POC KORTAL RACE MIPS HELMET REVIEW
Review& Photos by Max Rhulen
POC has long been an innovator of both style and protection across a wide range of action sports. Their style may be a draw for some, but it may also be off-putting for others. However, there is no denying their safety and ingenuity should make them a large contender when looking for a new helmet. We got their flagship open face helmet – the Kortal Race MIPS – in to test, and thoroughly enjoyed it overall, but it’s not perfect. Read on to find out why.
The POC Kortal Race Mips helmet is POC’s premier trail and enduro mountain bike helmet. At a $250 price point it is one of the more expensive helmets on the market, but a helmet is not the piece of equipment to skimp on. POC states that the Kortal is a lightweight helmet that provides extended protection with a seamless goggle fit. The helmet features a satisfactory amount of ventilation while still covering and protecting a large portion of your head. The Kortal is certified for use with e-bikes as the helmet passes the Dutch NTA8776 standard, which tests helmets at higher impact speeds.
In the event of a crash the POC Kortal has many features to keep you safe. The visor is designed to break away, thanks to a patented system. A breakaway visor lowers the chance of it snagging and inflicting a neck injury. This visor will raise high enough to stow goggles, and the shell is designed with a section on the back where a goggle strap will sit without blocking vents. In addition to a breakaway visor, POC has integrated MIPS into the Kortal to help protect against concussions and other more serious brain injuries. If you are unfamiliar with the MIPS technology, it is a system which allows different layers of the helmet to slide on each other enhancing rotational impact protection. The Kortal features one of MIPS latest versions of their slip-plane tech, Integra. Accompanying MIPS, this helmet also includes safety features like an Aramid bridge, twICEme NFC Medical ID, and a Recco reflector. Aramid is a strong fiber that is woven together to improve protection against objects that could penetrate through the helmet, like a branch or sharp rock. This fiber is used in aerospace and military applications like ballistic body armor and marine hull reinforcements. In other words, it’s very strong without adding much weight.
twICEme NFC Medical ID is a technology that is not yet commonplace, but I believe we will see more features like this moving forward. twICEme is a small electronic chip that is built into the helmet. With the use of your phone, you can load your medical history and emergency contacts to this chip so first responders can give you a higher level of care. The chip is about the size of a coin and does not need batteries or to be charged. In addition to twICEme the Kortal features another piece of technology that is helpful for first responders, Recco. Recco reflectors are normally a safety feature you see on the snow sports side of the industry, but now they are making an appearance in many other sectors. Recco is used to locate those that have gone missing. A Recco detector emits a radar like signal that the reflector installed on, in this case your helmet, reflects back. Many ski patrol and other first responders are outfitted with this technology, and it could save your day if you take a spill in the backcountry.
Available in a choice of 8 colors from subdued to striking, and with a three size range from 51cm to 62cm, the $250 Kortal Race MIPS should be available in a configuration to suit just about anyone with pockets deep enough.
Testing and reviewing protective gear is always challenging because you hope that you never have to use the product in the way that it is intended. Fortunately, I did not have any mishaps during my time riding in the POC Kortal. Without testing the safety features of the helmet, I can speak to the comfortability and ease of use. The POC Kortal Race Mips has many vents, and they all seem to be strategically placed. There is a generous area of vents placed on the front of the helmet allowing air to flow nicely over the head. These vents kept me cool, and I never felt like I was overheating in this helmet, even when pushing hard on the climbs. I did multiple 20-mile rides in the Kortal and did not have any discomfort or rubbing. The buckle and chin strap were comfortable and easy to use with gloves, and the dial on the back of the helmet adjusted the fit with a quick turn. Lastly, the pads on the interior were comfortable and plush. I have very little to harp on with the Kortal. The features and details on this helmet are great, but the fit is unfortunately not quite right for my head.
Every helmet manufacturer creates a helmet with a slightly different shape. Not every helmet will fit every head, with that, it seems like the POC might fit a narrower range of people then some of the other leading brands. After having multiple testers try on this helmet and struggle with the fit, I decided to give it a go. The Kortal has a very oval-like shape and I found that it has pressure points that squeezed on both of my temples. For myself it wasn’t over bearing unless I had the helmet fastened down super tight on my head. After a longer ride, around 2 hours, I would notice a considerable release of pressure when I removed the helmet. This being said there are many reviews on POCs website saying how well the helmet fits. Everyone is different and you have to find what works best for you. If your skull matches the ovality of the POC head form, then you’re in for a treat with the quality of the Kortal Race MIPS.
Helmets, although they are protection, can be a fashion statement. In my opinion the Kortal Race MIPS has a nice look to it. The visor has very straight, angular lines that feed back into the helmet giving it a very fast and aggressive look. Coming in a wide variety of colors this is a great helmet if it fits your head right.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Both safety and style come into play when looking for a new helmet. You need to buy something you like the looks of because at the end of the day you are the one wearing it. However, safety should not be sacrificed in that decision. The POC Kortal Race MIPS brings safety, with features like MIPS, twICEme, and Recco, and it brings style with a variety of colors and an aggressive looking design. The Kortal has a very oval shape and we had trouble getting the helmet to fit a wide variety of people, but if the helmet fits, it could be for you!
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.