The Elevation Shell is made for the snowpocaplypse—or to survive tumbling down a 100-foot cliff. It’s tough as hell, though the canvas-like fabric does soften up after a few uses. It features Helly’s interesting H2Flow system for better ventilation. It’s a great coat for several seasons of hard use.
Durability The beefiest and most bomproof shell we’ve ever seen, the Elevation’s thick 2-layer fabric can shrug off a Viking axe attack. The burly, large gague zippers would make the Hulk happy. All kidding aside, it’s a tough shell, and the fabric does loosen up in a few uses and becomes pretty supple. Justify the heavy cash outlay by rocking the jacket at least two seasons—it should hold up fine.
Weatherproofness The Elevation shell is a long coat in the freeride style, with a tall collar and long sleeves. All the zippers are covered or backed by flaps and there’s a nice stretchy powderskirt. No problems here.
Bells and Whistles If the H2Flow system isn’t a bell and whistle, I don’t know what is. In addition, the Elevation shell contains a stiff, windproof brim that’s colored bright orange on purpose to help keep groups together in whiteouts. There are four big pockets plus a pass pocket, elastic wrist gaitors and a stretchy powder skirt.
Function It’s a serious jacket for heavy use. The H2Flow system keeps your ventilation clear of a ski pack—out of the armpits—and the chest pockets are huge for the same reason. Because the fabric is so beefy, Helly put a pair of stretch panels on the back to enable freedom of movement.
Breathability The Elevation Shell is made from a waterpfoof-breathable fabric, so it breathes pretty well. However, Helly’s H2Flow system increases the jacket’s ventilation when things get too warm. Four down-filled pods on the jacket’s interior back panel separate the coat from the wearer, and when the two chest vents are opened, it creates better airflow around the torso. It does seem to work, and, is a more elegant solution to ventilation than pit zips.