We need oxygen to survive but do we really need the new Ski-Doo Oxygen helmet to ride? The first part is true but I’m not sure about the second, so let’s take a deep dive into BRP’s latest entry into the snowmobile helmet wars with this early review.
Buy the Best Helmet
When I was involved in motorcycles back in the seventies Bell helmets produced an ad that stated “If you have a ten-dollar head wear a ten-dollar helmet.” I never forgot that slogan and based on that statement always bought the best helmet I could afford to protect that all important noggin of mine.
Fast forward to today that ad still rings true, albeit at much higher pricing of helmets than in the 70’s. Helmet features and designs have come a long way since then and there are a lot of quality skid lids out there.
Holy Grail of Snowmobile Helmets?
Like most of you I’ve owned many helmets over the years and they’ve all been good but never quite reached the Holy Grail of perfection, especially for snowmobiling. Could the new Ski-Doo Oxygen helmet reach that status? We shall see during this initial helmet test.
According to the Ski-Doo brain trust, it’s not enough to be number-one in machine sales, they want to dominate in every aspect of snowmobile life. From machines, to accessories, to parts, to customer loyalty, and beyond.
This author likes it when companies like Ski-Doo set their engineers and technicians free to think “what if?” Those types of sessions bore fruit like the REV chassis, which revolutionized the way snowmobiles are designed.
Input From Customers
Another such project is the all-important helmet. They listened to their customers, responded to their complaints, and brainstormed it through. The result is the Ski-Doo Oxygen helmet, which appears to address all the objections riders had about previous snowmobile helmets.
My current helmet was long in the tooth and had been with me for many years, so it was time to say goodbye to the old girl. I love my gear but don’t believe in long goodbyes once they are past useful life or something comes along that beats what I have hands down.
Ski-Doo Oxygen Helmet Review
Off I went to my local dealer to look at the Oxygen helmet and try it on for fitment. Upon opening the box I noticed how smooth and shiny the shell was. It might seem odd that I make such a statement, as they are all nice and shiny when new, but this helmet seemed a step above in the feel and quality department.
Next was the wide, almost panoramic, shield which had increased vision in both the vertical and horizontal planes versus my current helmet. The heating element was wide, both top and bottom but out of my normal vision plane.
Lifting the shield revealed positive clicks every few millimeters or so, allowing a number of open shield positions to use as needed. Nice. Next was the rubber trim all the way around the helmet where the shield rested. It appeared to be of automotive quality with a built-in dual lip for a positive sealing surface. Hopefully this will seal the wind out 100% on those below zero days.
eLinQ Magnet Connector
Next up was the red LED light at the back of the helmet which runs off the sled’s battery power. No more frozen AAA batteries to worry about replacing! The light shines bright anytime the helmet is connected and the machine is running. A nice safety feature indeed, especially when following along behind someone with snow dust in your face.
Right next to the light is a unique heat shield connection, the eLinQ magnet connector. It’s a polarized magnetic four pin connection. Since it’s in the back of the helmet, and impossible to see if you’ve got the thing on, it self-connects and orientates whenever it is close to the docking station. This is somewhat confusing but once you see it in action you become a believer.
Here’s another reason to believe. Do you recall all the times you stepped away from your sled only to have your head ripped-off as the heat-shield cord yanked you back like a Chihuahua on a short leash? Your friends certainly remember. The breakaway eLinQ magnetic connection is for you.
Inside Oxygen Helmet
A neck curtain is attached to the helmet as well, to keep the drafts off the all-important and vulnerable neck area. Whether this is detachable or not is yet to be seen.
Within the helmet is a set of cups, if you will, that go around the ears for noise abatement. How many snowmobilers are hard of hearing because of all the wind noise they’ve endured over the years? If this noise reduction system works it will be a real home run.
The buckling system has a ratchet style closure and a quick release tab for easy on and off. I like it.
Compare Oxygen to Modular Helmets
The size of the helmet opening is somewhat comparable to an open modular, in that you can drink or eat while wearing it, but the jaw area does not articulate upwards. This allows the vital chin area to be much stronger, with the added benefit of being able to converse with folks. No more muffled shouting at my riding partner through that old breather box.
There is a fighter pilot sun visor that flips down by a lever on the side. Other brands have the same feature but what’s unique about this design is the chamber in which the sun visor retracts is heated. Engineered for those fog clearing moments, simply not possible with other brands. In addition, a few female testers have commented that the helmet actually stays warmer with the shield’s remote heating control adjusted all the way up. To keep cool, there are two vent ports inside the chin area, controlled by means of levers, exhausted to outside air.
All the features stated above are great but how will they really work? As I purchased the helmet in the fall, it can’t be seen until I get a full riding season under the chin strap. Suffice it to say that all the concerns I had about helmets are addressed in this model, so I’m taking a wait and see attitude. Time will tell but confidence is really high.
Ski-Doo Oxygen Conclusions
- Noise abatement system
- Craftsmanship and sturdy feel
- Battery-less rear LED light
- Neck curtain keeps wind out
- Panoramic clear lens
- Heated sun visor docking station
- Ratchet and quick release buckle
- Multiple shield detents for stability in open position
- Heating elements out of vision
- Unique non-modular design
- Proprietary magnetic heated shield connector at rear
- Detachable wind protector on chin bar
- Optional built-in front LED utility light
- Shell not carbon fiber
- Stratospheric price – $600 – Ouch!
- DOT approved but not ECE tested
- Breath exhaust and deflection are not yet proven
Well I hope I have helped you in your quest for a new helmet, or at least kept you abreast of the latest and greatest in the world of snowmobiling!
Stay tuned for a post season review and analysis. Ride on!