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Standfirst: A great companion for winter layering or spring/autumn chills, we test out the Heli R down jacket from Kathmandu to see how it shapes up. 

Kathmandu Heli R down jacket review
240g (size M)
Looks great and has a nice fit.

Love the convenience of packing it down to save space. 

An internal zipped pocket would have been a great addition.

Buy Kathmandu Heli R Down Jacket: £140 at

Sizes:  XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL

TL;DR Review

A great, lightweight down jacket at a competitive price point that will serve you well as insulation under a shell, or as a light jacket on warmer days. Packability is a great bonus.



New Zealand-based brand, Kathmandu, uses the spectacular natural landscapes on their doorstep as inspiration for their products, and uses this adventure playground to test out new gear designs and technology. The brand’s main ethos is to encourage more people out into the natural world to experience the transformative power of spending time outdoors. They aim to improve the wellbeing of the world and us, and try to change the negative impacts of the outdoor industry into positive ones, through sustainable practices.

Who is the Kathmandu Heli R Down Jacket Aimed at?

The Kathmandu Heli R jacket is a great choice for those who want something that will pack a punch when it comes to warmth, but still be as lightweight as possible, making it easy to pack, as well as wear with multiple layers if required.

Katmandu’s original Heli puffer jacket was a favourite for many fans of the brand, and this redesign for the Heli R was concentrated on making the jacket even lighter than before (25% lighter!), and introducing more responsibly sourced materials. We’d say this is definitely a win, as the jacket is seriously lightweight. You barely feel like you’re wearing it, and when packed down, it’s compressed into a easily managed brick – perfect for shoving in a suitcase or backpack on a trip with changeable weather conditions. 


Kathmandu Heli R Down Jacket Materials & Their Meaning:

First and foremost, the Heli R is a down jacket, so no synthetic insulation in sight. Since 2016, all of Kathmandu’s down products have been certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), and the Heli R is made with ‘traceable down’, which means that there is all kinds of info available about the down used in the Heli R. When you buy a Heli R, the swingtag has a QR code you can scan to learn about the type of down used, the country of origin, fill power and certification info from RDS. This is a step further than a lot of brands take to ensure integrity in their use of materials, so it’s well worth a look for curiosity’s sake. Don’t throw your tags away without taking a look!

The fill power of the Heli R is 600, and is made up of duck down. This isn’t the maximum fill you can achieve with down, but we found it more than enough to keep us cosy under a shell in the winter, and the perfect companion for chilly spring days.

The Heli R also uses a lot of recycled materials throughout the garment, such as recycled 20D ripstop polyester as the outer shell and lining, recycled zip tape, recycled polyester for the labels, recycled plastic trims, and even recycled card for the packaging.

The jacket isn’t completely waterproof, but does have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish which should stand up to some of the unpredictable British weather. 


Style, Fit and Features:

In terms of features, one of the main selling points is that the Heli R packs down into its own pocket to allow for easy transport and packability. It’s simple to pack down - we took the slightly haphazard approach of ‘just keep stuffing’, as though we were wrestling a sleeping bag back into its stuff-sack, but it was an easier fit than we first feared. If you take the time to fold/use a little more finesse, we suspect it would be easier still.

The Heli R has two external zip pockets, as well as two inner drop pockets which come in handy for quickly stowing gloves or sliding a map into. We would have liked the addition of an internal zipped pocket for a phone or other valuables, but this tends to be a rare find on a down jacket, so it’s easily worked around. There is no hood, so you’ll need to pack a beanie to keep your ears warm on windy days. Alternatively, a hooded version of the Heli R is available for a little more money. 

We really like the fit of the Heli R, but did decide to go a size up to allow more flexibility for layering up under and over the jacket when the situation calls for it. We are a UK size 14 and tested an XL. If you’d prefer a slimmer fit, stick to your usual size and check the size guide. 

The choice of colourways was also a nice surprise, with five different options. We went for the funkiest of the choices, the tri-colour Deep Lagoon/Jam/Light Quartz which was a must-have as soon as we saw the photos. Something a bit different to make you stand out on the trails.

One last thing to mention is the Heli R features a Digital ID. This is a QR code sewn into the inside of the jacket, that, when scanned, tells you loads of info about the product, from details about its constituent parts, notes on design, caring for your jacket and more. 

Tester’s Verdict:

Overall, we absolutely love the Heli R down jacket from Kathmandu. It has a simple design with not too many bells and whistles, but prioritises sustainable materials and practices, all coming together to make a versatile jacket that will keep you warm and stay easy to carry thanks to its 240g weight.  

Buy Kathmandu Heli R Down Jacket: £140 at

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