The Oakley MOD 5 MIPS works hard to be groundbreaking, and in most instances, it succeeds. It's top of the line, innovative headwear with some truly interesting features.
The Oakley MOD 5 MIPS in its natural playground -- A large, snow-covered resort.
The fit of the MOD 5 MIPS is snug, and comfortably so. The earpads are cupped, with a thick layer of padding around the edges so your ears feel more cocooned than smashed once you buckle the chin strap. They're very reminiscent of the Giro Zone MIPS, only, with a rubber patch on the outside of each ear, we didn't find quite the loud wind tunnel roar that the Giro put out.
The ear flaps, while cupped for comfort, mitigate a good deal of wind noise in part because of the rubber patch on the outside.
The chin strap padding is fairly standard and the buckle is the more modern Fidlock, a magnetic connector that cyclists will find oddly similar to clipless pedals. You can personalize the inner fit of the helmet with the Boa Fit system, essentially a click wheel at the back of the helmet that tightens or loosens the inner liner for a more specific fit. Most of our top helmets employ a similar feature. Oakley's version, while effective, seems to cinch more at the back of the head than a more complete and uniform tightening. The fit is still fine, it's just noticeable that the cinching is very much geared toward the back.
The Boa fit system, while effective, seems to only cinch the back of your head.
Oakley's integrated venting system (more below) doesn't have a plethora of open vents and of the ones it does have, the two on the top can be closed when the temperature drops and the two on the back are aerodynamically designed so that cold air penetration will be minimized when traveling forward/downhill. We did find that the ear pads could be a bit drafty on a cold day. Not enough to send you into the lodge for hot chocolate every other run, but certainly noticeable. It's certainly still a warm helmet, but if you're prone to cold ears, or live in the a seriously arctic environment, consider wearing a balaclava or seeking out a warmer model, like the Smith Quantum MIPS.
The MOD 5 MIPS scored well for ventilation, but perhaps not as well as Oakley would have you believe. The MOD 5 has an integrated venting system. Essentially, instead of having the standard vent holes and relying on simple airflow to do the job, Oakley has tried to harness the flow of air to do more than just vent the helmet. There are two, more traditional vent holes on the top of the helmet that can be opened or closed with a switch. Then, there are vents that go up from under the brim and exit via two, small, slit-like vents at the front of the helmet, another small slit in the middle, and two afterburner-ish vents (think the back of Tom Cruise's fighter jet in Top Gun) at the back of the helmet. The idea is that air flows up through the bottom of your perfectly matched goggles (thank you, MOD system), into the vents under the brim, and then out the other vents throughout the helmet, thus helping to keep your head cool and your goggles fog-free.
The two back vents give the MOD 5 an element of Top Gun.
It's a novel and somewhat out-there idea, and for the most part, it works. We didn't have any fog issues in testing the MOD 5 and when we took it out on a fairly warm day, we didn't come back in looking like we just finished the Bermuda Marathon. It's certainly not the most ventilated helmet we tested (see the Salomon MTN Lab for that), but it's not bad. On those uber-warm spring days you might get a little sweaty, but beyond that, you should be fine.
This is really the biggest drawback to the MOD 5 MIPS. At a husky 21.6 ounces, it's one of the heavier helmets we tested. On one hand, the majority of resort skiers won't really notice the weight. If you're of reasonable build and spend the majority of your days riding lifts and then letting gravity do its thing, it's unlikely the heft of the MOD 5 MIPS is going to be a dealbreaker for you. However, if you have a smaller body build, frequently find yourself shopping for clothes in the petite section, or spend significant time going uphill under your own power, you should probably give this helmet a test run at your local retailer before going all in on a $240 top weight.
This is an area that is going to make a great many people true believers in the MOD 5 MIPS. Gone are the days when you have to match up your goggles and helmet to make sure they fit well together — no more matchmaking. Oakley's patented Modular Brim System allows you to swap out the brim for one that fits your goggles the best. The helmet comes with two separate, removable and interchangeable brims, one for smaller goggles, one for larger. Changing the brims out takes a couple of minutes and a small screwdriver. The hope is that the brim can be adjusted to create a smooth seal with the underside of the brim to maximize the effect of the ventilation system (described above). Of course, it also just makes you look more like the local pro too, so there's that. In short, it works. It's a small, but potentially crucial, feature.
Oakley's Modular Brim System.
The MOD 5 MIPS has a very modern, space-age look to it. It fits with many of Oakley's futuristic designs. It's a ski helmet with a little bit of jet plane mixed in for good measure. The only small downside, at least to our sense of style, is that the brim, while wholly functional, does make the MOD 5 MIPS look a little bit like Erik Estrada's old helmet from CHiPs. But, hey, it was a popular show and as we recall, Estrada was quite the catch in that helmet. All that being said, the overall design is clean, smooth, and definitely slick.
Is it a modern ski helmet, or an old-school motorcycle cop helmet?
This is a high-end helmet that would serve just about any dedicated skier well. Given that it's not ultra-light or excessively vented, we're inclined to recommend it more for resort skiing, but if you're only in the backcountry a few times a year, you shouldn't have any complaints there either. It's definitely pushing the envelope and a bit experimental, so those looking for the latest technology or who want to be in on the ground floor of the next great advance in ski helmets ought to give the MOD 5 MIPS a look.
The value in the MOD 5 MIPS is in the new technology. You know how the latest, greatest cell phone, or laptop, or other techy gadgets always seem to cost an arm and a leg? There's a little bit of that same principle in play here too. That's not to say it's a bad value, just that you're paying, in some part, to be the first. The MOD 5 MIPS has a ton of great features and a number of truly unique ones to boot, so you're unlikely to be disappointed in your purchase, but at $240, this isn't the kind of helmet you buy for your one weekend trip of the year.
Stylin' above Lake Tahoe in the innovative Oakley helmet.
The MOD 5 MIPS is the most unique helmet we tested. It's well-built with a bunch of great, new features that meet Oakley's long-standing image for innovation.