When I first wore the Kali Avatar helmet, I mistakenly thought it was a carbon helmet. Turns out I was wrong, but that first impression was a testimony to its light weight. Based just south of the Bay Area in Morgan Hill, Kali is a relatively new helmet company that has quickly made some waves due to well constructed helmets that are known for their mimimal heft and durability.
A few friends of mine work with Kali doing marketing and outside sales stuff, so it was just a matter of time before I ended up with my hands on one of their helmets for an extended test. The first time I stuck one on I was pretty impressed. Kali makes a nice looking helmet with pleasant lines and a classic motorcross profile, but if it doesn’t fit your head, nothing else really matters. Sizing seems to always be such a strange thing when it comes to gear, and this is often the case with helmets as well. I wear a small in T.H.E, a medium 661, and a medium/large Troy Lee full face. Turns out the medium Kali ended up being a great fit for me. What wins me over the most however, is how comfortable the Avatar is. Many full face helmets have a mesh on the cheek pads that is a bit scratchy when you slide it on, whereas the Avatar’s feels a lot more smooth where it cradles your cheek. This small detail goes a long way when it comes to deciding which helmet I’m putting in my gear bag, especially on hot days where the other helmets feel abrasive after getting hot and sweaty. The cheek pads are also a bit lower than the other helmets in my stable and it feels much better on my face.
Aesthetically, I find the helmets to pass muster, with a number of different graphics available. The green Oslo helmet I’ve been rocking is probably my least favorite color option they offer, but the fact is I’ve been choosing it over my other helmets often even though it doesn’t match much of my gear. The one downside was a comment from my girlfriend that didn’t care for the round profile from the rear, saying it made my head look “bulbous”. Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can’t argue with that; although it is more comfortable, it doesn’t quite hold up in comparison to my Troy Lee in the looks department.
Kali uses what they call their composite fusion technology to assemble their helmet, and since I’m not an engineer, I’m not going to dwell on the safety aspects of their design other than to note that when I have had my old helmets fall apart, it is because of their traditional construction. Once the adhesive between the shell and the EPS foam wears, the insides of helmets begin to feel loose and rickety, especially if the helmet has been left in the car during a road trip on hot days. (dirt jump lids are especially notorious for this) That’s usually a good time to replace them since they are less likely to stay in place on impact and do their job. However, not everyone has the budget to get a new helmet at the start of every season. The way Kali integrates the EPS foam into the shell is not only innovative, but should avoid that scenario. Basically they’ve taken the technology that is used in XC style helmets and figured out a way to integrate it into a full face helmet shell. What most of us will notice though, is that the Kali models will just hold up better over time, and that’s the bottom line.
Specs via Kali
- Tri-Weave Shell featuring FIBERGLASS materials
- COMPOSITE FUSION™ shell/liner connection
- Low density EPS foam for greater impact absorption
- Integrated airflow system
- Washable, adjustable, anti-microbial fit pads
- Breakaway visor
- Safety compliance: EN 1078 or CPSC, ASTM F2040 and ASTM F2032
Check it out: Kali Avatar Full Face Helmet