Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have been wanting to turn off the paved main roads to see what beautiful scenery is down all the dirt and gravel forest roads I have been passing. Sure, you can use your street gear for off-road riding in a pinch, but I am planning to get into adventure riding in a big way. I want equipment that will protect me on the way to the dirt and then be comfortable while working up a sweat off-road.
Having been a strictly on-road touring rider for the past seven years, I am discovering a whole new world of ADV gear. Based in Idaho, Klim is a leading powersports apparel manufacturer with a complete line of quality Adventure gear. Founded in 1999, Klim has been under the Polaris umbrella since 2012.
Klim has helmets for a wide range of budgets. After reviewing all the specs and pricing for off-road Klim helmets, I chose the F3 in Prizm Orange Krush as my entry helmet for getting into Adventure riding.
Unboxing the Klim F3 reveals the helmet in a sturdy storage bag. Attached to the chin strap is a polybag. The polybag contains extra peak screws, a Klim sticker, a small card with information about the Fidlock chin strap closure, a folded instruction sheet, and a card with a printed link to a manuals page that doesn’t contain any F3 info, but did pique my curiosity on some of their other products—got me to look! Note that Klim also makes an F3 Carbon ECE for Europe. It is made of carbon fiber, not DOT-approved, and $120 more than the $280 Klim F3 DOT/ECE edition that is legal for use in the United States and Europe.
Taking a look around the F3, the first thing I noticed was the size of the eyeport. It is huge; the sides of the eyeport are behind my eyes. Klim claims that the eyeport on the F3 has the broadest, unobstructed field of view in its class.
Klim includes a Breath Box liner that snaps in to block the incoming airflow from the front vents in cold conditions. The adjustable peak has channels to direct air directly into the always-open, mesh-covered intake vents. Klim says there are 13 intake ports, but I only count 12. Still, anywhere in the front that a vent could be, Klim has put one.
There are six exhaust vents in the rear—one at the crown, two high at the back of your head, and three down low. The Klim F3 helmet is designed to vent the heat off your head even while standing still. There is a wide, expanded polystyrene area across the bottom of the helmet, at the back, to be compatible with industry available neck braces.
Flipping the lid over, I quite excitedly explored the very interesting Fidlock chinstrap locking mechanism. Fidlock is a German company that makes unique, simple, and secure locking mechanisms. Klim has replaced the expected double D ring chin strap closure with a Fidlock.
Grab and pull down on a one-inch red tab and the 3/4-inch chinstrap lock comes apart. Simply return the tab back near where you took it apart, and it magnetically snaps itself back together. My first impression is, “No way this will hold.”
However, you can yank on the Fidlock forwards, backward, sideways, up and down, and it won’t come loose unless you pull on the red tab. Even if you aren’t currently in the market for a new helmet, you have to check this thing out the next time you are in a store that sells this helmet. It is literally a one gloved hand move to secure or unlock the chin strap on the Klim F3 helmet. Next time you take off and realize you didn’t secure your chinstrap, you won’t have to stop—just reach up with one hand and click it.
The F3 has three shell sizes to cover all intermediate oval heads from small to 2XL, with 3XL available only in the TRG Black colorway. Klim uses varying thicknesses of anti-microbial, fast wicking, smart foam cheek pads, and liners to fill the shapes and provide all-day comfort.
I like that Klim offers an optional F3 Chin Vent Camera Mount ($30 MSRP) that snaps into the blunt front point of the F3. Using the Chin Vent mount, you don’t have to glue your camera on the side or on top of your helmet. I know many people who have sheered their cameras off the top of their helmets by not ducking low enough.
Sliding the F3 over my ears for the first time was not at all painful as I remembered dirt bike helmets feeling. It seems the widest point of the opening is also where my ears are. I slid my prescription glasses in smoothly, and they felt secure. I also tried my riding sunglasses—they slid in, correctly positioned also.
The front nose of the F3 is so low that it looks from the inside like I am wearing a 3/4 helmet rather than a full face. There is a tremendous amount of front visibility, as the chin bar of the F3 doesn’t block my view like other off-road helmets I have owned. This extra downward visibility is helpful when picking my way through rock gardens.
The headliner feels as though Klim molded it just for my head. Snug all around with no pressure points. The cheek pads are very smooth and feel snug without being oppressive. As always, the shape of your head will vary, and we strongly recommend you get a helmet professionally fitted in person.
My first impression is that the F3 feels light on my head. I always like to check the actual gear weight, and with the angle-adjustable peak, it tipped my scale at 3 pounds, 2 ounces—about six ounces less than an Arai VX-Pro4, though six ounces heavier than a Kali Shiva.
Getting the Klim F3 ready for actual use and not just protecting me from a fall off my desk chair, I mounted a Bluetooth communication device. The expanded polystyrene shell is thick, but the mounting bracket opened wide enough to slide up the inside, and tightened up snug. The speakers fit where they are supposed to and are recessed enough to not touch my ears. I fitted my goggles, and the strap laid securely in well-designed channels. The ducktail spoiler on the back of the helmet keeps the goggle strap from slipping up.
I took off for an all-day, on- and off-road adventure on a stock BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, so I was in the helmet for 7 hours. The F3 stayed comfortable the entire time. The temperatures ranged from 60 degrees to 85 degrees.
At up to 80 mph, I didn’t experience any head buffet at all while sitting (I’m 5’ 10”). I stood a few times at 70 mph and, as long as I kept the peak tipped so it didn’t catch the wind, it didn’t buffet at all. As the peak is hand-adjustable, I pulled it full forward—about an inch of total travel—and I could keep my head in a comfortable straight and level position and not get any wind yank at all when above the windshield.
Keep in mind that the Klim F3 is an off-road helmet, and not an adventure helmet. An ADV helmet has a faceshield and is designed with considerations for highway use. Regardless, I have no issues with the F3 on-road and at pretty good speeds.
The airflow over my entire scalp is a real physical sensation. There are so many open-air ports that I feel the air flowing through the three channels in the shell above my scalp. Even at rock crawling speeds, I can feel air movement flow inside the helmet. I wore the goggles over my prescription glasses for a couple of hours, and then didn’t use the goggles again for the rest of the day. There was no dust and, even on the freeway, the shape of the helmet seemed to minimize direct airflow towards my eyes.
I did place a few mobile calls while on the freeway, and they told me the calls sounded exactly like the calls I make from my Yamaha Venture touring motorcycle when I’m wearing a modular helmet—no extra wind noise. I listened to music and FM talk radio the whole time, and didn’t need to have the volume up any higher than usual for a modular helmet on my touring bike. Turn-by-turn instructions were clear from my GPS. I mention the speaker volume to give you an auditory frame of reference because I now wear hearing aids when I am not wearing a helmet.
Thankfully, I report that I didn’t test its crashworthiness. So, once again, I will leave that up to DOT and ECE testing. The Klim F3 helmet is an aggressive, off-road helmet that is light weight, has good visibility, and is priced competitively. With all this airflow, I will be reaching for the F3 to ride my Venture on hot days. Why not?
Klim F3 Helmet Fast Facts
- Sizes: S-3XL (54-65)
- Colors: TRG Black; Prizm Orange Krush; Prizm Kinetik Blue; Prizm Electrik Lemonade
- Certifications: DOT and ECE
Klim F3 Helmet Price: $280 MSRP