Helly Hansen Enigma ReviewNovember 5, 2012
- Stretchy material for dynamic riding and a good fit
- Full-featured for snowsports
- Venting system superior to pit zips
- RECCO system
- Helmet compatible hood
- A bit heavy
- Very expensive
Helly Hansen’s Enigma is an excellent and well-designed jacket—versatile, nicely fitting, and built with top-shelf materials, like stretchy waterproof fabric, Primaloft, and down insulation. It has a superior ventilation system than most super-warm ski jackets, making it a more versatile choice for spring-like or frigid conditions. Bummer: it’s heavier than most similar jackets (3.5 pounds) and very expensive.
The outer shell is a four-way stretch fabric with a waterproof-breathable membrane, which allows for a snug cut without feeling constrictive, and stretches plenty during dynamic turns. It’s got a great feel, is fully waterproof, thanks to taped seams, and seems to breathe as well as any waterproof breathable fabric. It’s expensive fabric, which at least partly accounts for the cost.
The Enigma is mostly insulated with Primaloft synthetic fill, but also features 15 hexagonal down-filled pods, which are designed to create a space to trap warmed air against the body without the bulk and weight of extra layers. At the same time, they’re meant to allow for cool air to circulate if the jacket is vented. Our take? It worked somewhat—this is a very warm jacket, but vented well, though that could be partly attributable to the chest and back zippered vents, which are superior to pit zips.
The Enigma has a long list of ski specific features: RECCO reflector, wrist gaiters, removable powder skirt, a tethered goggle wipe, reinforced shoulder pads to protect wear from carrying skis, and an armada of pockets. That stuff is all nice, but does add up in weight. The hood fits over a helmet, and can also be zipped off to save weight or bother.
The jacket’s best feature are the zippered vents on the front and back—two each–in lieu of pit zips. They are mesh-backed, so you can ski with them open without getting snow drift inside even in a snowstorm. They are less bulky than pit zips and because they are more directly exposed to the air, particularly in motion, actually work better.