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REVIEW: CKX MISSION HELMET AND WHY IT’S THE BEST

Last winter I spent a handful of days enjoying the excellent riding in Northern Minnesota around the Baudette area and admittedly, I was not prepared for the cold weather. One of our night rides turned into pure misery (for me) and there was no excuse for it – I vowed to finally ditch the motocross style helmet and goggle combo and find a helmet that was warm, fog-free and quiet. 

During the same timeframe, I was working with Willie Ewing as he was preparing to ride over 2,000 miles in a 24hr period. While at his shop, Willie showed me all the helmets he had tested, and when it was all said and done, Willie was convinced the CKX Mission helmet was the best in the group. That was good enough for me, so this fall I ordered one from UpNorthSports.com and I couldn’t be happier. – Kale 

The Mission helmet is of the modular style and I have learned to appreciate this. As you can imagine, being able to flip the shield up allows you to talk to your friends at stops without taking the helmet off or even enjoy a candy cigarette. Its nearly impossible to photograph, but you can kind of see the rubber face piece when this shield is in the up position. When you pull the shield down, that rubber piece comes down and positions over your nose and mouth. This is what CKX calls their Air Management System (AMS). I had fears this would be a slobber collector or feel intrusive on your face…it is neither! You don’t realize its there, and better yet, the system works so well, I haven’t had the need to even run a balaclava. FYI – If you are going to run a balaclava, make sure to buy one that is thin, and has an open face to properly take advantage of the AMS.
In the very first photo, you can see the Mission helmet comes with a visor which has two positions. Personally, from a styling standpoint, I really liked the looks of it, but after riding a few times, I removed it. Im built like a Sasquatch, and no matter what height windshield I run on a snowmobile, the wind typically hits me from the shoulders up. The visor on any helmet catches the wind and jostles my head and neck, and something I wanted to get away from. Plus, removing it slightly reduced the weight of the helmet. The removal process literally takes seconds.
One of the built-in features of the Mission helmet is the ability to flip down/up a yellow lens shield which is particularly nice during flat light riding conditions. There is a sliding lever on back left (Red Arrow) of the helmet to operate lens.
Here’s a better look at the yellow lens when flipped down. This photo was taken from the CKX website. I don’t believe you can keep the lens down, while the rest of the face shield is flipped up like pictured here. If you can, I have been unsuccessful doing so. For anyone who wears prescription glasses, there are adjustable cheek pads that allow plenty of room for glasses.
Wearing a helmet that is plugged into a snowmobile via a cord is new to me, and took a few rides to get used to. During active riding, the cord doesn’t bother me or hinder any movement. On a sidenote, all the 2024 CATALYST models have a plug-in for electric helmets.
There was a slight learning curve for me on the actual plug-in to the helmet. Ive learned, if this helmet shield starts to fog while riding, 99.9% of the time its because this plug-in isn’t properly connected. The arrows are pointing at two lines on the female/male ends of the connectors…if those aren’t aligned, your cord may pop out or loosen.
Random thoughts: The Mission is relatively expensive. If you can find one, expect to pay between $550-600. IMO though, its money well worth spending if you want something reliably warm, fog-free and quiet. Something relatively minor to think about – this double lens helmet shield does work without being plugged in, but if you are like me, and bounce around to a wide variety of snowmobiles every season, you may get caught on one that doesn’t have a plug-in, and the weather may not be favorable that day. This helmet may fog, or ice up like any others would.
I mentioned it above…there are very few times Ive felt the need to wear a balaclava with this helmet – A piece of headwear I think all snowmobilers battle with, and I personally hate the claustrophobic feeling when wearing one. If you have a jacket that has a high zip-up collar like I do, the neck curtain on the bottom of the Mission helmet does a great job protecting that area on your body. This helmet keeps you warm, but if you do feel the need to wear a balaclava, make sure to buy one with an open face that leaves your mouth exposed so the Mission AMS breath deflector can work effectively. I purchased a Fly Racing version from UpNorthSports.com.

MISSION HELMET STATS FROM CKX WEBSITE

Experience a unique helmet that redefines trail riding. Lightweight, insulated and aerodynamic, the Mission is designed to let you enjoy longer rides and at full speed without fear of extreme cold. Efficient in reducing the risk of fogging, the helmet introduces AMS, an integrated air management system. A CKX exclusive, AMS technology (patent pending) allows you to enjoy a clean environment, free from condensation and fogging by wicking away moist air to the outside. Maintain full visibility while riding and when stopping, take advantage of a wide opening by lifting the oversized visor. In one simple movement and without removing the helmet, you can drink, eat or converse with your trail-riding buddies! 

  • Fiberglass composite shell
  • Fiberglass composite weight: 1680 g ± 50 g (Electric version, without peak) For fully equipped version: additional ± 150 g
  • 2 shell sizes (XS-L/XL-3XL)
  • 4 EPS sizes
  • AMS Technology integrated – patent pending
  • Ergonomic, adjustable and removable breath guard – patent pending
  • Two zone adjustable air vents at shield
  • Clear double lens shield, UV protection, anti-scratch and anti-fog treatment
  • Electric shield
  • Retractable yellow sun visor
  • Aerodynamic, removable and adjustable peak with two positions
  • Ratchet mechanism with push button to remove peak and / or shield without tools – patent pending
  • Removable long chin curtain
  • Removable and washable liner and cheek pads
  • ProClip quick release mechanism chin strap
  • Protective case and user’s guide included 
  • Meets or exceeds DOT standard FMVSS218
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41 COMMENTS

  1. Best helmet I have ever owned. Went without the cord last weekend with the visor down and zero fog. Also very warm and very quiet.

    • Agree. Ive tested several times without being plugged in, and helmet shield is fine. It does have its limits (like anything else) and will fog/ice-up, but Ive only found that to happen in sleety, foggy, misty conditions. Plug it in and that ice turns to water pretty quick and streams off the shield providing clear vision. Great helmet!

  2. Some friends have switched to this helmet and had great luck. I am just not sure I am ready to ditch the MX route just yet. I very rarely have vision issues and not sure I could deal with the cord. MMM, maybe someday. Nice review Kale!

  3. I’ve been looking at the CKX helmets for many months, they seem like a much better option than my current modular helmet (which has been fogging up on me this year, even when it’s plugged in). I tried a moto-style helmet recently and didn’t like it.

    UpNorthSports is great!

  4. I made the switch to this helmet last year and absolutely love it. I still prefer my MX style for off trail days, but this is hard to beat for trail days. I’ve personally never had to plug it in. A major selling point for me was that it isn’t a true modular and has a solid chin bar to offer at least some protection to the lower portion of the face in the event of a crash.

    • Pete – that is a valid question. I try to use and promote Arctic Cat products as much as I possibly can. The lid Im transitioning from is the carbon fiber JUST 1 MX helmet from Arctic Cat. Ive tested many, many MX helmets for snowmobiling, and hands-down, that one has been my favorite for its lightweight construction, styling, comfort and durability. What most people following ArcticInsider don’t know, is I am also an editor for three snowmobile and powersports publications. When riding other brands for photos, I can’t always be in AC gear. So, when it came time to spending my money on a new helmet that wasn’t branded AC, the CKX Mission was my choice. Out on the trail, Ive encountered quite a few riders who express interest in this Mission helmet and I hope this info helps them. Arctic Cat does have a nice modular helmet with electric shield (Arcticcatstore.com, PART #AC20A-H221- ) if you are interested, and it is a lower price point.

      • I’ve also got the Just1 CF helmet, and love its light weight (even have the matching goggles lol) But on cold days I break out my trusty TXI and heated shield. Unfortunately I will have to throw it away when the shield stops working because the heated shield is one of the man parts textron has discontinued.

        • I have the clear, amber and smoked shields all with visors for my TXI Krommy… has never fogged once on me even into negative temps. is the eye port seal good on yours?

        • I’m wondering that, too. One of the great things about UpNorthSports (for Minnesotans, anyway) is that they have a large brick and mortar store in Bemidji, and their staff is awesome. Their display at Hay Days is good, but being able to browse without getting bumped by 100 of your closest friends in their store is a plus. I keep wanting to run over there, and this discussion about helmets makes me want it even more.

          Right before Hay Days and the fall snow shows, they always have a house cleaning sale (I think it’s in August), but that’s when they usually have all the new stuff, too. It’s a perfect time, if you have the luxury of planning ahead to the next riding season.

          Anyway, I think the thing to do is find a dealer or retailer that has both so that we can actually see the difference.

          This review makes me think the difference is more than cosmetic.

        • The CKX Contact is a great helmet…but it needs to be plugged in as the ventilation is very limited. Because of the limited venting it is very warm and quiet and wearing glasses doesn’t work great. The view is probably the best of all helmets, even the Oxygen helmet which has more glass but is partially blocked by the deflector.

  5. Just purchased one, have yet to use it but look forward to it’s first Mission. 🙂

    Since this is ‘Arctic’ Insider… did anyone at Cat ever look at updating the TXI helmet to your knowledge? Having used one for years I’ve never been cold in it, good visibility… but it’s a bit of a bowling ball in comparison to helmets made of newer materials.

    • In my response to Pete above, I referenced AC’s Modular helmet with electric shield. This would be ACs upgraded replacement for TXI.

      • Kale, that modular is a big time downgrade to the TXI. AC/Textron has discontinued heated shields for the TXI, PFP, and other helmets.
        I’m guessing something is going on with powertex too, as they are dumping all their inventory with huge discounts now.

  6. LOL. I’ll stick with my 100 dollar GMAX helmet. I get the non-electric and it never fogs up. Only issue is ice build up when it is frozen drizzle out which is maybe 1 ride a year, if that. It is very comfortable and light. I have never, and will never, spend 500 bucks on a helmet.

    • A handful of years ago GMAX had a crossover snowmobile helmet I purchased that had a face shield, but you could run goggles if you wanted. Was a nice comfortable helmet, but I shelved it due to its extra weight. Midwest riding this winter (MN/WI/MI), it seems Ive encountered more rides with frozen drizzle conditions than I have clear days. Kind of bizarre. The good news with an electric shield, you don’t have to let those types of conditions (icy freeze-ups) hold you back from riding, or let them compromise the speed of your ride because you can’t see. Helmet and Gear set-ups are fickle for everyone. What works for some, don’t work for someone else. I do like to hear what people run though as you can always learn something.

    • George , you must consider your head is only Worth $100. I don’t think I ever bought a helmet under $100. In the last 40 years ! Iv never rang my melon in a crash. But if I do ? I want to make sure I survive !

      • As long as the helmet meets the DOT requirements for crash protection, I don’t see anything wrong with a cheaper option. That said, one of my helmets has battle scars from multiple impacts. Stuff happens.

        Speaking of “stuff”, I came within a mere inches of meeting a tree in the biblical sense (and wrecking my beautiful Riot) recently and really need to invest in a chest protector. I know it, I just keep putting it off.

        • To your point Bob, there’s nothing wrong with a cheaper helmet if it meets the varying DOT and ECE standards. A general rule of thumb is to replace your helmet every 3-5 years. Every time that helmet is dropped, scratched or impacted in some form, it degrades and compromises your protection. And when you think about the further degradation of your helmet liner and the glues and materials holding it together because you’ve been woofing down 1/2lb Juicy Lucy burgers with bacon and a side of cheese curds then sweating and burping it out, the thought of replacement at 5yrs doesn’t sound too bad.

          If you’re going to invest in chest protection (which I recommend) buy a TekVest.(Tekrider.com) These are around the $500 mark, but more than once they have saved my bacon and well worth the money. Ive been running their Super Sport version for many years. If you run one of these, you may find you only need to wear a jacket shell (uninsulated) and change out your base layer weights accordingly underneath.

        • Bob, Iv got the A/C TekVest over 10yrs ago. Maybe once a year I forgot it. I feel totally naked without it. It’s a great ( safety) investment . I just did a Quick Google search. I seen some Klim ones in the low $400… Would recommend everyone to get one !

  7. I only wear Arctic Cat gear. Never purchased or used anything else including helmets. I have every type of Cat helmet even the modular you speak of. I never had any complaints with those helmets or Cat gear. Always kept me warm. Love the looks too! A few years ago I came upon the CKX Titan. I was very intrigued by it. I like that it had a fold down nose piece and heated goggles. I liked the chin strap idea and the neck protection. Cat didn’t have anything like this that I was looking for that the Titan had. I decided to buy it even though it was not a Cat product. At that time I think the CKX Mission was just coming out. At least I was not aware of it when I purchased the Titan. Since then I’ve read a lot of good comments on the Mission. I have no complaints on the Titan. I actually love it and think it’s the best helmet I’ve purchased so far. The Mission has me intrigued though. For now I’ll stick with my Titan. Sorry Cat. I still wear Cat helmets in the summer when ATVing. For the record I put Arctic Cat stickers on my Titan so to me and everyone else it’s a Cat helmet:)

  8. I have a BRP Oxygen and a Mission helmet. The Mission out performs it in all conditions. My Mission does not even have the heated visor and it never fogs. -20C or colder and it works flawlessly and it never fogs. Its the reason why I never put an electric shield on it. However, I should just in case I get into some freezing rain. Its warm, fog free and has great peripheral vision. My Oxygen fogs unless it is -20 out. I sweat like a pig with it on. I tried to adjust the temp settings, but unless it is on high, the helmet fogs instantly. I have it for sale actually.

  9. Re: the Tekvest comments- While we’re talking about safety gear we should invest in I’ll grind my ax a bit.

    I’ve rode with a tekvest since I was like 16 (39 now. Ooof). Though I was out of the sport for quite awhile I’ve always liked having it. When I set Dad’s ’97 ZR on the tail from a pretty great height I came down hard on my back but the only thing that hurt the next day was my neck from the strain.

    Flash forward a couple decades and now I am a higher mile unit looking to get into the sport and introduce my kids and wife to it as well. My youngest has a gigantic noggin, so we had to put a fairly big (and heavy) helmet on him. His neck was not nearly strong enough to support that weight in any kind of crash, so his head would have been protected but his neck would likely have ended up injured anyways. Googling answers led me to buy him a Leatt branded roost guard with integrated Leatt ring neck protection. That thing was awesome, if not somewhat challenging to to figure out how to winter dress around.
    No matter. A basement issue necessitated moving everything out of the basement and in that process the Leatt thing (a bit of a speedy unit) was ruined.

    Next solution- EVS neck protection. (See link below) got the youngest one. Got myself one. I now ride with it every time. I wear a tekvest (important: not one with the turtle necky thing goin on.) with an older Arctiva coat and my neck roll is actually kind under my coat. My kids wear newish arctic cat coats and the Evs roll goes right over there coat.

    I’ve also noticed my neck is less tired at the end of the day. I enjoy riding rough terrain, and I’m also out of shape. Today we did 10 miles and many of my muscles hurt but my neck could care less.

    If you spring for the Leatt type system and you can figure out how to make it work with your gear, you’ll have phenomenal protection and almost no restriction in movement. I’ve never worn a Leatt but I suspect the EVS restricts your movement a bit more. Still, after awhile, you just get used to it and eventually, like the tekvest, feel naked without it.

    Take a moment to consider ordering one. Necks are important.

  10. Hey Kale, when will you post more info. on the W.C. at Eagle River. I watched it on Flo racing this past weekend. Herf. did a great job, coming out of the L.C.Q. with a second place finish to start the final from the second row. He was able to stay out of trouble, and work his way up to a 4th. Place finish. I think that was exceptional for someone that does not normally run in F- III. The I- 500 is next.

  11. No breath box will work with glasses. No matter what brand of helmet I wear I remove the breath box and then wear a NoFog mask. Problem solved! I currently am using a HJC helmet with the NoFog mask and have not had any problems with my glasses fogging. As for the shields, I have never had any problems with them fogging and therefore I do not buy electric shields.

    • The breath box / devider on the Mission works great with glasses. You might have to push your glasses up a little bit to put the shield down but once down no issues what to ever. I wear Sunglasses qute often and have never had any issues with the Mission. Other helmets, not so much.

      • Breath deflectors move with the helmet. That breaks the seal over the nose and fogs the glasses. A NoFog mask is tight to the head and therefore the helmet is free to move independently. Hence no fogging of glasses!

  12. I purchased a Mission Carbon Fiber prior to last season. By far the best helmet I’ve used in my 40+ years of sledding. This topic made me think, remember when the Yamaha “wedge” helmet was the next greatest thing… 🙂
    For anybody on the fence, this helmet is well worth the cost. I’ve yet to have to plug it in for fogging issues, as they don’t exist. Only time I envision needing to plug it in will be on misty day.

  13. I switched from my dated TXi to the Mission this year and couldn’t be happier. My first trip with it brought sleet/freezing rain every day, so I have yet to try it un plugged. Probably some of the best snowmobile money Ive ever spent.

  14. Ive been riding with heated shields for nearly 10 years, have become totally used to being tethered to the sled…it has become an effortless second-nature to me. I doubt I could ever give up the convenience of the heated shields to keep me clear in all weather conditions. Two things though…I am surprised in this day of electric-everything that an onboard power supply is not readily available that would fit in a jacket pocket and eliminate the need to have a cord running to our sled? And lastly…there has to be better quality cords available?? My entire family wears heated shields from all of the major helmet brands and ya better have at least 2 extra cords with you on any given ride day because some ones cord is going to fail. The most common failure is the chrome male-end of the cord breaking free of its place in the connector and then no longer able to make contact. I haven’t tried the CKX brand yet but they are next on our list as we replace helmets due to age or someone out growing theirs.

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