Product review: BluArmor BluSnap wearable helmet cooler
The BluArmor BluSnap helmet cooler is a solution for users who ride in a hot climate. It can be useful during the summer in major cities of India, and other parts of the world with similar conditions. This accessory is best suited for riders who spend most of their saddle time in the city, with speeds not exceeding 50kmph. I used it primarily during my daily commute within Mumbai and while riding around the city. The BluSnap is an evaporative cooler, meaning, water is introduced to flowing air to cool it. Traditional helmets use venting for cooling. Air vents let air into the helmets and channels circulate through various parts, while exit vents allow the circulated air to be released. However, the venting is dependent on air entering and exiting continuously. This may not be the case in slow traffic. Which is where the BluSnap could come in handy.
Design and build
The BluSnap helmet cooler has a boxy design. The matte black finish should help it match a majority of the helmets
The BluSnap has a matte black plastic exterior. Its neutral colour will match most helmets. The matte finish has survived my day-to-day use over a few weeks. However, it caught a few small scratches around its bottom edge where it came into contact with surfaces I placed my helmet on. Helmets usually have a rubber beading around the bottom to prevent the same. The BluSnap could have had something similar.
The device has a rubber cover on top that protects a micro USB charging port with 4 LEDs to indicate the battery level on the top left. At the centre is the chamber in which the filter cartridge and a small fan sit behind a mesh grille. To the left is water receptacle that can hold 60ml of water. This water enters the cartridge area when the knob at the bottom of the cooler is turned open. The knob takes one and a half rotations to open. It is easy to operate with riding gloves on but also caught small scratches being from coming into contact with various surfaces.
Under the top rubber flap is a water receptacle to the left of the BluSnap. The 60ml capacity is good for about two hours of cooling
The surface facing the helmet is curved to sit flush with its chin area. Unfortunately, for me, the BluSnap blocks the biggest air vent on my helmet, an Arai Chaser-V, and hence when the cooler was switched off, I would have to open my visor to let in fresh air. Two soft rubber vents protrude from under the BluSnap and into the helmet to provide cooled air. These vents take up about 3cm of space between your chin and the helmet.
Remove the front mesh grille and behind it sits a tiny fan that flows air through the filter cartridge for the cooling effect
Overall, the device feels sturdily built for daily use and there were no creaks from the plastic after I had tested it. It does add 300grams to the helmet, so if your helmet does not fit properly, you may feel it weighing down the front. For reference, most helmets weigh between 1,200 grams to 1,600 grams. My helmet is a snug fit, so the BluSnap did not affect the balance significantly. The device does extend 5.8cm from the front of the helmet, but did not affect forward vision as it sits low. You will notice a small part of its top surface when looking down to see the speedometer. I enjoyed the boxy look it gave my helmet and fancied myself Darth Vader when I tested it. A sleeker form factor would make it more appealing.
Fit and use
The two rubber vents you see enter the space between your chin and helmet and flow air upwards. They take up about 3 cm of space. So ensure you have more than that for a comfotable fit
The BluSnap snaps onto any full-face helmet. You simply place it under the chin of the helmet such that its two rubber vents are inside the helmet. The attached elastic strap holds it in place. BluArmor also includes two velcro pieces you can stick on to your helmet which attach to their counterparts on along the curved surface of the cooler for a secure fit. The silicone strips on the elastic strap offered enough grip for me to not have to attach the velcro.
The BluSnap cooler has two Velcro strips where the elastic strap attaches to the device. There are stick-on counterparts in the package for your helmet to help keep it in place. Note the silicone lining inside the strap which held the cooler in place even without the velcro
The vents rubbed against my forehead and nose while wearing the helmet as they reduce the size of the helmet opening, causing some discomfort. Once I wore the helmet, the vents were very close to the chin but did not cause any discomfort while riding.
As for safety, BluArmor says that the straps which snap onto the device will break away in case of an impact, moving the device away, and allowing the helmet to do its job without any intrusion. I did not test this aspect but I have faith in my Arai to do its job in the event of a crash. Our Editor, however, refuses to put on anything that may get in the way of the helmet functioning optimally.
The BluSnap helmet cooler juts out 5.8cm from the front of the helmet. A sleeker form factor would better integrate it to the shape of the helmet
The device runs on a 2,500mAh battery powering a 5V DC brushless fan. The battery took just under 6 hours for a full charge. Since the charging was only needed once in six days, I did not miss quick charging, although that would add to convenience for users with longer commutes. My daily usage was around 50 minutes of commute plus some detours to eateries and friends. Charged from Sunday night, the BluSnap ran out of charge after a little over 5 hours of usage.
In terms of cooling, the BluSnap does work. We tested its cooling effect in traffic on a day with ambient temperature at 33.2 deg Celsius. The temperature inside the helmet was 34.5 deg C when I put it on. Switching on the cooler and riding through traffic for 10 minutes brought the temperature down to 32.5 deg C. After 25 minutes of riding, the temperature was 31.1 deg C. That is a temperature difference of 3.4 deg C over 25 minutes. This was in Mumbai, which is high humidity area. Evaporative cooling works optimally in low-humidity regions as dry air absorbs more water and the temperature difference should be higher in cities that match this climate profile.
The BluSnap sits low enough on the chin that it does not hamper forward vision while riding. But you will notice a small part of its top surface, when you look down to, say, check the speedometer
The air flows at a comfortable speed with little to no fan noise when in use. It is a convenient solution for those who spend a large part of their commute in slow moving traffic when there is limited flow natural air.
BluArmor recommends you soak the filter in cold water for ideal cooling. That was alright during my commute, but if I begin my ride from a place I do not have easy access to cold water, this could prove to be a chore. The 60ml of water needed refilling twice during the week. There is no water level indicator so if you are stuck in a jam as I was on the fifth day, you might run of water. Maybe a larger receptacle could help with this.
Riding above 70kmph on two occasions during my commute, I had switched off the cooler. It still gave some cooling but not as effectively as with the fan on. But I did not use it for any ride outside the city. Due to this, I cannot comment on how it would affect dynamics at such speeds.
The filter cartrdige is removable, washable and you can soak it in cold water before use for optimum effect. BluArmor recommends that you change it after 5,000km or 6 months of use
It requires no maintenance, apart from periodic cleaning of the filter, which requires replacement every six months. The replacement filter costs Rs300 for a pack of two. The battery is not replaceable.
Cooling worked to an extent even in a humid area, but is more suitable for dry regions
Useful in slow moving traffic when there is limited natural air flow for cooling
Adds weight to helmet
Costs as much an Indian-make helmet
No water level indicator
There is process to make it function optimally
The issue with the BluSnap is that it is priced such that owners of lower-priced helmets which don't have adequate venting might not buy it. For, the cooler costs the equivalent of good Indian-make helmets. There is a growing number of riders investing in helmets costing Rs 10,000 or more. And we feel it is these riders who might invest in such a device. I liked using it, especially in the current summer heat, but I would not buy it given that my a large part of my riding is on the highway, where my helmet vents work well.
Rs 2,132 including taxes
Images: Anis Shaikh