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POC Kortal Mountain Bike Helmet Review

When it comes to safety and comfort on the trails, every mountain biker knows the importance of a reliable helmet. Over the last year and a half, the POC Kortal has been my trusty companion on countless adventures.

From lunchtime rides to intense races, the Kortal has seen it all. The helmet boasts an array of impressive features, like superior rear of head coverage, efficient ventilation, and an impressive fit that allows for all day comfort.

Dive in as I detail my extensive experience with the POC Kortal, weighing the pros and cons, and offering insights to help you decide if this is the right helmet for you.

kristen bonkoski in the wild rye baddie bib and the poc kortal helmet

Review In A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Superior rear of head coverage
  • Plenty of ventilation
  • Large visor
  • Good fit and extremely comfortable
  • Durable and well constructed
  • Works with goggles
  • Rated for electric bikes

Cons:

  • Doesn’t store glasses well
  • Boxy/bulky looking design
  • Color fade
  • Hard to mount a light or GoPro
  • No MIPS (although it’s offered in the Kortal Race MIPS version)

Rating:

  • Safety: 9/10
  • Fit: 10/10
  • Comfort: 10/10
  • Durability: 9/10
  • Breathability: 10/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Total Score: 64/70 or 91%

Price & Where To Buy:

Long Term Review

I’ve been wearing and testing the POC Kortal for about a year and a half now. It has gone with me on countless lunchtime rides, weekend epics, and races in multiple states. I even wore it on the Smoke N Fire 400 bikepacking race.

I’ve crashed in it (more on that later), and it’s been a trusty friend. The only major complaint I have after tens of thousands of miles is that the color has faded quite badly. My bright pink helmet turned to more of a baby pink.

Otherwise, I’ve been very happy with the helmet, and continue to wear it.

kristen wearing shredly shorts and the poc kortal helmet while bikepacking

I Believe Strongly In The Safety Of POC Helmets

Our entire family (myself, my husband, and our son) all wear POC helmets. Despite having a plethora of helmets to test and review, for our personal use, we always come back to POC.

In fact, I ordered the POC Kortal because it was time to replace my beloved POC Tectal and it was out of stock! After a bit of disappointment, I reluctantly made the switch to the Kortal, and am not at all sorry that I did.

Between the three of us, we’ve had MANY crashes in our POC helmets, and while we’ve had to replace a few due to dents and cracks, we’ve never had a broken head.

One of the reasons I liked the Tectal, and now the Kortal, so much, is the superior rear of the head coverage. There are few helmets that provide as much coverage of the temporal and occipital lobes.

The fact that the Kortal does cover so much of the head, does make it difficult to wear a ponytail or bun. I have to wear a very low pony when I wear it. Still, it’s a small price to pay for safety, as far as I’m concerned.

kristen wearing the poc helmet with a low bun

Another unique feature is the inclusion of Recco technology. Recco helps search and rescue to find you if you went missing on the trail.

In terms of safety, the only bummer is that the base version of the Kortal does NOT have MIPS technology. For a $200 helmet, we’d expect MIPS. If you want MIPS, you’ll have to pony up an additional $50 for the POC Kortal Race MIPS.

Great Fit

The other thing that works well for me with the Kortal is that it fits well. It really doesn’t matter how “safe” a helmet is if it doesn’t provide a good fit.

In addition to the rear of head coverage, I find it’s easy to adjust the Kortal to my head. The rear fit dial is easy to adjust and I’ve never had an issue with any tilting of the helmet. The side straps have an auto-split around the ears, so I don’t have to mess with them, and the chin strap stays snuggly in place.

The POC helmets do have a more oval fit. If you have a rounder head, the Kortal may not be as good of an option for you.

Large Visor

The visor is large (larger than most) and provides significant shade coverage. I rarely get color on my face after wearing this helmet, which is much appreciated on long rides.

large visor on the poc kortal

You can also adjust the position to better accommodate glasses or goggles. Unlike the Tectal, which you adjust with screws, you have to actually detach the visor and reattacch it in a new position.

Because I’m worried about breaking the visor doing this too many times, I generally just leave it in the lowest position.

As a safety measure, the visor is designed to break off in the event of a crash. This actually happened to me after I’d owned the helmet for about a week.

Fortunately, this is easy an inexpensive to replace. POC sells replacement visors on their website. You could probably get a warranty replacement too….I just didn’t want to bother with it.

Sunglass And Goggle Compatibility

I don’t usually wear goggles with an open face helmet, but because the Kortal is advertised to work well with goggles, of course I had to test it out. I’m happy to report that it worked as advertised.

The google strap did NOT cover any ventilation holes, and there’s a small indentation to keep the strap from sliding around. It wasn’t as large as the groove on my 7idp full-face, but it seemed to do the job.

I had less luck with sunglasses, however. Despite the claim that the rear vents work well for storing sunglasses, I could never really figure this out. I prefer to store glasses on the front of my helmet, and found it awkward trying to reach around while riding.

Very Comfortable

After fit and safety, the next most important thing for me with a helmet is comfort. And I can confidently say that the POC Kortal is a VERY comfortable helmet.

I wore it for 400 miles on the smoke n fire and never had any pressure points or pain. I feel like that’s the truest test of comfort.

Good Ventilation

I’ve worn the Kortal on many days over 100 degrees and find that my head doesn’t get overly hot or sweaty in this helmet.

In fact, in the winter, I often switch to a different helmet because this one just provides too much airflow for cold days.

poc kortal top down view

Does NOT Work Well For Mounting Accessories

The Kortal does not work well for mounting any sort of accessories. Due to the placement of the ventilation holes and how far the visor pieces comes back, it’s really challenging to mount either a light or a GoPro.

For smoke N fire I had to resort to electrical tape to jimmy rig a light on the helmet.

Rated For Use With An E-Bike

If you’re riding an e-mtb, you’ll be glad to know that the Kortal is certified to the Dutch NTA 8776 electric bicycle helmet standard, currently the only standard for electric bikes.

I’ve worn it while testing out electric mountain bikes for Femme Cyclist, and been happy to know that I have that extra protection when going faster than I normally would. I also wear the helmet when riding my RadPower Radwagon around town.

kristen descending on the specialized turbo levo and wearing the poc kortal helmet

POC Tectal vs POC Kortal

Compared to the POC Tectal (and other mountain bike helmets for that matter), I find the Kortal to look rather bulky and boxy. I’ll take comfort and fit over aesthetics any day, BUT I don’t think it’s the most feminine looking helmet.

poc kortal side by side with the poc tectal

The POC Tectal is more trail oriented, while the POC Kortal is more enduro oriented. If you want to wear goggles, or ride an e-bike, than the Kortal is a better choice.

I also found that the color faded on my Kortal really fast, where it didn’t on the Tectal. (Even though both helmets started as the same color of pink).

All in all, I prefer the Tectal, but both are fantastic helmets.

Scoring

We gave the POC Kortal a 64 out of 70 which equates to 91% or an A-. Super solid grade in my bike.

On safety, I gave the Kortal a 9/10. It lost a point for lack of MIPS technology. Unfortunately, Virginia Tech hasn’t rated this helmet, but in my experience, it’s a safe helmet.

On fit, the Kortal scored 10/10. Personally, I haven’t found a better fitting helmet than the ones from POC. If you have a rounder head, your personal fit score might be less.

For durability, the helmet loses a point for color fading. Otherwise, the helmet is in as good of shape 18 months in as it was on day 1 despite being crashed, dropped, and otherwise abused.

Breathability is 10/10. No helmet provides perfect breathability, but this one is pretty dang close. I happily wear it on hot days.

For value, we’ll give the Kortal 8/10 points. POC products do carry a bit of a premium when it comes to their prices.

Finally, I gave the helmet 8/10 for aesthetics. It’s an attractive and expensive looking helmet, but is a little bulky for my preference.

Bottom Line

The POC Kortal is a testament to POC’s reputation for prioritizing safety and user experience. Having put this helmet through its paces over the past 18 months, I can confidently say it strikes an impressive balance between safety, comfort, fit, and breathability. Its superior rear of head coverage, excellent ventilation, and comfort during long rides make it a top contender.

For those in the market for a reliable mountain bike helmet, the POC Kortal is undoubtedly worth consideration. While I have a soft spot for the Tectal, the Kortal holds its own with a score of 91%. Whether you’re gearing up for an enduro race, a casual weekend ride, or an e-bike adventure, the POC Kortal proves to be a trusty companion on the trails.

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kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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