Bern Watts EPS w/Knit Review
If you are in the market for a solid helmet that can be use on the coldest of days and once spring skiing comes around, then you may want to check out the Watts EPS w/Knit from Bern. The Watts EPS features 7 top vents and 4 rear vents to help keep you cool on warm days. Unlike some other (and more expensive) helmets that we have tested, these vents cannot be opened and closed. Rather, Bern incorporates a knit liner to be worn on colder days to keep your head warm. The vents seem quite large when looking at the helmet from above, but they do taper in with molded foam and the actual opening at the level of your head are not as large as they appear. As for the knit liner, it provides ample coverage and warmth at down to 15 20F or so (in my opinion). On even colder days, I found myself adding an extra beanie underneath. The Watts EPS liner comes with an adjustment tab at the rear which can be tightened and loosened easily to accomodate an extra layer or the removal of one. The liner can be easily removed and replaced thanks to easy snaps (4 of them) and velcro along the forehead area. This allows you to take the liner out and wash it if needed.
The liner is soft, but not overly fluffy or pack a lot of cushion making this helmet feel a little more simplistic than some of the other models on the market which feature fake fur, air pods to get an exact fit, etc. I didn’t find the liner as a step down and barely noticed my helmet during my ski day, which is the point of a helmet–keep you protected and let you enjoy your day on the slopes.
The brim of the Watts EPS works perfectly with my Smith and Oakley goggles and there was no gap between the too. At the rear of the helmet there is a plastic loop to help keep your goggles secure. The brim is nice for sunnier days and also offers the added protection in a potential front fall. The Watts EPS features EPS hard foam meets ASTM F 2040 and EN 1077B standards for snow and ski, CPSC and EN 1078 standards for bike and skate. Carrying this rating allows you to rest easy knowing that you are wearing the appropriate gear and doing what you can to promote safety, in addition of course to riding smart on the mountain. The 2012/2013 helmet model is 20% lighter than its’ predecessor, thanks to improvements into the outer shell. The Watts EPS with liner weighs 20 ounces.
Buyer beware: The Watts is also available in a Hard Hat version. What that means to you is that instead of incorporating EPS hard foam, the Hard Hat simply features burly ABS shell and multiple impact soft Brock® foam inserts. I am not sure why one would want a Hard Hat versus the helmet, as the Hard Hat does not meet the standards for snow and ski, or for bike and skate. If it is not going to offer you the level of protection that leaders and organizers feel that one should have, then why wear it? I am not sure who this product is geared towards, but please make sure you read the details when looking to purchase your helmet, whether from Bern or another company. It is important to know if you are getting the most protection for your money. With that said, the Watts EPS and Watts Hard Hat look identical and run for the same price, $99, which may confuse consumers. Fortunately, Bern states quite clearly on their website that the Hard Hat does not meet the criteria, but be wary if purchasing from 3rd party websites.
The Watts EPS is available in 4 sizes: S/M, M/L, L/XL, XL/XXL, and even within each size you can personalize your fit with the liner adjustment. The size guide on Bern is quite helpful to ensure you get the right size for your noggin’. With that said, it does tend to run a little smaller than other helmets we have tested–so try it on before you buy. The Bern Watts is available in 6 colors (matte and glossy). We tested out the neon green, please note that the actual color is quite a bit brighter or more green than it appears on the web. I like the actual color better than the stock photo color.
The Bern Watts EPS w/Knit as stated above, retails for $99 which is a killer value these days when many helmets retail for $150 or higher. The Watts EPS can also be used for all season, including other sports such as biking and skateboarding. I only tested the Watts EPS on the slopes and therefore cannot comment on its’ other uses, but if you are looking for a helmet to do all, then the Watts EPS may be your best bet.