Fabric technologies is where it’s at when it comes to high-performance jackets and outdoor garments. A quick search online will show numerous options, some of which you may already be acquainted with.
On this topic we surely have no shortage of reviews and comparisons here on our site and you can find useful information on several popular fabric technologies, as well as see how some of them compare to each other.
One technology that we have yet to look at in-depth is Helly Tech by Helly Hansen. Similarly to other fabric technologies, Helly Tech, too, is a waterproof and breathable fabric technology that finds use in many outdoor garments, especially jackets.
In some of our past selections we have included several Helly Hansen jackets that utilize the Helly Tech technology, but today it’s time to get a better introduction to this technology and see how it works and most importantly how it performs.
- Helly Hansen: The Brand
Something that you will come across when researching different fabric technologies is that specific technologies are made and used exclusively by the brand of manufacture. Such is the case with DryVent, for example, by The North Face, and that is also the case for the Helly Tech technology.
This fabric technology was created by Helly Hansen, a Norwegian brand that specializes in textiles used for outdoor work, such as in mountains or at sea, as well as for different sports.
It was founded in 1877 by Helly Juell Hansen and his wife, Maren Margarethe. They began by producing oilskin garments that were made by linen fabric, which was soaked in linseed oil and then later, after their rise in popularity and the winning of a diploma, they expanded into designing and manufacturing new fabrics.
They added PVC plastic to their coats and hats, developed the Fiberpile insulation layer and then culminating with the LIFA breathable fabric.
However, their most renowned creation is the Helly Tech fabric technology, which was launched in 1980.
Nowadays Helly Tech is used in a variety of garments, the purpose of which is to provide weather protection while preventing overheating.
- Helly Tech: The Construction
What we have seen in the past with other fabric technologies is that most of them exhibit hydrophobic qualities, meaning that they have a dislike of water. Due to that, these fabrics tend to keep water away from them and as a result, preventing it from seeping through into the inside of the garment.
Things are a bit different with the Helly Tech membrane. Helly Tech is both a microporous and a hydrophilic technology, meaning that it has an affinity for water rather than a “dislike” for it.
Why is that if the purpose of a waterproof membrane is to actually repel water?
The fact that this technology utilizes the qualities of both a microporous membrane and a hydrophilic lining is what actually gives it the ability to be both waterproof, windproof and breathable at the same time.
Let us elaborate a bit further on this.
The microporosity makes it possible for the water vapors that are a result of sweating to move through and out into the air. However, because these pores are so small, they make it very difficult for water droplets from rain and snow to pass through, thus adding a water-resistant barrier to the waterproof system.
The hydrophilic nature of the membrane, on the other hand, helps the water vapor to quickly pass through from the inside of the garment to the outside, and together with the microporous fabric, a breathable and, at the same time, water-resistant system is created.
In terms of membrane construction, Helly Tech is made up of three parts, which are:
1 – The outer fabric that is DWR-treated in order to repel water and prevent it from pooling on the surface of the fabric and therefore running the risk of it seeping through. This is also a windproof layer, able to prevent the cold outside air and wind from getting inside the garment.
2 – The mid-layer, which is the waterproof membrane itself, or the waterproof coating, depending on the type of fabric being used. This helps to further prevent water from getting through, while at the same time allowing perspiration vapor to leave.
3 – The third and most inner layer is usually mesh fabric or a highly breathable fabric lining, the purpose of which is to allow for as much water vapor to go through and leave the inside of the garment in the shortest amount of time possible.
- Helly Tech: Performance Levels
Performance levels refer to the three different types of this technology, which are utilized in different garments that fulfill different purposes.
Helly Tech Protection
A waterproof, breathable and windproof construction that is suitable for wet and cold conditions. It is designed for use in garments that are worn in outdoor activities in challenging weather but that do not require excessive physical activity.
It comes with a breathability rating of 5.000 g/m2/24h and water column of 5.000 mm, both of which can go up to 15.000 depending on the actual garment design.
Helly Tech Performance
A highly waterproof construction, which has an increased breathability level and is designed for wear in challenging weather conditions where contact with water is to be expected. It is intended for high-performance activities that require a good deal of agility and breathability.
Its water column rating is around 15.000mm and the breathability rating hovers at around 15.000 g/m2/24h as well.
Helly Tech Professional
The third and most durable of the three options, this construction is intended for heavy wear and very challenging conditions. It is designed to last long and withstand bad weather for longer periods of time. As such, it is suitable as work wear for those that work on ships and mountains.
It is the most breathable and waterproof of the options, measuring at around 20.000mm and 20.000 g/m2/24h for waterproofness and breathability respectively.
- Representing Products
Now we will continue with two products that showcase this technology at its best. We have chosen options for both men and women, all of which with good reviews on Amazon.com.
Helly Hansen Crew Midlayer Men’s Rain Jacket
The first design is the Crew rain coat for men. Rain coats aren’t usually breathable as they are meant to be worn sporadically as the upper layer to protect against rain. However, Crew is a high-performance jacket that is not meant solely as rain wear.
It is windproof, waterproof and highly breathable, as well as insulated with Polartec fleece that lines the inside. It comes with a high collar, chin guard and several outer and inner pockets. Its cuffs are adjustable and so is the hem.
This is a design that can be worn for a variety of outdoor activities as it provides comfort, protection, warmth and breathability.
Helly Hansen Seven J Men’s Waterproof Rain Jacket
Seven J is also a performance rain jacket, but this design comes with an adjustable hooded collar. It is made of Helly Tech 2 ply fabric and is designed as a jacket for everyday and light activity wear. Its inner mesh lining is quick-drying and the DWR treatment on the outside helps repel water further.
This is a waterproof, windproof and mildly breathable jacket that comes with sealed seams and adjustable sleeve cuffs. The front zipper is covered by a storm placket and there are two zippered pockets on the sides. It is a very lightweight design that provides great weather protection and a comfortable wear.
Here you can find some more Helly Hansen Jackets for men.
Helly Hansen jackets that utilize the Helly Tech technology come at a high quality and perform effortlessly despite how unpredictable and unstable the weather. If you are in the market for a new jacket that can be relied upon come rain or shine, then definitely check out a Helly Tech one.