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REVIEW

4 Products From POC Reviewed

Words Cam McRae
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date May 14, 2021
Reading time

First off I should confess that I'm a fan of POC gear. I love the spare and stylish aesthetic, the bold but thoughtful use of colour, and the dedication to safety within a cohesive visual presentation. To speak plainly, from my experience, POC stuff looks cool and generally performs well, so I come in with high expectations.

Some of the gear in this review came in a package of the Fabio Wibmer line from POC. I had no idea the Youtube star had such a big following, but I guess that's what millions of views will do for you. It turns out the riding eyewear selections in Fabio's collection are white. White works out for mountain bike gear when you are sponsored and can pull out a new pair of goggles weekly when the strap inevitably turns the colour of the trail, but it's more challenging when you have to buy your gear, or when you don't want to look like an 'influencer.'

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The only place you can be inconspicuous wearing these in the white frame is in a TikTok influencers' Mansion. Thankfully they come in 6 other frame colours.

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Excellent coverage and protection along with adjustable sizing make these high performing glasses.

Devour Eyewear

Which brings us to the subtle and economical (ahem!) Devour riding glasses. These are as close as you can come to goggles in terms of coverage but without the sweaty foam ring attached to your face. They are vented at the top of the lens and they do a reasonable job staying free of fog, particularly considering the size of the lens. Part of this ability to stay clear likely relates to the dearth of contact points between the frame and the lens, giving vapour fewer spots to accumulate. The field of view is excellent, but the features I appreciate most are the adjustable temples and nose piece. The custom fit allows them to sit very securely on my face and even in rough terrain they resist the annoying bounce that afflicts some eyewear. I've only worn them with the included clear lenses because our dark and dank forests require you to collect as much available light as possible, even in the middle of the day.

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Best in class field of vision, fit, and fog resistance.

These are very effective, adjustable, and highly functional glasses, but I think I'd look like (a little) less of a tool in a pair with a dark frame. The lenses are scratch resistant, easily swapped, and rated at UV400. They are also coated to repel water, dirt, sweat, salt, oil, dust, and nuclear particulate. I added that last bit but I'd rather be wearing them than not if faced with an unexpected mushroom cloud. If you can handle the 250 USD 280 CAD price tag, these glasses should serve you very well.

POC Devour


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This is usually the sort of view I have of my riding buddies. POC's Resistance shorts are both light and durable, but it's the cut, excellent stretch, and soft feel that have me reaching for them often.

POC Resistance Enduro Shorts

It's not always clear to me why I appreciate a pair of shorts before I take stock. There are often subtle factors like cut, stretch, and material feel that combine to make you feel good as soon as you pull on a favourite garment, and that's the case with POC's Resistance Enduro Shorts. I keep reaching for them as soon as they are clean from the previous ride, or even when they aren't yet laundered. They aren't perfect for me in every way, but they tick enough boxes to keep me very happy. You'll notice there are two textures to these shorts; a conventional matt black finish and a speckled grey fabric that surrounds the lower thigh and runs up the sides to the waist. This is Vectran, a fabric with a similar tensile strength to Kevlar that's used in many aerospace applications, but has a reasonably soft hand-feel. In this application it also has a significant amount of stretch.

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I often wear these for several rides rather than washing them more frequently. Photos - CM

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Vectran is placed in areas where abrasion resistance is more important than comfort.

The cut is great but the sizing is a little large. My waist is around 31" and a medium usually fits me fine, but I've used up all my velcro runway and the shorts are still a little loose. I can't understand why makers of shorts with velcro adjustments can't double or even triple the length of the loop part of the the velcro equation; it's soft to the touch and won't snag on anything and it makes the product much more versatile. My only other complaint is that I'd like to see one more pocket on the side of the thigh on one side, for those of us trying to ditch our pack whenever possible.

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There's a decent amount of room for weight gain, but if these are on the large side, you may run out of velcro real estate. Photo - CM

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Soft fabric in the small of your back is a nice touch, and particularly useful if you wear a bum bag.

There are actually three pockets however, two zippered slash pockets and a third in the small of your back that's only big enough for a credit card, and for many people this will be enough. These are really nice shorts but as with the Devour glasses, you'll have to decide if they are worth 160 USD or 200 CAD.

A decent comparable is another pair of shorts I like, made by Abit Gear. I won't go too deep, because we'll be reviewing the new model shortly, but they will only set you back 110 USD, and they come in 7 sizes, two fits (slim and athletic) and with two choices of inseam, for a total of 28 options. Oh - and they have 4 usable pockets for everything you want to stash and an excellent retention system. The POC Resistance win the style wars however, and the Vectran gives them an edge in durability as well.


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I couldn't get even POC goggles to fit nicely under the visor, which is kind of essential if you want to go 'Full Enduro.'

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The goggles mesh perfectly when in use however. I didn't ride with the ORA Clarity Goggles (Fabio Edition) however because we didn't get to dusty season yet this year. They are very nice however and they will set you back 90 USD or 110 CAD. The moonstone grey colour looks sweet as well.

POC Kortal MIPS Helmet

This is the first POC helmet I've owned that has a visor that enables your goggles to nest beneath it - or almost at least. A few goggles I tried didn't fit because of width but the POC Fabio edition ORA Clarity goggs almost fit, but not quite as you can see in the photo. They drooped below the level of the helmet and they don't quite fit in terms of width either meaning it wasn't ideal to ride with the goggles nested, but it would be okay for ordering a beer, especially if you've already had a couple.

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Detentes allow you to adjust the visor without tools.

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Vents are carefully placed so your goggle strap won't block them. Unfortunately I wasn't careful here and I covered the exit vents in the rear.

As you may have heard, MIPS and POC had a bit of a falling out. Lawsuits were launched and blood was bad in a very un-Swedish way. The companies were almost acting like they came from an English speaking country. Fortunately, that alternate timeline corrected itself and the former partners remembering they were both Swedish and far too sensible for such nonsense, vowed never to stray again. This all started when POC announced they were launching their own rotational slip plane technology called SPIN, which MIPS didn't like. That's old news and since 2019 they've been forging a "deeper partnership." which is why you'll find MIPS in this helmet.

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MIPS? Can you see it? It's actually hard to notice MIPS in this helmet and hard to feel how it works, unlike other manifestations of the system I've used. Deep channels aid airflow.

The rotational component in the Kortal actually doesn't seem to rotate much and it's not attached front to back down the middle. In fact, unlike other mips, rather than a structure that mirrors the inside of the helmet and rotates independently with ease, MIPS Integra seems to be simply a halo around the temples that attaches to the dialled retention system at the back. That system is adjustable up and down and before I discovered that feature I was having trouble with eyewear being pushed down by the helmet in front. A quick tweak and all was good. Thankfully hair is pretty slippery and this execution of MIPS is quite comfortable and doesn't interrupt venting.

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The Kortal MIPS has excellent coverage on the sides and rear of the structure, as well as generous venting.

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Exit vents aplenty. The Kortal MIPS I've been wearing weighs 404 grams.

Airflow is the biggest story with this helmet in fact, with massive gaping maws up front, uninterrupted by the visor thanks to matching maws. Inside the helmet, deep, wide channels allow that air to keep moving with only thin beams supporting the padding that contacts your cranium and it's very cool to wear as the weather gets warmer, perhaps the best vented helmet I've worn.

In terms of tech, the Kortal features a RECCO reflector to help others locate you when you are unable to locate yourself, and the NFC Medical ID system. I couldn't find anything useful about this system on POC's website but in the age of the internet I recycle any included paper literature immediately, so it might have been there. Google wasn't very helpful until I noticed the words MY ICE INFO in tiny letters on the back of the helmet. That eventually led me to twiceme.com which eventually led me to the Apple App Store. Once I entered all my info all I needed to do was place the NFC antenna on my phone on the symbol on the helmet to upload the info. There is a spot for your medical info, contact info, next of kin and your insurance provider, where I just wrote "CANADA." It took a couple of tries but eventually I got there and managed to upload all this info to my helmet, which is pretty amazing. I think this is a really good idea that will only be really useful if it gains wide acceptance. If only one out of every thousand cyclists or skiers/snowboarders has a helmet with this feature it's unlikely first responders will even look for it.

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Padding and MIPS structures are kept to a minimum.

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The back of my head.

Rear coverage is good, the visor is adjustable without tools, which I love, and will apparently break away easily in the event of a crash. The retention system is simple and secure and has a basic buckle closure. Fit and comfort are excellent and I like the look of this lid. It's aramid reinforced and it passes the new "Dutch NTA8776 standard" which is an e-bike certification.

The Kortal MIPS will set you back 280 CAD or 250 USD


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What's more fun than a banked corner with a fall away exit?

POC Joint VPD Air Kneepads

Padding up your boniest and most exposed outcropping is a tricky procedure. Pads need to provide enough protection to make any discomfort worth our while, but also comfy enough to allow us to pedal for hours at a time. Bulky knee armour is often too hot and bulky to keep in place for the whole ride, and I end up wearing them around my ankles for the climb, which works fine, as long as you don't smash your un-sheathed patella into your stem. I generally find that ultra low profile pads aren't worth the trouble so I try to wear the same pads on every ride, or occasionally go with naked knees. About 90% of my rides are on terrain that I find extremely challenging and going down hard is always a real possibility, so pulling on some glorified knee warmers feels a little like wearing water-wings going over Niagara Falls.

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These low profile pads fit well under riding pants but offer comprehensive coverage.

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These particular pads are part of the Fabio Wibmer collection, and I know he sometimes goes down hard, but the 'Air' designation in this case compromises little in terms of protection.

My goals for knee protection are to prevent a wound that would end my ride, and even more importantly, prevent an injury that would put me in the ER and/or on injured reserve for an extended period. But within that context I'd like to be able to pedal with them on for the entire ride if possible, have excellent coverage, and a fit that keeps them in place in the event of a fall. All of those criteria are met here.

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The non-Newtonian polymer dough wraps around the sides and above your knee, and while it's not thick, it hardens upon impact providing good protection. I can't say I've notice air flowing through the holes in the polymer but they aren't particularly warm to wear either.

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The generous neoprene insert keeps these in place without fail. I never adjust the velcro straps because the system works so well. Photo - CM

At first glance these look very low pro, and they are also nice and light at just 154g. They make up for their svelte silhouette with a well contoured shape. They cup your knee but then extend the protection above your patella, an area often overlooked by minimalist pads and one that is often victimized during a fall. The moulded shape also does an excellent job, along with the generous neoprene insert at the top, keeping these from sliding down.

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POC makes the Joint VPD Air available in three colours, which is pretty rad.

POC's Joint VPD Air knees are priced at 90 CAD or 80 USD.

More on POC Gear...

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Age - 55

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 160lbs/72.5kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm (longer with 27.5 wheels than 29)

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Comments

craw
+3 thaaad Cam McRae Angu58
Cr4w  - May 14, 2021, 10:36 a.m.

I grabbed a Kortal helmet too. I really like it. The finish is superb. Love the features too. I find it a little heavier and warmer than the Smith Mission it replaces but it feels much much tougher and the coverage is way better so I'm happy. The Mission is now for gravel missions. 

Be warned, the orange is REALLY orange. Like 80s neon. You can see it from a mile away. It's an uncanny sort of vibrant brightness.

Reply

YDiv
+1 Angu58
YDiv  - May 14, 2021, 12:08 p.m.

Better to look like an orange than to blitz around on an e-bike with your baseball cap backwards and headphones on... kind of makes sense actually, since riding like an idiot will probably make you crash more, so why spend money on a helmet? Just focus on looking cool!

On a serious note, I've never been able to get behind dropping big coin on a helmet. Just doesn't make sense (for me) to throw $300 at something that needs to be replaced because of one bad slip.

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Masacrejoe
+1 Cam McRae
Michael Klein  - May 14, 2021, 11:01 p.m.

How much do you reckon your brain is worth? I ask my wife this, when I have to justify spending big on (another) helmet.

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YDiv
+1 leodevinci
YDiv  - May 14, 2021, 11:35 p.m.

I think this argument only applies to a certain extent. It's pretty hard to say that a $300 helmet is going to be 3x safer than a $100 helmet.

I'm not advocating for people to wear $10 Walmart helmets, that's just silly. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, even the extra features like ventilation and anti-bacterial linings don't make it worth (for me).

Reply

yeahyeahillsignup
+3 Velocipedestrian Alex Durant Cam McRae
YeahyeahIllsignup  - May 15, 2021, 11 a.m.

To a certain extent, I would event say that high end helmets do not correlate with better performance.

Bigger ventilation holes and lighter weight way means less material protecting you in the event of a fall or a sharp object (rock, branch) penetrating the helmet.

Helmet protection standards and testing SUCKS and there is a very misguided attitude towards suggesting higher performance helmets that don't actually provide more in terms of safety. 

This article is an example of that attitude. The safety performance is not quantified or evaluated. There is mention of a rotational impact mitigation system but no real way to discern if it's good or not.  The review focuses on what we typically associate with performance, like venting and features. None of those contribute to the main purpose of a helmet and yet, we now have compelling review motivating the purchase of a very expensive helmet and we justify ourselves with "how much is your brain worth". Nothing suggests that this helmet protects me better than a 90$ Giro Fixture with MIPS.

This is not a dig at NSMB, this is a dig at helmet manufacturing and certification companies not making the important data more available. Reviewers are left high and dry, trying to evaluate performance based on what they can observe, which isn't much.

By the way, interesting mention about hair "slipperiness". It is true that hair (if you have it...) can add a certain element of MIPS-like performance but I don't think it's as effective. There is ongoing research on the matter.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 18, 2021, 9:25 a.m.

Indeed. I have written about this problem and it’s real. We have literally no evidence to prove helmets reduce concussions due to impacts, and many testing standards and procedures are aimed only at preventing injury to bone and outer tissue. As we used to say about cheap helmets, it’s the difference between an open and a closed casket. 

What is even worse is thinking we can judge the safety of a helmet and its ability to absorb an impact based on the information we can glean from holding, examining and wearing the product, which is why I have so little to say about it. There are exceptions regarding fit, coverage, buckles and retention systems, but otherwise we are at the mercy of manufacturers and those who rate and test helmets. And having spoken to those who produce the Penn State helmet ratings, I have little faith in their findings. 

It’s a conundrum. We spend a lot of money to protect our brains, but in many ways we are flying blind about how to best choose a helmet for protection. I have a little more faith in dual density foam structures like those used by the Kali, as one example, designed to compress and absorb impact from lower energy crashes than the hard foam found in most helmets, but it’s pretty clear this industry needs a revolution that technology has yet to initiate.

YDiv
+2 Cam McRae Jon Hillström
YDiv  - May 14, 2021, 12:04 p.m.

Really loving my VPD 2.0 knee pads. Admittedly, they're thick, but the level of comfort and protection is so good that I don't mind the extra bit of heat.

Same problem with my POC pants though. The waistband just seems to stretch forever... Tossing it in the dryer tightens it back up but only temporarily.

Reply

Poz
0
Poz  - May 14, 2021, 8:35 p.m.

I like the looks of those knee pads. Looking for some new ones and will have to check these out. 

I like the glasses too but I struggle with the pricing for something that will inevitably get dirt and mud on it and thus scratched. I value high quality optics for sure but man nearly $300 is a tough pill to swallow for something I know I will damage.

Reply

Masacrejoe
0
Michael Klein  - May 14, 2021, 11:10 p.m.

Waist straps that are too long, are more of a pain though. They catch on everything and either rip loose or fastens to your jersey.

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - May 15, 2021, 1:23 a.m.

Hence the request for more loop...

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 18, 2021, 9:27 a.m.

True. That’s why I advocate for the hook portion, which is attached to the shorts themselves, to be longer. The length of the straps is actually just fine.

Reply

Sethimus
+5 Andrew Major Andy Eunson lewis collins Angu58 Cam McRae
Sethimus  - May 15, 2021, 8:11 a.m.

@cam: can we please introduce criticism when riding glasses are designed without rx clip-ins? it pisses me off that so many manufacturers don’t cater to people needing prescriptions. not everyone can wear contacts.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 15, 2021, 9:07 a.m.

Interesting, hadn’t ever considered this criteria for eyewear myself but in the shop this winter I overheard a few folks asking for similar with their ski goggles because they can’t wear contacts.

Any brands of note that do accommodate RX clip-ins?

Reply

Sethimus
0
Sethimus  - May 15, 2021, 11:07 a.m.

adidas used to, dunno if the new ones still have the feature. evil-eye (ex adidas) do, as do rudy project, julbo, bollé, swisseye, cébé, progear. at least thats the ones i‘m aware of. fun fact: the chinese copycats that produce the fake poc, oakley etc glasses all make them with rx inserts. the copy has here more usefulness than the original ;)

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Reaper
Velocipedestrian  - May 15, 2021, 9:59 p.m.

Hmm, my fake alibaba POC glasses didn't come with rx clips... Maybe they're real?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 AJ Barlas
Pete Roggeman  - May 15, 2021, 10:54 p.m.

Are inserts preferable to Rx compatible lens design? I know Smith and Oakley have many models that accept prescription lenses, I'm surr most of the ones you mentioned do as well.

Reply

Sethimus
0
Sethimus  - May 17, 2021, 12:42 p.m.

one scratch and your very expensive prescription lenses are ruined, rx inserts are protected and you can use different lenses.

Reply

Sethimus
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer Cam McRae
Sethimus  - May 17, 2021, 12:43 p.m.

also usually only available up to +-3/4, rx inserts usually go to +-6

Reply

Angu58
0
Angu58  - May 16, 2021, 4:52 p.m.

I don't know much about them but SportRX has tons of prescription frames from various brands.

Reply

meloroast
0
meloroast  - May 15, 2021, 8:58 a.m.

I like the look of the kneepads and that they extend a bit higher than most. But it almost seems like they are also shorter not extending over the shins quite as much as typical knee pads...

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 meloroast
Pete Roggeman  - May 15, 2021, 10:56 p.m.

True. But I have a pair I also.love and they stay in place very well. What you give up in coverage length you regain in fit and ability to stay in place.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+1 Cam McRae
Tjaard Breeuwer  - May 17, 2021, 5:46 p.m.

Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. 

On the other hand, these are the lightweight ‘air’ version, so a bit less weight and warmth, by kneeling the length limited, seems appropriate. 

It does look like they still cover the tibial tuberosity, even in the pic with a bent knee, so that seems like a good length for this style of pad.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 Cam McRae
Andy Eunson  - May 15, 2021, 5:05 p.m.

POC sizing is all over the map. I had some trail shorts. Really nice. Part of our Monday Night Ride guide kit but they were way bigger than indicated. Fortunately the shorts had belt loops so I could cinch the hell out of them. I think they were a 31 but I could take them off without undoing them. I have a coupe, of their bib shorts made out of mesh for under baggies and they are the other way. I have the mediums and large may have been better. So try before you buy. I have a nice pair of Dharco shorts too. The medium barely fits and I’m a 30 waist these days. Yet the medium jersey from them fits like a tarp.

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bigbrett
0
bigbrett  - May 20, 2021, 11:27 a.m.

Anyone who has tried on the devour know if they are as big/offer as much side coverage as the Oakley Wind Jacket 2.0? 

Those are my favorite frames in the world, basically goggles, but my lenses are just about done and they aren’t making them in prism trail tint anymore :( 

Hoping the POC devour offers as much coverage. 

Wildcats look sweet but aren’t big enough for me

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