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Bern Bandito Review: Bike And Ski Helmet In One!

Author: Kristen Bonkoski

Updated:

The Bern Bandito is one of the most versatile kids helmets we’ve reviewed. It can be used in both winter and summer, on the bike and on skis.

For our family personally, the biggest attraction of the Bern Bandito was for winter biking. A traditional bike helmet just wasn’t cutting it for riding on frigid winter days.

The Bern with it’s winter liner is both warmer and safer than a helmet with a beanie underneath. It improved our son’s comfort on the bike exponentially.

And of course, since it’s approved for skiing, we had to test it for that purpose as well. How did it perform? Read on to find out….

bern bandito visor and ear flaps

Review In A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Multi-sport and multi-season
  • Comes in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions
  • Best option for cold weather biking
  • Visor offers sun protection
  • Rear clips for goggles or a light

Cons:

  • Not bright enough for safety on the slopes
  • Liners are often sold out
  • Limited ventilation for summer riding

Price & Where To Buy:

Best Option For Cold Weather Biking

We bike our son to school on our Radwagon year round. But this winter has been COLD!

His Giro Tremor just wasn’t cutting it on the below freezing mornings. So we ordered the Bern Bandito.

The Bern Bandito (or the smaller Bern Nino*) is just about the best option you can pick for cold weather cycling. It’s the only helmet that we’re aware of that offers a winter liner.

winter biking with the bern bandito

The winter liner is superior to a helmet with beanie, as a beanie often causes fit issues. And fit issues mean a helmet that isn’t quite as safe.

The winter liner fully covers the ears, and a thinner insert covers most of the vent holes. My son reported feeling significantly warmer with the Bandito which is exactly what we were after.

Liner Is Swappable For Warm Weather Biking

Lest you think the Bern Bandito is only good for winter use, the winter liner can be replaced with a summer liner and can be used for summer biking as well. This is fantastic for parents who only want to purchase one helmet that can do a little bit of everything.

That said, the Bern Bandito is not going to be as breathable as a traditional bike helmet for summer riding. Compare it to the Giro Tremor below and you can see how the limited vent holes will limit air flow.

This is fairly common for bucket style helmets, and the ventilation of the Bandito is on par with a helmet like the Nutcase or Thousand Jr.

Rear Dial Adjustment Provides Good Fit

The rear dial adjustment on the Bern Bandito allows you to cinch up the helmet and get a superior fit. While most bike helmets in this price range offer a rear dial, many ski helmets do not.

While we found the dial easy to adjust, cinching up the chin straps was less so. It took a fair bit of effort to shorten the chin strap and to re-tighten every few uses. I much prefer a strap like the one on the Giro Tremor that my son can pull and tighten himself before each ride.

Still, the straps around the ears were adjustment free (which I prefer for kids), and we were able to get an overall good fit with the helmet. The buckle is a traditional style (not a magnetic buckle like the Nutcase or Melon), but for older kids this is less important anyhow.

Visor Protects Little Faces And Eyes

The Bandito has a built-in, non-adjustable visor. We appreciate this as it provides a little extra sun protection for your child’s face and eyes.

The only thing to note about the visor is that it made pulling goggles up and down more challenging than on a helmet without a visor. Not that big of a deal for us, but it could be for a kid trying to do it on their own.

bern bandito for skiing

Rear Google Clip And Light Attachment

The back of the helmet has a rear clip. This can be used for goggles (on skis or yes even on the bike when it’s real cold).

There are also two small holes for a light that Bern offers as an add-on. If you already have a light and don’t want to spend extra, I used a Knog light on the google clip just fine too.

Since we bike a lot in the dark, I really appreciated this easy attachment point for a rear blinky light.

goggle clip and light attachment

As A Ski Helmet

We bought the Bern Bandito primarily for a bike helmet, but obviously had to test it as a ski helmet as well. And it worked great for skiing!

It actually provided a much better fit than my son’s normal ski helmet. It was warm and provided a good fit with his goggles. (Although as I mentioned previously, it was harder to get his goggles on and off with his visor than with a ski helmet without a visor).

skiing

That said, I won’t be replacing his helmet with the Bern Bandito for skiing any time soon. Why not?

The helmet was sold out in every color but black, and even the other colors seemed muted, which is unfortunate. I really like my son having a bright, neon helmet on the slopes. It helps me keep track of him, and it provides added visibility so other skiiers don’t run him over.

If you’re not worried about the visibility, or you can find one in a brighter color, then I would enthusiastically recommend the Bern Bandito as a ski helmet.

Comes In A Variety Of Versions So Pay Attention To What Your Buying

After reading this review, don’t just get click happy and hit buy or you might end up disappointed. The Bern Bandito comes in several versions: a winter version and a summer version, and both come in MIPS or non-MIPS options.

If you buy the winter version it will come with the winter liner; if you buy the summer version, it will come with the summer liner. You can always buy the other liner to use the helmet year-round, but also be aware that it seems like the liners are often sold out–which is a bummer.

Additionally, you’ll note that you can choose MIPS or non-MIPS. MIPS is an additional safety layer that provides protection in the event of a rotational impact to the brain.

Quite frankly, we always think it makes sense to dish out the extra dough for a little extra peace of mind, but if you’re on a tight budget, you could go with the non-MIPS version instead. Both have all the required safety certifications.

Compared To The Bern Nino or Nina

The other helmet we recommend a lot for winter riding is the Bern Nino* or Nina (same helmet, but ya gotta love gender marketing). So how does it compare to the Bandito?

Though there is some overlap in size, the Bandito comes in larger sizes so is better for older elementary age kids. It is also appropriate for skiing or snowboarding, where the Nino is not.

Other differences? The Bandito has a built-in visor, the Nino has a cloth visor. The Nino also skips the rear fit dial for a no-adjust fit system instead.

Other than that, the helmets are pretty similar in style, and both come in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions.

Sizing

The Bern Bandito is well suited for most elementary school age kids, or younger kids with big heads. (Yup, we know there are plenty of them out there).

The helmet comes in two sizes: S/M or M/L. The S/M fits heads between 51.5 and 54.5cm, and the M/L fits those between 53 and 56cm.

Definitely measure your child’s head before buying. This is something you don’t want to guess on! If you’re not sure on how to measure, read our article on fitting a kids bike helmet.

If your child’s head is smaller than 51.5 cm, opt for the Bern Nino instead.

bern bandito kids helmet review

Bottom-Line: A Safe and Versatile Helmet

For our family, the Bern Bandito served as best as a winter bike helmet. As a ski helmet, it wasn’t quite bright enough for my comfort level although it performed well in every other way. And a summer helmet, it doesn’t provide as much ventilation as a more traditional helmet like the Giro Tremor.

Fortunately, we have the resources to buy multiple helmets. For other parents wanting one helmet to do it all, the Bern Bandito can certainly serve that purpose–just not as well as purpose built helmets.

If safety is your primary concern, the Bern Bandito performs well. It’s offered in a MIPS version and provides a good fit thanks to the rear dial. It also offers plenty of rear and side of the head coverage, far better than most traditional kids helmets.

Overall, the Bern Bandito (and it’s younger sibling the Bern Nino) find their way onto list of the “best kids helmets.”

More Reading On Kids Helmets

About The Reviewers

The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.

Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.

If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!

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