Drop-down sunshades are a great feature for modular snowmobile helmets. They pretty well eliminate the need for sunglasses while riding, but some of them fog. I learned while riding last winter that the Nolan N-103 helmet’s Vision Protection System (VPS) resists fogging better than the sunshades in some other helmets my buddies and I have worn.
I’ve worn many different helmets over the years, but I can say with absolute certainty that the Nolan N-103 ($399.95) is the nicest one I’ve ever had on my head. In the interest of full disclosure, I always remove the chin curtain from any helmet, and almost always ride with the shield cracked open one notch because I like fresh air, and this all helps considerably in the fight against fogging.
Operated by a fore-and-aft flat slider in the left side of the helmet below the ear, the VPS drops and retracts easily so users can adjust it on the move with the left hand. Chin bar operation is average, with convenient external releases that can be operated with a gloved hand, and the slightly reluctant latching that seem to characterize Nolan modulars. Give it a good push and it will latch tight, though.
The DOT-certified N-103 has a great looking and aerodynamically efficient polycarbonate shell with a no-tool face shield that is a huge improvement over the older Nolan N-102 shield design. An anti-fog insert is included with the stock single-lens shield for cold weather use, but I suggest instead using the optional double-lens electric shield with two-piece cord as the most effective and most comfortable way to prevent fogging.
There is no internal mask in this helmet, which is exactly what I like; no wet-and-slimy breathing apparatus on my face, no filters to replace, nor any freeze-ups or breakage with breath management equipment.
Another big plus for the N-103 is that Nolan offers the VPS in more than just a smoke tint. An optional yellow shade snaps in easily and does a great job of increasing trail surface contrast so you can see bumps and ice in the overcast conditions and flat light prevalent in the Great Lakes watershed where I usually ride. A blue tint sunshade is also available.
Fit seemed snugger than the N-102 I evaluated a few seasons ago, but not enough to require me to go up a size. I found the N-103 very habitable for a full day on the trail. With nothing touching my face, no claustrophobic feeling and no whistling or wind leakage around the shield, it definitely scored big points for comfort. Workmanship and finish is top-notch. For me, head protection for snowmobiling just doesn’t get any better than this, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.