- The removable backpack is smartly designed and gives riders many options for carrying gear or snacks.
- The airbag does not wrap around the lower side kidney areas like the ‘normal’ Helite vests
- The weight of the backpack airbag which includes a 60cc CO2 canister is 5.98 pounds and 4.06 pounds without the backpack attached. The large Helite Turtle 2 tethered air vest weighs 4.06 pounds including a 60cc CO2 canister.
- Available in tethered (as tested) and electronic trigger versions
I have reviewed two versions of Helite airbag vests. The first was the analog version of the Helite Turtle 2 (HT2) vest in August of 2022. The most recent was my review of the Helite e-Turtle 2 Airbag Review. These are my impressions of the new tethered H-MOOV backpack. (HMV) Helite plans to release an electronic version of this backpack shortly.
Helite was founded in 2002 by Gérard Thevenot, a French engineer who specialized in fluid mechanics and was passionate about light aeronautics (ULM, hang gliders, paramotors). The high accident rate in these sports led him to look for solutions for pilot protection, and so a first patent was filed for individual protection airbags.
As airbag technology applies to all high-risk activities, Helite has become an expert in this field, dedicating itself exclusively to the development of individual protection systems. Helite airbags are already used in a wide variety of fields such as motorcycling, horse riding, cycling, health, aeronautics, and industrial work; they are also highly appreciated in top-level sports.
From Helite’s website:
Helite’s mission is to make the world safer by developing new intelligent solutions to protect people in their sports and daily activities. Our special recipe: innovation, technology, and simplicity, all made in France with our touch of authenticity.
Our R&D Approach:
From the idea to the design of an airbag, a long process and many skills are involved. In this sense, our airbag technology is still validated by numerous prototypes and crash tests.
- Interior textile 3D mesh for maximum air circulation
- Vest 100% polyester 600D textile
- Airbag 100% polyurethane
- 18L backpack expandable to 23L
- The backpack can be completely removed from the air vest and a reflective cover is supplied which can be zipped in place of the backpack unit when so desired
- A hydration pouch and hose attachment points are incorporated. No hydration pack is included
- Exterior pocket for small objects such as credit cards or cash
- Reflective stripes on the back for added visibility on both the backpack and rain cover
- Waterproof rain cover built into the backpack
- Mesh helmet carrier built into the backpack
- Dedicated sleeve for a laptop up to 15” with adjustable securing strap
- Soft neoprene collar for better comfort around the neck
- Comfortable and light allows full body motion
- TURTLE technology with SAS-TEC 1621 level 1 back protector
- Adjustment straps for a fit over any motorcycle garment
- Air protection volume: 18L
- Water-resistant and waterproof when deployed with included rain cover
- CE Certified Airbag System
I want to state upfront that I’ve never been a fan of wearing a backpack while riding a motorcycle. My reason primarily revolves around safety. The possibility of crashing with a backpack full of solid items that could potentially impact my spine just didn’t justify the convenience of carrying ‘stuff’ on my back. Up until this point I’ve either utilized a tail or tank bag for things like water, snacks, tools, my first aid kit, etc. To my knowledge, the HMV backpack is the very first one to incorporate an air vest.
First things first, let’s trigger this sucker. No matter how many times I’ve tested Helite airbag systems, either intentionally or from a fall, the initial boom always gives me a bit of a startle. Testing this time was no different. In my review of the Helite Turtle 2 Airbag Vest, I go into detail about how the CO2 canister system works, and how it’s punctured and fills the vest.
If you’d like to know more, including how to replace the tethered CO2 canister, simply reference my previous review. Below is how the interior of the HMV appears before inflation.
For now, I will illustrate where the canister is located on the HMV. Unlike the Turtle vests, the HMV’s canister is located in a double-zippered pouch above the fastening buckles. It uses a 60cc canister which is indicated on the inner portion of the opening.
Since the HMV does not have a dedicated slot sewn into the vest, double zippers position the tether to exit the canister’s ball trigger mechanism. The correct position of the zipper pulls is marked on the vest by two blue dashes.
And the position is specified on page 32 in the user’s guide.
Installing the Tether
Since this is a tethered trigger system, you must install the tether (duh) to your bike frame, preferably toward the center of your bike. I have installed mine just the right of the front of the seat next to my gas tank. Here are the Helite user manual’s instructions.
HMV Expansion Areas
Because the HMV is thinner and shorter in length than the Turtle line of airbag vests, it contains gussets along the sides and bottom. The size difference is apparent in these photographs. As a point of reference, Turtle 2 is a size large. The HMV only comes in one size.
Each side of the HMV’s front shoulder straps uses small snaps which allow the airbag to rapidly expand when the CO2 canister is released.
The bottom of the vest allows the airbag to extend below the backpack.
The airbag covers the thorax, abdomen, neck, back, and sacrum. The photos above show the sacrum airbag sections. The following images illustrate the neck and front rib airbag sections.
This is a short video showing the HMV during inflation.
Here are images of how the HMV appears when inflated. I had worried that the neck and tailbone sections of the backpack were not well covered. But both of those concerns were proven to be nonissues once the vest inflated. Coverage is excellent.
In both of the images below you can see just how well the airbag extends to cover the tailbone section of my body.
The backpack was removed and replaced by included cover with the vest inflated.
How the interior of the vest appears after inflation. Note the cradling of the spine area and the tailbone coverage.
Replacing the CO2 Cartridge
If you would like to see how to replace the CO2 canister in the MC trigger, you can view the procedure I’ve outlined in my review of the Helite Turtle 2 Airbag Vest, in my Installing the CO2 Canister section. The procedure is the same.
One of the things that concerned me when I first unboxed the HMV was its lack of buckle length adjustment straps like the previous Helite Turtle 2 vests I tested. The HMV only contains two buckles, not three like the other Helite vests. The topmost buckle does not contain any extra nylon webbing which allows adjustment of the strap. The lower buckles do via the use of friction clasps.
I’m not a big guy, 5-8 165lbs without gear. To test the sizing of the HMV, I decided to wear two different jackets, first my KLIM Marrakesh summer jacket and then my Alpinestars Halo Drystar. Both have differing thicknesses when worn.
I’m happy to report that in both cases the HMV fit well and the lower adjustment straps provided plenty of adjustment for either jacket. For individuals with very large chests, I’m hoping Helite offers an extension buckle, much like when airlines offer seat belt extensions to ‘larger’ people. Helite does offer an online ‘consultation’ meeting where you can ask questions about fit. Pretty slick.
These side views of the HMV in the 18L configuration while wearing the Alpinestars Halo Drystar and KLIM Marrakesh riding jackets. The image in the grey Marrakesh shows the HMV with the backpack removed and the included cover installed.
Separating The Backpack From Airbag Vest
The ability to remove the entire backpack from the airbag vest makes the HMV an incredibly versatile safety device. The backpack is held in place by a zipper that runs 100% of the circumference of the backpack and begins on the upper left-hand side of the unit and unzips clockwise.
Before I move onto the back protector I want to cover the hydration pouch Helite has included in the HMV. Please note that no hydration bladder is included, just the incorporated ability to mount one if so desired. An attachment clip in the center of the upper portion of the area where the backpack resides is there to clip into many water bladders made by Camelback, or other makers of water bladders.
On the upper left side of the backpack is a small icon indicating where the hydration hose can be routed. By leaving the backpack or backpack cover zipper open one inch, the hose can be routed up through the elastic loop on the upper left side of the vest.
In the front left side of the vest is webbing that allows you to hold the hydration bite valve which is convenient to reach while riding.
A narrow zippered pocket resides on the left side chest strap. I believe it is intended for credit cards, ID, cash, or keys. It’s convenient for earplugs too. Be aware that that little pocket extends down about two inches below the end of the zipper. Can you say “Lost change down there somewhere?”
Before moving on to the back protection I wanted to highlight that everything Helite has built into the backpack as convenience features are housed OUTSIDE of the back protector. For me, this is key since my sole purpose in considering any device like this is to protect myself from serious injury in a crash.
Yes, the convenience features are wonderful, but not if the design does not consider protection first. Helite has demonstrated by its design that protection is paramount in this HMV.
Unlike Helite’s turtle vests, the HMV uses a level 1 back protector which is smaller than the turtle units. In the following images, I have set Turtle 2 and HMV side by side as a comparison.
Here’s a close-up of the HMV’s back protector’s rating.
A zipper located underneath the removable backpack portion is where the level 1 protection is accessed.
In my prior review of the Helite e-Turtle 2 Airbag, I addressed a user’s question about the ability to use a different pad in the vest. His question surrounded the ability to store a Helite in luggage making it easier by using a more pliable pad. Helite informed me that a pad of comparable size and shape would be acceptable. In the images which follow I’ve used the level 1 pad out of my KLIM Marrakesh jacket. It is much more pliable and ventilated than the unit that comes with the HMV. If I decide to purchase the HMV, this is the back pad I plan to use.
With the backpack removed, Helite supplies a nifty little cover that replaces the backpack. It contains reflective strips and is easily stored either in the backpack or can also be stored in the hydration pouch. In this example, I’ve stored it in the hydration pouch.
Pockets, More Pockets, and Features
I’ve already covered the built-in hydration pouch on this HMV, so before I get into the backpack’s pockets and storage capacity, I will talk about the built-in rain cover and helmet carrier. Yep, both are included and unless you’re a complete idiot they can’t be lost.
Small cute AF icons appear all over the HMV that indicate what’s included. This little umbrella rain icon gives us a hint about the built-in rain cover. Located at the top of the backpack to the right of the carrying handle.
Unzipping the little pouch just behind the carrying handle reveals the built-in rain cover.
The cover stretches down to the bottom of the backpack and fits whether the HMV is expanded or in its retracted, smaller-liter configuration. At the bottom of the rain cover is a triangular piece of velcro attached to a matching velcro patch at the bottom of the backpack. Two elastic bands with clips stretch around the back of the HMV to keep the rain cover tight. And of course, there are reflective strips and the Helite logo on the rain cover.
This just shows the little pouch where the rain cover is stored inside of the HMV backpack.
And this is to illustrate the rain cover used when the backpack is in its filled 23-liter configuration. Note the side reflective strips too.
Built-In Helmet Holder
Yep at the bottom of the backpack is this cute little icon.
I’m using my Arai XD4 helmet with a peak to illustrate just how the HMV can handle a large adventure helmet. The stretchy mesh is secured at the top of the HMV with two eyelets and holds the lid securely. I had mentioned at the start that only an idiot can lose some of the built-in conveniences on the HMV. Since the helmet holder can be detached from the backpack if some tool decides it would be a great banana hammock and forgets where he left it….OH WELL! As much as the people in France try to contemplate anything, they cannot plan for stupidity!
Helite lists the storage volume as 18L expandable to 23L
I’m not that good at figuring out how many liters I can carry. So I did it two ways. First trying to put odd large things in the backpack and second, trying to fit my riding jackets in there. Oh and a 14” laptop too. Here goes, first a 2 liter(!) cooking pot, my large Camelback water jug, and a big loaf of bread. And if you plan to give me shit about white bread keep it to yourself.
Yep, it all fit and I didn’t squish the bread either!
Now for a more standard ‘stuffing,’ I stuffed each jacket one at a time into the main compartment of the backpack. I wanted to test if the main compartment was large enough to fit a lighter summer riding jacket and a larger all-season one. First my KLIM Marrakesh and second my Alpinestars Halo Drystar. They both fit well, not together, but separately. Oh and I forgot to mention that I had my 14” Lenovo laptop in there too. A handy adjustable elastic velcro strap kept it secure.
Here I have my Lenovo, my KLIM Marrakesh jacket, and my Arai XD4 helmet in/on the HMV. My example here is for those who don’t have luggage on their bikes, go for a ride in the hotter months, and can carry their junk with them to head to lunch or a hike.
Another example for those without luggage is to bungee net the backpack to your bike’s rear seat or rack and reattach it when you arrive at your destination.
Since I have luggage on my bike I plan to either just wear the HMV with the backpack, or pack day hike things in the backpack, carry it in my top box, and then attach it to my airbag vest to go on a hike.
I photographed and measured the pockets with the intent of explaining each one. Instead, I decided to simply show the pockets and for those details that I feel deserve mention, I will.
First and foremost, the HMV is an incredible safety device that may/will save the lives and limbs of many a biker. Helite airbag vests are some of, if not the best in the industry when you consider the cost, the ability to simply reactivate the vests with a screw in CO2 cartridge, and the sheer volume of air coverage. Their latest entry, as an airbag backpack offering so many options to carry accessories safely, has been not only well thought out but executed. My negative surrounds what I refer to as “baby onesie snaps” in the areas that allow the airbag to expand is secondary to their purpose.
To deploy quickly and consistently. I am not certain why velcro was not used to allow the gusset seams to expand upon deployment. I can only assume that the engineers felt that velcro may not present a consistent release pressure to ensure accurate deployment. Having crashed in a Turtle 2 and not having to ‘snap’ together seams after the airbag deployed is a real-world experience. My emotions after a fall may prevent me from reattaching the snaps well or at all. Since I was not injured thanks to the Helite, I reinstalled a CO2 canister and was back on my bike in just 12 minutes. If I was injured enough to not continue, snapping over 40 snaps would not even be a concern since I would not have continued on my way.
After testing the vest’s deployment, it took me 25 minutes to snap them all together and that was without the emotion of just having crashed. Perhaps there is a technique that would allow me to reattach the snaps faster, I just could not figure out how to do so.
- Manufacturer: Helite
- Price: (When Tested) $799.00
- Colors: Black
- Sizes: One
- Review Period: March 2023
Important Links / Where to Buy
- Seams are well sewn with no fraying
- Zippers are YKK, smooth, and easy to operate
- Air Bags placed in strategic areas around the spine, neck, clavicle, and sacrum
- Level 1 back protector is placed in the optimal position
- The backpack accommodates large items easily
- Integrated rain cover
- Integrated helmet carrier
- Zippers are waterproof
- Hydration holder included
- Accepts up to a 15” laptop
- Inexpensive CO2 replacement canisters are user replaceable
- Very comfortable over a wide variety of riding gear
- Excellent attention to detail
- Small expansion snaps are difficult to snap together after a fall
- Side areas around the lower kidney areas are unprotected
- The nonadjustable top buckle fastening strap may be too small for larger-chested individuals