When you are hiking, versatile lightweight outdoor clothing can make a huge difference to your comfort. For this Helly Hansen hiking gear review I tested a range of their clothing, mainly during a trip to the Lake District in Cumbria, UK.
Why versatile lightweight outdoor clothing?
Before I get into the review let’s talk about the reasons to pay out for better gear. Firstly, when hiking you carry everything, so weight is very important. If every bit of kit weighs a little extra it all adds up. And more weight means harder work.
Packable size is also important. The more space things take up the bigger and more cumbersome your backpack will be. This is particularly important if your hike includes some scrambling as you don’t want a big pack getting in the way or affecting your balance.
You also want to have versatile gear. Items that will do more than one job, and which can be used for many different outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, versatile lightweight outdoor clothing is often expensive.
But higher prices also implies that it will be better quality – of course this is not always the case! However, as a rule of thumb you get what you pay for. For example, higher quality waterproofs will be better at keeping the elements at bay, be more breathable, lighter and have better features.
Investing in higher quality gear is also about paying for comfort. If you have ever hiked in a standard cotton t-shirt you will have got sweaty and been uncomfortable. This can actually be dangerous in a cold climate as it’s the first step to hyperthermia.
Good quality active clothing is usually made from materials that dry quickly and actively wicks sweat away from the body. Typically good gear also stretches and moves with you, avoiding rubbing without restricting your movement. This all helps to keeps you dry and comfortable on the trail.
Helly Hansen hiking gear review
I tested all this versatile lightweight outdoor clothing in the Lake District in May. It is a beautiful, but notoriously wet, region of north west England near the border with Scotland.
The weather forecast was fairly good but with the chance of rain. As it turned out the rain fell overnight so we avoided it. However, it was quite windy so at times my waterproofs were used to keep me warm.
To test the actual waterproof quality of the jacket and trousers my kids sprayed me with a hose in the garden. Not only was it a lot of fun – for them – but it was a thorough test for the waterproofs.
Review of Odin Minimalist 2.0 Jacket
At £200 this is probably eight times more expensive than any mack I have previously owned. But it is pretty much the peak of Helly Hansen product development, using their best material Helly Tech® Professional in a superlight jacket.
Weighing in at just 160g it packs into a pocket and is tiny. My hardshell jacket weighs around 10 times more and even my old lined waterproof was over four times heavier. Both also took up a lot more room in my pack.
On the hills it did a great job protecting me from the wind making a real difference to my temperature. It is also very breathable as when I worked up a sweat the inside did not become damp. It is comfortable with a sporty cut and adjustable hood.
Of course a review of Odin Minimalist 2.0 Jacket wouldn’t be complete without talking about how it works in the wet. My kids did a good job hosing me down but I stayed dry. The YKK® Aquaguard waterproof front zipper and sealed seams kept the water out.
Odin Minimalist 2.0 Jacket: Features
- Helly Tech® Professional 20,000 waterproof
- Waterproof, windproof and breathable
- 2.5 ply fabric construction
- Minimal seam construction and lightweight fabric
- Fully seam sealed
- Packs into chest pocket
- Helmet compatible hood with adjustments
- YKK® Aquaguard waterproof front zipper
- Tailored cuffs with elastic
- Weight: 160g
- Price: £200
- Link: www.hellyhansen.com/odin-minimalist-2-0
Loke Pants review
During this Helly Hansen hiking gear review the Loke Pants proved to be another versatile and lightweight bit of kit. Weighing 220g they are perfect to chuck in your pack to in case the weather turns bad.
Due to nice weather I only wore them on top of Helvellyn when the wind got up and I had ages to wait for two of our group. Wearing just shorts my legs started to feel the cold so I pulled the Loke Pants on.
During this Loke Pants review my favourite feature was the zips and velcro at the bottom of the legs. By undoing them I was able to put the trousers on and take them off without removing my hiking boots. A huge bonus!
The adjustable waist ensures a comfy fit. The slit pockets give easy access to the pockets of whatever you are wearing beneath the waterproof trousers. Due to their breathability sweat did not build up on the inside.
The Helly Tech® Performance fabric is Helly Hansen second best material. It provides 10,000mm waterproofness and 10,000gm moisture vapor permeability. They passed my ‘hose down’ test, but from experience if I was going to hike all day in the rain I would wear something rated 20,000mm waterproof.
Loke Pants: Features
- Waterproof, Windproof and breathable
- Helly Tech® Performance, with 2.5 layer
- 100% polyester Bluesign®approved fabric with 100% polyurethane laminate.
- 10,000mm Waterproofness and 10,000gm moisture vapor permeability
- Waterproof, Windproof, breathable & fully seam sealed
- PFC Free DWR
- Exceptional performance featured fabric within a classic, active outdoor design
- Ankle zips and velcro
- Weight: 220g
- Price: £75
- Link: www.hellyhansen.com/loke-pants
Review of Phantom Mesh 1/2 Zip Midlayer
Usually my hiking midlayer is a traditional style fleece. In contrast, the Phantom Mesh is a very lightweight, stretch fleece that on first inspection seems little thicker than a base layer.
But it turned out to be the perfect bit of gear. During this Helly Hansen hiking gear review in the Lake District conditions were warm when out of the wind. So for this review of Phantom Mesh 1/2 Zip Midlayer I wore it over a t-shirt in the cooler mornings and when exposed to the wind.
The Phantom has mesh under the armpits and on the the back which is perfect for hiking. It helps avoid a sweaty back where your rucksack sits and keeps the air flowing which improves the breathability.
It is incredibly comfortable to wear, and the soft fleece lining is lovely against the skin. There is a good amount of stretch meaning it doesn’t inhibit movement.
Furthermore, the half zip gives you some adjustment when you get too warm. Combined with the – highly technical – act of rolling up the sleeves it was more effective than I expected at avoiding over heating.
Phantom Mesh 1/2 Zip Midlayer: Features
- Lightweight slick face stretch tricot
- Brushed fleece interior
- Mesh Panels under armpits and on back
- Flatlock seams for low bulk
- 1/2 Zip construction
- Price: £75
- Link: www.hellyhansen.com/phantom-mesh-1-2-zip-midlayer
Review of HH Lifa Merino Ascent Hiker Socks
The right socks when hiking are more important than many first time hikers realise. To avoid blisters, I like to wear a pair of lightweight sport socks beneath nice thick hiking socks. This means any friction happens between the sock layers rather than your feet.
The HH Lifa Merino Ascent Hiker Socks are a technical wool sock. They billed as the optimal cold weather hiking sock. It was warm when in the Lakes but I found them to be very comfy providing a nice amount of cushioning.
Merino wool is great at wicking moisture away. So although my feet sweated, the socks were almost dry to touch when I took my boots off. Merino doesn’t hold odour, so during this Helly Hansen hiking gear review I wore them for two days hiking and didn’t have stinky feet.
I have also worn them on shorter walks without liner socks and they are very soft and comfortable. In fact on on a cold day at home there is nothing better than putting on a pair of hiking socks for mooching around the house!
HH Lifa Merino Ascent Hiker Socks: Features
- HH Wool
- Lifa® Merino Technology
- Mesh ventilation for added breathability
- Ankle flex
- Elastic in arc for improved fit
- Price: £20
- Link: www.hellyhansen.com/hh-lifa-merino-ascent-hiker
Maridalen Shorts review
I like to hike in shorts. There is something about having your legs out on the trail even in cooler conditions that is both comfortable and liberating. Just me? Ok……
The Maridalen, named after an outdoor recreation area near Oslo, are a durable pair of cargo shorts. Made from a quick dry, slightly stretchy material they are comfortable and non-restrictive.
The dark grey pair I have are smart enough to wear down the pub, but also outdoorsy enough for the trail. This versatile lightweight outdoor clothing makes them the perfect crossover shorts. They won’t just be worn hiking, but will be my summer shorts of choice.
They come equipped with deep hand pockets – it is amazing how many shorts fail to have deep enough pockets. But also have discrete cargo pockets that close securely so are fine for your phone when doing an exposed scramble.
I wore these shorts for a couple of days in Marrakech. Temperatures were in the high thirties but I didn’t get overly sweaty. Furthermore, the secure pockets where perfect for the busy markets where pickpockets have been known to operate.
Maridalen Shorts: Features
- Durable quick-dry stretch rip stop polyamide
- 140 g/m²
- 100% Bluesign®approved fabric
- Zip fly with single flat button waist closure for minimum bulk
- Two cargo pockets with hidden snap closure
- Discrete zip cargo pocket
- Back flap pocket
- UPF 40+
- Weight: 240g
- Price: £65
- Link: www.hellyhansen.com/maridalen-shorts
I hope you found this Helly Hansen hiking gear review useful. If you want to pick up some versatile lightweight outdoor clothing of your own then check out the HH range here: www.hellyhansen.com/outdoor