Some people hate to wear a helmet when they ride. They claim that the added weight and heat from wearing one, especially during the hot days of summer, outweigh the benefits of wearing one. Personally, I’ve always been fond of breathing so I always wear a helmet. The trick is to find a helmet that provides all the protection necessary while at the same time being light and ventilated so those arguments against wearing one are nullified.
509 is a company that was founded in 2003 to bring style and function to back-country snow sports. Their helmets and goggles are among the most highly sought-after by snowmobile riders everywhere. 509 realized that their line of protective gear would also work very well for the off-road crowd and they adapted their designs for dirt use.
Being both sled riders and UTV drivers, we were no strangers to 509 helmets on the snow side. When the opportunity to try out their latest dirt-centric skid lid, we didn’t hesitate. They sent over the Altitude Off-Road and their newest Sinister MX-5 goggle for use to review. To say the least, we were impressed.
The 509 Altitude helmet is constructed from an innovative new thermoplastic poly-alloy outer shell material. 509 claims that this all-new material makes the Altitude one of the lightest helmets in the category, with a starting weight of just 1260 grams. I can honestly say that my test helmet is one of the lightest poly helmets I have ever worn. It always amazed me what the manufacturers are coming up with. It used to be that a poly-shell helmet was going to be pretty light, but they were always about the same. This new design is pretty cool because it truly does keep the weight and bulk down, while retaining the same safety standards you’d expect out of a non-poly shell helmet. When we see buzz words like “innovative” we usually dismiss them as standard PR-lingo, but in this case, it fits.
So, knowing that it is light is one thing, but what about being cool? For a helmet to keep you cool while riding takes ventilation. It’s one thing for a helmet to have openings or ports in the front, but that is meaningless if the air can’t travel through the helmet as you move. The best helmets have a shell constructed with opening for air to not only get in, but also get out at the rear of the helmet. They also need to have an inner shell that allows air to flow through, while directing it toward your head. Finally, the inner liner has to allow for proper airflow too. The Altitude has eight oversized intake and exhaust vent ports, as well as a liner that allows your head to breath. The wicking fabric of the liner pulls moisture away when you sweat, helping to keep you cooler.
So now that I’ve removed your objections to wearing a helmet, let’s discuss the most important reason to wear one – safety. The 509 Altitude Off-Road helmet has an inner shell made from dual density internal EPS foam. This provides two levels of impact-absorbing protection. As we already talked about some, the 509 thermoplastic poly-alloy outer shell also provides a high level of puncture prevention in addition to being lightweight. The Altitude helmet is covered by not just one, but two world leading safety standards – DOT and ECE 2205 Certification. Knowing that it will keep you cool, and safe, while being light weight, makes this a great helmet.
The Altitude helmet comes in nine total sizes: Youth SM-LG and Adult XS-2XL. These sizes are served by three individual outer shell molds. This keeps the overall shell profile smaller with the liner dialing in the fit. It also serves to keep the weight down.
You can see clearly now
509 doesn’t just stop there, however. They design goggles and helmets to work together, so they recommend buying and using their goggles to fit perfectly with their helmets to get the utmost in fit and function. Their Sinister MX-5 goggles borrow a lot of technology from the snow side, which actually works very well in a dirt goggle.
The first thing to note is how well the goggle fit with the helmet. The foam on the goggle frame matches up perfectly with the opening on the helmet for a secure fit that offers you complete protection. The frame shape of the google fits well too, and also offers up a ton of vision area. The view port is so wide with these goggles that it doesn’t obstruct your vision in the slightest. The lenses are durable and scratch resistant and have built-in tear-off posts.
The frames, like we said, borrow heavily from the snow side. This gives the goggle a great deal of open ventilation to reduce fogging without letting in dust and mud, a nice and vital feature. The removable nose guard not only adds the added protection from rocks and debris on the trail, but it keeps you from getting the dreaded “dirt snout” from dust along the way.
The strap has silicon strips to keep it positioned on the helmet, and the strap connects to the frame via the popular outrigger style connections. This style of connecting the strap to the goggle has become all the rage lately and we like it. It works best to keep the goggle firmly planted on your face and reduce slippage. Whoever came up with this style of goggle frame – thank you.
Overall, the 509 Altitude helmet and Sinister MX-5 goggle is a winning combination that we liked very much. The helmet is extremely lightweight and yet offers up the safety features to inspire confidence when wearing it. It is well ventilated so you don’t overheat on the trail. The goggles are the perfect compliment to the helmet and fit great. The thick face foam keeps any sweat out of your eyes and seals tightly against dirt and dust.