Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review: Lightweight insulated ski jacket

Feb 28, 2020 BY Luke Rees

Looking for a lightweight insulated ski jacket? Then read this Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review to find out how it got on in the wind, rain, cold and deep snow of Japan.

Japan snowboard holiday in Hokkaido Photo by Antti Hentinen cropped

In December I went snowboarding in Japan for the first time. Unfortunately we arrived before winter had properly begun and experienced a couple of days of warm weather and rain. Then the weather changed to cold and snowy and we enjoyed knee deep powder.

Insulated ski jacket vs shell

For the last ten years or so I have almost entirely snowboarded in shell jackets. For those that don’t know this is a coat without any insulation, so just a wind and waterproof shell.

Then depending on the weather I wear various different layers beneath it. I find this offers the best flexibility when on a snowboarding holiday. Also in the past I have found insulated jackets don’t offer the best breathability so sweat can’t escape. Leading me to feel damp and then get cold.

But when Helly Hansen launched this lightweight insulated ski jacket designed with professional in mind I was intrigued. It supposed to be highly breathable using the innovative H²Flow™ System to provide mechanical venting. So I decided to try it!

Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review

My first impression when unpacking the HH Garibaldi jacket was it is light for an insulated coat. Weighing in at a fraction over 1kg it is only a little heavier than some shell jackets I have owned. But you can still feel the Primaloft® insulation.

Fit and feel

When I tried the Garibaldi on I was very pleased with the fit. It has a longer and more relaxed fit designed with freeriding and heading into the backcountry. Unlike some ski jackets this is not tight and restrictive.

The articulated arms and elbows ensure the fit doesn’t impede movement. and the ‘Fusion modular system’ fits perfectly with the Garibaldi pants I reviewed last season.

The jaquar knitted fabric is soft to touch, a nice improvement on some stiffer more harsh shell jackets. And the 2-ply fabric construction offers plenty of movement.

Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review Lightweight insulated ski jacket

How weatherproof is the Garibaldi?

A lightweight insulated ski jacket is all well and good. But probably the most important aspect of this Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review was checking it keeps wind, rain and snow at bay.

Fortunately the HELLY TECH® Professional 2L fabric is rated at around 20,000mm waterproof. Combined with the Durable Water Repellency treatment (DWR), YKK® Aquaguard™ water resistant zippers, and fully seam sealed construction it should keep the weather out.

Having snowboarded in it for a day of rain at lower altitudes and wet snow with strong winds up high I can confirm it will keep you dry. It also does a great job of keeping wind out.

I also spent a day in knee deep fresh snow with plenty of spills. I found the snap away stretch powder skirt and modular system combined with my Helly Hansen pants. It meant I didn’t get any snow in places I didn’t want it!

Helly Hansen Garibaldi jacket review Japan snowboarding Sapporo Kokusai Photo by Antti Hentinen

Warmth and breathability

My first experience of snowboarding in Japan was night skiing in Niseko. It was pretty cold around -10 to -15°C. Beneath the jacket I wore a normal fleece and my baselayer.

After a couple of runs I was too hot so I opened the underarm ventilation zips. Rather than just cool me directly under the arms the H²Flow™ System kicked in. The pockets of warm air throughout the insulation that the jacket was storing were replaced by cooler air very quickly.

This meant I cooled down fast, plus the damp warm air escaped. It was so effective I actually closed the vents and let the insulation warm me up again. When I got too hot again I used the vents but didn’t open them all the way.

Added to this innovative system, the HELLY TECH® Professional 2L fabric is rated at around 20,000 breathable anyway. This is exceptionally good for an insulated ski jacket.

Lightweight insulated ski jacket tested in Japan Photo by Antti Hentinen

The next day temperatures were going to hover around the freezing mark so I ditched the fleece. Snowboarding in just the jacket and baselayer I was a comfortable temperature despite endless wind, snow and rain.

The final day I really put the breathability, vents and H²Flow™ to the test. It was slightly colder but less windy and loads of fresh snow. So we headed off-piste and I was working hard in powder including some hiking.

The Garibaldi jacket handled it well. My sweat – there was plenty of it! – escaped, and I cooled down whenever I needed to. My concern of overheating in a lightweight insulated ski jacket proved groundless. I felt warmer than in a shell, but due to the vents and H²Flow™ I could cool down when I wanted to.

Pockets and other features

This Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review would not be complete without talking about its pockets and other features. For safety the hood has a luminous orange trim. Plus the jacket comes with RECCO® Advanced Rescue system.

Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review Lightweight insulated ski jacket back

But one of the most impressive features is the Life pocket™. This is a waterproof and gel insulated pocket that will help your phone battery last longer. On your left sleeve is a ski-pass pocket.

There are also large, easy to access hand warmer pockets on each side. I found they are perfect for putting a small water bottle, snowboard tool, lock, piste map, snack bar and a few other bits. There are also internal pockets for goggles and electronics.

The cuffs are large with adjustable velcro making it easy to tighten them around your gloves. There are also wrist gaiters with thumb holes that stop snow going up your sleeves.

Conclusion: Lightweight insulated ski jacket

The Helly Hansen Garibaldi jacket is a great bit of kit. As insulated ski/snowboard jackets go it is very lightweight and due to the H²Flow™ you have a lot of control over your temperature.

Japan snowboard holiday in Hokkaido Photo by Antti Hentinen in Sapporo Kokusai

I was never a fan of insulated jackets but the Garibaldi is excellent. If it hadn’t been one of the warmest winters on record in Europe I would have worn it much more. But even with great venting you don’t want insulation when it is 10 to 15°C!

To conclude this Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review I’d say it is by far the best insulated jacket I have owned. I would even go a step further and say it is one of my favourite jackets I have ever snowboarded in.

The H²Flow™ gives you a similar level of temperature control to removing a layer. I won’t go quite as far as saying it is game changing but it is very close. Ultimately, if you are in the market for a lightweight insulated ski jacket the Garibaldi is a great choice.

I hope you found this Helly Hansen Garibaldi Jacket review useful. It comes in bright blue, navy blue or grey camo with a RRP of £380. You can buy it here: www.hellyhansen.com/garibaldi-jacket


Skiing, Snowboarding
Helly Hansen, Insulated, Jacket, Waterproof

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