Helly Hansen Enigma Jacket 2011/2012 Review
The Helly Hansen Enigma Jacket is the greatest jacket that I could not use because of a fatal fit issue. The Enigma is Helly’s top-of-the-line insulated ski jacket and it is one of the most comfortable and feature-packed things I have ever worn. No expense was spared in the creation of this jacket and it is a showcase of technology. Unfortunately, a personal fit issue kept it from being the perfect parka for me, and I will explain in more detail below.
Helly Hansen put every feature and technology that they have developed over their long and experienced history into the Enigma jacket. The longer I had it on, the more added functionality I uncovered.
Let’s start with the fabric. Helly Tech® PROFESSIONAL is employed as the shell fabric and it is a special blend that is waterproof, breathable, and has four-way stretch. Truthfully, it is one of the best technical fabrics I have ever seen. It has a feel that is almost satin-like while remaining totally durable and has none of the “crinkle” effect present in a lot of shell fabrics. For insulation, PrimaLoft® Infinity is combined with 90/10/800 fill goose down to keep you warm in extreme weather conditions. The down insulation isn’t your typical setup and is instead the flagship feature of the Enigma jacket. The innovative Flow Down system puts pockets of down in areas where core temperature regulation is needed most and allows air to circulate to keep you from getting weighed down. In practice, I found this to be an amazing way to have the benefits and warmth of down without the bulk normally associated with it. Down jackets are usually only good for very cold weather and get overly hot when you start heating up; the Flow Down system combined with huge front air vents and behind the arm air vents, make the Enigma jacket way more versatile.
Moving on, Helly Hansen put a bunch of smart touches into the jacket and some of my favorites are the comfortable powder skirt that can be stored in a zippered compartment, the deep “utility pocket” that is perfect for storing your goggles when you are walking to and from the hill, the included goggle wipe that is attached by a clip to one of the chest pockets, and the helmet compatible hood that is adjustable and removable. I also appreciated the cozy hand warmer sleeves that provide a nice barrier for snow coming up the cuffs. Unfortunately, I found these to be a little too short for my large hands and was not able to use them with the thumbhole. I love pockets in a ski jacket and the Enigma delivered, having 8 total. The small pocket near the end of the arm was perfect for chapstick and small items. One final feature that should be mentioned is one that might be considered over-the-top, but is actually an excellent inclusion. The Enigma jacket comes with a nice balaclava that has its own storage compartment located right behind your neck. The balaclava is attached by a zipper and can be removed and worn elsewhere if wanted. It’s nice to have this added warmth on hand when it is totally necessary. As you can see by the length of this section, feature lovers and gear hounds will not be disappointed by the Enigma jacket.
This is the section where I have to give the Helly Hansen Enigma jacket the only knock I had against it and it is the fit. I must preface by saying that I am 6’1″ and have a fairly long torso. The Enigma jacket in a size large was a great fit for me in the shoulders and arms and I liked the athletic cut of the torso. However, I found the jacket to be entirely too short to the point that I would not recommend this jacket to anyone over 5’10”. Both the powder skirt and the actual hem of the jacket barely reached my pant waist (I do not wear my pants low by any measure) and my size large t-shirts stuck out from below. Skiing with this jacket left me cold around my waist because being in an athletic stance caused the jacket to raise up above my pants. As I mentioned in the intro, this is the one thing keeping the Enigma jacket from being my go-to insulated ski jacket. I strongly suggest trying on at a store to make sure the length will not be an issue for you. Looking past the length, the fit was excellent and moved well with me as I skied.
The Helly Hansen Enigma is a phenomenal mid- to heavy-weight ski jacket choice for men under six feet tall, or those who ski in bibs. The $700 price tag is certainly steep, but know that Helly Hansen put everything they had into the jacket. Innovative insulation and features put the Enigma firmly at the top of the pack in its category. The Enigma Jacket is currently available in Arctic and Black.