Hands-on Gear Review

Kask Vertigo Review

Kask Vertigo in Azzurro.
Top Pick Award
Price:  $299 List | $299.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Super comfortable, durable, inspires confidence, quality feel, faux leather chin strap, excellent rear retention system, full wrap shell protects foam
Cons:  On the heavy side, silicone pads tug long hair, expensive, only available in two sizes
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
Sizes:  2
Weight oz:  11.35
Number of vents:  24
Manufacturer:   Kask

Our Verdict

October, 2015: The Kask Vertigo is Replaced by the Vertigo 2.0
The Kask Vertigo is the most intriguing helmet in our review, and the one our testers reached for first when heading out for a ride. This helmet has an air of quality far beyond any other helmet in our field, and a number of unique features including a double-hinged, highly articulating rear retention band that is lined with non-slip silicone pads. The Vertigo also has a super comfortable faux leather chin strap. Would you expect anything less from a helmet designed AND made in Italy?

Although the Kask brand is relatively new in the US, you will likely recognize the Vertigo as the helmet Team Sky wore in the 2012 Tour de France.

One drawback to the Vertigo is that it only comes in two sizes rather than three. Our testers found that it tends to run very small. We went with the size large and found that it fit similarly to large Bell road helmets and slightly larger than Giro Medium helmets, though not as big as large Giros.

The Vertigo is available in a wider variety of colors than any other helmet we tested. There are dozens of different options, including many national flags and pro team designs. You should have no problem finding a Vertigo in a color that matches your kit or waves your national flag.

The Vertigo meets the CE EN 1078, CPSC 1203 and AS/NZS 2063 standards for half-shell cycling helmets.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Road Bike Helmets

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Luke Lydiard

Last Updated:
Friday
February 20, 2015

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The Vertigo 2.0 vs. The Vertigo


Kask has released a newer version of the Vertigo, the Vertigo 2.0, which retails for $250, almost $50 cheaper than the original Vertigo. According to Kask, the Vertigo 2.0 has new logos and reduced weight, with the 2.0 weighing 9.87 oz vs 11.35 oz for the original Vertigo (with the medium weighing 9.52 oz for the 2.0 version). Kask has also updated the padding to reduce weight and increase sweat absorption and the 2.0 also has a thinner cord strapping, which still uses the leather chin strap.

Check out a side-by-side comparison below, with the Vertigo 2.0 shown on the left and the Vertigo pictured on the right.
Kask Vertigo 2.0
Kask Vertigo in Azzurro.

Hands-On Review


The Kask Vertigo is an in-molded polystyrene and polycarbonate cycling helmet aimed at road cycling. This helmet has an air of quality that is a step above any other road helmet we've tested, which gives the wearer an added feel of security.

Performance Comparison


The Vertigo's retention system keeps the helmet in place wether you are pedaling in or out of the saddle.
The Vertigo's retention system keeps the helmet in place wether you are pedaling in or out of the saddle.

Comfort


This is the highest scoring helmet for comfort, and we awarded it a rare perfect 10. Like a pair of italian leather shoes, no detail is overlooked in this highly refined helmet.

The Vertigo is super comfortable, not because of its lack of weight, but because of its thick, well-placed padding and excellent retention system. The pads are triple density and have a porous synthetic covering that mops up sweat. Once you pack out the pads, a new set can be purchased separately for just under $30. Considering the quality and durability of this helmet, we think that it is one of the few helmets that might last long enough for this to be an option.

Profile view of the Kask Vertigo showing the robust retention system and harness.
Profile view of the Kask Vertigo showing the robust retention system and harness.

The rear retention band is padded with silicone grippers which both pad and grip the back of the head at the same time. We found them to be very good at both duties. In fact, the grippers may actually be too good. A few of our long-haired testers complained that the grippers tugged on their hair when donning and doffing the helmet. Despite the tugging, even these testers agreed that the silicone pads kept the helmet comfortable and in place no matter how hard they pedaled.

The inside of the Vertigo's  Up 'n' Down rear retention system is equipped with silicone pads which both pad and grip at the same time. One of our testers complained that they pulled their hair but the majority of our testers loved the comfort they provide.
The inside of the Vertigo's Up 'n' Down rear retention system is equipped with silicone pads which both pad and grip at the same time. One of our testers complained that they pulled their hair but the majority of our testers loved the comfort they provide.

The Vertigo's chin strap is made from a faux leather that Kask calls Eco-Leather, which is super comfortable against the skin. The inside of the harness yoke is also backed with this same material, which increases the comfort. This is the only helmet we've ever seen with a non-nylon webbing harness and chin strap. Would you expect anything less from a helmet constructed in Italy?

All of these things combine to make the Vertigo truly on a different level of comfort than any other helmet we tested.

The Vertigo's chins strap is made from imitation Eco-Leather which is amazingly comfortable against the skin.
The Vertigo's chins strap is made from imitation Eco-Leather which is amazingly comfortable against the skin.

Adjustments


The Vertigo uses Kask's Up 'n' Down rear retention system, which consists of a very stout retention band with two points of articulation on either side. This is by far the most substantial rear retention band we've seen on a road helmet. In fact, it's burlier than any of the bands in our Mountain Bike Helmet Review. The second articulation point allows the band to be adjusted vertically, yet stay oriented flat against the inferior occipital lobe. (That's the back of your your head, in case you didn't study anatomy.) The wide retention band is adjusted with an equally huge click wheel. This became an instant tester favorite because it is both easy to initially locate and use. Similar to the wheel used on Giro's RocLoc5 system, the Vertigo's wheel allows for precision tightening and loosening. In addition to the wheel, the band can be tightened by pushing the two sides together with two hands. We found this override feature to be useful when initially donning the helmet as well as for collapsing the band into the helmet to protect it during storage.

The Kask Vertigo uses a powerful and easy to find click wheel to tighten the rear retention band.
The Kask Vertigo uses a powerful and easy to find click wheel to tighten the rear retention band.

The Vertigo lacks the kind of hardware on the harness yoke that allows for fore/aft adjustment of the chin strap. The leather chin strap is fixed in a position relative to the yoke by plastic hardware, however, this allows everything to lay flat against the face. Normally we scoff at helmets which lack fore/aft adjustment of the chin strap, but the Vertigo does not need this kind of adjustment because of the way the rear of the yoke is routed through the Up 'n' Down system. The position of the chin strap almost auto-corrects to the right place with the position of the rear retention band. This feature is genius, in our opinion.

The Vertigo's chin strap is connected to the harness yoke with a substantial plastic component. Though it does not allow for for aft adjustment our testers love the way it keeps all straps flat against the face.
The Vertigo's chin strap is connected to the harness yoke with a substantial plastic component. Though it does not allow for for aft adjustment our testers love the way it keeps all straps flat against the face.

Weight


Our size large Vertigo weighed 11.35 ounces or 322 grams, which put it on the heavier side of the helmets we tested, which averaged 10.46 ounces or 297 grams. While this helmet is nowhere near the lightest, our testers agreed that if feels lighter on the head than other helmets in the same weight range because of its excellent fit. This helmet reminds us a little bit of the Troy Lee A1, which feels much lighter than it is, also because of the excellent fit.

There is no other form of cycling where riders spend as much time thinking about weight as road cycling. Typically there is a direct relationship between dollars spent and weight savings. The lighter weight the product, the greater the price. This doesn't hold true for the Vertigo, however. Retailing for $300, the Vertigo is the most expensive helmet in our test, while four others weigh less. If you are looking to get the lightest helmet for the money, you should check out the Giro Savant. If you just plain want the lightest helmet, then check out the Giro Aeon which won our Editors' Choice Award. Our size medium Aeon tipped our digital scale at just 7.94 ounces, making it 3.41 ounces lighter than the Vertigo. That's almost 30% less weight for 100 less dollars.

Ventilation


The Vertigo's 24 vents make it one of the best ventilated helmets we tested, and it took the same ventilation score as the Giro Savant. These vents are evenly distributed around the helmet to keep the air moving. One of our testers pointed out that the large "V" shaped vent at the front of the helmet does an especially good job of drawing cool air into the Vertigo.

The thing that prevents this helmet from earning a top ventilation score is the thick padding. Though the triple density interior padding does an excellent job of mopping up sweat and makes it the most comfortable helmet in our review, it does slightly restrict airflow compared to some of the less padded helmets. Both the Giro Aeon and Giro Atmos ventilated slightly better than the Vertigo, largely because the sparse interior padding does not restrict airflow within the helmet. Neither helmet is as comfortable as the Vertigo, however.

If ventilation is your top priority, then you might consider the POC Octal, which took a rare perfect ten in our ventilation test. The Octal did this by having absolutely enormous vents as well as very minimal padding. The Octal feels considerably less substantial than the Vertigo, though both helmets meet the same CPSC standard. While we value ventilation very highly in a road helmet, we can say that we'd much rather have the Vertigo than the Octal protecting our dome should we hit the pavement at 50 mph.

Front top view of the Vertigo showing the air intake vents.
Front top view of the Vertigo showing the air intake vents.

Durability


The Vertigo took the highest score in our durability test. As soon as you pick up this helmet you can tell that this stout rig is very well made and will stand up to a lot of abuse. One of the best features of the Vertigo is the full wrap shell which covers the lower edge of the polystyrene and protects it from dents and dings. The harness is anchored completely through both the foam and the polycarbonate shell with large plastic stoppers. This bomber method of attaching the harness held up perfectly in our test and also inspired confidence that the helmet will stay put if in a wreck. We've never worn out a chin strap on a helmet before, but the Vertigo's faux leather chin strap appears as if it would outlast the helmet.

Durability is where the Vertigo varies a lot from other helmets in our review, including our Editors' Choice winner, the Giro Aeon. The Aeon and the Atmos both scored very low in our durability test because they leave a lot of foam exposed around the edges. Remember, we aren't talking crash testing here, but rather how well a helmet stands up to daily abuse. All of the helmets in this review should be replaced after a significant crash. Since crashing is a relatively rare occurrence on a road bike compared to a mountain bike, you may want to look for a helmet which will last a long time since you likely won't need to replace it frequently. This is one reason we could justify spending top dollar on a durable helmet like the Vertigo.

The Kask Vertigo (left) took the highest score in our durability test while the Giro Atmos (right) took the lowest score in this test. This was largely due to the vulnerability of the polystyrene foam to damage from every day use. The Vertigo's shell completely protects the lower edge of its foam while the Atmos' shell covers almost none of the bottom edge.
The Kask Vertigo (left) took the highest score in our durability test while the Giro Atmos (right) took the lowest score in this test. This was largely due to the vulnerability of the polystyrene foam to damage from every day use. The Vertigo's shell completely protects the lower edge of its foam while the Atmos' shell covers almost none of the bottom edge.

Best Application


This plush helmet is perfect for general road biking, but also provides extra comfort for long tours, riding across the country, or around the world.

Value


Retailing for $300, the Vertigo is the most expensive half-shell helmet we've ever tested. The Vertigo is 100% made in Italy, as opposed to the rest of the helmets in our test which were all made in China. Like a pair of the fine Italian shoes, the Vertigo is thoughtfully designed and crafted from quality materials. The end result is a substantial helmet which has an element of quality to it that is hard to quantify. Unfortunately, also like Italian shoes, the price of the Vertigo is a bit bonkers.

Despite having the second highest overall score in our test, the Vertigo represents the worst value if you simply divide the score by the retail price of the helmet. By this method, the Giro Savant takes the highest mark. The Savant represents a nearly three times better value than the Vertigo, which is why we awarded the Savant our Best Buy Award.

McKenzie Long logging miles in the Kask Vertigo on a summer day.
McKenzie Long logging miles in the Kask Vertigo on a summer day.

Conclusion


The Vertigo is a very well designed, well-made helmet, and it took the second highest overall score in our field of eight road specific brain buckets.

If the Vertigo is within your budget and you don't mind a few extra ounces, then the Vertigo is an excellent choice.

Luke Lydiard

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Most recent review: February 20, 2015
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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