Helium Fleece Stories

The Helium is one of those garments that people get attached to. The companion on adventures or a welcome friend at home on a cool night. In 2003 when Kendon and Ben Glass embarked on their mission to travel around the world human powered, their wardrobe of Earth Sea Sky garments included Helium jackets. After two years we asked for the garments back so we could see how they were wearing. The response from Kendon was he couldn’t as he wore them every day! A new wardrobe was despatched and the parcel of worn garments was returned. The constantly worn garments, to our delight, showed minimal signs of wear. Kendon’s original Helium sits in our showroom beside a new one where it is difficult to identify the old from the new.

Kendon Glass in Tibet

A new Helium beside Kendon’s original friend

Kendon visited New Zealand 15 years after his original journey. Visiting us he was delighted to find his original jacket, a familiar “friend” from past adventures. Though a little emotional he was and happy with the reverence Earth Sea Sea was giving it.

Since then others have shared their Helium stories. A handful of these are as follows:

Short stories of our Helium friends:

John Cocks:         

John Cocks hiding from the Patagonia winds in his Scarlett Helium

John Cocks has been an Otago mountaineer for over fifty years. He has made significant contributions to many alpine and conservation projects and has taken on a key role in the NZ Alpine Club’s hut maintenance and building programme. When not working on projects he is in the mountains. John has had one of our Helium jackets for ten years or more and wears it most when he’s walking around town or in the mountains.

“The Helium is a real favourite for me, it raises so many positive comments when I wear it out. I like the feel of it too – it’s so soft and cosy.”

James Greer:

James Greer after hiking the Heaphy Track

James Greer is a recent yet devoted customer of ours who uses his Helium up at various crags in the port hills or out and about across different backcountry trails. Since owning the jacket, James has grown pretty attached to it, especially as it’s one of the only fleeces he’s been able to find that doesn’t ride up at the waist.

“The performance cut in the arms and shoulders lets you move around without any unnecessary bulk and the handy way it compresses so small compared to regular fleeces are details I really enjoy. I feel like I’ll have this forever.”

Rob Frost:

Rob Frost enjoying golden hour

I’m in love with this fleece. I wear it at camp, in huts, during lunch breaks on chilly days, and around home. Every time I put it on I feel like I’m getting a gentle, warm hug. I did not know fleece could be so warm. The high neck and long torso length also mean no cold spots. Amazingly light for how warm it is. And everyone wants to touch it! read more about Rob here.

John Nankervis:

John Nankervis’s old Helium Fleece

Well known in alpine and conservation circles, John Nankervis (Nank) wore his Helium for over twenty years through his mountain journeys and another ten years after his climbing accident. Despite our efforts to give him a new one, he continued to wear his old favourite. Sadly, Nank is no longer with us, but we have inherited his well-loved Helium.

Ryan Taylor:

Ryan Taylor on a recent fishing trip

Ryan Taylor is an incredible backcountry skier known for his many adventures and abilities to push all boundaries. One of our favourite expeditions he’s done was a trip to Tajikistan where he mapped, planned, and explored the country that many people don’t go to. Ryan has two of our helium fleeces, one from ten years ago and another more recently which his partner Midori is often stealing.

“I use the Helium in a lot of situations either as casual wear or on adventures where reliable clothing is essential. Often, I take it on long multiday trips, or in very cold winter conditions such as on backcountry skiing trips in Hokkaido, Japan where the temperature is often below -20C.”

Read more about Ryan here.

John Harvey:

John Harvey in his old Helium Fleece

John Harvey in his new Helium Fleece

John Harvey is a chest physician from England who worked in Timaru Hospital for eight months during his sabbatical. We met in him 2005 when he bought a Hydrophobia jacket and one of our earlier fleeces which are still going strong even after eighteen years of use. He also bought another Helium from us last year too.

“Our family go regularly to The Black Mountains and stay in an old cottage built in 1713, belonging to the local sheep farmer. There is no electricity, water comes from a spring, two wood burners and best of all there is no internet or mobile reception. The weather is unpredictable, and it can get very cold…. the Helium really comes into its own.”

Find out more about the technical details of our Helium Fleeces here.

Jenny Beesley, Mountain Doctors and Ukraine Frontline

The same fleece the Helium is constructed from is standard issue for the US military due to its warmth to rate ratio and durability. It has no extra nylon layers so there is nothing to slow the transfer of moisture. In situations where there is high aerobic activity then a sedentary time any moisture build up would create issues with cold. We included Helium Fleece jackets for Jenny and her team when sending garments through the support of our fundraiser in December 2022. Read more about Jenny and her work in Ukraine here.


Lydia McLean’s story here                                                                                                                                    Blake Hornblow’s story here