Oakley’s Aro3 quickly sorts us all into two camps: the camp that embraces new and out-of-the-ordinary aesthetics, and the camp that prefers traditional styles and shapes. While both tribes are likely to enjoy the exceptional fit, venting, and featheriness of the Aro3, only the stylistically adventurous will truly love this lid.
It’s got a bit of a hairnet-meets-90s-mushroom-helmet look — and if we’re being honest, it shares a lot of style cues with POC’s Octal — yet it’s sleek and modern, too. That’s part form and part function: large front vents allow plenty of air movement over the head and out the back. The MIPS liner does cut down some of the venting, but there’s enough air moving over and through the helmet to keep it plenty cool. If you’re heading out for a long, hot climb, this is the Oakley offering to reach for.
Perhaps the best feature of the Aro3 is one that it shares with the Aro5: the Boa FS1-1 fit system. It adjusts quickly and easily via the rear Boa dial, so you can dial in your snugness in tiny increments. And the TX1 braided textile lace Oakley uses is so low-profile that it barely registers on your head. Oakley says it lays flat against the rider’s head, but it’s really so thin that it’s hard to tell if this is true or not. Or if it matters. Regardless, the FS1-1 fit system doesn’t interfere with your sunglasses at all, which is the most significant benefit.
Make no mistake, this is an excellent helmet. But it isn’t without its shortcomings. The straps are thin and comfortable against the skin, but the buckle doesn’t hold that thin strap in position strongly enough. That means the strap can loosen over time. The ear junctions are also not adjustable, which isn’t a problem if they line up where you like them. But if you’re a fidgeter, you might find yourself yearning for some sort of adjustment system here.
The onus on Oakley, upon entering a crowded helmet market, was not just to be good; it had to be among the best. The Aro3, and its more aerodynamic sibling the Aro5, both prove Oakley has more than met that criteria. Smart touches like the integrated sunglasses dock make it an easy helmet to reach for, and the venting makes it worthy of hot, long days in the mountains.