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I was thinking about picking up a new helmet this afternoon. My current helmet:

  • Has had a few accidents
  • Isn't very warm in the winter.
  • Doesn't have great clearance for ski goggles.

I was thinking about picking up a bern helmet I was toing to get either the:

Both helmets are:

I have a couple questions:

  • Anyone have experience with these helmets? How did you like it?
  • Was it warm enough to wear in -10C weather?
  • Any other feedback welcome.
  • Any preferences between them?

(Note the helmets linked do not include the winter insert. I still need to figure out where I can get one of those.)

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Rather than ask people to discuss these helmets, maybe you could go into even more detail about what you need from a helmet, or ask if these helmets will take care of your needs? The second half of this is really more of a call for discussion than a question. –  Neil Fein Dec 8 '11 at 16:39
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Not about helmets, but I wear something similar to this (mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Cycling/MensClothing/Accessories/…) under my "standard" helmet, and it works great down to at least -10. They no longer sell the Descente one I have, but this one looks similar. –  Kibbee Dec 8 '11 at 17:38
    
I cycled through Minnesota winters for several years using a helmet liner in a standard helmet. I didn't cycle every day, but did cycle down to about 0F (-18C) on numerous occasions. Finally quit the winter stuff when I lost the liner (it fell out of my helmet while walking down the hall at work). The liner was a piece of thin "fleece" cloth formed into kind of a skullcap (briefer than the one in Kibbee's link) with two ear flaps that had loops on them for the helmet straps to pass through. (Got it from Performance Bike but they stopped carrying them and I never could find another one.) –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 8 '12 at 15:44
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4 Answers 4

My main issue with the bern's and other snow centric helmets are they are too warm. Most of the helmets are designed for in bounds skiers/riders who exert a relatively small amount of energy on the way down and non on the way up so their body temperatures are on the low side. The bern in particular has always felt way to hot for me even the vented models. For a snow oriented helmet that is compatible with goggles there are a number of other brands which offer adjustable venting and nearly any helmet can be augmented with skull caps to increase the warmth when needed. I bike commute everyday in up to a foot of snow in cold Montana winters and have had great success with my Smith Variant helmet. It provides a good vapor barrier with the vents closed and a moderate amount of insulation with good removable ear coverage. With the vents open there is quite a bit of circulation but you still get good ear coverage.

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I've found excess heat to be a problem too! –  WTHarper Oct 10 '12 at 4:14
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I find that the fit of a Bern helmet (specifically the Watts) in my case varies depending on the liner. I purchased mine with a summer liner and bought an additional winter liner for cold weather riding.

I couldn't wear a big hat when using the winter liner and the ear flaps let too much air pass to my ears and left me cold. It was hard to add another hat or balaclava underneath to keep my head warm (I have a shaved head and need extra coverage, and also enjoy having a hat on when I take off the helmet). FWIW, the fit issues could just be due to me not having a mop of hair to help fill out the helmet. I almost always ride with a hat under the helmet to help it stay snug.

If you are not going out in < 20 degrees Fahrenheit conditions, then the regular winter liner may be fine (or If you buy it sized for the winter liner initially, which then could have fit issues if you swap in a summer liner for warm weather riding).

I preferred to use the Bern Watts with the summer liner while wearing a smartwool balaclava underneath and optionally ski goggles (with the goggle clip) on really harsh days. The wool was breathable enough and warm and provided total head and neck coverage in the winter. I used the same setup for skiing as well.

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I ride Colorado winters, and use a Bern Brentwood with the winter insert. In order to feel warm above the neck, I recommend the following.

I would go with the Brentwood and avoid the Watts. The brim on the Watts can interfere with your goggles. I tried goggles with the summer visor on the Brentwood and they never felt good.

The winter insert is a must. It keeps your ears warm, as well as the back of your neck.

Get some ski goggles. I carry clear OTG (over the glasses) Smiths, but I find that any sunglasses I wear underneath fog up, even if they goggles don't. I mostly need the goggles in the day when it's snowing, in which case it's not very bright out. At night they add extra warmth. Keep the goggles clipped on your helmet so they're around whenever you get caught in bad weather or extra cold.

Bundle up your neck with a SmartWool neck gaiter. I cover my nose, cheeks, and chin with the gaiter and strap it down with the helmet. With sunglasses your breath will shoot right up and fog them, but with ski goggles it will seal off your exhalations and stay nice and clear.

And while I'm on the subject, I recommend a couple other things for winter riding. I love my Swrve Milwaukee ES hoodie. I have an older model; it's only improved since then. I've worn this down to 5º F with only a t-shirt underneath and been comfortable (a very dry 5º). If it gets colder than that, just add a layer or two. The pit zips let you wear this in less freezing temps, but it gets to be too hot above 40º. You won't think it's enough, but on the bike, it's plenty. Rain, sleet, snow, it's fine.

Waterproof dress shoes are handy. I wear Ecco Berlin with Gore-Tex.

I love having ice-climbing gaiters for the wet and snowy days. They keep your pants clean, out of your chain, and give a little extra warmth on the shins.

For hands, I hate lobsters because I can't work the brakes, so I go for the warmest ski gloves I can find. I like these because they let me use touch screens: Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves. You will want to use a glove liner on the really cold days, but they're too warm for anything above freezing.

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We purchased the Bern Brentwood for my son a few years ago, he loved it. There were no issues with fit or comfort. We did not use the winter inserts at all, if it was cold, he wore a beanie style hat underneath.

He did use it on the slopes as well when snowboarding, wearing a beanie/stocking cap for ear coverage and warmth.

The coldest he wore it in was maybe in the upper 20's F, combined with the hat he never complained of being cold.

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I also have a Brentwood with pretty much the same experience. I wear a either a thin beanie or balakava under it to save my ears. I think a beanie is more useful than a winter insert since it's still good once you get off the bike. –  fbo Dec 8 '11 at 21:28
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