Honest Hockey Review: Reebok 11K Helmet

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(UPDATE: a comprehensive Helmet overview is available in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. Most of the 2014/2015 helmets are covered.)

Overview

The Reebok 11K is a pro-level helmet offering from Reebok that originally debuted in advance of the 2011-12 NHL Season. While helmets released in the same time period such as the CCM V10, the Bauer 9900, and the Messier M11 have since been discontinued or reconstituted, the 11K was a top-seller as recently as 2014.

It remains to be seen how or if CCM will re-brand the helmet as they have with other Reebok lines (such as the RibCor), but I’ve had multiple retailers confirm that the 11K has been among their strongest sellers over the last few years. It appears the current 11K will be discontinued as the Reebok name is phased out, but it’s very possible CCM will release a revamped version of the helmet later in the year or early in 2016.

(UPDATE: 8/18/2015: it appears CCM will continue to offer the Reebok 11K for the 2015-16 season, which speaks to the helmet’s enduring popularity.)

(Update 4/26/2016: the 11K and other Reebok helmets have been re-conceptualized by CCM as FitLite helmets.)

The 11K line is quite popular on the whole, and 11K protective has a Jofa-like following in the aftermarket. While I don’t like to pay exorbitant prices for used hockey equipment, I was able to pick up an almost-new 11K at a reasonable price. I opted to resell the helmet, but I used it long enough to write a brief Honest Hockey Review for Reboot Hockey. 

Basis of Comparison

As mentioned previously, I’ve mainly used two helmet models during my playing career: the Bauer 5000/Nike Bauer 5500, and the Jofa 390. Having said that, I’ve branched out over the last few years and picked up different style helmets when available in the interest of education.

For example, I picked up a pro stock CCM V10 helmet about a year and a half ago, which was released at the same time as the original Reebok 11K. I grabbed a Tron 20K because it cost less than dinner from Denny’s. I bought and quickly resold a pair of Bauer 9900 helmets. I recently picked up a CCM V08. I finally sent my college helmet Red Rampage into retirement, eventually swapping it out for a red V10.

I also happened upon a lot of Reebok 8Ks, one of which I gave to Reboot partner Randy and another that I gave to our clownish goaltender for when he skates out. I kept one for myself and have tooled around in it, but it hasn’t seen major game action because I haven’t done the color modification that Randy did to his.

(UPDATE: Randy rebooted my 8K, and it looks gorgeous.)

For what it’s worth, Randy raves about the 8K, and the fact I greased him with it a while back has no doubt prolonged our friendship, such as it is.

Reboot partner Mark also uses the 11K helmet and loves it. At some point, I’ll get a few words from Mark about the 11K, but he’s harder to pin down than a greased pig, so don’t hold your breath waiting for his go-ahead.

(UPDATE: 6/15/2015: I re-sold the red 11K depicted below, but I found another 11K in the Reboot Hockey/Misfits Hockey Black-and-Silver scheme. Given how auspicious this was, I’ve of course kept the Black/Silver 11K. Having owned two of them and used the 11K for a longer period of time, I think this Review now carries more weight.)

(UPDATE 8/10/15: along with the 11K, I happened upon a Bauer Re-AKT (reviewed elsewhere on this blog) and an Easton E700, which was their pro-level helmet for 2015. My notes on the E700 are posted below.)

In any event, I’ve probably – strike that, literally – spent half of my life wearing hockey helmets, and I can tell the difference between a good one and a bad one. In the CCM V10, CCM V08, Bauer Re-AKT, and Reebok 8K, I’ve also used a number of directly-comparable helmets within the past year.

Looks

reebok11khelmetbksv

The 2014 2015 11K comes in a wide variety of Shell/Insert color schemes. While the retail Shell colors are pretty standard (Black, White, Navy, Royal, Red), the 11K can be purchased a wide variety of different accent colors. If a player cannot find the color combination he or she wants, Reebok also released 11K sticker kits in a variety of colors.

The helmet is sharp without being gaudy. It has a classic, understated look. The liner features Reebok’s signature RibCor lime-green color, which helps immediately separate it from other offerings on the shelf.

Here are a few pics of the 11K I purchased, Red with Red inserts, next to its cousin the CCM V10:

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The 11K may not be as distinct as something like a Jofa 366 or a Messier M11, but helmets aren’t designed for aesthetics. The 11K looks good, and comes in enough color combos to reasonably satisfy any player.

HH Score: 9.0

Fit

The 11K has tools-free adjustment at the temples, and has a very handy version of Occipital Lock called Micro-Dial II. This improves fit tremendously without adding advanced wizardry to the helmet-fitting process.

I have two CCM Vector 10 helmets, neither of which have an Occipital Lock. The V10 happens to fit my head well, but I believe the 11K offers a more-secure overall fit for most players.

The 11K uses a material called Flex-Liner on the inside of the helmet, which is similar to many of the low-density foams seen on high-end hockey helmets. Flex-Liner seems space-age compared to the standard foam seen in something like a CCM V08 or a Bauer 4500. The 11K is noticeably lighter than the Bauer 5000/5500s I usually wear, to the degree that I felt like I was wearing a Jofa broomball helmet.

The two main complaints I have of both the Easton E-Series and the Bauer 9900 helmets are that they’re 1) a bit bulky-looking and 2) adjusting the helmet’s liner becomes a feat of engineering. This is not an issue at all with Reebok’s O-Lock, which tightens the helmet around the back portion of your head with a few clicks of a dial. So simple, even I can use it properly.

(UPDATE 8/10/15: I got my hands on an Easton E700 helmet, which is a major leap in fit from the Easton E600. The Easton E700 is just about the lightest helmet I’ve gotten my hands on, and fits much better/differently than the E600.)

(UPDATE 9/15/15: I quickly re-sold the E700 after a gentleman in Minnesota offered me five times what I paid for it. This came to the chagrin of Reboot partner Randy, who had low-balled me with an offer of $25 for it. Randy didn’t talk to me for weeks afterward, which is a testament to how nice the E700 is.

eastone700

I won’t be writing a full review on the E700, but here are my thoughts:

I can’t talk about how protective the E700 is, but the E700 was by far the lightest and most-comfortable helmet I had on hand. I had it sitting next to a Reebok 8K, 11K, Randy’s M11, and a CCM V10, and the comfort/weight of the E700 was by far the best.

The E700 comes in an array of color options, including Matte options. I don’t care for the Matte, but the Matte finish does make the E700 look distinct. The liner is “Giro” inspired, and an elastic netting wraps the back of your head to ensure fit and optimize comfort.

While Randy loved the weightlessness of the helmet, it felt to me like I was wearing tin foil. I can’t deny how comfortable the E700, but the lack of heft would probably make me nervous in a contact game.

One of our Reboot teammates had purchased an Easton E600, and it had zero appeal to me. I thought it fit poorly and was mediocre in overall quality. I was very surprised at the large quality jump from the E600 to the E700.

The E700 is being closed-out, and as I write this you can possibly pick one up for $60-$70, if you can find one in your size. It’s a very nice lid, again noting that I didn’t run any IMPACT concussion studies in it. Back to the 11K review.)

Because I’m used to the Bauer 5000, I sometimes look at certain helmets and immediately think of the Great Gazoo. The Tron 20K, for example, looks pretty over-sized. It’s not a primary consideration, but the Reebok 11K looks proportional.

gazoo
The O-Lock is my favorite feature on the 8K, and the 11K features a fine-tuned version of the same feature. In fact, it would be fair to say that the 11K is a beefed-up 7K/8K in most respects, excluding weight. It’s hard to imagine a better-fitting helmet, which no doubt contributes to it’s popularity.

HH Score: 10.0

Durability

I didn’t go out and start ramming my head into the boards in the 11K for the greater glory of Reboot Hockey, and being a mere A-leaguer I didn’t receive a ton of contact while wearing the 11K. I also did not keep the 11K long before reselling it, so I’m going to decline to give it a score in Durability. However, I will say that the 11K I used was very well-constructed, and I would have no safety concerns using it in a contact game.

(Note: this explains in a nutshell why I kept the 11K for myself and sold the E700. The E700 is lighter, but the 11K feels “sturdier” to me. I would have more confidence in taking a head hit wearing the 11K. Just my opinion.)

(UPDATE 11/2/2015: I’ve worn my Black/Silver 11K quite a bit now, and it would be a stretch to say that the 11K provides the protection of the meticulously-research CCM Resistance. But the 11K provides a very secure fit, and I have great confidence in using it.)

HH Score: 9.0

Performance

Again, it’s difficult to grade a helmet’s performance in mostly non-contact play. I will say that the helmet is basically weightless, fits incredibly well, and was a complete non-factor – meaning no pesky in-game adjusting – while I was using it.

Helmets are like insurance, and it’s hard to measure a how well a helmet performs without a series of impact tests. What a player should consider when selecting a helmet is how confident he or she is while using the helmet, and how well the helmet fits.

(UPDATE 7/22/15: I took an elbow to the back of the head about a month ago while wearing one of my Bauer 5000s, and am currently recovering from an undiagnosed concussion. Would the 11K have prevented the concussion? Impossible to say, but concussion prevention is a good argument for upgrading your helmet every year or two.) 

(UPDATE 8/18/15: I was able to pick up another 11K on the cheap, which Randy and I rebooted. It’s black with silver highlights, which of course matches the Reboot Hockey color scheme, so I will probably hang onto it.

I did hang onto it. Everything I previously wrote holds true. The 11K is a really nice lid. If you can get your hands on one, it comes highly recommended.)

HH Score: 9.5

Final Considerations

If you are one of those who has to make a lot of your hockey equipment purchases online, I think the Reebok 11K is a very sound choice. It’s a marked upgrade over mid-level helmets such as the CCM V08 or the Bauer 4500, it’s considerably less-expensive than a helmet like the CCM Resistance, and the features Reebok implemented on the 11K are going to accommodate a lot of different head shapes.

The 11K is an elite helmet on par with the Bauer IMS 11.0, and the current suggested retail price for those helmets is around $160-$180 U.S. I can verify that you’re certainly getting a very nice helmet for the price, but there are players who simply don’t have that kind of cash to sink into a helmet. If you are not playing in a contact league, you may do just fine with a performance-level helmet such a Reebok 7K or a Bauer 7500.

Reebok 11K protective gear is notorious for fetching large sums on the aftermarket, as lots of pros prefer the 11K line for the same reasons they prefer the now-extinct Jofa line of equipment. The 11K is a great helmet, but you’re almost better off going the retail route versus trying to find one secondhand, as aftermarket prices will be high.

The Reebok name is being phased out of performance hockey sales, and as I write this in early June 2015, the Reebok 11K has been closed out. If you are considering a helmet purchase and have a bit of discretionary income to put into a helmet, the Reebok 11K comes highly recommended.

(UPDATE: CCM kept the 11K for 2015, no doubt due to demand and sales. For 2016, CCM is repackaging the 11K in the CCM FitLite line, which is already seen on professional players.)

HH Final Score: 9.5

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy this type of content, Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook.

Jack

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