Giro Jackson MIPS Helmet Review
It wasn’t really that long ago when you’d hit a ski slope to find most people were helmet less. It just wasn’t the norm to wear a lid for skiing and yet, maybe within a decade or so, the tide has swiftly turned. This is great news. People wear helmets for cycling, climbing, skateboarding and, of course, for competitive skiing. Why did it take so long for the trend to change with recreational skiing? Hard to say, but it is great that it has.
Of course, with this changing market manufacturers have soon responded and there are now stacks of high tech and stylish designs to choose from. But, it is always great to see new ideas, new materials and new styles entering the marketplace, and industry leaders Giro have recently introduced their new Jackson model to the possibles. I was pleased to be invited to take one for a spin.....
Fair to say, the Jackson is feature packed. Let’s break it down from outside in. Firstly, the shell is a sleek shape that looks fairly blank of features, but actually plenty of thought gone into this. At the front is a horizontal ventilation slot that Giro call a ‘passive aggressive ventilation system’. I’m not sure why they have landed on that descriptor for this (!), but actually the system is mirrored on the systems evident in high end cars and is designed to allow air to be pulled in and over the head and directed around by channels incorporated into the helmet liner. Designed, Giro say, to keep wearers comfortable when skiing, hiking or even just standing.
The other noticeable feature of the helmet front is a sleek and small visor. Giro have designed the helmet for seamless integration with Giro goggles. Other than that, the shell is smooth and streamlined and the only other key features to mention are a removable rear goggle retainer and removable padded and insulated ear pads.
Inside the Jackson Giro have incorporated the MIPS impact protection system. You may be familiar with this from helmets from other sports, but it is quite a potential game changer in some situations. Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), in simple terms, uses a low friction inner liner that rotates to allow your head to move inside the helmet on impact. This has been proven to minimise the rotational forces your head could be subjected too on impact.
The rest of the impact absorption system falls between the shell and a poly carbonate liner and these are fused together. This means that, in an impact, the impact forces are distributed through the shell to the deformable energy absorbing liner. This is a known as in mold construction and has become a popular choice with manufacturers of safety helmets for many activities. The reason it is popular is because it works superbly.
The other part of the liner system, and a very innovative choice, is Giro’s use of Polartec Power Grid fabric for the cushioning liner that sits against the head. Power Grid is insulating and yet it uwill is very efficient at allowing the passage of moisture - a key consideration for a liner that needs to keep the head warm sometimes and then, when you are cranking hard (up or down slope!), allows excess heat and moisture to escape.
Finally, the Jackson features Giro’s Form Fit 2 adjustment system. This is designed to be a very low profile and rapid adjustment system that allows up to a massive 6cm of adjustment. The Jackson wants for nothing.....but how do all those features stack up in practice?
Firstly, I love the look of the Jackson - it is a very stylish lid that looks great out of the box and great on the head. The helmet I received was in a nice matt blue colour and looks great. The sleek look contrasts nicely with that passive aggressive ventilation slot I mentioned and I love the additional of a small but discreet brim. It looks great.
Although fit is going to be variable from person to person, I have found the Jackson fits like a glove (a very comfortable glove!). Interestingly, although I might often be a large, a medium Jackson has proved to be a great fit. I looked at the sizing chart and put this down to the Form Fit 2 adjustment which allows such a broad fit range. This means the crossover between the 3 helmet sizes on offer is quite close and this is great for fine tuning your size choice.
The Form Fit 2 system is also very low profile. This means that you don’t feel like the adjustment mechanism gets in the way and yet it still offers a secure and tuneable fit. I don’t think I’ve used a better system in a helmet. I like the addition of a contrasting colour chin guard and ear flap retainers too. A nice detail that looks very cool.
In terms of on the head comfort, I also love that Giro have used Polartec Power Grid fabric for the helmet lining. Power Grid is a plush material that offers warmth, non itch comfort and the performance needed for a stop and go activity like skiing. You might spend 20 minutes getting increasingly chilled on a lift and then be generating substantial heat shredding through some fresh powder - the material has to be able to tick all bases. I have found that Power Grid can do that with ease. It is a great choice.
The other climate control feature is that fascinating ventilation system. I wasn’t sure what to make of it because the horizontal front slot looks too small to offer much of an air intake route, but it actually works really well. Infact, you can feel it working when you are moving downhill or heading into a headwind. I wasn’t sure if you might find snow clogging it up in some conditions, but so far this hasn’t been an issue at all.
I haven’t been able to use the helmet with Giro goggles, but I have tried it with models from 100%, Smith and Oakley and can say that that all integrated faultlessly with it. I think you’d be unlucky to have a problem if you are using it with your existing model. Similarly, I also tried various sunglasses with it and again had no problem with any model. Oh, and although I tend to just leave the ear pads and goggle retainer clip in place 99% of the time, I did experiment with removing them and found it was a simple and efficient process.
The one thing I haven’t been able to test is how well the Jackson copes with an impact. That’s always the tricky one. I will just have to say that I am confident, given the combo of MIPS (you can see You Tubes of how important this could be in a crash), the polycarbonate shell and In mould fused liner, this is an industry leading recipe to keep you safe. No helmet will protect from everything, but I would use the Jackson with the highest degree of confidence.
Although offering an outward appearance of soft features and subtle lines, the Jackson manages to offer high performance and top drawer safety features. It is right up there with the very latest generation of snow sports helmets and would be a great choice for many user variants.
It is superbly designed, beautifully constructed and I also really value Giro’s addition of Polartec Power Grid into the mix - hopefully this is a fabric that will see increasingly more use in some applications. The Jackson retails for £150.
Posted by Paul