Nolan N-103 Modular Helmet
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. Good news is that I learned while riding last winter 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.
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 an optically correct, 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. The N-103 also has the usual chin and crown vents with both eye appeal and effectiveness that exceeds some other helmets I’ve tried. Additional premium helmet features include removable inner padding and a Microlock quick-release chin strap.
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. I’ve worn many different helmets over the years, but I can say with absolute certainty that the Nolan N-103 is the nicest one I’ve ever had on my head. For me, head protection for snowmobiling just doesn’t get any better than this.
— David Wells
N-103 Modular Helmet / From $399.95
Nolan USA • Aurora, Illinois