Icebreaker is well known for top quality merino wool products and I’m a big fan of the company’s baselayers. The Helix is an interesting jacket. It uses a mix of merino wool on the inside, wool insulation in the middle and recycled polyester on the outer. The result is a jacket that offers all of the benefits associated with merino wool (natural anti-odour properties and good heat retention when wet) while also being durable.
At 585g the Helix sits in the middle of the nine mid-layers on test in terms of weight, though due to the compressible nature of the wool it can be packed up impressively small. Warmth is also impressive, as the merino inner and wool insulating fill work together to create a warm climate inside the jacket. There are two hand-warmer pockets that are lined with merino (luxury!), a zip-up internal chest pocket for your valuables and thumb-loops on the cuffs to stop the sleeves from riding up.
The jacket has stretchy panels under the arms, but everywhere else it’s stiff and unyielding, feeling taut and restrictive when I reached up. Perhaps I should have worn a size larger, but I think then the jacket would have been too big.
The Helix is a good piece of kit. The wool insulation is warm, and the merino inner is comfortable against the skin and stops the jacket from getting too smelly after extended use. But I found the fit restrictive – try it on before you buy it.
In a line: A luxury product if you can get the fit right.