Hi Jamie, one last OR for the month. The HTML may be found here:
Helley Hansen HH Warm Odin Hybrid Baselayers
By Raymond Estrella
February 24, 2013
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Manufacturer: Helley Hansen
Web site: www.hellyhansen.com
Product: HH Warm Odin Hybrid Top & ¾ Pant
Size: Extra Large (crew) Large (pant)
Year manufactured: 2012
MSRP: US $100.00 (top), $80.00 (pant)
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weights: 9.8 oz (top), 5.5 oz (pant) (278, 157 g)
Color reviewed: Racer Blue
Quick & Dirty Nitty Gritty
The Helley Hansen HH Warm Odin Hybrid Baselayers quickly became my favorite baselayers of all time. They are very comfortable, very warm and seem to be pretty durable. Moisture transfer is excellent and the construction is top notch. Please read on for the details.
Images courtesy Helley Hansen
The Helley Hansen HH Warm Odin Hybrid Baselayers (hereafter referred to as the shirt and pant) are mid-weight baselayers made for cold temperatures. They are part of their Warm series of baselayers, the regular versions of which I reviewed here also.
The baselayers are made of the fabric they call Warm. It is a blend of Lifa, their version of polypropylene, to the tune of 43%, and the other 57% is merino wool. As fabrics are designated by their weight, the Warm is a 215 g/m2 (6.3 oz/y2) blend.
The mixture is not just blended together in the thread but has an inside and outside face. Inside is the Lifa. It is woven in a very open pattern. When held up to the light it almost looks like more of a mesh than a solid fabric. This is on purpose as the thicker spots contact the skin and pull moisture away from it while the more open areas allow the moisture to evaporate faster. The Lifa is white in color. It two sides can be seen here in the shirt at the neck opening and where I have the sleeve turned inside out.
The hydrophobic Lifa moves moisture away into the blue outer wool face. The merino wool is a finer weave, although examination with a magnifying glass reveals that it is a corded weave. This helps with both evaporation because of the space between the ribs, and warmth by creating more insulating air space in the cords. I don't have a cool digital microscope to show it so you will just have to take my word on it. Or buy some and see for yourself
This blended fabric covers the baselayers with the exception of the darker blue areas at the inside of the arms and legs, seen in the first picture. These areas are where the "Hybrid" part of the name comes from. Those panels are made from the company's Dry version of the Lifa. This is a lighter weight Lifa that comes in at 125 g/m2 (3.7 oz/y2) and it has a finer weave in the Odin baselayers. Another panel of the Dry material is on the back over the spine. These areas are where heat is most likely to be generated and will both wick moisture and dry quicker than their baselayers with solid Warm fabric.
The shirt is a quarter-zip turtleneck style. The zipper on my XL is 13 in (33 cm) long. The nylon zipper has been installed inside-out so as to present its flattest face to the outside. The 4 in (10 cm) high turtleneck collar is the Warm material, but has an extra layer of the Dry material inside where it touches my neck. The collar can be worn full height, folded in half, or spread open depending on how cold it is outside, or how hot I am at the time. Inside the collar is a plastic sizing and care tag.
The shirt is very well designed with gusseted underarms and the best off-set shoulder seams I have seen on any of my baselayers. At the end of the sleeves are 3 in (8 cm) elastic cuff which have thumb-holes to keep the sleeves in place during active arm movement. The holes are bigger than any of my other baselayer have, large enough to allow the use when wearing light-to-midweight gloves. In the picture below I have gloves on under the shirt.
The Odin pant is also built with gusseted construction for comfort and range of motion. It has a thick strong elastic waist band with the Helley Hansen name running around it. A plastic sizing and care tag is at the back of the waist band.
As these are ¾ style pants the legs do not run down to my ankles. The legs end with a 3 in (8 cm) cuff that sits around my upper calf, just below my knee.
All of the seams on both pieces are flat serged. Both share the same cleaning instructions too. They are: Wash cool and inside out. No bleach, no ironing, no tumble dry, no dry clean. No problem
Both are said to be cut in a "regular" fit, as opposed to an "athletic" fit. But a word of warning to those that think (like I always have) of regular cuts being loose and roomy. Helley Hansen's regular is what most of my other baselayes called athletic. Their "athletic"? Think blue paint
Not a pretty picture with this old body. ;-)
I have used the HH Warm Odin baselayers on every trip since I got them in December 2012. They were used on six backpacking trips. Three were on the Red River, on private property north of Halstad, Minnesota, one was on the North Country Trail by the Anoway River in Chippewa National Forest, and the last was on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest (where the picture above was taken). These trips were cold with lows averaging around 0 F (18 C). The trip on the Anoway River saw -22 F (-30 C) for a night time low but was actually colder when I started out. A last trip was in the Smoky Hills State Forest where the picture below was taken near the Shell River.
I also wore them on one day-hike at MB Johnson Nature Park outside Moorhead, Minnesota.
I have long been a big fan of merino wool in all my hiking clothing. I don't buy any socks that are not wool, and until trying the Helley Hansen Dry shirt (see review) would not dream of using polypropylene because I have never found any that did not stink after use. The Lifa that Helley Hansen uses works great as far as the funk factor.
Wool is naturally odor fighting and the main reason I love it, especially for winter. This is because while it may seem that hiking in sub-zero temps is not smell inducing, in my considerable experience it is actually worse!
The problem that I have run into with 100% merino wool, especially in the light and medium weights, is durability. Under the arm, and more so the crotch areas wear out fast, sometimes developing holes in just a few trips. This is where wool blends shine for me, being more durable and still having the odor control. I look for blends with no less than 50% wool as a rule.
Another place the blends work well is with wicking and drying. While wool does naturally wick moisture it does not do so as well as synthetics and it retains more moisture than synthetic making it dry slower.
After using the company's HH Dry for a few months I knew that I liked the properties of the Lifa so I decided to give the Lifa/merino wool blend a shot. This resulted in the review of their regular Warm baselayers that can be seen here at BackpackGearTest.org. I was impressed right away and decided to order the more, choosing the Odin Hybrids for a couple of reasons.
The wicking properties are excellent. The open weave of the inner Lifa really moves sweat away from my skin, and the areas of Dry material dries very fast. This was a blessing when we finally got a lot of snow and trips were a major work-out plowing through deep snow and dragging a gear sled. On those trips I soaked the baselayers.
Yet once in camp where I could pull out the big parka and get warm the Odin Hybrids dried inside my coat or parka quite well. Hmm, well the shirt did, the pants dried under my insulated snow pants.
I love the zipper of the Odin shirt. As mentioned I will sweat hard even in winter. The zipper lets me open the shirt to vent excess heat. A great example was my crazy cold trip on the North Country Trail near the Anoway River. When I left the trailhead it was -25 F (-32 C), the coldest temperature I have ever been actually hiking in. (I have "slept" in the tent at lower temps.) This trip was just days after a blizzard had dumped massive amounts of snow and pulling my gear through it was a real chore. I was burning up, yet my eyes, which were watering from the cold air, froze shut when ice balls forming on my eyelashes finally hit enough to bond together. I stopped to pull the ice off my eyes and thought to snap a picture of myself. My skin where exposed is turning red but I had the Odin wide open to vent body heat. (Look at the way my Bala is frozen in the shape of my face;-)
The mid-weight fleece-replacement coat I was wearing could not handle the moisture that the Odin was wicking, and it was quite wet inside when I made camp.
After all the sweating I did in February (as we kept getting snow and the going was tough) I am glad to say that odor retention is nonexistent. They are as good as 100% merino as far as I can tell, and that is based on around a dozen 100% baselayers in my hiking chests.
As far as the pants go, I love the ¾ length style. (Some call this a mountaineers cut.) This is my favorite style for winter baselayers when I have to wear a big boot or plastic doubles. This cut allows the legs to stay clear of my high boots and thick high winter socks. The waistband is really strong and stays put even though my post-accident form puts a lot of stress on it
Both seem to be very durable. Some of my 100% wool baselayers, especially the bottoms, wear quickly. These still look like new with no seam wear showing at the crotch or underarms, the places I see wear soonest. Both are very comfortable too, neither too tight nor too loose as to bunch up under other clothing. They are perfect as far as fit for me.
I really can't find anything to complain about, nor do I have any suggestions for improvement. So that will have to do it for this review. I leave with a shot hiking through new snow on the North Country Trail.