Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review: Helly Hansen freeride jacket

Jan 15, 2018 BY Luke Rees

Looking for a freeride specific jacket for your off-piste skiing or snowboarding adventures? Then read this Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review as this Helly Hansen freeride jacket may be what you are looking for.

Whether you are a freeskier or freeride snowboarder your needs will be the same. Protection from the elements, performance in all conditions and comfort. It looks good too, coming in white and green, green and dark blue or dark blue, all with bright orange detail.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review

To test the HH Ridge Shell, I spent three days snowboarding in Tignes. Temperatures varied from around zero to minus ten. Most of the time it was warm(ish) and sunny, but the wind picked up on the last day and the temperature fell.

Although I rode a little powder and played around the edge of the pistes it was not possible to properly test the Helly Hansen freeride jacket – there weren’t any lines worth hiking for. Also I couldn’t test it’s waterproofness as it was sunny the whole time we were there.

So to complete this Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review, I went hiking up the hills of the South Downs in bad weather. I spent around two hours in moderate to heavy rain in warm temperatures to get a sweat on and test the waterproofness and breathability.

Protection from the elements

To protect you from the elements the Ridge Shell Ski Jacket by Helly Hansen is built around the Helly Tech® Professional 3L fabric. This provides 20,000mm of waterproof protection, which should keep you dry in rain for many hours, and keep wind at bay.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket

It was mainly sunny on the slopes, but when I fell over it kept the snow out doing a good job keeping me warm and dry. On the final day, we encountered a strong cold breeze and the Ridge stopped this from getting through to my core, thus helping to keep me warm.

As just a shell with no insulation, I expected the Ridge Helly Hansen freeride jacket not to be that warm, so I combined it with the Helly Hansen Sogn technical midlayer. On the first day when temperatures hovered around freezing I was too warm and had the vents open all day.

On the second day it was colder and temperatures dropped to minus 10. Combined with the Sogn I was just the right temperature. I think in future down to -4°C I would be fine with just two baselayers under the Ridge Shell Ski Jacket – although I tend to run warm.

Out hiking in the rain the Helly Tech® Professional 3L fabric kept me completely dry. The YKK® Aquaguard® Vislon® water resistant zippers along with fully sealed seams helped ensure nothing came through at the weak points.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket ykk zippers

In the rain you can see the Durable Water Repellency treatment (DWR) at work. Moisture just beads off the surface of this Helly Hansen freeride jacket keeping you perfectly dry.

Performance when things got sweaty

For me performance is all about breathability, as freeriding can be a sweaty business. Whether you are hiking for lines, ski-touring or building a backcountry kicker, all the moisture you produce needs to escape. Otherwise you’ll get wet on the inside and you’ll soon be cold.

The Helly Tech® Professional 3L fabric uses a new FLOW membrane on the inside. Helly Hansen claim this provides ‘unparalleled breathability’.

Having snowboarded hard in it all day I never noticed any sweat build up. But that was not enough of a test for this Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review, so I went for a warm and sweaty hike in the rain. From this I can confirm it moves moisture away very efficiently – even when its wet on the outside.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket

I own some Gore Tex trousers and in my opinion the Ridge provides at least as good breathability and possibly better. And when things get too warm, just open the pit zips to let in some air.

Comfort and features

This Ridge Shell ski Jacket review would not be complete without talking about comfort. For freeriders we want something that does not hinder movement, but is still fairly streamlined to avoid snagging on trees or collecting snow in creases.

With this in mind the Ridge has a slightly longer length and a relaxed tailored fit. I found it moved nicely with me, and gave me freedom of movement to snowboard and pop tricks without ever feeling restricted.

The only flaw from my perspective it the cuffs on this Helly Hansen freeride jacket. Although the cuffs are wide, and the large velcro is easy to use with gloves on, I found they don’t work very well with my Dainese D-Impact gloves.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket cuffs

These gloves include wrist guards so are bulkier than most and go further up your arm. Although they fit under the cuffs it is a fairly tight fit and was quite a faff every time I put my gloves on.

In particular the velcro of the cuffs got in the way of the tightening toggles of the gloves. This made rather fiddly to get on which was annoying. But for anyone with normal gloves, or even wrist guards under gloves, this would not be a problem.

During this Ridge Shell ski Jacket review I was wearing the HH Elevate pants and they integrate very well. However, I found that where the top and bottoms joined my midlayer rucked up. But I think this was beacause my midlayer was a little too short to rather than anything to do with the integration system.

As with most ski jackets, the Ridge comes with a powder skirt and wrist gaiters with a convenient thumb hole. It also has the RECCO® Advanced Rescue System to help locate you in the case of an avalanche – please note this is not a replacement for an avalanche transceiver.

Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review Helly Hansen freeride jacket

The Ridge Shell Ski Jacket has plenty of useful pockets, including one on your arm for the ski pass and internal ones for goggles and beanie. There are two excellent large chest pockets that can be used while wearing a pack. Plus two lower ‘bellow’ pockets that are are smaller but usefully sit below the waist strap of my ava pack.

Helly Hansen freeride jacket: Conclusion

The Ridge jacket is a top quality bit of kit. Whether you freeride or just spend time on the piste it will keep you warm, dry and very comfortable.

In the rain it did a fabulous job of keeping me dry – much better than my hiking jacket. It also kept the wind at bay when it picked up and is surprisingly warm considering there is no insulation.

To conclude this Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review, I’d recommend it to anyone that does not wear big snowboarding gloves with inbuilt wrist guards. It looks good, has great features, keeps the elements at bay and performs well in a range of conditions.

We hope you found this Ridge Shell Ski Jacket review useful. If you want to buy this Helly Hansen freeride jacket it’s RRP is £430. You can buy it at: www.hellyhansen.com/ridge-shell-jacket


Heli Ski / Board, Skiing, Snowboarding
Freeride, Helly Hansen, Off Piste, Backcountry

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