Size: S-M (54-57cm)
Available Sizes: S-M (54-57), M-L (55.5-59), L-XL (57-60.5), XL-XXL (59-62)
Weight: 12.2 – 12.8 oz (w/out liner)
- All Season Capability
- 10 Vents
- Removable Goggle Lock
- Carbon Fiber Shell
- Audio Upgrade Available
- Bern Signiture Style Certification: CPSC, ASTM F 2040 and EN 1077B standards for snow; CPSC and EN 1078 standards for bike and skate
Duration of Test: 46 days
MSRP: $250 (with liner)
Bern is a Massachusetts-based company, founded in 2004 by Dennis Leedom. They had an early loyal following of East Coast rippers, but Maine’s own (and Sugarloaf’er!) Seth Wescott brought the brand into the world’s spotlight when he won Olympic gold in Torino, Italy, in 2006. These days it’s hard to find a lift line without a couple of people wearing the Bern logo on their head.
The Baker is the helmet that made Bern famous, and forced every other helmet maker to attempt to copy the signature Bern style. The Watts shares the exact same mold as the Baker, but in responses to athlete requests, the Watts features a total of 10 vents, while the Baker offers none.
What makes the Watts of this review different compared to Bern’s signature profile, however, is the material the thin outer shell is composed of: carbon fiber. While this option increases the cost of the helmet, it also reduces the weight of the helmet (stated at 12.2 – 12.5 oz) compared to the standard ABS shell Watts (15.8 oz).
With the included winter knit liner, I found the overall weight of the helmet to be a bit heavier at 18.4 oz, but otherwise the Carbon Watts remains comparable to the stated weights of other popular light helmets on the market (Smith Vantage (size M): 17.45 oz; POC Receptor Bug (size S): 19.05 oz; Smith Maze (size M): 13 oz).
One feature that comes standard with every Bern helmet is the signature skate / super low-profile style. (Bern claims their helmets are up to 35% less thick and up to 14% shorter than most of the competition.) While I didn’t break out the calipers to test this claim, Bern helmets have become incredibly popular because of their unique look, which says good-bye to what I consider the normal bobblehead steeze.
Like the original Baker, the Watts also features a small in-mold visor which helps keep glare and snow off the goggles.
What’s more, the Watts features Bern’s Sink-Fit system, which is a simple dual sliding lock mechanism at the rear of the helmet that can be adjusted to achieve the perfect grasp of your noggin. It is easy to use and works acceptably well though, in my opinion, it doesn’t feel quite as secure as some other options out there from the likes of Smith and Giro.
The helmet also features Bern’s All-Season capability, basically allowing the user to set the helmet up for any environment. This can be achieved by swapping out the head-encompassing knit liner (ideal for cold conditions) for a small head band-esque liner. The change can be done in seconds and is a process including only four buttons.
Fit / Sizing
I used the Bern size guide to pick out a size S-M. This choice wasn’t exactly straightforward, though, because my head measurement is right on the fence at 57cm, catching both the S-M and M-L sizes.
My old Baker was a size medium, but it was a Bern “h2o” hard hat so it didn’t have a liner, just a thin neoprene liner over the foam. With that helmet, I always wore a wool hat underneath for warmth, and the fit was perfect.
Because the Carbon Watts is primarily my ski helmet, I most commonly wear it with the thicker knit liner. With this liner and the Sink-Fit strap fully loosened and pulled down out of the shell slightly, the S-M fits my bare head well, but I definitely wouldn’t want my helmet any tighter. The only problem with this fit is that when I wear a thin balaclava under the helmet, for additional face protection and additional warmth, the helmet is quite snug.
Luckily, the helmet liner has stretched out with repeated use wearing my thin Anon liner, and the fit has relaxed enough to be comfortable. After trying on the M-L size, I know now I would be able to adjust the Sink-Fit strap to accommodate both my bare head and head with liner and have a little less of a squeeze on my head.
I’ve also found that if I remove the knit liner completely, I can wear the same wool hat I used to wear under my Baker and the fit is absolutely perfect, even with my thin Anon balaclava.
The summer liner provides a slightly looser fit, and with the Sink-Fit adjustment fully loosened, the helmet fits absolutely perfect.
Comparing Bern’s sizing to other brands, I have found the sizing to be very comparable. With Smith, Giro, and Salomon, I wear a size Medium. My only recommendation for Bern specifically is that if you are between sizes and plan on using the winter knit liner, go ahead and size up to the larger size.