The Stats and Facts
OR Helium Marmot Super Mica
6.7oz (Med) according to my scale 8.4oz (Med) my scale
Pertex Shield WPB Membrane Marmot Membrain Strata
No Reinforcements Reinforced Shoulders & Hips
One Zipper Chest Pocket Two high hand pockets
One internal stuff pocket with loop No internal pockets
No adjustable cuffs Adjustable cuffs
Full hem drawcord Partial hem drawcord
Two-way adjustable hood Two-way adjustable hood
No Pit Zips Pit zips
Helmet Compatible(?) Hood Helmet Compatible Hood
Marmot Super Mica on the left, OR Helium on the right. Super Mica has two front pockets that are mesh-lined (could work as vents for better breathability) and out of the way of a harness or hip belt. OR, to save a few ounces, opted for one fairly small chest pocket. The Super Mica's two chest pockets are each significantly larger than the Helium's chest pocket.
Super Mica has pitzips, Helium doesn't.
OR Helium has an internal stuff pocket with a loop for clipping to a carabiner. The pocket is a good size for a wallet or cell phone, but is under a harness or hip belt if wearing a backpack.
Super Mica's front pockets are mesh-lined on the inside so they can be used for venting. They don't work very well for venting, however, because the pockets don't let much air in. Better than nothing, I guess.
Super Mica fabric is reinforced on the shoulders and at the hips to increase wear with a pack. Also, the hem drawcord on the Super Mica only actually cinches the back half of the hem. The Helium's hem drawcord cinches the whole hem.
Super Mica has a drawcord around the brim of the hood.
Super Mica has a second drawcord pull from the back of the hood. This adjustment works pretty well in all conditions.
The Helium has one drawcord pull on the hood that pulls from the back and also tightens a small section of the brim of the hood (the section between my fingers). It's an easy system, but the hood doesn't stay on very well in high winds.
Elastic cuffs on the Helium
Adjustable cuffs on the Super Mica, though the velcro patches are so small that it doesn't hold extremely well. When I reach above my head with the cuffs tight, they come undone.
Helium packed into its own pocket with a loop for clipping to carabiner. The whole package is small enough that it's great for clipping to a harness for use against wind or rain.
OR Helium in a size medium. I'm 6'2" and 185lbs. The fit is comfortably trim and will accommodate a thin mid layer, but that's about it. It does fit over my Arc'teryx Atom LT hoody, but it's snug.
Marmot Super Mica in size medium. The fit is about the same as the Helium with my arms down and would accommodate a thin mid layer. When I wear this jacket under a harness, it pulls out of the harness slightly when I put my arms above my head. The OR Helium feel great under a harness. It easily stays tucked in and there is full range-of-motion with my arms.
Helium is kinda helmet-compatible. With the jacket totally zipped up and the hood over a helmet it is really tight across my chin. When I use it with a helmet I don't keep it zipped up. The brim, though reinforced, is pretty flimsy and doesn't keep its shape very well.
Super Mica feels better over a helmet. There is actually room inside the jacket to breathe. The brim is also reinforced a little better and keeps its shape better. Neither of the hoods are big enough to allow much head movement laterally with a helmet when the jacket is fully zipped. Though they technically fit over a helmet (which is nice), neither work well with a helmet.
First of all, let me say that both of these jackets are good. Both are extremely light and breathe decently well. Hiking uphill in either of these jackets will definitely lead to clamminess, but the Marmot handles that slightly better than the OR, thanks mostly to its pit zips. Though neither of these jackets has seen harsh, prolonged rain storms, both have been through moderate rain and haven't had even the slightest problem dealing with it. Both have a great DWR and neither have wetted out.
Durability is a toss up between these two jackets. Though the Super Mica is reinforced, the fabric on the Helium feels slightly more robust. I mentioned in the previous post that I worried about climbing in my older OR Zealot jacket for fear of tearing it. I don't worry about that with the Helium. I've scraped it against Ogden quartzite without any problems. The other reason I don't hesitate to climb in it is because OR has an unconditional lifetime warranty. Though I try not to abuse the system, it is nice to know that I'm covered if I ruin the jacket.
Obviously the Super Mica is a full-featured jacket at a super light weight. That comes at a price. $200 retail for this jacket, compared to $150 for the Helium II (the updated version of my jacket; it's more waterproof, more breathable, and 0.4oz lighter than my jacket. Yep, you heard right, 0.4oz lighter! How do they do it?).
So, if I had to choose one of these two jackets, I would choose the OR. The main reason for this is because it is better to climb in, in my opinion, and the majority of what I do is climbing. It stays put under a harness, can pack into its own pocket and clip to a harness, and OR's unbeatable warranty allows me to climb without worrying that I may ruin it.
The Super Mica is probably the better jacket for hiking and backpacking, however, because it vents better which makes it more versatile when hiking, especially uphill. The fit is great as well, when you don't have to lift your hands above your head or when you're not wearing a harness, and the hood is more adjustable for using in bad weather.
So, it's kind of a toss up between which of these jackets is better. If the comparison was between the OR Helium and the Marmot Mica (not the SUPER Mica), I wouldn't hesitate to say that the Helium is better because of its more robust material and OR's warranty, but the Super Mica offers a few extra details for not much added weight that, if you're a backpacker or hiker, may be worth the extra money.