Klim F5 Helmet Review: You Get What You Pay For...?
Patrick Garbutt | On 25, May 2018
Do you like Bugattis? How about jet aircraft? Albino Caviar? Remy Martin XO Cognac? If you have a taste for the finer (read: more expensive) things in life—and have the bankroll to satisfy your appetite—then you’re probably going to love the Klim F5 Helmet. For those working on a tighter budget, is the Klim F5 worth the premium price? It’s time to find out. Here are our thoughts on the helmet and its value after a season riding within its protective embrace.
Klim F5 Helmet Review
To be clear, the Klim F5 Helmet isn’t actually the most expensive helmet out there in the universe. But it ain’t cheap by any means either, coming in at CAD $699.95. Like much of Klim’s lineup, the F5 Helmet is a premium offering and it is priced as such.
Common wisdom tells us, “You get what you pay for.” Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Let’s take a look at our supercar example from above to prove this point. The Bugatti’s fastest hypercar—the Chiron—tops out at 261 mph, with a price of a cool USD $2.9 million. However, if you can get your hands on one of only 24 soon-to-be-in-production world speed record holding Hennessey Venom F5s, they costs a measly USD $1.6 million. You can blow the doors off that Chiron and still save over a million bucks for your silver spoon-fed kids’ ivy-league educations. Sound like a realistic scenario for anyone reading this? Probably not.
Hang on a sec. Why the hell then are we talking about exotic supercars? Okay, you’re right, that was sort of a tangent—and a pretty loose analogy too. But the point here is that expensive does not always equate best (or fastest in the case of our example). So the question is: does common wisdom hold true in the case of the Klim F5 Helmet? Let’s find out.
Ventilation is the key characteristic that makes the F5 stand out in a growing segment of ultra-lightweight helmets. Most full-face snowmobile helmets require moving air to flow through the helmet in order to expel pent-up heat. That means you either have to be riding at a decent clip or there is a brisk breeze in the air.
But here’s the catch. Usually when mountain sledders are working the hardest (and building up heat) is when they’re moving slowly or not at all. Wiggingly your way, sidehilling through some tight trees for example. That requires a lot of active riding at slow speeds. Or when you’re stuck. You’re not moving at all, but you’re building up heat faster than any other time.
To address this, Klim has engineered the helmet specifically to vent at low-and-no speed. They did this by taking advantage of radiant heat transfer. Four large chimney vents in the top of the helmet allow heat to escape directly up, without the requirement of air flow.
And it works. So well in fact that my head was actually rather chilly on the first cold day out. To address this, the Klim F5 comes with a thin Gore-tex windstopper liner that can be installed between the helmet liner and the EPS shell. The liner acts to close off vents from excess wind while you’re moving. But the waterproof, breathable Gore-tex membrane still allows moisture vapour to pass through the barrier. It works great and keeps enough heat in for comfort while not significantly altering the interior size of the helmet.
Without the liner, the helmet is perfect for early season and spring riding. And I can only begin to imagine the benefits of all that ventilation when riding in the hot summer months on dirt. This truly makes the Klim F5 Helmet a do-all, year-round helmet. A single helmet that you can wear for multiple sports? Suddenly that price tag doesn’t seem so outrageous.
I know what you’re thinking: I can wear my regular sledding helmet in the summer too. Sure you can. But it’s not going to stay as cool as this one, guaranteed.
Fit and Comfort
Fit is totally subjective. Everyone has a different sized and shaped head. Like all helmets, try before you buy if you have the chance. For this test dummy, the fit is snug but not tight, comfortable and secure. Just like you’d want it to be. The tall chin section feels secure and reassuring. The interior cheekpad and forehead material is quite soft—I give it an 8 out of 10 for next-to-skin comfort. The chin strap is covered by the same cozy material.
The Klim F5 is the lightest helmet we’ve tried. For the sake of comparison, here are the weights of some other premium helmets, as measured on our own scale. These all are size large, with the breath box removed.
Klim F5 Helmet 1268g
509 Carbon Altitude Helmet 1278g
FXR Blade 2.0 Carbon Helmet 1332g
Fly Racing F2 Carbon Helmet 1472g
While some of these weight differences may not be all that noticeable at first, we know that the cumulative effect of a few extra grams can make a big difference at the end of a long day. Especially if you’ve suffered some neck strain at any point during the day.
The long and short is this: in a category of the very lightest helmets available, the F5 is the champ, if only by a margin.
Okay, it’s time to get nerdy and talk about safety certifications and tech. The Klim F5 Helmet is ECE certified. That means from a safety standpoint, it’s awesome.
Here’s some bad news though. You can’t ride this helmet on US highways in states that require riders to wear a DOT certified helmet. So if your intention is to use the F5 as a dual-purpose helmet in summer in one of those states, you’re out of luck. But this helmet is designed for off-road use anyway. And for snowmobile use, none of that matters.
For those of us in Canada, this helmet is considered street legal. Yay!
Here’s one other thing to note: the Klim F5 Helmet in its current iteration does not feature MIPS. MIPS is a state-of-the-art helmet technology that helps protect against rotational forces in a fall. It is just now starting to be implemented into helmets, but hasn’t yet found its way into the F5. Hopefully we’ll see it there in the future.
Fidlock Closure System
The Fidlock magnetic closure system is really sweet. It’s quick to use, especially for helmet removal. One little tug on the red tab is all it takes to get free. Securing the Fidlock strap is fast as well, although it can occasionally takes a couple of tries to line up the magnetic closure while wearing thicker gloves. For example, if the strap has a twist in it and you don’t notice, you won’t be able to get the closure to work until you sort it out.
Ultimately, Fidlock is a simple, efficient closure system. You’ll have a hard time going back to using a traditional D-ring securement strap after trying it out.
This is a pretty subjective category, but we think the F5 looks pretty badass.
For one, the visor is almost seamlessly integrated into the shell shape. It can still be adjusted up and down to suit your preference, just maybe not quite as much as most other helmets.
We like the colour scheme of our red model. For 2019, the “Ion Red” will look a little different but still awesome. There are three other colour options, including the ever popular all-black.
The F5 has a nice, narrow profile. It appears quite a bit taller than other helmets, but is only slightly in actuality when measured. The outer-shell shape is tall and skinny, just like your head.
The eye port on this thing is huge! In some ways that also contributes to the ventilation characteristics of the helmet. But also it makes it easy to get goggles in and out.
The F5 is neck-brace compatible.
It comes in the box with a spare visor, ready to be installed after your inevitably smash the original to bits on your handlebars.
The helmet comes with a handsome and handy helmet bag which can be used for transporting it around safely. Very nice.
Klim F5 Helmet Review: Verdict
The Klim F5 Helmet is a true, year-round full-face helmet. It’s the lightest we’ve seen. The ventilation is way better than anything else we’ve tried. Although you can’t take it on highways in the US if you ride dual-purpose in the summer, but in Canada, you can. For snow, it can easily be adapted for colder or warmer days. The fit is great. It’s comfortable.
But is it worth the price? Well, that depends on your budget. If the thought of dropping CAD $700 on a helmet doesn’t cause your eye to twitch, then the answer is: absolutely. Realistically however, the price is likely significantly more than many sledders are willing to spend. Although the prospect becomes a little more appealing when you take into account that it’s a pretty ideal helmet for year-round use.
For those who don’t mind spending the cash, the Klim F5 Helmet kicks ass in every way. And what better way to blow your sledding gear budget than on a sweet piece of safety equipment.