3M Speedglas G5-01 Welding Helmet Review
With the (not so recent) launch of the 3M Speedglas G5-01 welding helmet with Adflo PAPR, you’ve either seen one of these somewhere by now or know someone who has one… either that or you must have retired! Well we’ve finally had a chance to review the helmet, so settle in for a long read amigos; there’s a lot to cover!
It’s been 12 years since 3M first launched the 9100 series of helmets, which was a revolutionary premium welding helmet range at the time – particularly due to the size of the lens and the unprecedented comfort and engineering of the helmet. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t all getting a little impatient waiting for their next new premium helmet range! Luckily, and in typical Speedglas fashion, they didn’t disappoint and it’s obvious what they’ve been working on for the past 12 years.
Firstly, from a purely visual perspective (yes, some of us care what our hoods look like, not just how well they work!) the Speedglas G5-01 looks like the modern, futuristic welding helmet you’d expect in 2020.
It’s also worth noting that the helmet looks functionally very similar to the 9100XXi FX Air – no new bells and whistles with how the basic helmet appears, which is likely a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s worth noting that given how popular the FX Air helmet has been, it would have been mad to completely reinvent the G5-01 rather than improve on a concept that works.
Getting a closer look at the helmet, it’s clear that while similar in appearance, there are immediately some noticeable improvements that have been made. The helmet itself appears to be narrower (almost looks like a bit of a throwback to the 9002x series helmet if any of you are old enough to remember it). This is particularly interesting given some boileys doing work in confined spaces have felt the 9002x helmet was more suitable for that kind of job purely given its narrower design – so that’s a big tick.
Also, the flip-up component containing the lens (worth noting that the G5-01 currently only comes with a flip up option) is easily detachable, making the helmet 35% lighter overall. This brings us to another good point; when you spend a considerable amount of your day grinding (as much as you may not always want to admit that), the full weight of the 9100XXi can get tiresome, despite the comfortable harness. This new removable flip up attachment will mean that you can easily change between grinding and welding, have a clear lens to grind with without a separate visor, and not have the weight of the whole helmet on your head all day.
After reading through the manual, we found out the Speedglas G5-01 also comes with Bluetooth functionality, meaning that with the 3M Connected Equipment app you can get additional information and set/play with your lens settings through your phone. Probably of more interest to the younger welders out there, but a cool feature nonetheless (let’s be honest, everything needs to have Bluetooth these days, doesn’t it!?)
One less obvious (but still pretty significant) feature in the G5 01 is how it allows welders to determine the direction of airflow inside the helmet. Some welders who first switch to a PAPR unit find it difficult to adjust to the constant stream of air that (depending on the size of your head) can blow into and dry out your eyes. The clever clogs at 3M have made it so that in the G5-01, you can determine the direction of airflow depending on your preference (and head size!), making this issue a thing of the past.
“Get to the lens features” I hear you say? Until now, the newest progression in lens technology has been focused on “realistic/true/clear vision” – 3M Speedglas call it “TrueView” whereby their lenses allow more colours through the lens to better view your welds and have better control over your weld pool. Speedglas were early to the party with this technology, and their 9100XXi and 9002NC lenses both have this, so it was to be expected that the G5-01 would as well…
…but this is where it gets interesting! 3M have clearly spent considerable time and money developing something the market hasn’t seen before. Based on real research with welders, 3M determined that different welders respond to different colour tones differently. So which colour did they go with?? You. Can. Choose. There it is. You’ll see in the pictures below that there are 3 options; natural (green), cool (blue) or warm (red). Believe me, this is a gamechanger in welder’s vision and will set the bar high for welding helmet manufacturers for the next few years.
- Slick, modern design
- Narrower than 9100XXi series; good for work in confined spaces
- Removable flip up attachment; lighter option when grinding
- Adjustable flow of air for those who sometimes get dry eyes in a PAPR
- Comes with Variable Colour Technology – you can choose between red, blue and green colour tones when welding.
- Offers a task light as an optional extra (although a bit pricey)
- No free cover lenses like with the 9100XXi Adflo, but does come with a free storage bag
- Only available with Adflo, making this a heavy investment for apprentices and junior welders
- Doesn’t come as a unit with the standard battery - only heavy duty - meaning a little bit more weight on the belt.
Overall, this helmet is exactly what you would expect if you gave the company that invented auto darkening welding lenses 12 years to improve on an already great concept of a welding helmet.
If you put “welder”, “boilermaker” or “fabricator” on your job description, we don’t need to tell you to buy this; you’re already planning on getting one.