This is a Helly Hansen Ridge Shell jacket review. New for 2015/16 from Helly Hansen this stripped down, purpose-built piece of gear from their new freeride influenced line, the Ullr Collection, feels top shelf from it’s unique cuff closures to it’s high vis details. If you are looking for your next piece of gear for deep backcountry exploration, the Ridge Shell just might be what you need.
We have been using this $550 jacket for a few weeks now and it has revealed its many strengths and it’s few minor weaknesses. Firstly, the 3 layer Hellytech Professional fabric is super waterproof and durable while maintaining great breathability. I took a few runs through the trees at Lake Louise Ski Resort and this jacket took any scrapes without a mark to show while keeping me dry and warm. The Ridge features fully taped and welded seams throughout to keep out and moisture.
Obviously any technical shell jacket is designed to work in tandem with a good layering system. Really, this is the true beauty and versatility of a shell style vs an insulated resort influenced jacket such as the Alpha 2.0 for example. I had paired the Ridge Shell with Helly Hansen’s Verglas Hybrid mid layer, which features down fill along the body and breathable panels up the sides of the torso as well as under the full length of each arm. This was a killer combination as long as you were keeping fairly active. In chilly lift lines at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort though, it proved to work a bit too well at releasing excess heat. But for ski touring it’s great. For more warmth on those colder days we used the Verglas Hooded Down Insulator, essentially the same mid layer except down fill throughout and the addition of a hood.
Another feature of the Ridge Shell jacket that may appeal to the backcountry adventurer is the lack of mesh on the pit zips. This allows for maximum airflow but leaving them open on the wrong run could have your jacket full of snow faster than a jackrabbit on a date.
The fit of the Ridge Shell jacket is slightly relaxed which I found great for mobility. It never felt restricting due to the relaxed cut. When wearing a backpack, all of the pockets were easily accessible and the zipper pulls are just the right size to grip while wearing gloves. I really liked the two lower pockets that ran parallel with the lower pack strap. They were really easy to access.
The hood is the non-detachable style and would provide excellent coverage should you be so fortunate as to find a large helicopter about to land five feet from where you are huddled, for instance. It fits great over your helmet and adjusts for maximum visibility. The collar is lined with a soft fleece and provides excellent face coverage for those times when you need protection from wind and ice.
One thing that I didn’t really like was the oversized velcro closures on the sleeves. While I think it looks really cool and creates a nice tapered sleeve, certain types of snow just seem to love clinging to velcro making it hard to use sometimes. Overall though, this is a pretty minor gripe about an otherwise great jacket.
Other features include, cushy stretch wrist gaiters with mesh tops for breathability, fleece lining on the chest pockets, internal mesh goggle pocket, RECCO® Advanced Rescue system, non-removable stretch powder skirt and quality YKK zippers throughout. Another rad feature of the Ridge Shell is the elastic cord with a metal clip attached that holds a goggle wipe inside the chest pocket. Now you will always have a goggle wipe handy and dry.
All in all the Helly Hansen Ridge Shell jacket is a solid performing technical shell that will no doubt bring you years of trouble-free use. I really do feel that the quality is there with this product. We can say that from experience. We have personally used their products on a long term basis with great success and are proud to say they are Biglines Approved!
Bonus: The Ridge Shell jacket qualifies for Helly Hansen’s Ski Free program which gives you FREE skiing at one of 18 North American resorts. Just purchase one of the qualifying pieces of outerwear to receive a coupon for a 2 for 1 lift ticket at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Fernie Alpine Resort, Marmot Basin, Revelstoke Mountain Resort or six other hills in Canada.
You can check out the Ridge Shell jacket and all the other great Helly Hansen products at the store in Banff Alberta next time you are passing through, They are located right on Banff Avenue and have a great staff to help get you outfitted for the season.
Manufacturers Description: Designed together with pro-freeskiers from around the world, the Ridge Shell Jacket is ready for your deep snow adventures. Built on Helly Tech® Professional 3-ply fabric with the new FLOW membrane, this jacket enables unparalleled breathability to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable. It has a longer length with a relaxed fit, while pockets and ventilation zippers are designed to work flawlessly with your backpack. Details like hi-viz trims and brim will make sure your friends find you in the deep, while large adjustable cuffs allow for easy use with gloves. Premium freeride specific features are found throughout including jacket-pant compatible powder skirt, high collar, goggle wipe, and Recco® advanced rescue system.
- Great Build Quality
- Nice, relaxed fit
- Lightweight, functional design
- Powder skirt felt a bit small
- Large velcro cuff can attract snow