Helly Hansen W Verglas Hooded Down Insulator
Stated Weight: 430 grams
Type: Down Insulator
- Allied down 85/15 European goose
- One-hand hood adjustments
- Soft snowstop lycra cuffs
- DWR Treatment
- Bottom hem adjustment
- Fillpower 700+
Days Skied: 5
Days Worn: ~20
Test Locations: Canterbury Ski Fields, New Zealand; Colorado
Reviewer Info: 5’6”, 125 lbs; Shoulder to Fingertips, 29.5”; Shoulder to Wrist, 22″
I tend to run cold, and my go-to puffy jacket—the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody—has become my most-used piece of outerwear over the last several years. I’ve worn the Micro Puff under a shell or rain jacket just as often as I’ve used it as an outerlayer. For that reason, I want my insulated layer to be packable and not too puffy, yet also warm and durable enough to be worn alone.
Helly Hansen’s description of their Verglas Hooded Down Insulator seemed to fit my needs perfectly: a “thin, lightweight” jacket that can be “worn as a midlayer or as a coat” and is “ideal for active lifestyles or when you’re out and about in the city.”
Because really, who doesn’t want functional apparel that also looks good? And with 700-fill power down, I imagined the Verglas Insulator would provide plenty of warmth for a range of outdoor adventures. I tested the women’s jacket, but Helly Hansen also makes this jacket for men.
Fit / Sizing
Helly Hansen calls the Verglas Insulator a regular fit, although the torso is relatively long. As a point of reference, my small Patagonia Micro Puff sits about five inches below my hip bone—a standard length for most of my jacket layers. The Verglas Insulator, however, falls about three inches below that. It measures 26.5” from the top of zipper to the front hem and it’s .5″ longer in back.
When I wear the jacket as an outerlayer, I actually prefer the longer length. However, since it’s longer than my Scott Explorair jacket, it sticks out underneath when I wear them together. If I were looking for a purely technical layer, I would probably opt for a shorter jacket, but since I’m using the Verglas Insulator for a variety of activities, I personally don’t mind the longer length.
The Verglas Insulator is fairly form fitting. There’s a little extra room around the waist and chest (28” and 33.5”, respectively), but it’s certainly not baggy. The jacket has downward-sloping diagonal seams across the front panel, a nice design, I think.
The sleeves are just long enough—they rest right at my wrist bone—but I wouldn’t mind an extra inch or two since they occasionally ride up when I’m moving around. For example, when I lift my arms above my head, the sleeves sit three inches below my wrists.
As a point of comparison, my 3-year-old Patagonia Micro Puff has a looser fit in the torso, slightly longer sleeves, and a shorter hemline than the Verglas Insulator. While I don’t really feel restricted in the Verglas Insulator, it is a bit tighter and longer than the Micro Puff.
On Blister’s ski review trip to New Zealand at the end of August, we experienced mostly warm spring temperatures where any sort of insulation would have been overkill. Several times I’d start out with the Verglas Insulator under my Helly Hansen Verglas Jacket, only to start sweating immediately.
The Verglas Insulator is very warm—too warm, in fact, for temperatures over 25° F. But I think if I paired it with a lighter shell, like the Scott Explorair, during a day of inbounds skiing around 25° F or colder, I’d grab the Verglas Insulator.
On those days when temperatures hovered around 20°F, I certainly appreciated the added warmth of the Verglas Insulator. I can definitely see this jacket becoming my go-to layer for cold days—paired with the Verglas Jacket, I’d have a very warm combination.
The 700-fill power down is definitely warmer than the 100-g PrimaLoft® insulation in my Micro Puff. The $199 Micro Puff is a more versatile (and less expensive) midlayer, but I found that it wasn’t quite warm enough to make a great outerlayer. I’m more inclined to grab the Verglas Insulator over the Micro Puff when I head into the backcountry because of this.
The Verglas Insulator feels lighter than the Micro Puff. The two jackets do pack down to a similar size (a little bigger than a 1L Nalgene).
Hood / Pockets
Personally, I value the extra warmth a hood provides, especially if the jacket’s worn as an outerlayer. And I never found the hood to be annoying when I wore the jacket underneath my shell. The hood fit well over my head and when I was wearing a hat, and it never slipped down or blocked too much of my view. There are one-hand adjusters on either side, but there’s no size adjustment on the back.
And it you’re not a fan of jackets with hoods, Helly Hansen also makes the Verglas Down Insulator without one.
The jacket has two fleece-lined handpockets on either side. I should note that the pockets are located where a climbing harness would sit, and would be difficult to access if worn with one.
NEXT PAGE: Waterproofing