POC Fornix Backcountry MIPS Helmet
Size Tested: M/L (55/58cm)
Reviewer’s Head Diameter: 54.6 cm
Stated Weight: 450g
- Aramid reinforcing bridges molded into helmet shell
- Goggle vents and goggle clip at rear of helmet
- Size adjustment system for fitting harness
- Polygiene liner fabric
- MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System)
- 6 adjustable vents
Test Location: Canterbury, NZ club fields; Treble Cone; and Mt. Hutt Heli, New Zealand
Days Worn: 10
Skiers looking for solid, lightweight head protection should check out the Fornix Backcountry MIPS helmet from POC.
The Fornix Backcountry MIPS weighs 450g (claimed weight), features an adjustable harness fitting system, a supposedly more-hygienic Polygiene liner, and six adjustable vents. Perhaps most importantly, the helmet features the MIPS protection system to protect your head and brain from oblique impacts during a fall.
The helmet is shiny black with white highlights. I like the look, but it’s maybe a bit more old school (think Boeri helmets of the past) than other modern lids.
It doesn’t have a visor, which makes flipping your goggles up on the dome easier. With my current helmet, a Giro G10 MX, I have to catch the bottom lip of the goggles on the edge of the visor to make them stay on top of my head.
POC claims the M/L Fornix with its easy-to-adjust dial at the rear of the harness will accommodate 55-58cm. My head measures 54.6cm, so I’m right on the line between the XS/S (51-54cm) and the M/L (55-58). But I think the XS/S might provide a more precise fit and keep the helmet from rocking forward slightly when I’m wearing goggles or a helmet-mounted GoPro.
I was surprised that this helmet was slightly large for me, since I wear a POC Trabec Race MIPS for biking in the size M/L and it fits really well. This could be due to the radial dial that POC uses for fine-tuning adjustments on the Fornix—there’s definitely a point where you can’t make the harness any tighter.
I tried on other helmets in the M/L size and I noticed that even though the medium Smith Vantage is said to accommodate 55-59cm, the BOA system on that helmet will close down to a much smaller circumference. It would be nice if the Fornix had that same feature.
Other than being a bit too big, the helmet is really comfortable. There are no pressure points, the harness doesn’t dig in anywhere, and it fits the shape of my head nicely.
Ear flaps that are too small or too firm are a pet peeve of mine, and the Fornix doesn’t have this problem. It has generously cut and soft ear pockets that are comfortable all day long. There’s thinner, more porous foam in the center of the flap so your hearing isn’t too impaired.
The Fornix features a sliding tab on the rear of the dome that opens six vents located around the top of the helmet. The vent-closure device pivots around a central point and is controlled by a small triangular tab at the back of the helmet.
The vents don’t open or close particularly easily. This is partly due to the friction in the system, and partly due to the size and shape of the tab that controls the vents—it’s small and tilted to one side, and I found it very difficult to open the vents with gloves on.
I could close the vents with gloves on, albeit with difficulty. At the end of a day of freezing rain and snow the vents froze shut and wouldn’t work at all. Granted, this also happens with my Giro G10 MX.
I normally run hot, so I usually have my vents open when I’m skiing or hiking. With the vents open, the Fornix does a good job of letting hot air escape. The six vents on the top of the helmet help with this, as do the goggle vents at the front of the helmet that help circulate the hot air up and out (more on those goggle vents below).
I did wish for a half-open setting for the top vents. I’ve found this useful on other helmets when fully open is a bit much (windy, cold, rainy conditions), but fully closed is too hot. The Smith Vantage definitely has the Fornix beat in this category—it has two sliding tabs to control front and back vents, and both tabs can be set to half-open.
As I mentioned above, the Fornix MIPS also has twin goggle vents. The vents go directly through the front of the helmet, with a vertical vent coming up from the top of the goggle. Hot air from the goggles rises and is drawn back into the helmet, thereby eliminating goggle fogging. There does seem to be a need for this with helmets designed to eliminate “gaper gap.”
The Fornix MIPS has a slight raised edge at the brow of the helmet that helps the goggles sit flush beneath it. The ear flaps aren’t overly bulky, so the straps of most goggles should go over them without bulging out.
My one issue was that the helmet pushed the goggles down over my nose a bit. This could have just been due to the fact that the M/L size was a bit too big for me and I couldn’t tighten the helmet harness enough to stop this from occurring. I was also using a large-framed Julbo goggle, so a smaller goggle frame would most likely have worked better.