen.com/
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 13.8 oz (391 g)
Other details: The jacket I'm testing is Cobalt Blue. It is also available in Black.
My first impression was of a very good looking jacket made to wear in late spring and summer. The seams are all straight and even with very small stitches. The only 'flaw' I found, if it could be called a flaw, were two threads left about an inch (2.5 cm) long, which I cut off.
The polyester shell is smooth and soft, with a slippery feel, with white and orange trim. The words HELLY HANSEN in white are centered on the back of the stand-up collar.
|back of collar|
The letters HH are on the upper left side of the front.
|full front view|
There is a zipper, about 13.3 in (33.8 cm) long, on each side of the front of the jacket visible in the above picture. At first I thought these might be big pockets, but no, these zippers provide more ventilation. There is a pocket on each side which is closed with a 6 in (15 cm) long zipper.
The words HELLY HANSEN are printed in orange on the lower left sleeve.
The ends of the sleeves are trimmed (finished) with a stretchy orange material. This trim seems too narrow, about 0.4 in (1.02 cm), to be called a cuff.
There is 200 weight Polartec insulation inside the front and back of the jacket. The insulation has holes, of approximately 1.2 in (3 cm) diameter, cut at regular intervals.
Near the top of the above picture, at the base of the collar, a loop for hanging the jacket is visible.
The inside body of the jacket is lined with a white mesh. The collar, top of shoulder area and sleeves are lined with a white polyester that feels very soft.
In the back, centered inside at the bottom of the hem the words HELLY HANSEN are printed in white.
Above the hem there is a half circle of the blue shell material with a printed white curved arrow pointing up. In the half circle formed by the arrow is printed H2 FLOW.
There is a cord in the bottom hem with a one hand pull tightener on each side.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The only instructions are laundry instructions on the care label inside left near the bottom.
I interpret these care instructions to mean I wash the jacket the same way I wash my merino tee shirts.
TRYING IT OUT
Before I specified the size I studied the size guide on the website. My measurements were partly in size Medium and partly in size Small. Considering that the test period would be in warm weather I ordered the size Small. While the Jacket is snug there is still room for a heavy shirt or sweater.
The Jacket was delivered just as I was getting ready to walk to the Post Office. I put the jacket on over a fleece shirt and a long sleeve polyester tee shirt. The weather was cloudy and very windy with a 35 F (2 C) temperature when I started walking. A light steady rain soon started. I expected to get both wet and cold, but that did not happen. I was dry and comfortable, except for cold ears, during the 2.5 mi (4 km) walk.
I also wore the jacket, over a merino wool tee shirt and a sweater, for a drive to town to do some errands. When I got back I left the jacket on while doing rowing machine exercise in the garage.
I have never worn a jacket with so many innovative features. The jacket seems to have been designed for warm weather with the combination of mesh lining, regularly spaced holes through the Polartec lining and the two long ventilation zippers on the front So far I have been comfortable wearing the jacket in our windy early spring weather with the temperature right around freezing.
The H2 Flow jacket looks too neat, almost too 'dressy' to wear hiking or backpacking. Regardless I will soon be hiking and backpacking while wearing the jacket. I like the light weight and the adaptability to different conditions. My wife really likes the bright blue color. I would prefer more color choices, say brown or green. I prefer to blend into the landscape when hiking. So far I can't find anything I dislike about the jacket other than the bright color. Black would be OK for a warm winter jacket but not for spring and summer. OK, so I'm grasping at straws to find something to not like. If my clothing (and gear) fills the function color is my last consideration.
This concludes my Initial Report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The first few weeks after I received the jacket were on the cool side, generally 32 F (0 C) to 40 F (4 C), especially in the mornings. I wore the jacket every day for shopping and day hikes until the weather finally realized it was spring.
I've done three backpacking trips since receiving the jacket.
May 2 & 3, 2013 First overnight hike of the year, on the Manistee River Trail/ North Country Trail loop, located southwest of the village of Mesick, Michigan. When we started hiking each morning it was 40 F (4 C), the high later was 69 F (21 C). There were a few hours of light rain the first afternoon and again during the night. Here is a picture taken near Red Hill Lookout soon after we started hiking the second morning.
May 18 & 19, 2013 was an overnight hike near the village of Fife Lake, Michigan. More than half of this hike was bushwhacking since I was flagging a proposed new trail. The temperature was 52 F (11 C) when I started hiking. I wore the HH jacket most of the morning. The high later in the day was 72 F (22 C).
June 4 through June 13, 2013 backpacking on the North Country Trail from Brevoort Lake west of St Ignace, Michigan to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, west of Paradise, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The first few mornings the low temperature was around 40 F (4 C). Most days the high was about 70 F (21 C), except for two days that reached 85 F (29 C).
I also did two days of trail maintenance where I wore the jacket the first few hours in the mornings. Here is a picture from the second day when three of us were mowing the trail with two mowers.
I wore the jacket most of the day while moving down branches or taking my turn running one of the mowers.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Helly Hansen H2 Flow jacket has done very well for me. It provides comfort over a wide range of weather conditions. Hiking in the Upper Peninsula I found a variety of weather conditions. The first night at Brevoort Lake was just chilly enough that the jacket was welcome.
|campsite at Brevoort Lake|
The next night at Carp River I was hot and sweaty when we found the campsite. By the time I had my tent up and filtered water I was feeling tired and cold. The thermometer did not indicate that it was especially cold but I felt cold enough to need a down liner under the Helly Hansen jacket. Perception is reality - when I feel cold I am cold regardless what a thermometer indicates.
|camping at Carp River|
The next-to-last day or our hike we camped at the Rivermouth Campground on the Tahquamenon River. I was comfortable wearing just a tee shirt until the fog rolled in.
Then the damp chill sent me back to my tent for the jacket. Soon after I put on the jacket the fog was so thick we couldn't see across the river.
The Helly Hansen H2 Flow jacket fills the niche between cold enough to need a warm jacket and warm enough for just a tee shirt.
I have washed the jacket once, after several day hikes and the first overnight hike. The white collar was looking rather gray and grubby. I followed the care directions and the jacket came out looking clean as new.
So far, I have found nothing to not like about the jacket. It is comfortable on my bare skin. It is easy to layer, either over other shirts and jackets or as the insulation layer under a windbreaker.
This concludes my Field Report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I did three backpacking trips in the last two months.
7/20, 21/2013 - I hiked along the Manistee River, from Baxter Bridge State Forest Camp Ground (SFCG) to Old US 131 SFCG and returned, all in the Pere Marquette State Forest, south and east of Traverse City. The first day was 10.5 miles (16.9 km) of mostly bushwhacking along the south side of the river. I was looking for a scenic way to replace a three-mile road walk on the existing North Country Trail. I wore the jacket for most of the bushwhacking even after it got a bit too warm. As long as I moved slowly briars and thorns would slide right off the slick fabric. The second day I hiked the existing NCT back to my vehicle. The temperature ranged from 40 F (4 C) to 75 F (24 C).
7/27, 28/2013 - My son and I hiked along the Manistee River, from Baxter Bridge to Harvey Bridge in the Pere Marquette State Forest, south and east of Traverse City. The temperature ranged from 42 F (6 C) to 76 F (24 C). A light rain began just as we started our evening meal. We ate under a tarp my son brought.
I wore the jacket most of the second morning. First it was cool enough the jacket felt good over a tee shirt, then a light rain started so I left the jacket on until the rain stopped.
8/28, 29, 30/2013 - I hiked the popular Manistee River Trail/North Country Trail loop in the Manistee National Forest. Instead of my usual two-day hike I added 15 miles, mostly on the North Country Trail to make it a three-day, 38 mile (61 km) hike. The weather went from dark heavy clouds to clear and sunny, then back to dark threatening clouds. The temperature ranged from 62 F (17 C) to 88 F (31 C). I carried the H2 Flow jacket but did not wear it at all this hike. It was too warm even for my long sleeve tee shirt.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The H2 Flow jacket did very well with an unexpected use. I left the jacket on while bushwhacking to keep the heavy morning dew from soaking my tee shirt. This worked OK though the sleeves were starting to soak through by the time the dew burned off. The unexpected use was protection from thorns. The slippery fabric lets the thorns slide off rather than penetrating as long as I move slowly.
The jacket was just right to ward off the morning chill and light rain during the second hike. On the negative side, the morning after I returned home I put the jacket on to go out for the morning paper but I could not get the zipper to work. Later in the morning I tried the zipper again but could not get it started. I used a magnifying glass and found the hard metal or plastic piece that should go into the zipper slider was broken off and stuck in the bottom of the zipper.
I called the Helly Hansen Customer Service number for the US. A young lady answered and, after I explained the problem she decided that the zipper would need to be replaced. She gave me a RA number and asked whether a town in Minnesota would be closer or one in Connecticut. I told which I thought was closer and she gave me the name and address of a repair shop. I was told that the repair process might take a month. I boxed and sent the jacket and just a few days later received a call from the repair shop that they only had black zippers in stock. I said that was OK, to go ahead.
I went to a conference in Pennsylvania the second full week in August. My wife got a call on Tuesday from the UPS store that they had a package for me. The repair shop had sent the repaired jacket back to the UPS store instead of to me. I picked up the jacket the day after I got home. I thought that was very good customer service overall. Here is a picture showing the new zipper.
|black zipper repair|
I think it works better than the original. Midwest Mountaineering of Minneapolis, Minnesota did a very neat job of replacing the zipper.
The Helly Hansen H2 Flow jacket is lightweight and very nice to have close to hand. I frequently wear it the first thing in the morning, whether at home or backpacking. When backpacking I often put the jacket on when leaving the tent during the night. The jacket has stood up well to everything I've done with it. I have worn the jacket doing trail maintenance work such as mowing, pruning back branches and digging to reshape the tread way. I can see no visible signs of wear. I don't have any other clothing items I can wear on the trail for several hours, stuff in my pack the rest of the day then the day after I get home wear into town shopping. The wrinkles from being stuffed in the pack fall out in a few minutes.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
The Customer Service really is very good service. The young lady I first talked with said that the repair would probably take a month. I had the jacket back in just over two weeks, including shipping in both directions.
This concludes my Long Term Report
I would like to thank Helly Hansen and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to use and test this interesting jacket.
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Read more gear reviews by Edwin Morse