Traveler's Gear Box: The Odin Collection From Helly Hansen
In Norse mythology, "Odin" was considered to be the father of all gods. In Helly Hansen technology circles, "Odin" is attached to a line of outerwear that is suitable for just about all situations, from mountains down to the coastlines.
To cover all those situations, this collection is more than one or two pieces. There are baselayers and outer layers, jackets that will shield you from rain, and others designed to stand up to the wear of climbing harnesses and pack straps.
The Odin Guiding Light Jacket (MSRP $400, currently on sale for $280) is a solid shell jacket that will keep you, and any intermediate layers, dry from whatever the weather tosses at you. The hood is integrated into the jacket's collar -- no snap-on, snap-off -- to provide better coverage and protection from the elements.
This jacket is designed with what Helly Hansen calls its Helly Tech Professional technology, which revolves around welding and taping all seams for waterproofing. It also features Eco DRW, Helly Hansen's approach to breathable materials, so you won't get drenched from the inside out. Pit zips also help you moderate the climate inside the jacket, while Velcro on the cuffs allow you to adjust the sleeves around gloves or mitts. The Guiding Light Jacket also features two deep chest pockets, and a waist drawcord for cinching it tight to your hips if need be.
The lightness of the jacket, just 13 ounces, adds little to your pack in return for the protection it offers. It does, however, lack a powder skirt, so perhaps not the perfect shell for skiing in powder.
The Odin Isolater Jacket (MSRP $280), meanwhile, provides the warmth you might need in the mountains before mid-winter sets in. That warmth comes in the form of Primaloft, which, while perhaps not as warm as down, fairs better under wet conditions. This jacket, designed with skiing in mind, lacks a hood, but comes with a high collar to keep out drafts, an approach that would work nicely with a helmet.
The outer fabric is ripstop nylon and comes with a DWR coating to offer protection from wet snow. It also features what Helly Hansen calls a "draft stop inner skirt," which looks like a miniature powder skirt. A cord running through this skirt allows you to cinch it tight around your hips to cut down on drafts.
The welded nature of the construction gives the Isolator Jacket a sleek appearance, as there are no baffles needed to contain the Primaloft insulation. If there's a downside to this jacket, it's that the chest pocket doesn't have a port to pass your earphone cord through.
Some reviewers have said the sizing is on the small side, though that might be specific to users with a wider girth than others. Helly Hansen does offer a sizing chart on its website, and it's always a good idea to try on items you buy on-line before snipping off the product tags just in case you need to return them.
The Odin line also offers beefier pieces -- the Odin Hooded Belay Jacket and the Odin Mountain Jacket as well as a Mountain Pant and Guide Pant -- suited for the most demanding conditions.