The Hövding invisible helmet – a review

I’ve been using the Hövding – the invisible helmet – for a week now and I thought I’d write about the experience so far. I’m wearing it in this next photo (NB: the helmet is the black collar around my neck. It’s an airbag which deploys in the event of a crash):

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When I first put it on it felt strange. I imagine this is how a dog feels when it’s first trained to wear a collar. I wear scarves all the time but this felt different. There’s a hard piece at the back and so it’s not soft like a scarf. I’m guessing this is where the sensors are located.

The instructions that came with the Hövding discuss this and say that over time it softens up. The hard piece at the back will never soften up but I can imagine the fabric probably will. However after a week of use it no longer feels quite so strange. It’s not comfortable to wear when you’re walking because the weight at the back pulls the front of it against my neck and I feel as though I’m being strangled. However this is not a problem when you’re on the bike. The reason they’ve done this is because when you’re cycling you’re slightly bent forwards and they didn’t want the weight hanging in front and creating a strain on your neck. Instead it sits at the top of your back which is better ergonomically. It just means that as soon as I get off my bike I take it off, which I suppose is fine since it’s not needed anyway. When I’m cycling it sits comfortably and I don’t notice it. It’s not heavy at all but it’s not weightless either. Here’s a photo from the back so you can see what I’m talking about.

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It’s very easy to put on and take off. There’s a zip and a button where the button activates the sensors that deploy the airbag. This means you can walk around with it unbuttoned without the risk that it will deploy. Knowing me I’ll forget to unbutton it one day, trip over on the pavement, and end up with the air bag around my head feeling stupid. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen.

When I was researching the effectiveness of helmets one thing that came up was that helmet wearers potentially take greater risks because of the perceived safety benefits of wearing a helmet. This is very hard to measure of course and so there are no conclusive facts for how big an effect this is, if any, but I have noticed a difference in my own cycling. I’ve been cycling on the roads more for a start and although subconsciously, I think I’m taking more risks. I think it’s because previously I had the thought in the back of my mind that if I did have an accident people would say accusingly, “She wasn’t even wearing a helmet”. At least if I get hit by a truck and die I can now die feeling righteous 🙂

Overall I’m very happy with the Hövding. The main benefit for me is I can wear my hair in a bun with 100 pins in it without having to pull every single one out just to put on a plastic helmet. In winter I’ll be able to wear my beanie. All I need to do is zip and button up the collar. I think it’s fairly unobtrusive as well and easily blends in with most outfits. The Hövding requires charging but this is also very easy as it charges via USB so I just plug it in every few days as I do my iPhone. Most importantly though, it aces safety tests.

A friend once said to me, helmets make cycling look sporty and dangerous. Cycling can be both things but it can also be neither. Although I’ve got a Hövding now I still view the sort of cycling I do – commuter cycling – as very safe. It would be even safer if more people cycled and the infrastructure was better, but there’s nothing I can do about either of those things.

33 thoughts on “The Hövding invisible helmet – a review

  1. This is so interesting. I had read about it, but never knew someone who actually had one. Looks great and is so practical. I wouldn’t have thought of the leaning forward aspect, but it makes sense.

      1. I would LOVE to get one for snowboarding. Would love to feel the wind, but not at the pint of risking head injury.

    1. Yes, I believe so. I’ve cycled on very bumpy terrain and I go up and down curbs without the airbag deploying. It’s only if you have a crash that it will pop.

  2. I have to admit, it took me quite a while looking at your photos and thinking… “hmm, that helmet must be quite invisible indeed, because I couldn’t see it at all!”

  3. Have you experienced a crash whilst wearing it? How effective was it? I’m intrigued, but also a little sceptical, so I wondered if you had any thoughts on the experience of crashing in it (if you have crashed, that is!).

    1. No, I haven’t had a crash yet but then I have never had a crash on my bicycle ever. I’m hoping never to have to test out the helmet for real but it’s there just in case. There are lots of YouTube videos of the helmet in action if you want to see it deploy in different scenarios.

  4. How comfortable is it in warmer months? Ingenious idea. I tell people that traditional helmets are great if you expect a coyote to drop an anvil on to you.

    Just wondering if I should order a size up to allow for increased airflow.

    1. Where do you live? I’m in Scotland and it never gets really hot here so it’s not a problem. But it’s not flush against my neck either. In winter I can wear a scarf underneath and in summer there’s plenty of space there for airflow.

  5. Hey there! Are you still using this? Are you still happy with it? I have been interested in this technology since they first started developing it in Sweden. I have finally gotten back on a bike for commuting and considered getting it. I feel like I can trust the science behind it (and that it meets safety standards) but for actual use… Are you still loving it over a year later? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Yes, I still use the Hövding all the time. It did stop charging at one point but I sent it back to the company and they sent me another one, no questions asked. I haven’t fallen off my bike so I haven’t tested the technology but hopefully I’ll never get to.

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