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Review: Riding in POC’s Guardian Air jacket, Kortal Race MIPS helmet and Devour sunglasses

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Early this spring I got a bunch of gear from POC to ride and review and after an unexpected delay (broken wrist!) I’m finally back in the saddle and pleased to bring you my impressions of clothing and gear from their 2021 collection.

Bikerumor covered the Kortal Race MIPS helmet and Devour sunglasses upon their launch, and I was lucky enough to get samples of both. I also got some clothing to test including the Guardian Air jacket, which makes a nice lightweight outer layer for damp, chilly, or windy days.

If you’re a fan of POC’s gear this post is just the start; I have another article coming soon covering jerseys, shorts, gloves, and knee pads.

POC Guardian Air jacket:

POC Guardian Air jacket, front

The Guardian Air is a thin non-insulated jacket that keeps the wind, and some water, at bay. It’s great for those days when it’s a bit too chilly to roll out in a jersey alone: I found it perfect for 8-10°C days with a long sleeved jersey underneath.

The jacket is simple in construction: It’s a single-layer shell with no cuff closures, an elasticized hood, one chest pocket, and one hip pocket (both zippered with glove-friendly pulls). POC has neatly snuck in some small vents on the seams below the armpits.

POC Guardian Air jacket, back

As for fit, I’m 5’10” and I’m wearing a size medium. The jacket’s body is slim but offers enough room for a jersey and thin midlayer underneath. The only part of the jacket that doesn’t have much extra room is around my chest, so bigger riders might want to try one on before buying – I’m not a thick guy. The dropped tail goes right to the bottom of my cheeks, and the higher cut front sits right at my waist. Sleeve length is bang-on for me, and I am a bit lanky so I doubt anyone would find the arms too short.

The entire jacket has a nice stretch to it. The Guardian Air’s main body panels and side panels stretch easily, only the top of the arms and hood are made from a more durable, non-stretch fabric. As someone who often rides with a pack, I appreciate that POC kept the shoulders seamless.

The hood is intended to fit under a helmet, but it does stretch and I squeezed it over my Oakley DRT5 helmet on one rainy ride. It pulled the jacket right up against my chin, but I could move my head around freely enough for cruising to and from a trailhead.

POC Guardian Air jacket, standing trailside

In the fall, I finally got out for a few rainy rides in the Guardian Air. The first test was a two-hour trail ride, mostly in light rain. This is exactly the kind of ride the jacket was designed for, and it fared well in those conditions. The dropped tail kept my backside entirely protected (there wasn’t a drop of mud or water on my jersey), and I got home dry inside.

The following day I pedaled out in a steady rainfall and found the limits of the jacket’s waterproofing fairly quickly. After 20 minutes of being fully exposed to the rain my shoes, gloves and pants were quite wet, yet my front and back were still fine, and the Guardian Air’s hood kept my head dry. However, the sleeves and shoulders of my midlayer were damp when I got home. For splash protection and light bursts of rain, the Guardian Air will serve you well, but it’s not ideal for full-on rain rides.

As far as ventilation, the small vents in the armpits help a bit but to really dump heat you’ll be using the front zipper. Throughout my fall rides, I found the shell material wasn’t breathable enough and the armpit vents are too small to leave the jacket zipped up once you’ve generated some heat.

POC Guardian Air jacket, cuff

The jacket’s collar does sit against my chin when fully zipped, but it isn’t too annoying (and POC did cover the zipper with a nice lil’ hood). The stretchy black cuff panels are a genius touch, allowing the sleeves to snug up over your gloves and stay there as you ride. The Guardian Air is packable, but not amazingly so—it can be crushed into a ball a bit larger than a grapefruit. It’s easy to stuff into a hydration pack but won’t fit in a jersey pocket.

POC’s Guardian Air jacket is available in XS-XXL sizes. Color options are Basalt Blue, Moonstone Grey, or Uranium Black. MSRP is $170.

Kortal Race MIPS MTB helmet:

POC Kortal Race MIPS, on bars

The Kortal Race MIPS is very snug front-to-back on my shallow/narrow head, but thankfully just big enough to wear without causing me discomfort. There is a bit of extra room on the sides, but not too much that it fits loosely. I have a Tectal Race SPIN that fits me almost perfectly, and I suspected the Kortal’s MIPS Integra liner made the interior of the helmet a tiny bit smaller. When I asked POC, they didn’t say MIPS Integra sacrifices any interior space, but rather told me the fit is slightly different between the Tectals and the Kortals. One important note about sizing – I have found my 56cm head fits POC’s XS-S helmets (which they list as 51-54cm).

The NFC medical ID chip and Recco reflector are a nice inclusion for safety reasons, but they presumably add a few dollars to the helmet’s price – the Kortal Race MIPS sells for $40 more than the previous range-topping Tectal Race SPIN (editor’s note – pricing has changed since our launch article was published).

POC Kortal Race MIPS, actual weight

The Kortal Race MIPS isn’t the lightest open-face out there at 391g, but its snug fit keeps it comfortable and stable on my head so the weight is easy to forget about.

On the trails I found the Kortal Race MIPS offers great ventilation. Its design is similar to the well-vented Tectal, plus the new MIPS Integra hidden liner doesn’t block any of the Kortal’s vents. Design-wise, I love the Kortal’s shape: It reminds me of a Lamborghini – the perfect balance of edgy yet smooth overall.

POC Kortal Race MIPS, SF with Devour sunglasses

The Kortal’s visor settings are useful for stashing goggles on your forehead, but otherwise, I’d probably never move the visor out of its lowest position; it’s already barely visible in that setting. As seen above, the Kortal’s forehead cut fits neatly with POC’s Devour sunglasses (and their Ora goggles). POC didn’t get fancy with the dial retention system, chin strap Y-adjusters, and traditional chin buckle, and I like that simplicity and ease of adjustment.

All in all the Kortal Race MIPS fits me well, offers excellent ventilation, looks great, and is packed with safety features. It would be nice if POC could shave some weight from it, but it’s reasonable for a full-coverage enduro lid. Still, this is a great helmet, and you can find it in our selection of the best mountain bike helmets.

The Kortal Race MIPS helmet sells for $280 and comes in four colorways. Sizes XS-S, M-L, and XL-XXL are available, covering heads from 51-62cm.

Devour sunglasses:

POC Devour sunglasses, mirror lens

The Devours’ huge lenses definitely offer the most coverage of any sunglasses I’ve yet worn, keeping dirt and wind away from your eyes much better than most sunglasses would. On the flipside, they’re way cooler and more comfortable than goggles, with no foam contacting your face and no heat build-up as you ride. Despite their size the Devours are still very lightweight, and the adjustable arms are nice (I shortened them up by one notch and they fit well). As you’d likely guess the frames provide a very wide field of vision, but you can see them in your peripheral just a bit.

POC Devour sunglasses, SF riding

I’ve ridden several laps with the Devours on through the climbs and descents, and in warm weather the clear or mirrored lenses never collected any condensation. At one point I accidentally huffed a big breath right into them, and even then the fog cleared within seconds. Finally on one very wet, humid fall ride I noticed the lenses started fogging up when I stopped after a climb – but as soon as I started moving again they cleared right up. I’ve swapped the lenses back and forth several times now, and it’s a simple task.

POC Devour sunglasses, thru-lens shot

The mirror lens offers a good amount of tinting for riding sunglasses, enough to take glare away on a bright day but not dark enough to be problematic when you dive through a dark patch in the woods. The quality of POC’s lenses is noticeable, as both offer the crystal clear definition you’d expect from high-end eyewear.  I am pretty careful with my gear, and so far I haven’t scratched either of my lenses.

The Devour sunglasses retail for $280. There are eight frame color options and three lens options within; Silver Mirror, Grey Deep Green Mirror, or Moldanite Green. All models come with a clear lens as well.


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2 months ago

Thanks for the review. Sounds like the kinda of jacket I’m looking for, but any recommendations on a similar jackets with hand pockets?

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