POC Octal Review
Cons: Limited comfort and adjustability, no MIPS liner
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The POC Octal tops the charts in our weight and ventilation metrics with its simple lightweight design, but struggles a bit in the comfort and adjustability ratings, ultimately costing it a spot among our top award winners. With its unique aesthetic, the Octal stands out in the sea similar-looking products.
The interior of the Octal has a very minimalist design, with a very thin and light headband adjustment system, and a few small and thin pieces of padding. This simple design places your head directly against the EPS foam liner, and unless your head is the exact shape of the helmet, this will potentially lead to uncomfortable pressure points. Most other helmets we reviewed have more generous padding and more expansive and adjustable headband systems to provide a more comfortable and versatile fit.
The Octal's adjustable headband system has a 56 to 62 cm size range in a size Large and provides about 2 cm of fore and aft adjustment. We found that our size Large fit much bigger than expected. While we were able to tighten down the headband for a comfortable fit, the helmet still felt big and bulky on our head. Also of note is that the chinstrap system is permanently affixed to the body of the helmet both in front and in back, and the Y-buckles do not have any adjustment. We found that this minimalist design could provide excellent lightweight performance for the right rider, but it lacks the adjustability to fit a very wide range of riders.
The Octal is among the lightest helmets in our lineup and on the market, weighing in at 281 grams in a size Large. While this is certainly a very impressive weight, keep in mind that this model does not include a built-in MIPS liner like most other competitors. When you consider the additional 20-30 grams that the MIPS liner would add, the weight of the Octal is right in line with the other lightweight helmets that we tested.
Although style very much depends on personal tastes and preferences, we think that the Octal is a very nice looking helmet with its distinct Swedish design. POC is a Swedish company, and all of their helmets seem to stand out from the crowd with their unique profiles and aggressive ventilation designs. The Octal also has rubberized sunglass grips on the front vents and comes in a large assortment of modern, sleek color options.
The Octal provides some of the best ventilation of any helmet that we tested, and possibly any helmet on the market. Thanks to its aggressively designed 21 vents and the lack of an internal MIPS liner, there's really not much stopping the flow of air from directly reaching your head. While there are obvious tradeoffs for this level of ventilation, like the aforementioned lack of a MIPS liner and the minimalist headband and padding design, riders looking for the ultimate in cooling and breathability will appreciate the Octal.
This Octal has a very durable build, with a very thick EPS foam layer that is almost completely encased in a protective shell. It is one of the only models in our lineup where there is no exposed foam material around the brim of the helmet. While the helmet's structure is impressively built, the thin headband system and a weak anchor point for the fore/aft adjustment tabs prevent the Octal from obtaining our highest ranking in this metric.
With solid performance and a slightly high-end price tag, the Octal provides great value to the rider looking for the ultimate in lightweight ventilation. Keep in mind that the comfort and adjustability features are refined as those on other models, but if you're able to live with this, the Ocatal will be a great choice. Other riders looking for more creature comforts and the ability to dial in a more customized fit will find a better value with other products.
The POC Octal provides an incredible level of ventilation in an extremely lightweight package with a classy Scandanavian design. While it sacrifices certain modern features and comforts found on most other helmets, it stands out for its minimalist design and distinct aesthetics.
— Nick Bruckbauer