Lightweight and packable, the Odin 3D Air Shell by Helly Hansen strives to combine the performance of a 3 layer jacket, with the weight and compressibility of a 2.5 layer jacket. This is my review:
The Odin 3D is constructed from Helly Hansens proprietary “Helly Tech Professional” fabric. It is touted as a 2.75 layer fabric. As far as I can tell this is a DWR coating over rip-stop nylon with a 3D backing printed on the inside. The jacket features an adjustable hood, waist and cuffs, two hand pockets, two large double zippered vents in the front and a large open vent on the back. It weighs 276 grams (13.3 ounces), and retails for $350 (although I’ve found it cheaper via Amazon).
One of the first things I noticed with the Odin 3D is the uniquely comfortable fabric. To the touch it is extremely soft, supple and smooth, where most rain jackets come across as a bit stiff, plasticy and crinkly. Instead, it feels great against the skin. The interior printed dot matrix provides a way for moisture and humidity to move away from the skin, essentially creating a tiny air gap that greatly reduces the on-skin contact of the jacket. The result is a dramatically reduced clamminess sensation that rain jackets are prone to when getting hot or damp inside (caused by the wet fabric sticking against the skin). The softness and flexibility of the fabric makes it feel more akin to a soft wind jacket than a rain jacket, which is very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. There’s even a nice smooth felt like patch around the neck where most of the weight of the jacket rests and direct contact with open skin occurs, which allows the neck to pivot friction and moisture free. I did find the cuff material around the wrists to be a little itchy after a while, but so far no one else I could find has reported the sensation, so this could just be me. Still, all this and smaller details like double sided nylon at the top of the wrists and a roomy interior ultimately add up to help make this one of the most comfortable rain jackets I have ever tested. Biking, hiking, or around town, it just feels great.
Ventilation on the jacket is rather good. There is a large mesh panel with an overlapping flap on the back that constantly dumps a significant amount of heat. There is also a considerable amount of ventilation on the front of the jacket in the form of unique pocket vents. These front vents are dual zippered and extend from the waist all the way up to the chest. Unzipping these allows a substantial amount of heat to be released, circulating in dry air while removing moisture. The combination of the back and front vents allows the jacket to regulate surprisingly well, only really heating up in very humid conditions or under heavy amounts of activity.
Behind the chest vents also reside two cleverly hidden pockets which work great for keeping hands warm and dry. The only issue here is that when the front vents are fully open they can be somewhat exposed, allowing some water to find its way inside. When the weather gets really bad these vents should probably stay closed to avoid this. The vents are double zippered, however, so one can partially unzip the vent from the tip and bottom while still keeping the pockets nice and dry, which is what I do.
The fabric itself is fairly breathable, above average but not mind blowing. The biggest advantage here actually comes by the lack of thickness of the fabric, which doesn’t trap much heat to begin with. The pleasant tactile sensation of the fabric inside also helps to make it feel drier even when moisture does build up.
Durability and construction are both very good. The jacket is sewn and constructed with near perfection, with only clean lines and pristine stitching to be found. It is entirely waterproof and fully seam sealed at the factory. So far it has held up extremely well to rain, abrasion and repeated packing and unpacking. I’ve had no issues with wetting out and there are no signs of stretching or delaminating from my pack or other equipment. The zippers also slide incredibly well and have yet to hang up on me thanks to their robust backing and smooth, precision made teeth.
I’ve come out very impressed with the Odin 3D. Every year Helly Hansen seems to refine and enhance their rain jackets, tweaking the fabrics, improving their technology and refining their cuts. The Odin 3D in particular really stands out from the crowd as they seem to have hit a pinnacle with their waterproofing and layering. It is extremely comfortable, appreciably lightweight, and it holds up to long term use with little to no care given to it. It’s durable, looks great, and most importantly feels great to wear in any scenario.
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