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Helly Hansen Review: I Tested a Few Popular Pieces Outdoors

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post containing affiliate links. We received compensation and courtesy product from Helly Hansen in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own. Learn more.

Matt Gulielmi
Expertise:

Style, Jewelry, Watches, Skincare, Brand Activations

Matt is a NYC-based merchandise planner in the luxury space and moonlights as a retail documentarian through his TikTok blog @retailecology. His fashion career has waltzed through styling for Michigan State's VIM Magazine, translating brand copy into Spanish for cosmetic startups, to managing inventory for some of the biggest retailers in the US. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024
11 min read
Helly Hansen Review

You’re preparing for your next hike, but your jacket and boots have taken a beating from your previous adventures. As you browse the web for last-minute replacements, you’re engulfed in an avalanche of options.

Traversing the different weather protection, warmth, and tread options seems like a tall task. Helly Hansen has outfitted explorers with advanced outdoor gear to withstand the globe’s harshest conditions since 1877. Keep reading to find out if they’re still up to scratch.

The longevity is earned
The Adult Man Image/Icon
Helly Hansen

Bottom line: Helly Hansen has been making outdoor clothing since 1877, and after having tried a few of their bestsellers, I can understand why they’re still going strong today. The Loke Shell Jacket’s HELLY TECH® is a force field against wind and rain despite its light, packable build. The Fremont Boots could have more insulation, but the waterproof leather, comfortable insole, and hardy tread defend my feet from most weather conditions.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service
Pros:
  • The Loke’s HELLY TECH® material is a force to be reckoned with against wind, water, and snow
  • The Fremont Boots have excellentwater protection
  • Helly Hansen offers a solid warranty program against defects and wear
Cons:
  • For a winter boot, the Fremont lacks substantial insulation

When it comes to fashion, nothing is sacred. Even mundane apparel genres can become an overnight hit.

Outdoor gear is the most recent example, and boy, it’s obvious. I can’t go anywhere without seeing base layers and hiking runners mixed with blue jeans.

My hiking adventures have taken me to The Rockies, northern Spain, and Hawaii, so I’m already a customer of these big brands. The worst part about this trend? Their quality has taken a nosedive to accommodate the increased demand from casual wearers.

My hiking trips are rooted in self-improvement, not self-expression.

So the question remains: Does Helly Hansen uphold a level of quality that drew their initial success?

What Is Helly Hansen?

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Hood

Founded in 1877, the Norwegian brand began making oilskin jackets for sailors battling rough seas.

Their HELLY TECH® material, developed in the 1980s, ensures waterproof and breathable clothing, perfect for unpredictable weather.

Fast forward to today, Helly Hansen has expanded their product line to outfit skiers, sailors, and trailheads alike. Between mid-layers, winter jackets, boots, and more, they’re a war chest for combatting Mother Nature.

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Helly Hansen adheres to responsible business conduct practices, too. They aim to select materials with the least environmental impact and are certified by animal and environmental organizations for handling a number of materials, including wool and down.

Using the feedback from pros who use their product, they constantly strive to make their goods as long-lasting as possible.

If you buy a lot of outdoor gear, you know how vital a good warranty program is. Should any defect occur, their claim filing process is a breeze. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

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Before spending on performance gear from a sport-oriented company like Helly Hansen, there are a couple of crucial considerations to keep in mind. 

Unlike other companies that deal in one specific activity, Helly Hansen caters to several.

If you’re looking for a do-it-all jacket, Helly Hansen has many, but they might lack important features for some outdoor sports. Their skiing, hiking, and sailing equipment thrive in their respective sports. For wintertime errands, they might be overkill.

Price is always something to consider regardless of brand. However, for a company that makes $2000 arctic parkas, shopping from them requires sensibility.

Helly Hansen isn’t just for Aspen ski chalet owners; they have cheaper options with fewer features if you don’t need pro-tier goods.

Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen has been making outdoor clothing since 1877, and after having tried a few of their bestsellers, I can understand why they’re still going strong today. The durability and airflow particularly impressed me. If you're an outdoors enthusiast seeking out quality gear, Helly Hansen is a very worthy first stop.

Shop Helly Hansen

My Hands-On Review

Loke Shell Jacket

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Looking Off in Forest

Shell jackets fill a unique niche in outerwear. They are strict bodyguards meant to keep water from getting into your base layers and ruining the vibe, but don’t offer much else.

My hopes for this jacket were high, but I used to see their goods at off-price retailers in my town, so I couldn’t be too sure.

The Loke Shell Jacket is part of their hiking lineup. My vibrant taste drew me to the olive green colorway. It’s more of a lime green, which I like even better.

If my ambition gets the best of me, I’ll be easier to spot from a rescue helicopter, at least.

The HELLY TECH® construction is the main attraction here. It’s their custom water-repellent treatment on top of a durable, windproof mesh, and it does the job.

For the first time, I patiently waited for a rainy day so I could give it a proper test. I ended up pouring water over it, and the water beaded effortlessly.

Only a few small drops of water were left behind.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Water Repellent Fabric Up Close

For such a lightweight jacket, it’s noble armor against heavier downpours.

The Loke Shell Jacket is probably the most convenient form of weather protection in my closet. I can throw it over hoodies, sweaters, or light jackets, and I’m set for just about anything. For thicker garments, however, I think I’d be better off upgrading to a waterproof coat.

Its packable design might be my favorite thing about this jacket. The HELLY TECH® material is thin enough to pack itself into the front hand pocket. Once everything’s crammed in there, it’s compact enough for small backpack pockets.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Interior Layer

The mesh pocket lining allows the Loke to dry even in a bundled state.

The shell material delivered on its promises but came with a tradeoff on comfort. It has a plastic-y feel that’s uncomfortable in direct contact with my skin, but I think most people would be fine with a hoodie or long-sleeve thermal under it.

Anything less feels like you’re hiking in a vinyl tarp.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Wind Proof Zipper

Storm flap zippers under the armpits are a huge bonus, though. I’ve owned other jackets with the same feature, but the openings were pathetically small.

The Loke Jacket’s are huge, and they’re a lifesaver when I’m really hoofing it. They don’t open up to mesh fabric, so the open-window design lets in plenty of fresh air.

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I ordered a size large, and it was a bit long. It’s not a huge deal, because this jacket is more of a tool than a fashion statement. If anything, it provides water and wind protection below the waist.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Looking Forward in Forest

Luckily, the openings have adjustable elastic, and loosening them is another way to cool off.

The HELLY TECH® material and the storm flap over the zipper deterred any windchill-induced suffering.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Wind Proof Zipper 800px 1

If your hiking adventures are more high-octane than hilly strolls through a state park, you’ll appreciate the hood large enough for helmeted noggins.

The most shocking part of the Loke Shell Jacket is its sub-$120 price point. To me, most trendy outdoor brands have rested on their laurels. The moment they become the hottest brand, they raise their prices without worthwhile improvements.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Hood From Behind

The Loke provides just as many perks as you’d find on another brand’s shell jacket, without the inflated cost.

Because I’m an avid hiker, I’m willing to spend more on a jacket that’s packed with enough features to call it my guardian angel. I’m also an avid bargain hunter.

If you’re like me, the Loke Shell Jacket offers more value than any waterproof jacket I’ve tried for less than $150.

Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket

The Loke Shell Jacket is probably the most convenient form of weather protection in my closet. I can throw it over hoodies, sweaters, or light jackets, and I’m set for just about anything. Because Plus, it's packed with features to make it a serious piece of outdoor gear, such as storm flap zippers and patented HELLY TECH® material to protect from the elements.

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Fremont Waterproof Boots

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Facing the Front

Helly Hansen’s Fremont Waterproof Boot is part of their winter boot lineup, offering a waterproofed exterior, sturdy tread design, and durable leather outer.

With the honey-wheat leather, padded opening, and hexagonal eyelets, it’s clearly inspired by the steel-toed boot adored by carefree fraternity boys and hardened construction workers.

Are they tough enough for pouring concrete or just stylish puddle stompers for a muddy darty?

I must make this clear: They’re not steel-toed. That doesn’t mean they can’t handle tough labor, but don’t hoist iron girders in them.

Since they lack metal toe caps, they’re light for this kind of boot. Heavy shoes slow me down as the mileage climbs, so the Fremonts are a great choice for long hikes or yard work.

The leather is treated with HH® Quick Dry, and the openings keep water out with their HH® Seam-Shield design. Tack on 6 inches of height, and water becomes a non-issue with the Fremont.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Facing the Front 800px 1

If you’ve experienced torturous break-in periods with other boots, the Fremont is better with first impressions.

The leather quality is what you’d expect from a performance winter boot. However, I didn’t experience any stiffness holding me back from hiking severe inclines. Other boots would kill my feet with a painful crease across the top, but the leather is far softer and adaptable.

The “paratrooper” outsole, as Helly Hansen calls it, has an aggressive tread suitable for ice, mud, and snow. I scaled 45-degree boulders and didn’t experience any slippage that would otherwise have my legs trembling.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Fremont Boot Scaling Rock Wall

Maybe I should’ve let the professionals test that part out.

On each product page, Helly Hansen scores their items 1-6 on several metrics such as breathability, lightness, and insulation.

If you’re shopping for your debut on the mountain, it’s helpful to reference.

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Helly Hansen scores the windproofing, waterproofing, and durability a 5/6, and the insulation a measly 3/6.

For a winter boot, I’d expect the insulation to be in line with the remaining factors. My feet were chilly with anything less than wool socks. A thick flannel lining would make the Fremont much better for colder temperatures.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Fremont Boot Branded Sole

The lack of insulation was a hair in my soup, but the Fremont’s interior isn’t plain. The antimicrobial treatment keeps odor to a minimum, ideal for boots designed to get wet.

Combined with its lightweight design, the HH® Max-Comfort makes it one of the most supportive boots I’ve owned. Considering its silhouette, the comfort was a pleasant surprise.

So, is the Fremont just a boot for drizzly Greek life outings or back-breaking conditions?

It’s somewhere in the middle.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Fremont Boot Toe Box

The reliable tread, waterproofing, and light weight are perfect for casual chores, commuting, and amateur hiking. It lacks hefty insulation, so I’d opt for a warmer boot in below-freezing temperatures.

For less than $200, the Fremont Waterproof Boots bring all the utility I need for 99% of my lifestyle.

Helly Hansen Fremont Waterproof Boots

Helly Hansen’s Fremont Waterproof Boot is part of their winter boot lineup, offering a waterproofed exterior, sturdy tread design, and durable leather outer. While they’re not steel-toed, they're still tough and durable, and are light and comfortable for this kind of boot. The leather quality is what you’d expect from a performance winter boot but without being too stiff, and the HH® Max-Comfort lining makes it one of the most supportive boots I’ve owned.

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What Do Other Reviewers Say?

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On Helly Hansen’s website, the Loke Shell Jacket has a 4.6/5 star rating across 595 reviews at the time of writing.

Customers who travel a lot love the space-saving ability of the Loke, sharing that the compressible material is easy to back by itself. Still, the packable mesh pocket feature lightens the load even more.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Adjustable Neck Opening

I thought of the Loke as more of a cold-weather jacket, but plenty of warm-climate customers say it’s breathable enough to be used as a rain jacket in their region.

Several customers noted the zippers getting caught in the thin HELLY TECH® material. While this wasn’t my experience, I can understand why it’d be annoying, given the Loke’s numerous zippers.

Between 163 reviews, the Fremont Winter Boot has a 4.7/5 star rating at the time of writing.

The Adult Man Helly Hansen Loke Shell Jacket Facing the Front 800px 2

The balance between durability and comfort is a common theme across positive reviews. One customer, a farmer, says the boots are cozy enough for a full day’s work. Coincidentally, another farmer noted that they’re warm in the winter but not enough to ditch them in the summer.

Not everyone shares that opinion, though. Quite a few reviews say they wished the Fremont Boot had better insulation for sub-zero temperatures.

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • The HELLY TECH® shell material is effective against wind and water, even with its surprisingly light feel.
  • A packable pocket saves space during travels, and the mesh lining allows the Loke jacket to dry even when packed.
  • Large ventilated openings provide direct airflow to the inside of the jacket.
  • The Loke Shell Jacket’s hood is large enough for a standard climbing helmet.
  • The waterproofed leather and HH® Seam-Shield combo prevents the Fremont Boot from becoming waterlogged.
  • The heavily treaded outsole makes walking through mud, snow, and ice a breeze.
  • Antimicrobial treatment is especially useful on an all-weather boot like the Fremont that frequently gets wet.

What I Don’t Like

  • The Loke Shell Jacket was a bit long despite ordering true-to-size.
  • While the waterproof shell material works, I don’t like the vinyl-like texture when it’s in direct contact with my skin.
  • The Fremont Boot is a winter boot according to Helly Hansen, yet it lacks adequate insulation for sub-zero temperatures.

Who Is Helly Hansen For?

Considering the vast amount of products sold under the Helly Hansen label, they’re a brand for anyone who enjoys time spent outdoors.

I can think of several skiing or hiking companies without accessible price points. Regardless of budget or skill level, Helly Hansen offers something to support your wilderness excursions, whether leisurely hikes or circumnavigating the globe in a catamaran.

The Verdict

Both the Loke Shell Jacket and Fremont Boot are feature-dense outdoor gear with the quality I’d hope for from a company over 100 years old.

The Loke has the best value of any shell jacket I’ve worn. It’s undeniably capable under most conditions with its water and windproof design. I won’t lie, watching the water drip off of the HELLY TECH® is mesmerizing.

I can’t wait to stow the Loke away for my next trip. It takes up just as much space as a cotton T-shirt even when I don’t use the packable mesh pocket feature. It makes a good umbrella alternative for my work bag, too.

While I’d like more warmth from the Fremont Boots, the waterproof outer and grippy outsole are more than enough for my needs. I’ve been wearing mine for over a month, and the honey-wheat leather has aged like fine wine.

Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen has been making outdoor clothing since 1877, and after having tried a few of their bestsellers, I can understand why they’re still going strong today. The durability and airflow particularly impressed me. If you're an outdoors enthusiast seeking out quality gear, Helly Hansen is a very worthy first stop.

Shop Helly Hansen

FAQs

Is Helly Hansen considered a good brand?

Since 1877, Helly Hansen has led the industry in high-quality outdoor gear, especially for hiking, skiing, and sailing. The brand develops in-house treatments such as HELLY TECH®, their proprietary waterproofing technology that keeps water out while allowing vapor to flow out.

Does Helly Hansen keep you warm?

Helly Hansen’s winter and ski jackets are fantastic insulators. Their LIFALOFT™ down alternative is highly compressible and warm enough for most chilly conditions. The Men’s Arctic Patrol Modular Parka, designed to withstand extreme polar climates, has won awards for most advanced winter parka.

Who is Helly Hansen made by?

Helly Hansen shares a close relationship with their manufacturers in China, India, Cambodia, Turkey, Portugal, Hungary, Sweden, and Vietnam.

Is Helly Hansen good ski wear?

Helly Hansen’s skiing gear is a cornerstone of their offerings. Their broad range of skiing jackets vary in color, insulation, length, and storage space to serve bunny hill beginners and black diamond daredevils alike.

How does Helly Hansen gear hold up over time?

In short, yes. You can expect years of adventure with Helly Hansen. Between their weatherproof treatments, YKK zippers, or premium leather footwear like the Fremonts, Helly Hansen designs gear that resists the breakdown caused by friction and inclement weather.